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Spotlight Interview

From Side to Side: A Conversation with GRAMMY-Nominees SIDEPIECE

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The brainchild of two friends and innovators who came together out of their mutual love of house music and the thrill of collaboration, SIDEPIECE hit the rave scene like a hammer, in the last two years, combining the skills of producers Party Favor (also known as Dylan Ragland) and Nitti Gritti (Ricky Mears). Though both were already well established on the EDM scene, their joint venture has taken their respective reputations to a whole new level. Since first coming together in 2019, the duo has released a string of well-received singles like “Wanna See You,” “Fallin for You,” “Together” and “On My Mind,” their collab with Diplo, a killer track that has gone on to earn a GRAMMY nomination.

On the back of these bangers and with more on the way, BMI’s David Streit and Nia Aglipay caught up with SIDEPIECE to find out what’s next. Here’s what they had to say.

Since the early Soundcloud days (maybe earlier), you both have been making solid names for yourselves in the dance community. In the grand scheme of things, your project SIDEPIECE is fairly new, yet it feels really natural as if it were always meant to be. Can you tell us how you linked up? Were you always planning on collaborating at some point or did the project come together recently?

Ricky: We got on FaceTime one day and showed each other some tech-house records. After that, it was so easy to figure out the rest. It’s kind of funny, looking back, how immediate it was that we knew we should make a house project together.

Dylan: It really feels like it’s been ages, though. I think it’s because we have made so much music that hasn’t seen the light of day yet. I had wanted to do a tech-house project for many years, and almost started one myself many times, but could never fully commit. I really respect Ricky as a producer and as a person, and it just popped into my head to reach out to him and see if he was down to be a part of it. It was pretty amazing because he started playing me some house stuff he had worked on and vice versa. I think we both realized right then and there that there was something special here. It was fate. It was time. We aren’t putting as much pressure on ourselves because this is both of our side projects (sidepieces), so I think that’s allowed us to just have fun and make what we wanna make!

Speaking of collaborating, we can’t go much further in the interview without mentioning “On My Mind” with Diplo. Congratulations on your first ever GRAMMY nomination! Definitely one of the biggest dance tracks in the past year. How did the song originally come together?

Ricky: So I had a writing camp with Diplo in Bali and made the song almost two years ago. Then later we started SIDEPIECE. I knew immediately it was a good fit for a Diplo & SIDEPIECE record instead of my solo project Nitti Gritti. Then we polished it up and got the release plan ready. The rest was natural and people seemed to gravitate towards the song.

Dylan: Thank you! We are honored, humbled and super-appreciative of how well the song has been received. Not a bad song to basically come out of the gate with. Ricky started this song with Wes (Diplo) before the SIDEPIECE project even started. When we initially started working on the project, he showed me the record as it was at the time, and we both agreed it was perfect for the project. We worked on it more from there and the rest is history!

Where were you and what was your reaction when you first heard the news that “On My Mind” had a GRAMMY nomination? We imagine it was a good day.

Ricky: I was in Dominican Republic with my family and my girlfriend’s family and we all freaked out while watching the live stream. I still have the video saved to remember the feeling.

Dylan: I was sitting in my studio watching the live stream of the nominees with my fiancé, and wasn’t really expecting to see anything, but excited to see who/what was nominated. When we first saw the name pop up, i just started jumping around my place like crazy and immediately FaceTimed Ricky. It was surreal.

When you first released “On My Mind,” did you know it had a shot at a GRAMMY? Or was the nomination a complete surprise?

Ricky:  I had a hint of the caliber of the song because it just seemed to check off all the right boxes for a big dance record. I was surprised though; it’s surreal to be nominated for a GRAMMY this time now that it’s actually my own project.

Dylan: The first time I heard an early version I knew it was going to be huge. On top of that, Diplo was playing it out for a year almost and no one had any idea we were even on it. It was getting a ton of support and it just seemed like it was getting a great response. It’s exceeded expectations and is super exciting.

Live events and awards shows have looked different for the past year. How has it been navigating the industry through the pandemic? We imagine you both are used to playing to huge crowds and festivals.

Ricky & Dylan: It’s been a nice calm break from touring so much in the past, but I think we’re all ready to get back to festivals.

With the success of “On My Mind,” there are probably lots of new opportunities on the horizon to collaborate with other notable artists/songwriters around the world. Thinking a little bit about the future, who would be a dream collaborator you’d like to work with in the coming year?

Ricky: I’d love to work with Diplo again, Dom Dolla, Chris Lake would be awesome eventually, too!

Dylan: I think we are trying to keep the mindset the same since the beginning, which is bringing both of our sounds and styles together as SIDEPIECE into the house world. We have been making mostly originals, but definitely want to collaborate this year. I personally would love to collaborate with Green Velvet, Richie Hawtin, Eli Brown. They are some of my favorites and I think we could make something super wild.

We’re hopeful going into 2021 and are only bringing good energy into this year. What are some things you’re looking forward to? Can you tease some news about this upcoming year and any releases from you both?

Ricky: I think we’re both excited to release new tunes. We’ve spent a lot of time working together on new music during the pandemic. I am trying to be patient and wait for things to get back to normal so we can enjoy the energy of the crowd again.

Dylan: Us too! Can’t get any worse then last year right?!? We have a ton of records coming out this year, starting with “Temptation,” which we made as one of the first songs as SIDEPIECE, so we are glad it’s finally seeing the light of day. Collabs and some festivals in the works this year. Going to be a great year!

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