10 Questions with “Up To You” Artists Disco Killerz and Holly T

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10 Questions with “Up To You” Artists Disco Killerz and Holly T

THE TAKE 5 SERIES

Disco Killerz and Holly T

The Disco Killerz and Holly T have joined forces for latest release, single “Up To You,” released this past June. We chatted with all three to find out how this project came to fruition, learn about the minds behind the song, and much more! 

The Disco Killerz are a DJ/producer duo, comprised of Matthew Danger and Uri Illuz. The New York-based duo has been making music together for the past six years, working with Enhanced, Armada, and most recently, Be Yourself Music. “Up To You” was released with the latest record label. 

The Disco Killerz are best known for their 2019 single “Tongue Tied” which boasts over two million streams on Spotify. They have collaborated with like GATTÜSO and Liquid Todd, and have been remixed by artists like Morgan Page, Dubvision, and Breathe Carolina. “Million Things,” a collaboration with GATTÜSO, made its way to the top 10 on Billboard Dance Radio chart. 

When asked about the artwork for “Up to You,” which features roller skates, the duo gave a very telling answer regarding the artistic vision behind the single: “The picture just looked fun, sexy, empowered, kinetic, retro, and embodied the energy of the song.” 

As for the third mind behind the single, Holly T is a New York-based British DJ, singer, and songwriter. Her debut as a producer was in collaboration with the Disco Killerz as well: single “Nothing to Lose,” released with Enhanced music. 

Before she took on production, Holly T started her career writing for other artists. She made a splash with her first solo single, “Just You and I,” landing a feature on Spotify’s top electronic music playlist “Mint.” The song has exceeded two million streams on the platform. She is best known, however, for her 2019 cover of ’s “Free,” which is inching close to four million streams on Spotify. 

Holly T shares with us the extensive work that went behind producing “Up to You”––the song was in the works for a year! When discussing the singer on the track, Hayley Mays, she explains, “We worked on this song for a year, trying out different vocalists on the record and throwing around different ideas on the production side, we eventually used Hayley Mays vocals on the song; she really took it to the next level.” 

To learn more about the Disco Killerz and Holly T, including their secret talents outside of music, check out our interviews with the below: 

Disco Killerz

Q: Hi Disco Killerz! We couldn’t find your bio online. Tell us who are the Disco Killerz?

Disco Killerz is a duo, consisting of myself (Matthew Danger) and Uri Illuz. Over the last 6 years we’ve been releasing music with Enhanced, Armada, and now with the lovely crew at Be Yourself Music!  Stylewise, I would say that we fall into the dance pop house lane, as we are both fans of pop music. A lot of our earlier songs we wrote entirely ourselves, including toplines, such as “Stellar” and “In The Music,” which I think reflect a lot of the influences from our long musical backgrounds. We live and work in NY where we have a studio in Gramercy Park.  We’ve had the pleasure of working with so many amazing musicians and collaborators over the years including Liquid Todd, GATTÜSO, Laura White, Hayley May, Jem Cooke, Mahalo, Jimmy Gnecco, Brandyn Burnette, Kat Nestel, and the list goes on and on.  Suffice to say we are HUGE fans of working with other producers, writers, and singers. 

Q: Where did you two grow up? and why Dance music?

I grew up here in the US, combination of NY and New England.  Uri is originally from Israel. We’ve both played music our whole lives.  I grew up seriously studying classical piano, as well as violin. Uri was primarily a guitar player, with great Jazz chops.  Over time, we both gravitated towards rock and pop, writing songs, playing in bands. We both found the whole world on synthesizers and music programming pretty early on and Uri, being from Israel, started with Psy Trance, so he’s been producing much longer than I have.  I went to SXSW about 7 years ago and saw a bunch of bands one night, and then went to see Knife Party, who were relatively unknown.  I was blown away with what I saw and heard and realized that the world was primed for a dance music takeover.  About a year later, Uri ended up in NY and we were sharing a music studio together, and the day he moved in we started writing a progressive house song that was signed to Perfecto.  

Q: Your new single "Up to You" which was co-produced with Holly T and Laura White on the vocals is Sick! Where did this song come from? (Who began this project, and who approached who with the concept and or message.)

We had worked with Laura White in the past on our song “Million Things.” I actually stumbled randomly on Laura’s music through some algorithmic recommendation and heard her first EP, which is very soulful and also has pop influence.  When I looked her up, I saw that she wrote (and sang on uncredited) Galantis x Hook & Sling “Love On Me,” and I was sold! We hit her up with a track at the time, and that became a collaboration with GATTÜSO.  Both of us, and Holly, all have a background in writing songs and toplines – which was also Holly’s primary focus before she started working on DJ’ing and producing – however as we’ve all gotten introduced to more topliners, it’s become increasingly interesting to hear amazing songs and be able to work on them without always starting at ground zero, with a totally empty session in front of you and having to do it all.  Laura is so amazing and prolific and we basically love everything she does.  She had worked up an idea for this one with co-writers, Brunelle, and we picked it up and ran with it.  We had also recently worked with Hayley May (who we had heard, also uncredited, on early songs of hers with Joel Corry and M-22) and knew she would be perfect for this one! 

