Fresh off their ‘Seven Bridges’ album, The Big Apple’s prolific duo Break Science, envisaged by Borahm Lee and Adam Deitch, is rapidly etching its name and sound in the history of our generation’s body of electronic music. Seamlessly piecing together gritty and thought-provoking compositions, Lee and Deitch tower over many of their contemporaries with peerless amalgamations of blissful, energetically profound, and resplendent productions. Striking with heavy soundscapes that are delicately balanced with profound musical intricacies, the Break Science sound is moving through the airwaves with an enlightening and electrifying vibrance. During a recent stop in their winter tour, we were fortunate enough to have the chance to chat with them about their recent album, forthcoming releases, touring with the Pretty Lights live band, and the nature of sloths.
HT: How have you guys been handling the snow on this tour so far?
Adam: It’s the frozen tundra tour. The winter wonderland tour. It’s great (laughter). We just want to send a shout out to everyone that came out to the shows, in the cold and traveled long distances, sometimes through snow and adverse elements. We appreciate the love
Boram: Those people who showed up definitely make up for those people who might have shied away because it’s too cold, cause they’re just extra amped to be there.
HT: Any favorite stops so far?
Adam: Philly was great super live.
Boram: Awesome new venue down there.
Adam: Underground Arts.
Boram: Yea it’s called Underground Arts. Sounds great and we had a pretty much sold out show and we are really looking forward to today and tomorrow. You know tomorrow is our last show in our hometown.
Adam: Portland, Maine, was great too.
HT: Is there a reason why you guys are taking the month of February off from touring?
Adam: We are just trying to hit all the major markets at the right time and not oversaturate. I feel like anytime that gives us time to record new music and finish up the ideas that we were working on that got bumped off ‘Seven Bridges’, so we can get those out. We have some remixes we gotta do. You know, it gives us time to put some music out and finish mixing some stuff that we’re working on so that’s good.
Borahm: We’re also going to be half-way relocating our base to Los Angeles. I’m going to be staying out there for a little bit…use that time for a little transition. I know Adam’s got some Lettuce dates also. They’re doing an awesome run in February too. March we’re coming back and we’re doing another two weeks in March.
HT: You guys recently gave several aspiring producers that chance to open for you on this tour. What was the reason behind setting up those opportunities and is there a particular contest winner that really caught both of your attentions?
Adam: I think it’s great. Everyone that’s opened has been great and it gets a lot of attention from the local crowds. If it’s someone from the town and everyone kind of knows that they’re bubbling, and they’re a good producer, and like, next thing you they’re opening up at big show you know, it’s a good vibe. They’re really excited and they help promote the show and we get to hear all the new young producers and what they’re working on so, it’s a win-win situation for everybody.
HT: You two have a life long history living in New York. Is there a reason why you’ve stayed fixed on the area, like Brooklyn, for any particular reason, maybe musical or personal?
Borahm: Yea I just mentioned I’m moving to LA soon but I mean New York is always going to be our home you know? It’s my home forever. What’s kept us there so long you know, besides the fact that all the great musicians and producers are in New York, so many of them are we can meet up with them easily and everything like that. It’s more about the hustle bustle and the edge of it. The cross culturalism, and we’re also night people too so, New York never sleeps and it accommodates our schedules pretty good, cause we’re up till sunrise all the time making beats, making music and we can just go right to the Bodega and grab a sandwich or a beer or whatever we need at that time. It’s just doesn’t sleep like us. Something for a lifelong New Yorker that I know, is you can only really apreciate it if you get to leave sometimes cause it can also be a hard place to live too. It’s real fast paced but New York is always home for us and we couldn’t have made ‘Seven Bridges’. You know the title ‘Seven Bridges’ is basically how many bridges we saw from our studio in Brooklyn, and representing the different kinds of music. New York is like that, there’s so many streams of culture that you don’t have time to really hate on any of them and you have to accept them all.
