The Well Dressed Villains are a Bushwick, Brooklyn based music collective with a genre blending sound. Each member of this dynamic duo is a triple threat: music producer, songwriter and recording artist. J. Vargas the Investment and RAH combine forces to present a new approach to hip hop.
- How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started as a duo in the first place?
Well Dressed Villains: We’ve both been making music since we were very young. Some music lessons and formal training as kids as well as various projects and collaborations on our own over the years. We met and formed a duo about a year and a half ago during the Bushwick Collective Block Party. A mutual friend introduced us and we immediately went to work and collaborated on music for a film project.
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember?
Well Dressed Villains: I’d say the legends of Motown, Latin and soul music—things we heard around the house growing up. Between the two of us that list would include everyone from Stevie Wonder to Stevie B—freestyle, Latin, hip hop, disco, rock, dance—you name it.
- Which artists and/or producers are you currently listening to?
Well Dressed Villains: We listen to a wide range of things. Kid Cudi, Khaled, Daddy Yankee, Rza, Kanye, Skrillex, Run the Jewels, Ruben Blades, Dre, Pharrell, Kendrick… honestly the list too long.
- What do you feel are the key elements people should be getting out of your music?
Well Dressed Villains: A seamless blend of genres and influences that offer a new perspective of hip hop.
- What do you think separates you from the crowd of emcees and producers emerging right now?
Well Dressed Villains: We’re not running on the same track as the main crowd. As producers we’re definitely creating music within a familiar framework sonically, but lyrically I feel our subject matter explores other aspects of the human experience outside of the typical hip hop conversations of today.
- Do you currently have a preferred song in your catalog, and why is it special to you?
Well Dressed Villains: We don’t have a favorite, each song shows a slice of the spectrum of our range so they all play a unique roll on the album. Thus far, we’ve learned that many people have a different “favorite track” so it’s cool to see how the album reaches so many different types of folks.
- Are your lyrics predominantly based on real events and personal experiences, or are they drawn from your creative storytelling skills?
Well Dressed Villains: The lyrics come from all of the above. Many of them are real moments either embellished or told exactly as it went down. We definitely pull from life for inspiration.
- What would you consider a successful or high point in your career so far?
Well Dressed Villains: Having released an album as a duo in just a year and half of knowing each other is definitely a high-point for us. We’ve gotten radio play in Philadelphia for our track Between the Lines, and we’ve also gotten a great review on a popular French music blog called Iggy Mag. We’re playing a show on March 18th with Ces Cru, they’re dope emcess who have been in the game for bit, so we’re humbled and looking forward to the future.
- What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music so far?
Well Dressed Villains: Wow. I think we’ll narrow the options down to the music. I’d say the most difficult thing related to the music has been holding onto the vision. Often we get a clear picture of what we want and how it all plays out—everything makes sense initially. Life is a constantly evolving experience and priorities can easily shift as we fight to maintain balance in our personal lives. This process of “living” is tough, a constant struggle for creating any type of art or big project. So the battle to hold the vision and push it forward is one of the most difficult battles on a daily basis.
- What key ingredients do you always try and infuse into your songs, regardless of style or tempo?
Well Dressed Villains: Sincerity in the subject matter. Passion and power in the music. I feel like our music has a hopeful vibration and it translates into how the listener feels afterwards. We definitely want people to feel good and inspired in some way. In short, we believe that good music motivates.
- Which of you does primarily does what in the duo? For example who takes care the lyrics and whop does the production. Do you also collaborate with outside sources?
Well Dressed Villains: There isn’t a primary person handling a segmented action. We both produce and write music so it really is a collaboration throughout. It’s random as to who will have the initial idea but we just build off of that and keep volleying things back and forth. We’ve worked together in the same studio on some tracks and others we’ve swapped files and shared the results afterwards. We hired a guitar player for the solo on F* the Label and we’ll definitely collaborate with other artists as we continue to create music.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Well Dressed Villains: The exciting part is definitely following your unfiltered vision as you see fit. The part that can be discouraging is the lack of resources as it relates to people power and tied in networks. When you have a team and connected allies, things can move much faster. As an independent you need LOTS of patience.
- How do you market and manage your music career? Do you have a management team or do you control everything by yourself?
Well Dressed Villains: We’re taking it day by day. As the quote goes “There are levels to the game.” With that being said, we’re working to show up at each stage and deliver to the best of our ability. That kind of work ethic applied over time equals success. We do have some quality relationships that offer us support on a variety of levels. To say we’re doing everything ourselves wouldn’t be accurate—but to say someone else is doing the heavy lifting and making things happen for us wouldn’t be true either.
- If you had the opportunity to change one thing about how the music business works right now, what would that be?
Well Dressed Villains: I would slow it down and make space for development and growth of music. I feel like that is gone. In the end, we’d end up with a better product that has time to blossom.
- If someone has never heard your music, which keywords would you personally use to describe your overall sound and style?
Well Dressed Villains: Our music has hip hop swagger, EDM energy, and rock guts served up with a pop music appeal.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites as fundamental in building a career in music today, and what is your personal relationship with the new technology at hand?
Well Dressed Villains: Yes, it’s all definitely important. Personally, the world is SO noisy that we’re looking to add value and less noise. The path to do that is tricky so we’re testing things to find out what works best. We use Instagram, SoundCloud, our site and Bandcamp primarily.
- Tell us something about your latest release and where fans can find them.
Well Dressed Villains: Our new album Hide Your Valuables is available on all major music platforms. Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, Tidal, SoundCloud and Bandcamp.
- What is your relationship with visual media? Do you think videos are important for your music? Do you have a video you would recommend fans checkout?
Well Dressed Villains: Visual media is definitely important. We shot a fun promo video for Between the Lines that can be seen on our website. We’re working on a few other visual projects right now actually.
- If you were forced to choose only one, between receiving a Grammy award and having a Certified Platinum selling disc? Which would you choose and why?
Well Dressed Villains: We’d go for the Grammy. It’s a symbol on many levels in the industry (like it or not). That award would also open the doors for many more projects and collaborations. So we see it as a gateway to more opportunities.
- What’s next on the upcoming agenda for Well Dressed Villains in 2018?
Well Dressed Villains: Performances—in person and digitally. We’re playing with Ces Cru and G-Moe Skee on March 18th at Gold Sounds (44 Wilson Ave) in Brooklyn. We also host a monthly event at First Live (219 Central Ave) called ‘All the Way Live,’ which is a curated freestyle jam. Now that the public can hear our sound we’re working on showing more of who we are and how we roll. We’ve got an inclusive vibe so we’re open to meeting new people and collaborating. We’ll be shooting videos, making appearances and sharing our visual story that accompanies our sonic narrative.