Matt and Eli of Two Friends give us a taste of what it’s like to go on tour as a DJ duo on the rise. From playing empty shows to racking up a million streams on a single song, they embrace a unique electronic style.
Studio and tour life represent two different beasts. For Matt and Eli of Two Friends, the comfort and clockwork studio routine contrasts heavily with the touring frenzy. “Tour is definitely more stressful with early wake ups and no sleep, but at the same time extremely exciting and rewarding,” says Matt. Flying to most shows, the DJ’s hitch a ride from the airport to the hotel. Depending on when the wheels hit the runway, they spend anywhere from ten minutes to ten hours killing time before the show. Relaxation opportunities fade as travel swells. “Sometimes relaxing is impossible based on the timing,” admits Eli. When the two can afford to kick back, Matt and Eli grab local food and explore the current city nuances. “We try our best to be adventurous,” says the duo.
As the show approaches, the two will chat and have a few drinks with familiar faces backstage. On occasion, reporters will ask interview questions before the set. As the crowd anticipates the rollercoaster ride of a Two Friends performance, a venue promoter or team member will give the five-minute warning. Three hundred seconds until Matt and Eli step under the lights. “It’s surreal sometimes, and any time you get those pre-show jitters, it’s quickly replaced by sheer fun when you step out there and everyone’s dancing along going nuts. We enjoy every moment and soak it in, but we still have a lot of goals we need to work hard to reach,” says Eli.
Behind the scenes, a significant team organizes tours to ensure shows run smoothly and the music shines on stage. A routed tour requires the most preparation with the intense city-to-city travel. The hotel phones ring with the earliest of wake up calls on speedy turnaround days. Featured singers and instrumentalists demand additional logistics and sound checks on select dates. On their current Out of Love tour, Matt and Eli fly to shows only on weekends and work weekdays in the studio. “Luckily the set up right now is pretty easy with CDJs (digital turntables), but hopefully soon we’ll bring our own production around. With that being said, our team has been amazing about helping to coordinate with venues to make travel as smooth as possible,” says Matt. Part one of the Out of Love tour has just ended with the second half starting up. Every set is unique, but the shows continue to improve with time. “More singing fans, much less empty rooms…that’s always a good sign,” laughs Eli. On stage, Eli takes the DJing reigns while Matt works the crowd. “Matt is the finest hype man this side of the Mississippi,” says Eli. The two give off an enthusiastic, authentic energy on stage true to the Two Friends brand. “We’re the yin to each other’s yang,” says Matt. “We’ve each done a handful of solo shows way back in the day and those are just not nearly as fun.” The bond between them maintains sanity and good spirits in the trenches of unglamorous road life.
On tour, Matt and Eli have meshed with almost every DJ they’ve played with. Gazzo, Kap Slap, Young Bombs, Prince Fox, and many others have befriended them. Along with working beside other artists, they look forward to playing for amped up crowds and unraveling new city experiences on tour. “Our least favorites are no sleep, early wakeups, middle seats on non frequent flyer airlines, and being away from friends and family,” say Matt and Eli. The struggle can seem overbearing, but hitting milestones instills thirst for more success. This past month, Two Friends’ single Pacific Coast Highway featuring Max surpassed one million listens on Spotify, the first of their songs to do so. “It was super humbling. We remember how it felt to just hit one thousand plays on a song, so we never take this stuff for granted. More than anything it motivates us to give our fans more music and better music,” says Eli. Just a few days ago, Pacific Coast Highway reached two million.
Graced by Pacific Coast Highway and two other tracks, the Out of Love EP recently released by Two Friends wouldn’t have turned out a success without the pinpoint planning and coordination of the whole team. On the production side, Matt and Eli created the EP as a culmination of projects conceived over the past year. “Some of the song ideas and first drafts actually happened a couple years ago,” says Matt. To hype the release, their team spreads the word broadly and rapidly to convert casual listeners into lifelong fans. “We want people to buy into the whole Two Friends brand. It doesn’t end after someone hears one of our songs. We want them to check out some of our other songs, catch us at a show, and rep Two Friends for the long haul,” tells Eli. The EP gives a glimpse into their style while tying in a year’s worth of touring, music, and content.
On the horizon, Two Friends has another Big Bootie Mix and a new single dropping soon. More remixes will bridge the gap between originals. For Matt and Eli, the long-term vision stands on short-term forward movement. “Five, ten years from now, that’s hard for us to think about,” admits Eli. “We want to be having fun right now, and that’s all we can ask for.” For aspiring DJ’s looking to enter the industry, they have one piece of advice. “Give before you ask. Don't constantly beg for favors. Give people a reason to want to help you and be part of the journey.” For Two Friends, the love of the process ensures the journey moves forward.