HT: Before you musical careers really took off in New York, how much time in your music making lives were filled with digging for vinyl to find breaks and samples?
Borahm: Our musical background comes from instruments. We were digging into our instruments for so many years but we definitely have a very strong, deep rooted appreciation for people who dig into the crates, who find that one sample, that one record that nobody’s found. Anytime we’re around that or we find it, we always share it with each other and we make sure it’s like “have you heard this break”….
Adam: What’s that thing you played the other day, that piano thing that you were like “that’s all samples”. You played some amazing thing the other day….
Borahm: Sometimes you don’t even remember.
Adam: He has like a jazz encyclopedia so he has like eight million jazz songs compiled from different vinyl records and like
Borahm: We definitely approach it from the other angle of you know, because we love this music and we know how it sounds and we know how it should be made, but we are coming from the perspective of the musician rather than the DJ so we like to create those samples and sounds to as well you now? But we are totally open…there is like no one correct way, there’s not one that is better than the other.
Adam: We don’t rely on samples but we don’t shunned them. We like to put them in with the live instruments and with the synths and the drums. So it’ll go in and it’ll just be a part of it. It’s not like it’s this big sample and some drums and a baseline and some stuff. We kind of just sneaking in the sample so it has all these kinds of layers and stuff.
HT: Aside from the recent ‘One Day They’ll Know’ remix for A Color Map of The Sun, you two haven’t put out very many remixes. Is that due largely because you’re focusing on original sounds and productions and is there any chance you’ll tackle some fun new remixes like the MGMT or Nicki Minaj remixes that were put out a while back?
Borahm: It has been a while since we have tackled it. We definitely have a bunch on the plate right now that are waiting to be released but you know, yeah we had to focus on ‘Seven Bridges’ and just honing our own sounds. A lot of times remixes they are either pushed upon us by management or they’re kind of like tasks that sometimes they give us. As were just getting to be to make stronger relationships with electronic music community, we became good friends with the guys from ODESZA, there is artists that were really starting to learn about and enjoy also like Cherub, were are going to be tackling, remixing one of their songs. We’re working with Sonya Kitchell who is on our record, we are doing a remix for her. There are a couple that are marinating right now.
HT: I know you guys had two sets, one as Break Science and the other with the PL live band, but how was it playing Decadence in Colorado for New Year’s Eve? Was it your ideal way of rolling in 2014?
Adam: That was totally epic. That was a highlight. I don’t think we have ever played in front of 19,000 people before.
Borahm: I mean we had the Break Science show the day before the 30th and it was a perfect. We did a long tour with Derek leading up to that so it was kind of just the cap on that tour. We basically got to play a Break Science show the day before. It was our biggest show to date I believe. Most people we play for so far.
HT: After the Red Rocks debut, have you two ever felt like touring with the PL band has and might continue to take time away from focusing on the Break Science vision?
Adam: That was just a moment in time where we wanted to debut that thing and we wanted to be a part of that event. It was a huge thing, a huge tour where Derek was going out, trying out a new band. We felt that it was the right time to take a little time off of Break Science as far as our recording schedule, we still were doing after part is the whole time.
Borahm: And we were making music on the road too. We made a new song when we were in Reno and had a few days off. Actually on the contrary, it helped us focus our thing, because when we came back to Break Science we had a new perspective on it, we definitely learned things, how to approach the music, production techniques, all kinds of stuff that just made us look at in a different light. Like Adam said, even though we were on tour with him for two months, we did like 12 Break Science after parties that always really well. It was only positive things for us.
Adam: As far we know, we don’t know what he’s going to do this year. He knows we need to focus on this. He’s really into this project, like Break Science. He’s expressed his want for us to tour and he wants to help in every way. It’s just a really good vibe over there right now, with everybody.
