Redefining Dance: Catching up with electro-funk masters The Knocks

Dec 19 2017, 1:55 pm

New York City funk duo The Knocks are bringing their soulful dance groove back to Vancouver this Friday at the Electric Owl.

The duo, Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson, had initially gained recognition for their remixes for artists like Foster the People, Haim, Passion Pit, and Ellie Goulding, before eventually producing their own music.

When these two are not in the studio, they are on the road, touring and sharing the stage with the likes of Calvin Harris, St. Lucia and Skrillex. Last year, The Knocks were in town touring with ASTR in the summer and were back on stage with RAC in November. Their first US tour was opening for Ellie Goulding, and they have since become loved by fans and many music blogs globally.

The duo, who just announced are playing Sasquatch Festival this year, have openly expressed their love for Vancouver on their social media. We (luckily) got a chance to catch up with Ben this week – all the way from New York- in anticipation of their upcoming DJ set at the Owl for the one year anniversary of White Noise. But first, we dance…

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How long have you guys been in the music scene?

We’ve kind of always been doing music. I used to DJ way back, when I was 13 I started DJing. I started doing a lot of hip hop stuff, DJing for rappers, make beats for rappers. And JPatt, he was doing hip hop stuff also, but he was more traditional. He played organ and drums at his church. I wasn’t sitting and playing instruments, I was making beats and DJing.

We both went to New York City for college, and both pursued the rap thing, and that’s how we met actually. We were both working at the studio at the school I went to at the time, The New School. Then we each needed a roommate, so we ended up living together. That’s how we became buds, and slowly started collaborating on stuff and next thing you know we opened a studio together.

What year was this?

We moved in together in 2006 – we lived together for five years and we opened the studio in 2008.

And you guys have been working on your debut album recently?

Yeh, it’s crazy. Technically, we’ve been working on this our whole lives. But yes, this is our first album. It’s funny because we did a whole album before, we were signed to Interscope for a while and we did a while album with them.

We finished, mixed, mastered, art work ready to go, and then that label folded (A&M Octone Records). So we had this album and we were talking about putting out independently, like a self release, or finding an indie label to put it out. And then we were just like doing some song with some friends, and that’s how “Classic” came along. We met Mike Del Rio who’s half of the duo POWERS, his partner and girlfriend is the girl singing on the song. We made that song in a day and knew right away it was kind of a special song.

That ended up getting us a deal with Atlantic for the single. They wanted to release the single on Big Beat Records. When “Classic” came out, it did so well, it set this new bar for us. It’s a departure from our other sounds, but its a progression, I think. Then Atlantic offered us a record deal for a full album, and we ended up going to the studio and making a whole new album. We’re so excited about the new one.

When is it coming out?

It’s supposed to come out in June. We have an EP coming out in March.

Having been in Vancouver twice last year, how’s your experience been playing here so far?

I love it there. We always have a blast. We have a really good fan base up there. One thing that really helped us out a bit is we went and played that festival Rifflandia, in Victoria. And it was a huge success. It was one of the most fun shows we had done at the time.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Vancouver?

Probably party. (laughs) I always have a lot of fun there. Good Asian food too.

You’re playing a DJ set on Friday at the Electric Owl, what can Vancouver expect there?

When we DJ, it’s different than our original music – a little bit deeper, more ‘housey’. We like to party rock. We’ll play a lot of cool house stuff that people will know, but we will also throw in some catchy weird songs from the 60’s. We like to mix it up.

I heard you have a pre-show ritual that you listen to Drake before shows. Would you classify him as your favourite Canadian?

(Ben laughs) Yes, 100% Drake is my favourite Canadian. I think he’s the artist of our generation.


The Knocks debut LP, ENDISCO, is slated for release June 2015. Catch The Knocks and all their funk this spooky Friday the 13th, Vancouver!


Timbre Concerts and White Noise Present:

With local residents Pat Lok and Wmnstudies
When: Friday, February 13, 2015 Doors at 9:00 p.m.
Where: Electric Owl, 926 Main Street
Tickets: $20 in advance available online at Ticketweb.


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Feature Image: Tatiana Turin