Q: The artwork for "Up to You" displays roller-skates, something reminiscent of "Roller Disco," a fad that was born at the height of the Disco Era. Are you two fans of Disco music? What does the word “Disco” mean to you?

Let’s break it down like this. If you were to ask us to name the top musicians and producers across ALL genres of music, all of these below would probably land top 3: 

 

  1. Best producer: Giorgio Moroder
  2. Most legendary guitar player: Nile Rodgers (Chic)
  3. Most insane bass player: Verdine White (Earth Wind & Fire)
  4. Most insane vocal harmonies: The Bee Gee’s
  5. The source of all modern pop music: ABBA! 

 

And of course, the best party ever, that neither of us ever went to …. was apparently Studio 54! 

Some of these are debatably disco or maybe bordering on disco, but still thats the foundation of modern dance and pop music.  So, yeah – we are fans! 

In truth, we just thought the roller skates were a great image and until now, didnt even make the connection to roller disco (although there’s dancing in the lyric video).  The picture just looked fun, sexy, empowered, kinetic, retro, and embodied the energy of the song. 

Q: New York was the birthplace of the legendary disco Studio 54 and the birthplace of House Music, but the United States also has a complicated past with Disco. Prior to this interview, were either of you aware of the anti-black and anti-queer "Disco Demolition Night, the night Disco died" and in one paragraph or less, what can you tell us about it?

I actually learned about it in the Bee Gee’s documentary, which was only recently, but prior to that it was really never on our radar.  Moreover, I never would have made any connection between that event and our moniker, Disco Killerz. Having read about it, it’s definitely a controversial event that has taken on a lot of negative connotations. But those were very different times, and clearly to the above, black and queer performers, musicians, writers, players, singers, have made such a massive impact on music, popular culture, and the way we experience music of ALL genres, that it’s impossible to imagine music without them.  Personally, I’m a huge fan of Jazz, funk, soul, and pianists like Ahmad Jamal, Billy Preston (who played with both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones), and organ players like Booker T and so many more, and the list goes on and on and on.  To be honest, I don’t think that either of us look at any musician and identify them by race, gender, or sexuality.  Everyone’s in it together, however, unfortunately the world still has a long way to go in terms of universal acceptance, or embracing people of all colors, creeds.  That said, music is really the universal underpinnings of it all and hopefully has gone a long way towards erasing those boundaries and changing (some) peoples way of thinking.  We are also both super liberal, so the whole “anti” this or that just isnt in our DNA. Other than being “Anti-Anti!”

Q: Disco Music, a once popular music style in America was named after the word "Discotheque. “A French word that most Europeans still use to describe a nightclub. However, that word was never popularized in America. So, then Why the "Disco" in Disco Killerz?

Uri lived in Paris, and Berlin for years. I studied French through high school and college quite seriously, and had some amazing times at French Discotheques! There was also a yacht in the James Bond movie, Thunderball called Disco Volante, and it always seemed like such a cool word.  “Discotheque Killerz” wouldn’t quite have the same ring to it, and starts to feel more creepy than fun.  We liked the whole idea of “killing the dance floor” or “killing it” in that sense and hence … Disco Killerz. 

Q: Young people often use the expression "You killed it" instead of the traditional "You nailed it" but given Disco's complicated past, do you worry at all about the negative connotation with the name "Disco Killerz?"

Lets take another example: The Killers, AMAZING band.  Mr Brightside, what a song.  I remember hearing that whole record, “Hot Fuss” for the first time, driving in a friend’s convertible at the beach, and being like WTF is this, who are these guys, song after song, just bangers with amazing writing, sick production and epic vocals.  That was probably another inspiration as a cool reference and something that came to us when the name was born. If we looked at that as so literal, who wants to be “The Killers”.  Thats kind of dark – even in a punk sort of way.  

Bottom line, until now it never occurred to us! There was only one time in the past that someone asked us, in a very quirky way “do you guys want to kill disco?” But that was such an isolated and funny incident, that we wrote it off.  

It’s unfortunate that for some, this may stir up some controversy – but we might be late for a name change? That said, there are sports teams changing their names due to the potential for negative connotations or offending others (e.g. I think The Cleveland Indians will become the Guardians), so we are open to suggestions!  But hopefully, this clears things up.  

Q: Other than music, name a special talent each of you have that few people know about.

Uri is fluent in reading and writing Japanese and worked in Japan as a translator for some time. I make a mean DIY poke bowl, but otherwise I wouldn’t put cooking in my list of talents. We both have mediocre tennis games, but working on it and hope to be able to claim that as a special talent someday! Might take awhile. 

