Even if you haven’t been able to get into dubstep, the brand of hip-hop-influenced bass music Splitbreed offers is a lot more user-friendly—while still retaining some grit. With all its current members deriving from families with musical backgrounds, it seemed only a natural fit for brothers and emcees Kalani and Tau’i Mo’e, along with DJ/producer BGenius, to pursue a career in the industry. Together for almost three years, the members of Splitbreed have ditched their day jobs to focus on the group full time, which has served them well and resulted in a Beatport glitch-hop chart-topping EP We Are One with Pegboard Nerds, plus gigs around the world. Vegas Seven learns more about the trio that calls Las Vegas home before they play Body English on March 21 and the Frequency stage at Extreme Thing on March 30.
Where would you say Splitbreed falls in the electronic music spectrum?
Tau’i: Hip-dub-electro-hop-magical—no, I would say hip-hop. Hip-hop/electronic.
Kalani: We’re not afraid to drop anything, we’ll drop whatever. If we like it and we think it fits in the set—I mean, obviously there’s a time and a place for everything.
Tau’i: We’ve definitely made our name in this town doing a lot of hip-hop/dubstep for sure, but we have tracks from straight hip-hop all the way to … anything you can think of.
Kalani: We kind of embody our name a little bit.
BGenius: Also Sony Music in Europe released one of our singles that’s a complete pop song called “Make a Baby.” It’s totally like pop/reggae. If you heard that song and then heard the stuff we were doing [in Vegas], you would think it’s two different groups.
For those who haven’t checked you out, what kind of a performance can they expect?
Tau’i: With everything we do, if the crowd’s not jumping up and down, we’re doing something wrong. That’s the way we look at it, really. Anyone’s that come to a show or anything, they’ll say, “Those guys are insane,” or “Those guys are crazy.” “They got us out of our seats, going nuts.” Leave it all out there—that’s our motto. Leave it all out no matter what, whether it’s 10 or 500 or 1,000 people.
You have two MCs and have previously incorporated a drummer into your sets. Do you see 2013 as being the year were people say, “OK, DJs/EDM is cool, but I need something more”?
Kalani: People need to innovate. The DJs, the lighting and all that is cool, but every year you want to be progressing and innovating more.
Tau’i: There’s always going to be a place for that no matter what. I love watching a really good DJ kill it, but there is a human aspect too that comes into play no matter what genre it is. It helps if you have a human aspect to actually talk to the people; it can do nothing but help the show.
Kalani: What we’re trying to do is fit in between so we can get booked everywhere. You need a DJ set? We can do that!
Tau’i: We make sure we’re always constantly doing something. Another thing is, we all produce together. Even if we’re just dropping tracks, we’ll still be there performing with it.
Kalani: We play 80 percent of our own music, even when we do DJ sets. Sometimes you gotta play that banger to get them hyped up.
What was the moment when you decided dubstep was gonna be your thing?
Tau’i: The Music Box [in Los Angeles], April 8th, 2011, we found dubstep! I’ll never forget that date! We’re traditionally from hip-hop, but our DJ friend Metaphase was like “Hey, why don’t you guys come check out this show?” We went, we’re onstage and just like “This is crazy!” We were on the way home, drunk as hell, saying, “We really gotta dive into this.”
Kalani: We studied for six months on how to make it. We watched, listened and started developing our own sound. Obviously we mix in our own style.
Many critics, and even EDM fans, think 2012 was the year dubstep came and went. What are your opinions on that?
Kalani: It’s just morphing. The tempos are going up and down. It’s not going away, it’s evolving. Think about dubstep in 2010, and think about it now. It’s completely different.
Tau’i: You hear dubstep in a Taylor Swift song. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. It’s good that it’s progressing and morphing. That’s what music is about.
Will you add in some more trap?
Kalani: We’re hip-hop guys, so we like trap. It’s cool, it’s simple. It’s really simple to make.
Tau’i: I like it all. A good song is a good song.
Kalani: It really comes down to the producer. A good producer can make any genre cool.
Who have been you major supporters thus far?
BGenius: B-Rob [Bryan Robinson] definitely. He’s the “mood director” for 9Group at the Palms.
Kalani: Calamity of Noise, Stellar, Pegboard Nerds. Revolvr’s a really good friend.
Tau’i: B.J. Penn, a two-time UFC champion, he supports us a lot. We get a lot of support in this town. We’re pretty much cool with everybody.