In late 2010, the “inappropriate ubiquity” of thundering dubstep was just beginning to peak.
“I’m sure it got more popular after that,” continued Jeffrey Paradise, the San Francisco half of Los Angeles-based electronic duo Poolside. “But it was everywhere and becoming the very cool thing to do.”
Commercials, Hollywood films, and even hotel lobby playlists would all bite on the trend. So when Paradise and Filip Nikolic finally got some solid studio time together after five years of spitballing ideas, one thing they definitely agreed on was whatever they did, it had to be chill.
“So we were like OK, we’re going to LA to a studio, drink some, make some songs and just have a really good weekend,” said Paradise. “It was more like, let’s prioritize hanging out, and that way if we go into the studio it’ll be natural and fun. And because everywhere we turned we were facing dubstep, we were like well let’s make music that we’d like to hear at these daytime parties that we’re going to in LA, which was, like, disco, soul, kind of groovy, and super chill.”
As it turned out, they weren’t the only ones feeling the burn of daytime dubstep. Within 12 hours of uploading the first track, they had thousands of likes on the Soundcloud upload, as well as multiple messages from record companies wanting to release the track for them.
“We were just thinking at the time we’d make a few songs and maybe our friends would like it and we’d play one or two parties a year, maybe play some Coachella pool party, because we both worked in the industry throughout most of our lives,” he said. “But we weren’t expecting this at all. We weren’t planning on being a group.”
But after taking a year off, they are feeling revitalized and optimistic about the future. On April 6, the day before speaking with Paradise over the phone and only a few days before a last-minute Poolside appearance at San Francisco’s Mezzanine Club, the duo released an hour-long mix tape of fresh remixes and even snuck a brand-new original.
The official return happened last month, with Poolside starting off the day time sets of CRSSD Music Festival over the weekend of March 6 in San Diego. The Mezzanine performance was another stroke in Poolside’s good fortune. Being from, and currently residing once again inside of, San Francisco, when a date fell through and a friend of Paradise’s needed to fill a musical spot, Paradise and Poolside stepped up to fill the April 9 slot.
Starting at 11:45pm, Poolside jumped on the decks and segued perfectly out of a stellar house set from Vito & Druzzi of Paradise’s former band, The Rapture. Featuring heavy jungle drum and bass rhythms and soulful ’70s vox samples over xylophone-sounding synths, the pair kept the crowd bouncing. At midnight, after 15 minutes at the controller, it became Paradise’s birthday party. Never billed as such, information spread by word of mouth and by the end of the set, Filip had announced it to the crowd.
The hour and a half DJ set from Poolside definitely had the amped up energy of a late night set without losing any of the duo’s signature daytime disco sound. From Ratatat-esque guitar slide samples to funky minor key bass breakdowns, Paradise and Nikolic kept hammering the down beat for that old school disco four-on-the-floor dance feel. They ended the show with arguably their most widespread track, a remix of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” followed by, arguably, one of the poorest “Happy Birthday” sing-alongs in daytime disco history.
Although future dates have not been released as of yet, Paradise hinted over the phone that they would not be limited to California. Aiming to hit major markets like New York, Chicago and Miami, Paradise said they are being very selective about where they play.
“We’re not trying to get back into that grind where you’re gone half the time,” he said. “We’re focused on doing good shows when we’re available and making sure that we’re taking the necessary space away from the road so we stay excited for every show, and it stays something to look forward to.”