HT: On night two of the band’s debut at Red Rocks, some listeners noticed quote on quote “mistakes”, if you could call them that, namely around heRobust’s remix of ‘Let’s Get Busy’ and that transition into the Datsik remix of ‘Around The Block’. How do you recover from “mistakes”, or deviations, from the planned set in a live setting, both in the PL live band and in your own Break Science sets?
Borahm: A mistake is an opportunity. That’s a Duke Ellington quote. You know I don’t remember that specific transition that your are circling in red but there was actually a lot of flack that I got from some hard-core PL fans that we repeated a couple of songs the second night.
Adam: Oh the first Red Rocks?
Borahm: Yeah the first Red Rocks.
Adam: We’ve come so far since then.
Borahm: Yeah it was the first time. We didn’t really have that much time to prepare. We had to put together three hours of music for a live band. This is a full live band with a horn section and two keyboard players…
Adam: We spent 99% of the time in rehearsals, hanging out and getting sounds perfectly right, the sounds. Then when that was done, we had one percent of the time to learn 70 songs.
Borahm: It was like 100 hundred.
Adam: One hundred songs or something like that. So Derek just felt, sonically, it had to be right. It was more important than us know in the music exactly perfect. Then it came time for Red Rocks and it was like ok, “we’re just going to repeat a couple songs because we don’t know the entire thing.” And the crowd was cool. Everyone had fun, it was just that was just the one thing.
Borahm: And we came back around to Denver at the end of the tour. We finish the tour, and people saw the transformation.
Adam: Yea, three hours of no repeat.
Borahm: Half of the stuff was new material that we composed throughout the whole tour. We made of whole records worth of new material, just improvising and thinking of stuff at every sound check, on the road with Derek. We are really excited to see how he decides to produce everything.
HT: Do you guys anticipate that that record might come out?
Adam: We hope so. We hope he’s feel strongly enough about it, and doesn’t shelve it. But you know, it’s up to the boss. Whatever he wants to do with that.
HT: I guess you’re always going to get that with PL fans that have been to 30 shows.
Adam: Yeah I mean as they should. They want to hear everything in its own world, every song it is own world, it means something. When you hear it twice in two days, yea I understand that. I’m glad they spoke up. It means they’re listening and they’re into it. Not many other artists you’d play for, the fans would complain about that. Shakira’s fans aren’t going to complain that they are playing the same song in two nights. But we like that, it’s cool.
HT: Do you two ever see yourselves maybe departing from the band and maybe even PLM to pioneer your own image, sound, and vision from an independent platform?
Adam: The starts with having a label I think. We have our own sound and they just felt like our sound would fit in since we’re so into hip-hop. We love electronic music, and they are really into hip-hop. It just worked out that they dug are sound and that they didn’t want us to change our sound. We just really enjoy being around them and how much we learn from everyone’s styles and productions. It’s definitely going to come a time where we are going to be doing our own thing. Like Gramatik has his own thing. He jumped ship, but everyone’s not like “Gramaitk is not with PLM” because he is still boys with everybody. He’s still homies, but he’s got his own Lowtemp thing. The time will come when we are able to stand on our own two feet, and then we’ll see what happens at that point. But right now were totally cool with the situation.
HT: Adam, for fans that still do not know your background well and might think you are exclusively a drummer, can you touch on how assist Borahm with creating melodies and chord progressions, and Borahm, could you touch on how you and Adam balance both of your creative impulses?
Adam: I am a Pro tools guy. I haven’t adapted to the new style of Ableton. But I am very in touch with Pro Tools and as far as chopping samples, adding baselines. I play keyboards, a little bit, not like him, but enough to put it down, to put sounds down. I have tons of bootlegs from all different recordings that I’ve done that I will take and chop into different pieces, or have a keyboard part, or maybe like a whole hip-hop beat, and I’ll extract each track and bounce them all to waves and send them to him. and he’ll add his things. That’s the way it happens sometimes. Basically, I’m working on Pro tools he is working on Ableton, and we’ll just join them up together, and mix them together. That’s one way it happens with us.
