Meet Two Fresh: Denver's Identical Twin Party Starters
"When we came back from the Skrillex tour, we were like “OK there’s ways take the listener on a rollercoaster…"
It’s a Wednesday night in Denver and the rain is coming down in unrelenting sheets. Down the street Haim are headlining The Ogden Theatre (Denver dream-pop duo Tennis opened). Their killer riffs, theatrical headbanging, gurn faces, and thrusting hips are working the crowd into a heated frenzy. One fan throws fistful after fistful of glitter in the air. The trio of sisters are psyched. Este explains that the first time they performed at The Ogden was supporting Julian Casablancas a few years back. She describes how awesome Denver’s crowd was back then and how thrilled and shocked they are to be back in this same venue again—this time they’re headlining. The audience roars louder.
Two blocks away on the same street is 1up, the city’s vintage arcade bar-cum-club. People leisurely play ski ball, shoot-em up games and Simpsons-themed pinball, beers in hand. In the next room there’s a stall set up touting crystals, the magical properties of which escape me because it’s way too loud to talk and the only thing people are interested in doing tonight is getting drunk and dancing like lunatics.
Wednesday is Re:UP, a weekly clubnight that pulls in an eclectic raft of international talent (Berlin’s Robot Koch, Manchester’s Starslinger) and local DJs. Tonight Kendo—that’s Kendrick Nicholls who is one half of identical twin duo Two Fresh—is spinning and his brother Sherwyn is on hand to hype the party. Although it’s not their usual live set up, what they play out is certainly in line with their trap-influenced floorfillers and tweaked out remixes (of everyone from Denmark’s Quadron to Future). Four years ago the Tennessee-born brothers were making music that was markedly more laidback, their own take on zonked out electronica. These days they’re making more beats with rappers in mind and their sound is Protooled for partying.
As Tyler The Creator noted in Noisey’s ep of Made in Denver, the kids from Colorado aren’t concerned with cool. It’s clear, they don’t give a fuck. It’s by turns liberating, fascinating, and funny to observe.
Earlier that day I met Two Fresh on the roof of their tour manager’s house. We sit at the edge of a jacuzzi we never get in to talk about the duos music, touring with Skrillex, and what’s up with the sax resurgence (among other things) in Denver, Colorado.
Two Fresh and Noisey on a roof.
Noisey: You guys are originally from Tennessee, then you moved to North Carolina, and now you’re here in Denver. What made you come to this city?
Kendrick: We were living in Asheville, North Carolina for like three years and felt like we had outgrown the city: it’s super small, and we played all the venues so many times. We just wanted a change and a bit more of a challenge, and we had homies out here like Paper Diamond, Big Gigantic, Grizz, just kind of gravitated here to keep the career going.
Sherwyn: There’s ore people to work with and it’s more of an actual city than where we were coming from. It was almost a life-changing opportunity.
And what is the scene like here? Is there a prevalent genre?
Sherwyn: Electronic music, bass music is very big out here. There’s at least two or three shows a week that we’d want to go see. Coming out here was smooth because we had homies tapped in, we knew some of the promoters and such.
Kendrick: Also, cause there’s so many types of different music that it opened us up to different types of fans, because you’d never think in other places that these types of people would want to hear your music. And also we’re taking things from other music, like folk music, or something we would never listen to. It’s so accessible here, it made it a lot more of a learning experience.
When people think of Colorado they tend to think of jam bands. What’s the deal with that these days?
Sherwyn: Jam, electronica stuff. Everything’s fused.
How would you describe your music? You kind of started off doing one thing, then went into another, and now you have this split personality almost.
Sherwyn: I describe our music as definitely hip-hop based always, but there’s certain songs we’d go about being like this is a club track, electronic track. And there’s sometimes we’re in the studio making a beat and it’s just like, “Yo, this would be perfect with vocals, and we’ll put it in that stash.”
Kendrick: I think when we came out here we kinda took a turn to make something different you could maybe see people dance to. When we were in North Carolina and Tennessee we were more making like left field beats and stuff I would listen to on a plane, and just chill to.
You guys co-headlined a tour with Big Gigantic a while back. What was the vibe like on that?
Sherwyn: It was dope. It was the first tour of homies coming together and coming up experiencing it together, so it was an amazing learning experience. I guess we figured out a lot of ways we could play our music live from watching them, and I’m sure likewise, because at the time we had a drummer too. It was a very cool dynamic.
And what about when you went on tour with Skrillex? Did that affect your sound, ultimately?
Sherwyn: Yeah, definitely. When we came back from the Skrillex tour, we were like “OK there’s ways to make our songs more engaging” or to take the listener on a rollercoaster.
Kendrick: When we played out there it was cool to see the crowd’s reactions to certain tracks. And before doing that tour, we would just play our beats, and just chill and vibe with it. I think that’s when we started to want that feel, that taste of, “Yo that shit turnt up.”
Two Fresh and 1up
It’s incredible how powerful electronic dance music has become in this country, even in the past couple of years. Has it been interesting to watch that trajectory?
Sherwyn: Yes, definitely. I remember watching a lot of our peers start producing music and as the years have gone, we started seeing rappers we love getting produced by them, and just collaborations happen, it’s crazy.
You must have a very special bond being twins, that kind of silent communication almost?
Sherwyn: Definitely, we got our twin thing. When people see us live, we don’t communicate vocally, but we feed off each other. It’s just unspoken.
Kendrick: And then when we take that to the studio, we get more vocal in the studio. Neither of us is going to hold back what we think of what he did to a track. So it makes our whole way of making music a lot easier.
Earlier you were saying that people in Denver were maybe fans of Phish but they would also be interested in electronic music, and that kind of blows my mind. It just seems diametrically opposed. Why are people in Denver so open-minded?
Sherwyn: I think it’s the abundance of music out here. I feel like the number one thing here is to go see music and enjoy ith your friends. Like we don’t have too many spots we’d go to to just sit around. If we’re going out, we’re gonna go see music, and if we’re not doing that we’re gonna work on music, or just be home.
Denver and Boulder are the big cities in Colorado where lots of music is happening. What’re the crowds like here versus other places in the country?
Kendrick: People move out here. They dance, and you see your work. There’s been some shows in LA and New York and other places where people just kinda watch. They’re enjoying it, but they just kinda chill and nod their head. Out here you could really see the effect of what you’re doing.
People dancing at 1up that evening.
And who are your friends living in Denver that are making great music?
Sherwyn: Griz, making great music. An electrofunk kinda thing. It’s almost like he created his own genre.
Kendrick: That’s how I feel about a lot of the artists coming out of Colorado: they have their sound. Pretty Lights has his sound, Big Gigantic have their sound, we have whatever sound we have, and we’ve got a lot of other homies. TK who’s part of Team Supreme with us, he’s in Boulder, he does a lot of good work. The house stuff here is building up also—there’s quite a bit of upcoming producers, and I think this is the year we’re finding out about all these people.
What’s with the sax in Denver? Everyone’s breaking it out.
Kendrick: It’s just a sexy sound.
Before you first came out here, what did you think Colorado was going to be like?
Sherwyn: Honestly, didn’t have an idea of what it was going to be like. I knew Ween was big, and there was a lot of music. I didn’t know what music would be like.
So it was really the people that drew you here?
Sherwyn: Yeah, it was definitely just a time to have a new chapter in our lives. Go to where it’s sunny all the time, there’s weed and girls.
Right. What more do you need?
Kim is an editor at Noisey and she's on Twitter - @theKTB