Q: Finally, where can people find you online? (Social media handles, website?)

We’ve mostly migrated to IG: @discokillerz which feels like the most music centric of the social platforms right now. Facebook and Twitter have never been our bag.  Holly is IG @officialhollyt Twitter @hollytnyc Facebook @hollytmusic

 

On top of that, I think we really got into all this out of our love of music and we’d rather spend time writing, recording, and playing vs. “working our socials.”  Of course these days, that’s a bit of a deficit, given how much focus there is on social media, as well as a primary platform for music discovery – but, we kind of stick with our interests and that’s music. It’s amazing what has happened with Tik Tok of course, but for better or for worse, that’s just not our medium. Our medium is music.  

Holly T

Q: Hi Holly T! In a few words can you tell our readers, who is Holly T? (This can be over the top if you’d like.)

Holly is a DJ, singer, songwriter, an artist and a creator. She is determined, strong, opinionated, very driven and doesn’t take no for an answer. She follows her heart and always strives for more no matter what obstacles stand in her way. 

Q: We know you’ve been featured on TeenMag, where they mentioned you are a British dancer and songwriter. Where are you based out of now?

Yes, I am originally from London, I moved to New York at 19 years old to study at Ballet Arts and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. I reside now in New York and both a UK and US citizen. 

Q: Did you always know you would go into music? And why Dance music?

I did not think I would solely go in to music. I have always been writing songs but I never thought I would take it to the next level and do it professionally. I came to the US to dance and after graduating Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre started choreographing for musical artists, a number of them in the EDM genre. I was hired by a management company to choreograph for one of Randy Jacksons artists, I passed along some of my songs to the manager who hired me and he signed me to his publishing company and that was the beginning of me writing top lines for other artists. 

Q: Your new single "Up to You" is sick! a collaboration between yourself and The Disco Killerz. In your own words, where did this song come from? Or what does it mean to you?

I wanted to hear some top lines from other singer/songwriters, Matthew introduced me to Laura White and I heard ‘Up To You’ and knew I wanted to start working on it straight away. We worked on this song for a year, trying out different vocalists on the record and throwing around different ideas on the production side, we eventually used Hayley Mays vocals on the song; she really took it to the next level. 

Q: Congratulations on recently giving birth! Did baby Reagan pick up any musical skills while you were pregnant?

I hope so; from all the guest mixes I recorded at home during lockdown whilst I was pregnant I am sure she picked up something!

Q: You recently pointed out the hypocrisy between Britney Spears’ conservatorship and Bill Cosby being free, and we couldn’t agree with you more, #FreeBritney. Did you watch the documentary “Framing Britney Spears? “ What did you think of it? What would you say to her father? Or What advice would you give Britney Spears?

 I did, I thought it was incredibly sad; here is a woman that has worked very hard her whole life and now has zero control over her life. It is almost unbelievable and sickening, yet we have a grown man who knowingly drugged and raped women and has complete control over his life because now he is free. It makes you question the kind of world we live in. I think Britney is an incredibly smart and strong woman who has been silenced for a very long time, I am sure she has a plan set in motion, my advice would be to stay strong and keep being as fierce as she always has been. 

Q: Not too long ago, you posted a classic John Lennon quote: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans…” What does that mean to you? And are you a John Lennon fan?

Of course I am a John Lennon fan, my sister lives in Liverpool, when I was there last we visited the house he grew up in and I went down Penny Lane. Penny Lane is one of my favorite songs. Coming from a song writing background he is definitely one of my idols. 

 I think it’s true to say we all live in the future (or the past), even as I am writing this I am thinking about all the things I need to do tomorrow or the show I need to prep for next month, I think one of the biggest challenges of life is living in the moment, the here and now, just being present in even the simplest of moments.

Q: Let’s pretend you’ve been invited to be part of a major Hollywood film. If you had to pick one movie genre to be featured as DJ Holly T, which would you choose? A Horror film, Romantic Comedy, Action or Comedy?

This is an easy one, most definitely comedy, with a background in improve (Upright Citizens Brigade trained) I just love making people laugh and being a bit silly at times, my favorite comedians are Kristin Wiig and Amy Schumer. 

Q: Other than music, name one special talent you have that few people know about.

Well, as you already know I was a professional dancer, trained at Alvin Ailey, in Horton, Graham, Ballet, tap… the list goes on. But what people don’t know is… I used to compete in Irish dancing when I was younger, both in light and heavy dancing. And… Oh yes, I can also lift one eyebrow up; yes I consider this a talent. 

Q: Finally, where can people find you online? (Social media handles, website?)

Spotify – Holly T 

Instagram @officialhollyt

Twitter – @hollytnyc

Facebook – Holly T 

SoundCloud – Holly T

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