After a series of unexpected obstacles that tested their tenacity, the Epikker dynamic duo of Suniel Fox and Henry Strange make a grand return with two deeply moving tracks, "VibeKing" and "VibeQueen (Rising High)." The two sonic offerings symbolize a phoenix-like rise of adversity, particularly following an unfortunate turn of events after they shared their original production with Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, without considering what can only be described as a fierce legal battle.
We have had the pleasure of interviewing them and this has been the result.
Can you tell us a little about your experience? Where are you from / how did you get into music?
Henry Strange: Since childhood, I've been passionate about music, starting with the guitar. In high school, I joined a classical guitar ensemble. My interest also extended to drums, and I played in bands as a drummer, performing gigs in various divey bars in Tampa, Florida. During my college years, I discovered a recording studio on campus that offered classes, which immediately caught my attention. To my surprise, the studio focused primarily on electronic music production. This aligned perfectly with my interests as a tech-savvy individual with a keen interest in both science and music. Consequently, I delved into modular synthesis, drum machines, and sound design, which became a significant part of my life. My experimentation with music took a new turn after moving to Los Angeles, where I began integrating these sounds into dance music. This transition led to opportunities to perform at major festivals such as Coachella, LIB, EDC, and others across California, under the stage name Henry Strange.
Suniel Fox: I grew up in Orange County, CA. A kid on my block played the drums, so I started learning the guitar to jam with him—I was 11 years old. When I discovered music, everything else quickly fell away. I played guitar in bands through my twenties until I met a girl in the rave scene, who introduced me to electronic music. After seeing some live electronic groups, I was hooked.
How is your sound evolving? What artists and genres do you enjoy mixing right now?
Henry: I've always had a love for funk throughout my life, so anything funky makes me happy. This includes Hip Hop, funky house, electro—anything that can make girls smile, dance, and twerk. I love DJing funky house, but I often find myself playing Booty Bass twerk tunes from 6 years ago because they still turn the dance floor upside down!
Suniel: I think I tend to evolve toward more minimalism both in instrumentation and production. I really love to let only 1 or 2 instruments have the spotlight at once and then if there is a vocal, really strip everything away and have the instruments in solely a supporting role.
How do you feel that your music influences or impacts your listeners?
Henry: My life goal is to make people happy which in turn makes me happy. There is already enough misery in many people’s lives, I want to be a force to make people smile, dance, and play and feel positivity.
Suniel: Well I definitely tend to write music that is on the moodier side, but I find it fun to toe the line between fun and moody. It's really fun for me to play with where that line is.
What projects are you working on right now? What can you tell us about your last job
Henry: I own Strange Electronic (www.strangeelectronic.com). We build software and hardware for music playback for professional touring. This is still my job now, we are proud to be part of music tours all over the world as gear that they use. Check out our Instagram to see all of the action. It is truly inspiring.
Suniel: I'm writing and producing for an R&B Electronic artist named Luminiah right now, as well as working on film music. Luminiah is a really fun project for me because I'm really getting to utilize all of my skills as a live musician as well as producer.
Where are you and what have you been doing now?
Henry: I am based in Los Angeles. I make music products and produce dance music. I am multifaceted in the music business and love everything about it from the technology to the fans.
Suniel: I recently relocated my studio to Strange Electronic in Downtown LA, where Henry manages his touring business. Being surrounded by the daily hustle and bustle has been fantastic. Currently, as we move into winter, I'm working on the 2024 mixes for Luminiah, ensuring that we're ahead of the release schedule.
Has that sound changed a lot in recent years? What is your musical criteria?
Henry: Dancibility is my requirement. If it's twerkable I’ll play it. If not, I play a bit of it and mix it out pretty quickly.
Suniel: We’re still in the process of defining Luminiah's sound. She has the capability to delve deeply into many styles, which sometimes leads us a bit too far into the weeds. However, working with her is such a joy that I’m happy to venture into those weeds alongside her. ;) I think the primary criteria for her is to write fantastic songs that don’t rely too heavily on production to be great.
Do you feel safe now to play a more experimental sound?
Henry: Not really, people seem to just want house music. But that's alright, I love house music, but I also have a passion for so much more. I play enough house to get people on the dance floor, then I switch it up.
Suniel: Well, I believe it depends on the project, but the short answer would be no, I don’t. Attention spans are at an all-time low, and from what I’ve observed, experimental music doesn't gain much traction with audiences or promoters. Nobody wants to take risks when the financial rewards are so limited.
We all know that the digital revolution has affected sales, but has it affected creativity?
Henry: Yes very much so. People rely so much on easy solutions to music making now instead of learning the fundamentals and building from there. It makes it more accessible to the masses but also reduces the quality and originality of the music.
Suniel: Yes, absolutely. We've transitioned from an album-based model to an algorithm-driven one. In the past, artists could dedicate time to immerse themselves in writing an album, thoroughly exploring their depths and deciding what they wanted to share with the world. This approach produced some of the best records in history. However, nowadays, in order for our music to gain visibility, we're expected to release a single every six weeks to stay prominent on Digital Service Providers (DSPs). For independent artists, this means not only writing music but also handling marketing, promotion, and performance. It's a ridiculous and unsustainable model unless you're independently wealthy. The digital revolution primarily enriches DSPs, leaving others behind.
Can you tell us what your present and future projects are?
Henry: We have some more bangers coming out in collaboration with Luminiah! Also be on the lookout for software from Strange Electronic that will make Djing with CDJ 3000s seamless with Ableton Live!
Suniel: Well as I mentioned Luminiah is my main focus at the moment, but we have more Epikker tunes in the pipeline :)