Cardiknox Makes Music That Feels Like Ecstasy

Electro-pop duo Cardiknox is the type of group that will win over fans for a plethora of reasons: their music is irrefutably catchy and relatable, they’re both wildly beautiful, and should you have the chance to see them on stage or in person, they will undoubtedly win you over with charm and artistic charisma. Having gotten their start together in the world of musical theater, Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton have since evolved into one of the more exciting and promising pop acts of 2015. We spoke with Angle about being an emerging artist in the age of the Internet, New York vs. LA, and creating music that makes people feel fabulous.

 Where are each of you from and when did you first cross paths?

We both grew up in the Seattle area and were introduced about six years ago by my best friend who thought I should work with Thomas on a musical he was developing.

What is your background in music and how did you start working together creatively?

Thomas’ dad taught him how to play guitar when he was young and he started playing with friends in middle school. His first band was called Jack Squat (a nod to the Chris Farley motivational speaker SNL sketch). He went on to be the lead singer in a band called Forgive Durden for a number of years.

When I was five, I begged my parents to buy me a piano. I was deeply envious of my neighbors down the street who had a baby grand. I started taking lessons when I was five and played for the next 10 years, while also pursuing musical theater.

When we were introduced, Thomas had written a concept album with his brother and released it via Fueled By Ramen (his previous record label). It’s an amazing piece of music and I helped develop it into a more ‘legit’ musical theater piece, something that could live on the stage, not just an album. I wrote the libretto and directed early iterations of it. We actually moved to NYC and worked with The Public Theater and a commercial producer for a few years, and then needed a break. We shifted our efforts to writing music together and Cardiknox was born.

Do you think it’s harder or easier for emerging acts in the age of the Internet? 

Hmm … that’s tough to answer. Both. Access is everything, so the fact that nearly anyone, anywhere can access new music (or release their own music) is kind of magical. When you create a piece of music and put it up on the interwebs, it can be discovered across the globe. The problem of course is oversaturation. There is SO MUCH music being made and shared today. And so many platforms with which to share it. So it can be hard to be heard amidst all of the noise and chaos online. If you’re creating really strong music, though, and you’re willing to be patient, inevitably it will be found.

If your music were any type of food, drug, or alcoholic beverage, what would it be?

Drug: Ecstasy. Hopefully we make people feel FABULOUS.

Food: Garlic Truffle Fries. Addictive as all hell.

Alcoholic beverage: Four Roses Bourbon. Classy + strong.

What type of person do you think is connecting with your music?

I hope all sorts of people are connecting with it. The first two tracks we’ve released from our forthcoming album are fairly uplifting in their message. They speak about resilience of the human spirit, seizing opportunities, and never giving up. These are pretty universal messages—regardless of your age, gender, or color. We try to write from a very honest place, which hopefully allows the listener to connect in a more real way.

What types of music do you connect with most?

 Thomas is really drawn to story. Because of this, he loves rap and R&B, where the artist is really speaking their story directly to you. The more raw and more honest, the better. I’m a sucker for melody. So often I don’t even hear the lyrics the first few listens. I get wrapped up in the feeling of melody and tone … and get swept away by the song.

If you weren’t in a band, what would you be doing?

I’d be running a regional theater or producing theater on Broadway. Thomas would probably be a creative director at some big NYC agency.

New York or LA?

New York. (Sorry, lalaland …)

Sexy or cute?

Smart. (And sexy …)

Which song of yours is the most meaningful to you and why?

“SHADOWBOXING.” This is yet to be released but it tells the story of a huge rift in my relationship with my dad when he left my mom. It’s a really honest look at a terribly painful time in my life.

“EARTHQUAKE” has tremendous meaning to both of us as well. It was written after a major record label had been courting us and ultimately passed on signing us. We had our hopes set pretty high, so we were really let down by the news. We sat down and basically wrote this whole song the next day. And it ultimately was the track that got us our deal with Warner Bros. Records — which certainly turned out to be the right home for us with the most amazing team of people. Funny how things work out the way they’re supposed to.

What’re your thoughts on artists who don’t write their own music?

I’ve only got good vibes and thoughts for anyone that’s trying to make it in music. This landscape and industry is fucking crazy and if you feel compelled to create, in whatever way that is—albeit interpreting music that’s been written by someone else or writing stories about your own life—I commend you. Everyone has different strengths. And we live in a time where hybridization is everywhere—artists that are producers, producers that are artists, singers that are pop stars. If you have the balls to put yourself out there and share what you’ve created, I honor you.

What’s your biggest goal or dream as it pertains to Cardiknox? 

World domination (said in the most endearing way possible). I have really big hopes for Cardiknox. I plan on playing MSG one day to a sold out house of amazing people that are compelled to dance and sing with us, and then go out and share their joy in the world. (Singing kumbaya…)


Photography: Hazel and Pine

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