Life’s pretty good if you’re in DJ group Cheat Codes. The dance music trio have a song with Demi Lovato, “No Promises,” making steady progress across the charts, which means they are the only band signed to an independent label to have a hit charting that high in the moment. And they’re not letting their moment pass them by. There’s the parties, collaborating with other artists like Rita Ora, their first-ever invite to the VMAs (including playing an MTV pre-party Friday night at the Avalon with Kacy Hill), the parties, the appearance on Jimmy Fallon and…the parties?
The trio are something of an oddity. They were among the first DJ groups to pioneer singing and playing live, beating even the Chainsmokers. Trevor Dahl, KEVI and Matthew Russell were friends in Los Angeles for years, playing music separately, before they decided to band together and go it as a group. And go at it they have, breaking out of the local LA scene and into the pop music conversation.
They are having so much fun, we invited them to take over our Instagram Stories for the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, from 3 p.m. PST to 7 p.m. PST.
Dahl and KEVI had lots to share about the state of dance music, working with Demi Lovato and the secret to their success. Below is our interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
What do you guys think of the state of dance music in 2017?
TREVOR: I think it’s really exciting right now. Just ‘cause, people- a lot of people say, 'oh EDM’s dead’ or whatever it is, but, I think that people are able to really push the boundaries right now, and blend songs and genres.
KEVI: Yeah, I agree.
So you guys collaborated with Demi Lovato and Rita Ora. How did that come about?
TREVOR: The Demi song kind of happened as one of those things where we played together in Brazil, like last year, and … After the show, like her fans and our fans were both like, 'oh you guys should do a song together, you guys should definitely gotta collaborate’. And … It was one of those things where a few months later we just had the song called “Promises” and we were like, 'oh man this would be perfect for Demi’. And so we just sent it over to her, honestly. We sent it over to her team, and she listened to the song, and she loved it, and so she came into the studio, and we finished it up pretty quick. So it was one of those things that just sorta happened naturally, she loved the song and she connected with it, and we knew it would be perfect for her. And it worked out, so it was cool.
So it was really just that easy?
TREVOR: We try to make everything easy, you know what I mean? A lot of people try to make everything too hard on themselves, and we try to like just, you know, at the end of the day, the music is gonna speak for itself, so if you write good songs, you make good music, you produce good songs, and … It’s just gonna be that easy, you know? And, it’s just been fun.
What was your biggest sort of like ah-ha, wow, we’re really sort of making it moment? Was it working with Demi, or was there like a particular performance?
TREVOR: What do you think Kev?
KEVI: I think Fallon was pretty cool. Yeah, we did Fallon which was like, 'oh shit, this is pretty intense’.
TREVOR: Oh yeah, when we spoke to Jimmy Fallon, that was … That was pretty cool. One of those moments where I think that for all three of us, it was one of those things where we’re like, 'oh wow we’ve been watching The Late Night Show since we were little kids’ so. And you know we’ve always kind of looked up to these people that’re performing on these shows, so the fact that we’re here, do this now, with like, one of our songs on the radio. It’s kind of like an ah-ha moment, you know? So. You know, we just wanna keep doing what we did before, and just keep releasing music consistently, and kind of keep switching up genres and kind of standing in front of it, you know?
What’s one thing people don’t know about you guys that you want them to know?
KEVI: How much weed we smoke. We smoke a lot of weed.