Borahm: ProTools and Abelton, there is things that we have changed about the platforms that you use, but really it’s ultimately about the person that is wielding the tools. Adam is just a super creative person, doesn’t matter, because before he was on Pro tools and Triton, and before that he was on his parents keyboards at home, and if you have that creative thing in you you’re going to make it work no matter how. We are fortunate enough to be able to use these programs to really express ourselves, and the most important thing is we trust each others ears. We know what our strengths are individually and we might allot certain duties to one guy or the other but we will always be able to do the other guys thing to, to some degree. I can program some drums but obviously it’s not going to sound the way that Adam would do it, Adam, play some chords, maybe I would approach a different way. A lot of the times though we will end up using Adams keyboard parts and some drums that I put down, or the reverse so there is never one specific formula you know what I mean? That is the best part about it.
Adam: I have been producing hip-hop beats for years. I’ve worked Talib Kweli, Redman, KRS-One, a lot of “hip-hop” guys. I’ve been doing it for years. That is another one of my passions. Drumming was just part of the equation to me. Producing, making beats, I will be doing that forever. Some people know me as just a producer, they don’t even know I play drums. I know people that just know my tracks and know my beats. It doesn’t matter if people know or not, it’s just that’s how we work. I’m a producer, he’s a producer, and we work together and make Break Science.
HT: Do you guys ever tout parts of your resume like working with KRS-One and Kanye West?
Adam: It’s part of the story.
Borahm: I mean resume for who?
Adam: Yea we don’t really…yea right? (laughs)
Borahm: Yea, it’s definitely like important parts of her career and if we’re asked about it, or something, but you know its like…
Adam: We’re not like championing like “Borahm Lee off Kanye West” you know? It’s not about that. He was dope before Kanye West. To me, Kanye can’t make beats like he does, but you know whatever. It’s about what he’s doing. It’s not about everything we’ve all done. It’s not about Grammy nominations. It is just about what we’re doing now, and the fact that we can be as creative as possible when we are working together. That’s what it’s about.
Borahm: And all our previous musical relations, bands, associations and stuff, we love to be able to incorporate into Break Science. All the guest vocals that we’ve had emcees, like Talib Kweli, Adam produced on Talib Kweli’s record, and same with Redman. That kind of developed the relationship for them to be able to come record on our things. So none of it is wasted. It is all important to get where we are now.
Adam: So why don’t you get Kanye on a track man?
Borahm: It’s happening. We have to get on a certain level first, I guess, you know? (Laughter)
HT: Pretty much every release on ‘Seven Bridges’ featured a vocalist or a new instrumentalist. Is this the new direction you two envision Break Science heading, consistently working with emcees like Redman or CX, and really building on your hip-hop roots, or will your forthcoming releases move away from that and divert more focus on the musical elements?
Adam: I was going to say that we have both worked with vocalist individually for years and been in their bands and worked in the studio with different vocalists, and it is always about the vocalist’s vision. Which is cool. If that’s your job, you got to make the vocal is happy, and you do it. The way we’re doing it is a whole different way. It’s our vision of what the vocalist could be. The MC may think he needs to rap over 48 bars straight, over the beat, but we think we only need two lines of what he said, here, and two lines of what he said here. The singer could come in just in the middle during the drop, or before the drop happens. So that’s just our version of what working with vocalists is about, from our vision of where are vocals really needed and where do they become overkill and too much you know.
Borahm: It’s almost like when we were playing in their bands they use us as instruments so now it is our vision and we can use their voice as our instrument. And they almost become an instrument and we are the main thing. Our concept is the main thing.
Adam: We work with vocalist that are cool with that and they trust our vision. Every vocalist after they heard the way we chopped them and move them around and took half their verse and put it here and took half their verse and but here and reversed the last line, all that stuff. When they hear it they are like “wow I never would’ve thought of that.” That is part of the fun of working with vocalists now. I foresee us doing more of that now and working with it in the way we like to do it.
