After creating “How Deep is Your Love,” arguably the summer anthem of 2015, with Calvin Harris, London-based production trio Disciples just picked up their first MTV Video Music Award. The song’s video, featuring doe-eyed Gigi Hadid, snagged “Best Electronic Video” this past Sunday. You had to be living under an oversized rock if the dreamy deep house track didn’t come across your radar at least once.
Composed of Gavin Kool, Luke Mac and Nathan Duvall, Disciples didn’t imagine the video would nearly amass 700 million views on YouTube, or that it would hit the top 10 charts in over 74 countries. The awards and 400 million Spotify plays haven’t gone to their heads, though. As Kool said to me over the phone through a laugh, “There are no breaks.” Even though it seems like 2015 was their biggest yet, the announcement of their debut at Philly’s famed Made in America fest and their new single “Daylight“ prove 2016 is another milestone.
I spoke with Kool from their home base of London while Duvall and Mac were in route to Miami. From what’s really happening to the underground dance scene in Ibiza to the inspiration behind their new track, we covered quite a bit of ground.
How did growing up in the UK dance scene influence your sound?
We all sort of come from similar, but different, backgrounds when it comes to music. Nathan grew up with a lot of the R&B and soul. Luke and I grew up in our early teenage days with UK garage and that sort of scene, which was a massive thing over here at the time. And I think the UK has always sort of been forward-thinking when it comes to creating dance music, and I guess music in general. We take that way of thinking, and make music that excites us and try not to conform to what is around us and worrying about the charts.
Did you ever think “How Deep Is Your Love” would one day have over 600 million views?
I don’t think any of us predicted exactly the level it would get to. We were concentrating on getting the right sound, and the greatest thing about working with Calvin is that he has the same mentality. That’s why it synced up so well. We spent months tweaking the track with him, just so we were happy with it first. We never really thought it would get to the level it would did. It has been a blessing.
How did you start working with Calvin on that track?
We had the song recorded already, and I sent him the track just to get another ear on it. He loved the track and had loads of ideas. He kind of put the work on it, so we went back and forth and went into the studio not even thinking what the outcome would be, and after about a month of us doing that it just made sense to put the track out as a collaboration.
What was it like having Gigi Hadid star in the video?
It was amazing. And again, that was a Calvin move. We weren’t fully aware that she would be in the video for it. We weren’t in L.A. when it was being shot, but we got the first edit and it was sort of mind-blowing to see her in the video.
It seems like a lot of people in the industry are saying Ibiza’s influence in dance is over. You guys have played there all summer. Do you see any truth in that?
I think it’s just changing more than anything. Ibiza is a long-standing dance music base, so there’s a lot of foundation and roots that stem from there. When things start to change, people get a bit upset and think Ibiza is ending. I don’t think Ibiza will ever change from being the biggest hub of dance music in the world. It is becoming a lot more open to more commercial artists, and it’s also a cool place for people that aren’t into underground dance music. You’re getting the spotlight on it as well as having the foundation of what has been there for the last 20 years. It’s a healthy move, but it’s going to take a while.
One thing that’s really impressive is that you guys write, produce and do the vocals on most of your tracks. What does that process look like when you want to create a new song?
It’s always hard to explain because really it’s different every time. Sometimes I’ll come up with a beat, and then we will all work together and arrange it. Sometimes we will literally all just sit with a blank page. I think it’s like whomever the idea starts from, it has to spark all three of our minds, and that’s when it becomes a Disciples track.
Is that how your new track “Daylight” came about?
Yeah. We were in L.A. and working with loads of different writers and stuff. And that was the day we were in the studio together. Nathan started playing that bassline and it got all of our brains ticking. Sometimes we can spend days in the studio and not come out with anything, but when something sparks us it just sort of comes out and can be laid down pretty quickly.
How does it feel to debut at Made in America, considering you’re in the lineup with Coldplay, Rihanna and Jamie XX?
That’s amazing; we’re really excited to be alongside those kinds of names. And who knows—collaborations might pop up from that festival.
Who else would you love to collaborate with?
I mean, at the moment we’ve done quite a few collaborations. Our main focus is working, just us three, and getting our ideas out and down and the album done with just us three together. But there’s loads of people in the future we’d love to collaborate with. There are also people in the pipeline, but I don’t know if I want to throw any names out just this second.
You know you want to.
[Laughs] We’re actually not sure, but we’ve done Robin Schulz, we’ve done Calvin, we’ve done David Guetta, so now that we’ve done those three the main focus is getting a few tracks with just us.
How far along is your new album?
We always say we are done, and then we write more music and it changes. I think by the end of this year we will have it sort of wrapped up, or the majority of it. In 2017 we just want to build our tour. We want to keep releasing music that makes us happy and see how people react to it.
It seems like in dance there’s been a gradual shift toward producing and writing music in Los Angeles. Why is that?
Yeah, it’s crazy. Obviously it’s the music business hub in America anyway, but I think people in L.A.—well all around America, really—are starting to appreciate the different styles of dance music. So a lot of people in the dance music scene over in Europe and the UK have gone over there. It’s become quite vibrant. Our label with Pete Tong is out there. Also, the amount of sun you guys have out there is quite amazing and it doesn’t compare to the UK in November. To go out there and write when the sun is shining through your window is pretty amazing.