Los Angeles-based DJ/producer duo Two Friends is made up of real-life friends Matt Halper and Eli Sones. Buddies since 2005, these two have managed to earn the respect and support of artists such as Martin Garrix, Tiesto, and The Chainsmokers. Two Friends honed their craft through remixing, tackling artists such as Lana Del Rey, The Killers, and Blink-182. The team of Halper and Sones quickly proved that they were a solid songwriting and production team in their own right, combining digital and live instrumentation to develop a uniquely multidimensional sound. We had a chance to ask Two Friends about remixing rock songs, the gear they're currently using, their "Big Bootie" mixes, and much more!
I DJ NOW: Who are Two Friends?
TWO FRIENDS: Our names are Matt Halper and Eli Sones, and together we are the music duo Two Friends.
IDJ: How did two friends become Two Friends?
TF: We've known each other since 2005, when we went to middle school and high school together in Los Angeles. We were best friends right away. But it wasn't until the end of high school, in 2011, that we decided we should form a music duo. We came up with the name before we even had any music. But then we bought some music software one day after school, dove in, and haven't looked back since.
IDJ: How did each of you discover your interest in music?
TF: We both grew up with slightly different backgrounds in music but it was definitely something we bonded over throughout our friendship. Matt grew up more with classic rock and alternative rock, and Eli listened to a bit more hip-hop and indie.
IDJ: What does each person bring to the table?
TF: I think over the years we've gotten in a great rhythm of knowing each other's strengths, and more importantly, knowing what things we should do together versus separately. Matt started with a background in guitar and definitely has a deeper knowledge of music theory and composition, and Eli had come more from the mashup/DJ side of things. But together is when we're at our best.
IDJ: What initially drew you two to hip-hop, and what inspired the move to electronic music?
TF: We don't really have a great answer to that haha-- we kinda just felt like making beats was a fun way to get started with music. We made a handful of beats by sampling some of our favorite songs, and then we'd send them off to a ton of rappers. But it was a bit frustrating trying to connect with the right rappers, and we didn't have a great roadmap for growth. Around that time in 2011, dance music was having a huge moment and we got to experience a lot of that firsthand by going to festivals together. The genre felt so exciting and fresh, so without overthinking it, we pivoted and immediately knew it was the right decision.
IDJ: What artists have influenced you?
TF: Too many to name-- but some of our favorites are Avicii, Blink-182, Swedish House Mafia, Death Cab For Cutie, Eminem etc.
IDJ: You’ve remixed songs by bands such as Blink 182 and The Killers. What do you look for in a rock song when you consider making a remix?
TF: It's been really fun putting a brand new twist on those classics. I guess we just look for great songs that we love and that have some of the nostalgia factor. We like to find songs that people have familiarity with and already know a lot of the lyrics for example, but then surprise them with our new take on it.
IDJ: What would you consider your big break?
TF: It's really been all baby steps! There hasn't really been any one big event or major overnight story. Some of the big milestones have been getting a song on the radio, assembling a great team around us, playing our first festival etc., but it's a long long grind and we love every minute of it.
IDJ: What are some passions outside of DJing and production?
TF: Hiking, sports, cooking, hanging with friends, collecting souvenir turtles.
IDJ: Tell us about your “Big Bootie” mixes.
TF: We had the idea back in 2012 to do a continuous hour-long mashup mix, rather than presenting them as individual short mashups. The first mix got a solid reaction so we kept it going, and we're glad we did. We'll use over 200 songs from various genres and various decades, and mash them together into a mix that can be a great soundtrack for parties, workouts, road trips etc.
IDJ: What gear do you use on stage and in the studio?
TF: On stage we DJ with Pioneer CDJs (which we got custom-wrapped by iDJNow for our recent Adventureland Tour!). In the studio we produce on ProTools, but use Logic for Big Bootie Mixes. And then all sorts of plug-ins and hardware that we could go on and on about.
IDJ: How important is collaboration?
TF: Vital. Being a duo, we are basically collaborating every single day. But of course we love to work with so many other people too-- whether with vocalists/writers/instrumentalists during our actual music-making process, or with our internal team to make decisions and set goals.
IDJ: You recently played 12 shows in 12 days, what was that experience like?
TF: Exhausting, but so damn fun. I think when the shows themselves are very fun and rewarding, it makes the travel and the lack of sleep a lot more bearable. If you're not looking forward to any of the shows and you have to do 12 in a row, that sounds like a recipe for disaster.
IDJ: You guys travel a lot. Any crazy stories from the road?
TF: Our car once broke down at 3am in the middle of an Illinois farmland area with no cell reception, but luckily we were only about 100 yards from a gas station. So we were able to push the car and save the night.
IDJ: What’s the most embarrassing thing that happened at a gig?
TF: Matt once referred to a New York City crowd as Chicago. He actually did it multiple times before our agent walked on stage to tap his shoulder and let him know the mistake. Even after correcting it, the crowd wasn't happy with us that night.
IDJ: What's been your biggest accomplishment as a group?
TF: One thing that comes to mind is our recent show in Los Angeles. We did our first ticketed show in LA in 2017 for 500 people, and since then, over the past five years we've been able to increase the LA venue size from 500 to 750 to 1200 to 2500 to 5000 this past March. LA being our hometown makes it special too of course, with tons of family and friends coming to join for those.
IDJ: In 2017, the Chainsmokers named you “Most Underrated Artist” in a Reddit thread. How did that acknowledgement make you feel?
TF: That was an awesome shoutout. Those are great guys and it gave us a real confidence boost at the time to hear that from them.
IDJ: What projects or events does Two Friends have coming up?
TF: Sooooo much new music in the pipeline. New Big Bootie mix too. A lot of touring all spring and summer and fall. Basically just gonna keep grinding every day!
For more information on Two Friends, check out the links below.