HT: In regards to vocals, how do you get emcees to flow on an instrumental track that you present them with? Do you give them an idea of what you’d like them to iterate or do you let them have at it several times until you like what they come up with?
Adam: A lot of times the title will will get them going. If we have a title, it helps them so much. The hardest part for emcees is to hear a track and come up with a concept. If we come with the track and the concept, and they’re like “oh great let’s go with that.” I told Redman ‘Who Got It’ could mean a bunch of different things, it could mean which girl is the best dancer in the club, who is really throwing down, it could mean who’s got the weed…
Borahm: Like ‘Brain Reaction’, we got the title through his rap on that one. He was just inspired. He was just really feeling the track. He was like “let me throw something down to this”, and we got his vocal, and we were like we got to call it ‘Brain Reaction’. Sometimes it happens like that you know? There are some emcees that we just feel comfortable letting them do their thing and then other people we want to give a concept to.
Adam: CX, with ‘Zion Station’ or ‘Victory’, we told him we want kind of like that last satellite, the last human city, and he gets a really quick. The more concepts we present the more in line with the track emcees get.
HT: Is there a reason why you debuted ‘Who Got It’ at Electric Forest, and do you guys have plans to come back to Rothbury?
Borahm: Rothbury has been consistently one of our most favorite festivals to play. That was kind of our first big gig it felt like, when we first did Rothbury that one year, I don’t even know how many years ago that was. We always want to play it. We always want to be back. That is definitely no question. In terms of the track being debuted there, I think it was just the timing. We just happened to finish it at that time luckily.
HT: The recent album really exposed us to some sounds that we had never heard before. ’Breath of Space’ for example, it is clean, crisp, and doesn’t really encompass any heavy or gritty sounds but it was still an absorbing and thought provoking production from the musical composition to the arrangements of the vocals. Can we expect to see more, and I hate to use the genre classification, chill-out, maybe trip-hop flavored releases from you two?
Adam: He calls it “chill-trap”.
Borahm: Yea, chill-trap.
Adam: Yeah I mean we love all different kinds of music. Different times of day for different kinds of songs. At night when we’re chilling out after the show, when someone asks us to place Break Science we are less likely to play ‘Nasty’ as we are to play one of the songs of Sonya. We felt like we needed that. We like that. We like to chill out also, we’re not always just wilin’ out, crazy dudes, so that all made sense for us and were definitely going to do more stuff like that. We will always have the bangers. Growing up in New York in the 90s with that hip-hop, everyone jump, that’s the feeling I love a lot. We just try and balance it out. Will have more balance to the bangers and the chill stuff.
Borahm: I get excited about introducing the electronic element with the trip-hop. I feel like a lot of music happens in 20 year cycles. I feel like 90s hip-hop is kind of resurging now. Just like in 2000 it was 80s, it was all about the 80s and 90s is 70. Stuff like DJ shadow, all the stuff we love, RJ, we love that sound but we want to just update it a little bit and bring a little bit of 2014 electronic productions. Even elements of trap, maybe some sounds that come from other drivers of music that you might not necessarily like, like dubstep, but you can use a part of it introduce into this new environment.
Adam: If you take away the rules of the genre and just take the pieces that you like, you could make something hopefully new and yours. That’s where we come from, we love all the genres but we really don’t adhere to any rules of each one, so it’s kind of like we take what we like of each one and make our own stew.
HT: What are your views on substance use on stage by DJs and performers? Do you feel like artists are robbing their audience of the full potential of a show by performing inebriated?
Adam: Every guy is different. Every guy is doing it for their own reason or whatever. We are not one to judge. If it is really effecting the shows than they should think about it. We are just diehard about the music so, we would never get to that point. We’re so into the show being right.
Borahm: If it is not helping the music then it’s not happening. I understand if somebody needs that one beer just to loosen up or that one cigarette. Whatever it is, people have their vices. There is going to be the people that are a little bit more extreme. People promoting to young artists is this very negative but, if it’s their own personal thing, and helps them do their thing and in it aids them in functioning and making music, then we’re definitely not anybody to judge.
