Joey Valence and Brae talk about the links between music culture and games

F.From viral meme sensations to hip-hop rising stars, it’s been a busy year for 23-year-olds Joey Valence and Braedan Lugue. What began when the couple wrote fun rap songs in Valence’s bedroom over a year ago has led to them earning millions of fans from around the world, and they are only at the very beginning of their careers. In the past six months alone, they have released four music videos, played live on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and booked a world tour with scheduled appearances at major festivals, including Leeds and Reading.

Like any successful hip-hop act, their music draws inspiration from the things they love the most. In this case, it’s old school hip-hop, fooling around and video games.

“I think what sets us apart from other artists, and what our fan base is really noticing and enjoying, is that our music comes from a genuine and raw place. He’s super laid back and carefree, “Lugue tells NME during a video call.” We don’t take ourselves too seriously. What you see is what you get, especially when it comes to the glitzy and glamorous side of things. You’ll never see us step on one. Bugatti with big bucks in our music videos.

Valence intervenes. “We stop in a Honda Civic!”

“Yeah, he actually spits it out in a song,” laughs Lugue. “It’s like it’s not who we are. I think that’s what people really like about us. “

Sure, it helps that Valence has spent the last 12 years writing and producing his own music, a mix of electronic, dance and drum & bass tracks. This gave Valence plenty of time to develop the sampling skills and vocal skills he needs to create authentic old school hip-hop beats, drawing influence from the likes of Beastie Boys, Heavy D and Quad City DJ, as well as modern drums & bass and dance artists who shape his production style.

The couple met during their freshman year at college and eventually moved into an apartment together. They quickly became best friends, though Valence jokes that Lugue didn’t like it when they first met. “That’s not it!” Lugue intervenes. “It’s just that when I first met him, he was super quiet and strangely aloof. But then one day I saw him make music at the FL studio and it was just like, woah!

“We just had a very similar sense of humor and a shared understanding of life in general,” says Valence. “In addition to a great love for jokes and jokes.”

Credit: Joey Valence & Brae

There is a joke in which Lugue and Valence tell fans that their music videos were recorded using outdated video game hardware. Valence promoted the release of “Punk Tactics” on his Tik-Tok by saying that he filmed the entire video on a Nintendo DS. It sparked hype for their latest track, “Hooligang,” with a video of Lugue spitting bars in front of an Xbox 360 Kinnect. The 360 ​​was unplugged, as many viewers pointed out, but that didn’t stop the short video from amassing over four million views.

However, these video game references are more than just a funny joke. Take a quick look at Valence’s Tik-Tok, a gallery of Gen-Z humor and meme culture at its best, and you’ll notice Snorlax’s size Pokémon background in his videos. And similar to how Biggie, Busta Rhymes, Eminem, Lupe Fiasco, and other hip-hop legends have paid homage to video games over the years, there are a lot of video game nods in Joey Valence and Brae’s music.

“You put a lot of your culture, personality and things you grew up with into your music,” says Valence. “For many people, especially those like us who grew up in the 90s, play is such an important part of our identity. There will always be a link between video game culture and music culture, and it’s always fun to hear it come full circle. “

This constant exposure to video games – and consequently to video game music – has shaped how the couple approaches their music. They both grew up with PlayStation One consoles (although Valence eventually switched to Nintendo) where games from that era like Sweep it away, Escape of the monkeys and countless runners have been filled with powerful drum & bass and breakbeat soundtracks.

“I didn’t even realize the effect it had on me,” says Valence. “Drum & bass is probably one of my all time favorite genres, which is probably why I like it so much. You are just sitting there playing and getting mad at all this high energy music. This is definitely something that has stuck with me. “

“I’ve loved video games for a long time,” says Lugue. “It’s interesting to think about how video games have influenced my taste in music because now that I think about it, they definitely did. In “Punk Tactics”, I refer Mortal combat a couple of times, and I was ripping that game up in the past. I played all the Skate games too, so I think a lot of the punk songs I like definitely come from Skate and things like that. “

As well as the Mortal combat references in ‘Punk Tactics’ (shoot off the spike chain, tie up Megadeth, come here as Scorpion, get you to sleep, Kevorkian), you can hear screams at Super Mario Bros. in the aptly named Double Jump, and Valence spent a meticulous amount of time recreating the “ready, go!” announcer champion in Super Smash Bros. Melee games, which is so punctual we thought it was a direct champion.

“It’s amazing that you thought he was the OG champion,” laughs Valence. “Dude, I’ve spent so much time trying to figure out the vocal processing and get the hook right, I must have recorded it about 200 times.”

Why didn’t Valence just snatch the champion? You can’t listen to music without permission. Deleting them properly costs a lot of money (if you can find the right contacts within the gaming industry to do it) and companies like Nintendo are getting much tougher in cracking down on unauthorized uses of their music. There’s a reason you no longer hear Wiz Khalifa rapping to Chrono Trigger beats or Childish Gambino spitting bars to the beat of the music in Donkey Kong Country.

“At the beginning of our new song, I wanted to try it [GTA] San Andreas quote where CJ says “ah shit, here we go again”, but we can’t even use it because we’d get in trouble, “Valence explains.” It sucks, because you want to have those subtle calls and samples but you can’t because of the current state of sampling and copyright. “

Credit: Joey Valence & Brae

Since video games have been such a constant throughout life, it makes sense that putting their music into a video game is a “dream come true”. Listen to any of Joey and Valence’s tunes and you’ll probably agree that their tunes would be the perfect accompaniment to rip it into the next. Tony Hawk’s professional figure skater or Skate game or bombing around corners in the future Need for speed or Force installment.

“This is all I’ve ever wanted, to be in one Skate game or FIFA or something like that, ”says Valence. “We are starting to synchronize our music more to fit into games, but honestly that would be a dream come true. Music in video games is so timeless, especially with something like this GTA and what he did for hip-hop, and I feel our music is perfect for games. “

“I would freak out if our music was in a racing game,” agrees Lugue. “It would be the perfect thing for me. It would be such an interesting opportunity and we will have to see what the future holds. “

Given that Joey Valence and Brae’s careers seem to be as fast as any sports car in a racing simulation, you can probably count on it happening soon. These guys might love to fuck around, but as the last six months have shown, they do bullshit.

Mat Ombler is a freelance journalist and regular contributor to NME.