Interview: Cheat Codes – recording music videos in quarantine and missing shows

Multi-platinum group Cheat Codes, want people to believe that following your passion and keeping your mind open to any possibilities can and will manifest into reality. This isn’t just a massage, it’s the mentality that allowed the trio their meteoric rise since first formed in LA.

Comprising of Trevor Dahl, Matthew Russell and Kevin Ford, the group have collaborated with some of the biggest names out there (Liam Payne, Kim Petras, Fetty Wap, Demi Lovato, Little Mix, Sofia Reyes just to name a few). The trio kicked off 2020  in the form of anthemic ‘No Service In The Hills’ featuring Trippie Reddblackbear and PRINCE$$ ROSIE.

Speaking about the Bella Thorne-directed music video for the track, Matthew says “For the video for ‘No Service In The Hills’, we thought the idea for the video fit really well with the dark, grungy vibe of the song. Lyrically the song is about being in your own space and so it translates really well into a “cabin in the woods” concept. It was a cool spin on the song.”

Following up is their April release, ‘On My Life’, a personal track with an accompanying heart-warming montage. On the inspiration behind the track, Russell says “The idea for this track came from our history as friends, a bunch of broke guys making music. But we had all these huge dreams that we eventually spoke into existence in a way. The song is about reflecting on where you started, being grateful for how far you’ve come.”

In tandem with this inspiration, the video harkens back to their early days right up to childhood. Matthew reveals, “Since we’re quarantined with family, we thought it was the perfect moment to just say “hey mom can we go through our home videos?” and we ended up finding a lot of interesting stuff. I’ve known I was always into music but there are videos of me at nine months old playing the piano so I really have always been into music, I didn’t know that!”

He adds that what they hope for with this track is relatability, “We’d like people to know that we are just ordinary guys and show them that if you follow your love for something it’ll take you somewhere. It’s meant to remind people that they can really make anything happen.”

Their pure love for all music has meant an experimental, versatile soundscape. Speaking on the group’s sonic evolution as of 2020, Matthew expands “‘No Service In The Hills’ is the first single in an album we’re working on. And this new one is set to be the second single. Most of the songs on this album are different from the stuff we usually release.

“We’re not focused on fitting these tracks into a DJ set, instead we’re focusing on the song itself and lyrics/message exploring who we are as people. We are simultaneously working on the project after the album which totally caters to our dance music discography. So it’s about giving something for everyone to listen to.”

One of the reasons Cheat Codes has been able to make music with something for everyone is their enthusiasm to expand beyond their sound and collaborate. In fact, Matt describes collaboration as the most exciting part of making music.

He explains, “We collaborate a lot so something that’s very exciting for me is putting a demo together and making that initial start of this particular person on this track would elevate it.  We’re really open to anyone; we always think about what’s best for the record rather than if they are a big name.”

As big as they might be, Cheat Codes truly feel like they are your friends. On memorable moments, it isn’t awards or big-name collaborations that Matt brings up, it’s live shows. With the global pandemic, and no way to perform live Matt says “We’re really missing doing live shows. Looking back on the shows we’ve played is insane and I’m really grateful for that because we don’t know when the next time’s going to be now!” 

Their genuine answers, the down-to-earth quality of ‘On My Life’, its home-video inspired visuals and more, proves that Cheat Codes are beyond their reputation as acclaimed artists; reminding everyone around them to be grateful for the little things in life.

Beyond every achievement and their hard-won fame, they were, they are and they will continue to be three guys who loved music, chased their dreams and spoke those dreams into reality – now encouraging everyone else to do the same.

Author avatar
Malvika Padin

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