By: Claire Spinner
With clubs reopening, the American electronic music duo The Knocks hope their latest track, “Bedroom Eyes,” will be the score of the summer.
Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner describes the track as a return to form for the duo, which also includes James “JPatt” Patterson. Their last full-length record was 2018’s “New York Narcotic.”
“It really does remind me of older stuff by The Knocks,” Ruttner says.
“It’s a lot more straight disco than what we did a few years ago. JPatt did this amazing bassline and I got to add live drums. We wanted to come up with this real summery, easy tune. It feels like people are really ready to have fun this summer and enjoy themselves, so it felt like great timing, too.”
“Bedroom Eyes” is the second track The Knocks have released in 2021. Patterson says the steady stream of singles since 2018 shows their dedication to the dance music scene.
“Half the battle with the music industry is just staying visible and relevant and staying in people’s ears, because these days there is so much to latch on to and attention spans can be short,” Patterson says. “Throughout our career, we’ve never really stopped putting out new music. We’re constantly generating new content and I think it’s gotten us to where we are now.”
During the quarantine, Patterson and Ruttner were separated for months. However, they continued to create music, like “Bedroom Eyes,” virtually.
“It was a combo of me sending things to JPatt and him sending stuff back to me, while we were also dealing with Studio Killers, who were in Finland,” Ruttner says. “It was really interesting, and definitely a different way to make a song, though I can’t say my favorite way.”
Ruttner says that ideally when collaborating with other artists, he and Patterson prefer the camaraderie of working in person. That leads to the duo’s best work.
“I think my favorite way to collaborate is to have everyone in a room, drinking beers and just having a party and making it fun. That’s my favorite way to make music with other songwriters and I think it’s how a lot of our best collaborations come about,” Ruttner says.
These collaborations range from indie acts like Mallrat, who sang on the group’s other 2021 single, “R U High,” to alternative favorites like Foster the People, with whom they did an album of covers. Patterson and Ruttner agree that their favorite musical partnerships are those that have a personal tie to their lives.
Ruttner says that working with a personal hero, Wyclef Jean was a major turning point for his music-making journey.
“It was a really crazy and incredible experience because I grew up listening to him — like really listening. To sit in his house and make a song from scratch was the coolest experience. To me, it felt like a turning point for us as a band,” Ruttner says.
Patterson says a favorite collaboration of his was with Alex Newell, a singer who got their start on “Glee” and a well-known member of the LBGTQ community. Along with the song’s music video, which featured “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner, Aquaria, Patterson says the partnership helped him feel connected to the queer community.
“We’ve been able to become part of those communities in a lot of ways, which, as a queer person myself, is really important for me,” Patterson says.
The Knocks have long been known for their inclusivity of people from all walks of life in its music and live shows.
“It’s part of who we have always been as a group. At our early shows we almost always made a speech about bringing people together and how that’s what our music is for,” Patterson says. “We want to create environments for people where they can come and feel welcome and experience this music without feeling like they are being judged for their differences.”
The Knocks are excited to bring their new music onstage and create that same inclusive party environment on the road, including Maya Dayclub in Scottsdale on Sunday, August 22.
“I’m so excited to DJ. We just started playing gigs again and it feels really good,” Ruttner says. “I’m looking forward to being able to play these new songs. We’ve put out so much music over the past couple years that we haven’t even been able to hear out loud in a club, so I’m stoked for that. I’m just excited to watch people react to the music.”
Patterson and Ruttner want to raise their fans’ spirits with “Bedroom Eyes” and its forthcoming album.
“We really just want our music to affect people positively. We want these new tracks to feel like hope and love and joy,” Patterson says.
“I want people to have fun and I want these songs to be the soundtrack to coming back to life,” Ruttner says. “People right now are happy to be alive and that’s why it’s the perfect time to release. We’re not trying to take ourselves too seriously—we wanted to make music that you can throw on that just makes you feel good. That’s our goal.” CT
The Knocks DJ Set during Sunday Drip
WHEN: Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, August 22
WHERE: Maya Dayclub, 7333 E. Indian Plaza, Scottsdale
COST: Tickets start at $25
INFO: 480.625.0528, theknocks.com, mayaclubaz.com