Snakehips — AKA Oliver Lee and James Carter — are one of those rare musical acts that were just meant to be. Why do we say that? Well, first off, there’s the story of how they met.
“It all happened really quickly,” remembers Carter. “We met a couple of times by chance in a short amount of time. First in Hong Kong [where they got to talking and bonding over their shared musical taste], then on a plane to London. We were sitting like one person apart!”
Deciding to take a cue from fate and embrace their chance encounters, they went into a studio, but as Carter points out, even though “we’re into the same kind of music, you never know if it’s going to be a good idea until you do it.”
“We had the lowest of hopes!” laughs Lee. “It’s exceeded all expectations!” Even that is a bit of an understatement. With only two EPs out, they’ve already managed to have a major impact on the world of electronic music and when we saw them playing to a packed crowd at Osheaga, it was more than clear that their fans adore them. “It was amazing - really good vibes!” gushes Carter of Snakehips’ second-ever Montreal show.
If you’re wondering about the name, “it’s a dance move I used to do when I was younger,” says Carter. “It wasn’t cool! I had a tight pair of jeans I used to pull up really high and do this,” he explains, wiggling around slightly in his seat. “You don’t wanna see it! It’s not happening,” he laughs.
Following up their 2015 smash hit single "All My Friends” featuring Tinashe and Chance the Rapper with “Cruel” featuring Zayn (yes, that’s Zayn Malik of One Direction fame), it’s clear Snakehips has a penchant for snagging the coolest collaborations in the biz.
“A lot of the time we just make a tune and we’re like, ‘We think this suits this person’,” says Carter. “Sometimes, we’ll be in the studio with them, but there’s been a few times where we write a song and we’re like, ‘Man, this person would sound so good on that!’”
“We’re writing partners with [British songwriter and producer] Cass Lowe and he was out in L.A. and Zayn was out there and he met someone from his management,” recalls Carter of how their latest single came to life. “Cass was like, ‘You’ve got to get on a tune together!’ We had a track we were like, ‘Shit, let’s get him to sing on this one!’ and it was actually perfect. It was so cool that he added his own shit to it.”
Naming The Weeknd as their No. 1 dream collaborator — “He’s just cool as fuck!” — Snakehips reveals they’re currently working on a debut full-length, but not wanting to rush things. “We’re getting there, but taking our time with it,” says Carter. “We want to make sure that it’s exactly the way we want it to be — no need to rush anything!”
“We work in L.A sometimes, but it’s mainly in our London studio,” adds Lee. “I feel more inspired in L.A. because it’s always sunny, but we get more shit done in London.”
So how would they describe Snakehips? “Dope as fuck!” laughs Lee. “I'm joking! I'm joking!” Hey, we’re not arguing with that at all.
For more on Snakehips, be sure to check out their SoundCloud.