Interview: ARCΛDES Share Their Origins & Making Hits For BTS

A glimpse into how two global hitmakers were formed

Photo: Courtesy of Twin Music Inc.

Interview by Sun Jung

You may have been oblivious of this, but London-based duo ARCΛDES has been pretty much soundtracking your life these past few years with chart-burning hits that has made you dance, cry, or both (mostly both). Comprised of Max Graham and Matt Thomson, ARCΛDES credits include official remixes for Ellie Goulding, Julia Michaels, and Conor Maynard. They’ve written for other artists such as Allie X and Years & Years. The duo most recently produced “Mikrokosmos” and “Jamais Vu” for BTS’ Map Of The Soul: Persona album, which has already conquered the world.

We had the chance to chat with the hitmaking duo who shared their origins, producing for BTS, and what they have in store for us this year. So get your Army mode on and take notes if you want to become a global hitmaker:

When did you guys start making music on your own?

We have both been making music since we were really young. Probably around the age of 14 for us both, playing in bands etc., which eventually lead to writing and producing for other people.

How did you guys meet and when did you start producing together?

We started working together about 3 years ago, making mostly dance and house stuff. We had been working in a studio in Parsons Green, one room apart, and our manager James F Reynolds (who is also our mixer) suggested we write together and it went from there.

Why did you choose ARCΛDES as your moniker?

We were actually called Digital Army for a while and put out a few remixes etc. under that name but decided it sounded more like a media agency, so we opted for something shorter, snappier and as Max has a huge love of gaming and he had built an arcade machine for the studio, we thought it was fitting.

What was the hardest track that you guys ever worked on and why?

Our song ‘The Air’ which was our first release as ARCΛDES with our friend Sarah Walk and it took longer than usual because up till that point we had been so influenced by specific genres that it was easy to latch onto the ‘correct’ sounds but this was the first time we blended all those different styles to create what has become our sound. Once we had the first track out the way, each track came quicker and quicker to us.

You guys worked on BTS’ latest album Map Of The Soul: Persona. How did you guys get involved with that? We heard that they tend to stick to the same producers and it’s hard to get your foot in…

Our manager James has actually been mixing BTS since day one so he was the person who put us on their radar. BigHit are great and very loyal so we have continued working with them closely since Persona came out.

As producers, what do you think is the appeal of BTS music? It has absolutely demolished language barriers.

Their songs and productions are slick but still have character and emotion. That’s the key…some people are good at capturing a raw vocal / guitar track and get the emotion across, some people are great at putting together a really tight production where the emotion gets lost. I think BTS are masters at getting that fine balance of both across and therefore if you can feel it, you don’t need to be able to speak the language. But then they will always combine Korean and English so that helps too.

Do you guys listen to Kpop artists (aside from BTS)?

Yeh definitely. There is a lot of great K-pop out there. I think what BTS do though is just make great music and the focus doesn’t seem to be creating “kpop” and more about great pop music for the world to enjoy, coming out of Korea.

Aside from producing, you guys also make your own music (we LOVED “Fragile” with SOFÍA btw). How is making music for ARCADES different from producing for other artists? Can we expect any new music from ARCADES this year?

Thank you so much. Any song we release as ‘ARCADES’ gives us a chance to put something out that is completely our sound and style, and when we are brought in on someone else’s track we get to put a flavour of our sound in there.

We actually have 3 new singles ready to go so we are just in the process of getting them mixed and then deciding in which order to drop them but we are so happy with all three and feels like they pick up perfectly where “Fragile” left off.

The world ends tomorrow and you decide to throw a party. You can choose a DJ and a musician (can be a band) to perform – who’s gonna be? Also, what will be the final song before you all die in flames?

Matt: Probably “Climbing To The Moon” by The Eels (my favourite band) and sit back with Project Runway on the telly and I’d go with a smile on my face.

Max: If the world was about to end, I’d want to listen to “Shelter” by Porter Robinson & Madeon. It doesn’t matter if I’m having the worst day ever or even facing impending doom, that song never fails to put a smile on my face.

Smiling in the face of apocalypse is one more superpower that ARCΛDES have other than making global viral songs.

You can stalk ARCΛDES on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.