It started in Ms. Kurosaka’s Senior Seminar class back in 2011. The two of us were sitting in the corner one day cracking up while we tried to come up with names for the musical group we thought we should form. We didn’t have any of the software, hardware, or knowledge we’d need yet, but our first order of business was to come up with the perfect name. After brainstorming dozens of cringe-worthy options, we finally looked at each other and thought, “Should we just be Two Friends?” And it could not have felt more right.
We first met in a 7th Grade P.E. class at Brentwood, and quickly became inseparable. Over the next six years, we did your typical best-friend stuff: sleepovers, sports, video games, cracking jokes in the back of classes, and, of course, always talking about music. Matt grew up playing guitar and joined the Brentwood Concert Singers as well as Mr. Hilbert’s AP music theory class. Eli played the clarinet in Mr. Crocker’s Middle School jazz bands, but dropped the instrument to focus on making mashups and DJing.
So there we were in Ms. Kurosaka’s class, knowing that we only had a couple months left at Brentwood before heading off to college, and working on music together felt like a natural fun challenge on which to focus.
Around this time we were gradually introduced to electronic dance music by friends and siblings. The genre felt fresh and exciting, and the experiences we had together watching DJs at events like Coachella throughout high school reinforced how electric the atmosphere was (no pun intended). So basically on a whim, we did a Google search to find which software we should purchase if we wanted to become electronic dance music producers, and with that, our journey as Two Friends officially began.
Over the next four years, while Matt studied at Stanford University and Eli at Vanderbilt University, we sent ideas back and forth and video-chatted daily. We perfected bootleg Skype calls by manipulating the preferences so we could only hear the audio that was coming out of each other’s music software—but we couldn’t actually talk to each other.
Neither of us majored in music. Matt chose Product Design, and Eli majored in Human and Organizational Development. Nonetheless we took music-related classes when we could and spent as much of our free time as possible developing Two Friends, focusing mainly on the music but also working on business and branding. We worked together every holiday break back home in LA, treating every day like it was a full-time job. We set up a very make-shift studio in Matt’s basement where we wrote songs, collaborated with vocalists, and produced songs and remixes. Then we’d head back to the long-distance grind until the next break—we had our groove down.
Towards the second half of college, we gained some solid momentum. One of our remixes was in the daily rotation on SiriusXM’s flagship dance music station; nightclubs and fraternities across the country started to reach out about performing; our current managers put us on their roster; and it finally felt like everything was really starting to click. We were really close to graduating, so we just focused on buckling down for one final year of the tricky balancing act between music and school.
Fast forward almost three years since college graduation, and now we wake up every morning grateful that our biggest passion is also our career. It is often surreal. This April we DJed on a rooftop club in Paris as the sun set. In March we finished our largest headline tour yet, selling out most of the shows in some of the biggest venues we’ve played in.
On most weekdays, we’re in our studio (still in Matt’s basement, although renovated quite a bit) writing and producing, and then we head out of town on weekends to perform all over the country—at festivals, colleges, nightclubs, and concert venues.
We’d be lying if we said it was all fun and games. The biggest challenges come from the travel and time commitments. In 2017 we played 82 shows, and this year we’re on track to hit 100. And on the music side, it often gets very stressful trying to create and/or finish songs while we’re constantly moving around and juggling different projects. But the thrill we get when we hear people at shows screaming along to lyrics we wrote, or when we hear a song of ours on the radio, or when we get to meet fans in cities we otherwise may have never visited makes it all easily worth it.
When we think about what’s ahead, if we can keep doing what we’ve been doing and continue to grow, we will continue to be two very happy guys. We’re working our butts off to make better music, play bigger shows, work on bigger collaborations, and take Two Friends to the next level. It all boils down to a pretty easy assessment. Is it fun? The answer for the past seven years has been a massive yes, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon. Because at the end of the day, we really are just two friends doing what we love.
Matt Halper and Eli Sones, the young masterminds behind Two Friends, are one of the most promising dance music duos of 2018. Known for their viral remixes of “Trap Queen,” “I Miss You” and “Mr. Brightside,” as well as their latest original offerings “Just A Kid,” “Emily,” and “Out of Love,” the two have in unprecedented time mastered a wide range of genres from pop-leaning to dance-driven records. Photo by Neil Favila.