Chatting with Cheat Codes: Trio dishes on their new single, working with Kaskade, + more [Interview]
Cheat Codes, comprised of Prince$$ Rosie, Trevor Dahl, and Matthew Russell, have always appreciated a consistent air of mystery to be kept about them, their output, and their live performances. Dynamism is key to Cheat Codes’ sound: the group members have been quite vocal about their desire to remain aesthetically unpredictable and undefinable, and the slew of stylistically roaming singles that Cheat Codes have released to date evidences the outfit’s commitment to musical exploration. When it comes to traversing new sonic territory, the title of Cheat Codes’ 2018 tune, “I Love It,” applies. “We kind of play around with everything and see what sticks,” Dahl told Dancing Astronaut, “One way we keep you guessing is [that] we don’t even know what we’re going to do next.”
In their productive play, Cheat Codes have found formulas that have indeed “stuck.” Their 2017 Demi Lovato-assisted single, “No Promises,” peaked at number 39 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart following its debut, cinching Cheat Codes’ very first Hot 100 hit. “No Promises” remained on the Top 40 charts for six months, while the group collected gold and platinum certifications for a number of other originals, including “Feels Great,” and “Sex,”in the meantime. The next goal for Cheat Codes is to expand the subgenres that fall under their catalog’s purview via a collection of upcoming urban records. Cheat Codes also said that they even have “a few Latin records in the works.”
While the expression goes “three’s company,” Cheat Codes think with a “the more the merrier” mentality that’s evident in their collaborations with a number of producers, ranging from Kaskade, to CADE, to Danny Quest. Their creative interplay with Kaskade resulted in “Be The One,” which materialized as a tasteful amalgamation of Cheat Codes’ ear for momentous drops with magnetic appeal, and Kaskade’s house sensibilities.
Cheat Codes and Kaskade traded several records, sending options back and forth. A triplet drop that Russell describes as strikingly “unique” in its sound caught Cheat Codes’ ear. The trio added what they call some “Stranger Things sounding chords” to the fledgling production. The chords went on to inspire the vocals, as Cheat Codes’ then recent performance in Tromso, Norway had a hand in some of the lyrical content that would follow.
We played a show in Tromso, Norway which is famous for the aurora borealis. That sparked the line ‘I wanna kiss you underneath the Northern Lights.” The concept of the lyrics is having all of these one of a kind experiences with a significant other.”-R
Later, the Redux producer and Russell would go on to run a 5K in Miami together following “Be The One’s” release.
“I Feel Ya” appeared as a formidable follow up to “Be The One.” The offering sourced its vocals from Ina Wroldsen, and saw Quest link once more with Cheat Codes to produce the track. One of Cheat Codes’ “best friends,” according to Russell, Quest is also an artist on the dance trio’s Too Easy imprint. “We were able to knock out production really quickly,” Russell said of the process that preceded the “I Feel Ya” that listeners now stream.
Everything came together super quick, we love when things flow like that.-R
The rapidity with which Cheat Codes and Quest pieced together “I Feel Ya” is a credit to Quest and Cheat Codes’ creative synergy, which was first audible on 2018’s “NSFW.” While Prince$$ Rosie, Trevor Dahl, and Matthew Russell cite Quest as a close friend—and, clearly, an effective studio presence in the context of the collective’s musical invention—Quest was, not long ago, one of Cheat Codes’ roommates.
“NSFW” was born out of this living situation: “‘NSFW’ came together [while we were] literally eating breakfast and thought of this funny vocal tag,” Dahl said, “‘it’s nasty, it’s dirt, this sh*t ain’t safe for work.’ We were inspired by Reddit, they have a special section titled ‘Not Safe For Work,’ so people [browsing and] working 9 to 5 jobs don’t get in trouble.”
Moving forward, Cheat Codes hope to one day collaborate with Daddy Yankee, Willy Williams, and J. Balvin on the Latin side, and Blackbear, Trippie Redd, and Drake in the hip-hop sector. While time will tell if these powerhouse musical matchups come to be, fans can count on Cheat Codes to keep their material continually forward thinking, consistently innovative, and fresh, long after any given release. In the fashion of their name, the trio has uncovered the ‘cheat code’ to first creating, and then maintaining a distinctive sense of youthful presence in modern dance music circles: unceasing stylistic curiosity, and the drive to try anything at least once.
Photo credit: Chris Gateley / Mustang News