The Knocks are grooving their way to a set a Governors Ball and telling us their backstory
Vinyl, the new dramatic series from HBO that recently wrapped Season 1 and upcoming Netflix offering The Get Down showcase many nostalgic elements of 1970s rock, hip-hop and disco, yet there are few artists in today’s culture who reflect the energy of New York City, its eclectic music and the mixing of crowds more than the Lower East Side’s own The Knocks. The production duo comprised of Ben Ruttner (B-Roc) and James Patterson (JPatt) have been at it for years, finally released their highly-anticipated debut album 55 this spring and play Governor’s Ball in NYC for the second time on June 4.
They have carefully built a career the way artists used to in the 70s and 80s, with hard work into the wee hours, non-stop touring, intimate parties for hardcore fans and New York has reciprocated the love. The Knocks’ name is actually derived from neighbors “knocking” on their walls when the music got too loud in their earlier days. Producers of the upcoming Wyclef Jean album, The Knocks have a knack for melodic, pulsating dancefloor anthems that blend everything from electronic to soul and funk to rock, one of the reasons their live shows are non-stop dance parties for everyone. JPatt spoke with New York City Monthly recently…
The Knocks have played small, sweaty clubs and larger concert spaces with improved production elements. Since the beginning, The Knocks’ has had the ability to bring a variety of people together, in a way that hasn’t been seen for decades really in NYC music. What do you think it is about your music that just allows people to let loose and have fun?
I just think of music as something that just should bring people together and there’s so many things that tear people apart, why not have something where everyone can meet up at The Knocks show and have a good time? I’ve always started to approach it with that vibe and the understanding that what you put in is what you get out. I feel like that’s why we’re getting that back right now. We want to make it for everybody.
You’re playing Governors Ball this year, which you have done in the past—the stage will also be shared by Kendrick Lamar, Robyn and LCD Soundsystem. With all the major acts playing, yourselves included, what do you hope fans and music fans newly exposed to The Knocks to take away from this special hometown fest?
I hope it’s going to be fun for them, I hope it’s amazing. It’s kind of like a dance party, we just like to get people dancing and moving and having fun. I hope that’s what happens.
Your songs “Modern Hearts” and “Classic” and of course “New York City” seem to personify NYC. Would you say most of your music reflects your lives in the Lower East Side and around town?
As DJs we have to be pretty eclectic for parties we play. We have an open format and style. DJ AM was like the creator of that. Our album has a little bit of everything—dance music, chill music, hip-hop—we are influenced by a lot of different music.
Since you guys are purveyors of cool, can you tell the readers of New York City Monthly from all over the city and all over the world some of your favorite spots—late night eateries, diners, where to see your favorite live music, where to get when you need to escape?
There’s one—I get a lot of clothes from my friend OJ’s shop La Petite Mort on the Lower East Side. He’s got really cool late 90s early 2000s thrift, it’s like a little boutique. It’s all curated really well. They also have some local designers and it’s all really cool stuff. Usually one-of-a-kind. I eat at Five Guys a lot, I’m there all the time. El Cortez for Tuesdays karaoke is really fun.