The Knocks, known for their songs “Dancing With The DJ” and “Make It Better,” came together almost by accident. The duo comprised of Ben “DJ B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson met through a mutual friend during their early days in New York City when they were both college students. After being introduced they kept in touch and slowly began sending song ideas and beats back and forth. As time wore on the guys were ready to start the next chapter of their lives; luckily for them — and for us, they were both searching for an apartment at the same time.
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“That’s how we got the name ‘The Knocks,’ explained Ben. “We would both be in our rooms at our apartment working on songs and the neighbors would knock on the walls and the ceilings trying to get us to turn the music down.”
Making music and performing takes up the majority of their time. When they’re not on the road they are either in the studio or spinning at their different residencies in New York City. Now that they have their own studio and are not primarily working out of their bedrooms they are able to separate their home life from their music life but there is still a lot of overlap.
“All we really do is this shit, it takes up so much of our time but our work environment is very relaxed, we always have our friends hanging out with us in the studio,” said Ben.
Their live show is radically different from their DJ sets, “we actually play the instruments rather than playing a bunch of synths” said James. “I sing and we also have a live drum element. We have a part of the show where we perform our remixes, which is as close to a DJ set that it gets but even then we are actually playing and not just pushing buttons queuing up songs,” he explained further.
While growing up both of the guys had plenty of exposure to different musical genres which lead to their self described “genreless” music that they make today. Ben grew up in Vermont and spent some time in Boston before moving to New York City. He was raised in a family that really appreciated music which nurtured his talents from a young age.
“No one in my family was really a musician, but we all liked music,” said Ben. “I wanted to be in a rock band, I ended up playing a couple really awful punk rock bands before I got into DJ’ing. I was really immersed in that world and that led me to hip hop production.”
James was born in New York and then moved to Connecticut before moving back to New York as a teenager. His parents were both musicians, his dad played piano and the organ and his mother was a singer and the church choir director.
“I played drums for my church and my dad did a lot of gigging around so I would play with him,” said James. “Then I started making my own music because I never really liked what was on the radio. I made original stuff for my own ears and now I do it for other people too.”
On December 5th the guys released their EP, Magic, which features the title track, “Magic,” and the single “Brightside” in addition to a handful of other tracks. Now that the EP has been released they can focus on their album which at the time of the interview was forecasted to be released in the spring or summer of 2012. In addition to the album Ben and James have been working casually working on a mixtape.
“We have so many track ideas so we were thinking of putting a mixtape out of us working and collaborating with other people and calling it ‘Knocks and Friends,’ things like that take a lot of time because of the other people involved so it’s just a side project while we work on the album,” said Ben.
The Knocks recently wrapped up a UK tour with DJ Shadow, they are now preparing for another tour which will cover the Northeast and Canada. You can check out the dates on their facebook page here.Follow @RosaB213