While the rise in home studios has opened the music industry up to performers who previously would’ve never had the chance, it’s also created a culture of artists who are producers over songwriters — and that’s where LA’s Cheat Codes have set themselves apart.
The DJ trio believe firmly in focusing on and building the basic mechanics of a song first, before embroidering it with the production flourishes of tropical house and EDM they’re known for.
One of the band’s members, Matthew Russell, attributes their focus on songwriting to his rock band past, a mindset that prioritizes the band’s own agency in every aspect of their project. It’s a philosophy that finds them recording in a home studio, writing all of their music themselves, performing it themselves and singing their own songs, and an ethos that the group believes is currently lacking in many of their peers in electronic music, which makes them unique in over-saturated festival markets.
Though they found resistance to their specific approach in the electronic community at first, over time their live energy and focus on songwriting has earned them the reputation of being go-to collaborators for the likes of huge pop names like Demi Lovato and Fetty Wap. And though they still feel like outsiders in the electronic music world, now that outsider status has become their asset as they see their hard work start to pay off.
Check out the video to hear the band speak about their philosophy in full, see them break down their songwriting process for “No Promises,” and hear them recall the cold reception to their unique sound.