When Joel Ford and Daniel Lopatin met in sixth grade, they bonded by drawing album covers for fictional bands. Ford and Lopatin forged together over jazz-fusion tapes, blasting tracks from Dan's father's collection of dubbed Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra c90s. "Years later it was Prefuse 73 and Matthew Herbert, but jazz fusion was what we really geeked out on when we were kids," admits Lopatin.
"We met each other right as we were both starting to really get into music, explains Lopatin about the friends' adolescence in Wayland MA, "We were both from similar families. We'd grown up around musicians and music and we were just starting to define our own tastes in that way." Despite the span of years and a period when the two were living in separate cities, (Daniel in Boston, Joel in NYC), the duo's obsession with synthesizers, 80s jazz-fusion, "Berlin school" cosmic music and space disco from labels like Sky, Innovative Communications and ECM grew stronger. Simultaneously, both Dan & Joel were immersed in their own personal projects- Joel with Tigercity and Daniel with Oneohtrix Point Never, when they started to send each other tracks via the Internet.
"It was sort of a puzzle," says Lopatin, "I'd send one track and Joel would add to it and send it back. It went back and forth like that for a long time." In 2010 Joel and Dan found themselves living in a shared apartment in Brooklyn. Living together proved fruitful- with the two writing, recording and producing tracks in their outpost. The result was Games, a symbiotic collaboration in 21st century electronic music across an array of interests ranging from MIDI-funk, glitch, ambient, Italo disco, and musique concrete. The zone resonated via a collection of viral mixes, EPs and singles that garnered much critical acclaim.
Channel Pressure, the production duo's debut full-length is a highly focused study in the effects of consumer electronics that touches on sensual bangers and hyper-spherical anthems prime for the dance floor. The record was engineered by another childhood pal, Al Carlson, and mixed by Prefuse 73. "The music we've done separately is really different," says Ford," but this is a whole new thing. We created something that obliterated the past in a way, we really pushed each other to explore and push ahead. So much of it was improvising, working on ideas and recording them immediately."
To create cohesion amid the impulsiveness and experimentation in the studio, Ford & Lopatin created a fantastical, futuristic narrative arc to run throughout the album. As a result, Channel Pressure functions somewhat as a concept album, following a loosely knit epic involving a teenage anti-hero, violent robo-jocks, and a record industry run by a super computer. "The main character is a kid named Joey Rogers," explains Ford, "he's a teenager who sleeps with his TV on and starts getting subliminal messages telling him to rob a music equipment chain store. The story reflects on our own anxiety over music as teenagers. The confusion surrounding music when you're that age - the feeling of going to Guitar Center and being overwhelmed by the gigantic Aerosmith poster glaring down at you."
"The record is very much about our teenage years," agrees Lopatin, "It's sort of an imagined rock opera. Finding the story and the characters got us really excited to push forward and really lead us through the recording. It helped direct us in a way." Channel Pressure genuinely reflects Ford and Lopatin's mutual love for music that sits outside easy categorization, as well as their unapologetic embrace of technology. "We have been talking about music and experiencing it together since we were kids," says Ford, "When you're first understanding music as a kid, there's an inner world you discover that's outside of every day life. The music that we experienced then - remains really important."