The symbiotic creativity of Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton fuses together to craft the electro pop duo known as the multi-dimensional, Cardiknox. Their latest album, Portraits, is an odyssey of poignant unrequited love, positivity enhancers, and dance anthems fit to be played at any picturesque festival. Cardiknox talk with Local Wolves on everything from music’s capacity to soothe the soul of heartbreak to their mastery of disguising the raw emotion of love lost within a sanguine synth-driven track. Keep an eye on Cardiknox, as they are quick to redefine the electro-pop structure by showcasing ingenious thematic blending of self-love and emblematic joy through wildly eccentric soundscapes.
Portraits is an immersive album with introspective lyricism that evokes inspiring emotion through immaculate energetic beats, what does staying creative mean to you?
In order to stay creative, you have to really live. Often the richest and most creatively inspired work comes from personal life experience. The ups, the downs… the struggles and lil’ life wins. These stories make great songs. I also think staying interested in the world around you— reading, exploring, seeing and experiencing other art— this breeds more creativity as well.
How did Lonnie’s skill-set in musical theatre and Thomas’s rock band roots fuse together to form the Cardiknox project?
We both draw on our own past experiences. Thomas does most of his songwriting with a guitar-driven bent and I find myself focused on storytelling which is definitely a byproduct of my time studying theatre. While our pasts are really different, they definitely inform the writing we do together for Cardiknox.
One of my favorite lyrics is on the track, “On My Way”, “driving through the night with the tank on empty.” It’s reminiscent of impromptu road-trips and blasting the radio on the highest volume. Do you two have any go-to road-trip songs while on tour?
Tom Petty’s ͞:Don’t Come Around Here No More” and SWV “Weak”.
Speaking on, “On My Way”, the song embodies the thematic element of allowing no one’s negativity effect your decisions, is there any piece of advice you’d give young musicians who get turned down by labels and are sometimes swayed to stop pursuing music?
Don’t stop. No matter the obstacle, and no matter how many times you feel you’ve faced it, if you believe in yourself, keep going. This industry is tough and everyone has their own path. You’ve just got to work, then work harder, and then work even harder. I recently had Cyndi Lauper (yes, Cyndi Lauper!!) tell me the ones that make it in this industry are the ones that don’t give up. It’s great advice, and pass that along to anyone else who’s making music.
The track, “Souvenirs”, speaks on an unrequited love with token items saved from a dead relationship, how are you able to disguise the bittersweet raw emotion of the lyrics through an upbeat trickling synth?
We wanted the song to feel bittersweet. It was a reflection of young love that is fondly remembered, yet will always leave you with that subtle pain of heart. Hopefully the bouncy, lightheartedness of the production helps inform the sentiment we hoped to convey.
Do you think music has the capacity to soothe the soul of heartbreak?
Absolutely. Music so often soundtracks our lives. When going through a painful heartbreak, listening to music that allows you to both indulge in the sadness but ultimately move past it, is really cathartic.
Why do you think electro pop music resonates so much with millennials?
Electro-pop gets to blend so many different eras and genres of music. We get to pull our favorite 80s snares and 90s synths. You get to create a soundscape that both current and a blend of the great nostalgic sounds of the past. Technology has allowed music today to have pretty rad production.
Do you tend to cater your music for a festival audience to dance to or for someone to extensively listen to and capture it in their innermost workings of the brain or a little bit of both?
We hope that people will enjoy Portrait as an entire body of work. While we’re aware of the “singles-driven” culture of music today, we wanted the album to really live as an entire entity that you can listen to front to back. We also have a bunch of dancey-tracks though and they’re super fun to play at festivals.
What is it about Cardiknox that distances yourselves from other electro-pop duos?
We’ve pretty deliberate about Cardiknox being a vehicle to tell our stories. In pop music, oftentimes you don’t know if you’re hearing the singers story or a song that was co-written by 5 other people. That’s totally fine and definitely can serve a purpose, but our songs are really a reflection of us and hopefully, allows fans to connect even more with us.
I can sense that you guys are going to have a massive 2016, but which artists are on your to be watched list this year?
Gallant, LANY, Astrid S
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about production through the making of Portraits?
That magical sounds come in all shapes and sizes. When we were writing and recording songs in Thomas’ East Village apartment, we didn’t have state of the art gear, and had to use what we had to make all our sounds. When we went into Henson Studios to record the album, we were lucky enough to use all this incredible vintage, high-end gear, but our producer John Shanks looks for sounds and inspiration everywhere, so we ended up finding sounds from iPhone apps to dinky little Casio keyboards. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Since you are a duo, I assume that you two have to be brutally honest with each other during the creative process. Ultimately do you think that little arguments that arise over a synth selection or vocal sample produce a far more improved masterpiece?
To be honest, we tend to have pretty similar tastes in production. And when we don’t, it’s all about compromise. Sometimes I win, sometimes Thomas does. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding the best solution for the song.
If you had to pick one song from your discography as an introduction to people who’ve never listened to you before, which would you pick?
Has the transition from New York to Los Angeles impacted your music in anyway?
Definitely, but Cardiknox was born in NYC so we’ve tried to keep New York in its roots. The edginess and grit of New York is important to us, but it’s hard not to be influenced by the sprawling sunshine (for better or worse) of LA.
Explain the rush of feeling you got when you listened to Portraits in its completed full glory.
We ended up changing the track listing about 50 times, but when we first drove around the city with a “finished” version of the album, it was so incredible. Overwhelming joy and disbelief in our creation; that we actually created this piece of art. It was so satisfying.