Adam: One thing I’ll say is music comes from you and your experiences in your heart, and some cats think they need this or that to get into that zone and make a track, to make quality music and they’re afraid to make music sober. I’ve met people like that. It’s like, “don’t be afraid to do it because it’s coming from you anyway. Embrace who you are just as you are, without having to be like “I need to drink this to work on music or whatever”.
Borahm: It’s a delicate balance of knowing that it’s in you at all times. You need don’t need anything to be you, but at the same time, be open to different perspectives. A lot of the times experimentation with different drugs help people see things in a different light, and the that can be healthy if it’s done the right way. You just always have to know that you don’t need it.
HT: What is the biggest take home message you want listeners to walk away with after hearing a live set?
Borahm: That music is the greatest thing in life. I want a fan to go home with an ecstatic feeling, that no matter what’s going on in their lives, no matter how bummed or depressed they are, whatever is going on, that this will last forever. It’s more just about feeling what our life inspiration is like. We dedicate our whole lives to music. We put all our eggs in that basket. We want people to feel that same feeling.
Adam: I didn’t grow up in a religious family but I used to play drums in a gospel church, Baptist Church, and I was the only white guy in the whole church. That was really an amazing experience for me, to just to be a part of when music gets to a certain level, the crowd, the people in the church just lift up and everyone is singing and dancing and you get the chills and you get this amazing feeling. So it’s like you have to break down…does it have to be about a certain specific higher power or this or that or can it just be about, with the thought of bringing people up and you exude those vibes from you as your plane and hopefully they pick up on it and they feel uplifted. If people want to just spin in a circle or whatever you want to do…get on the ground. People all react differently to sound waves. We just want, in the back of our minds, our spirits, we want to project an upliftment and just a good feeling. We also like to express dark and light in our music. The world is in all perfect and it’s not all bad. I feel like our music has equal parts of light and dark in it that are intertwined and create what is Break Science. If it makes you think about the dark things were getting dark, if it makes you think about good things were playing the lighter stuff, that’s good. That’s what we’re about.
HT: If you had to take the Break Science sounds into a musical era or decade before your time, which would it be?
Adam: With our technology?
Borahm: We can bring our technology back. It’s like back to the future. I kind of be interested to see what like Bach and those cats would think about it. Way back when, when it wasn’t even decades, centuries but…
Adam: Yea, I would like to jumpstart everything, create riff and just show Mozart or Bach like…
Borahm: You’d come back to the future and everything would be different. That wouldn’t be cool (laughter)
Adam: I’d love to go into the late 60s, early 70s, with the funk thing and play them like all this electro-funk going in the future, like “you guys are laying the groundwork”
Borahm: I would love to go back in the 50’s but I don’t think Miles [Davis] would be into any stuff we were doing, maybe Miles…
Adam: Miles would..
Borahm: Miles would but… cause I’m such a jazz cat, but it’s a pure time too for jazz. But yeah definitely 60s, 70s, and mind expansion. Everything got flipped upside down.
HT: Craziest scientific fact you guys have learned recently?
Borahm: I read a really crazy one, a New York Times one, about the sloth, and the ecosystem that goes on in the body of sloth. It’s really kind of weird and freaky. There’s all these kinds of moths that in a sloth. It’s this amazing process where it has this whole ecosystem where the moths produce this fertilizer on the fur of the sloth, so the sloth eats its own furs and it goes back, and it creates this whole system in the sloth. And it actually goes down once a week to go to the bathroom at the bottom of the tree and that is where it somehow reacts with the bugs and stuff down there and it goes back up, and its this the whole amazing thing….
Borahm: (Laughs) Yea, it’s pretty wild. Made me think science, somthing crazy…
Adam: Sloth science. I can’t believe you just told a story about a sloth.