Let’s Be Friends on Performing at Mysteryland, How to Make Great Music, and Unity
Let’s Be Friends is an international duo that has been pushing boundaries and bending genres for about 2 years now, and they’re not letting up any time soon. Their music is high intensity and their intention is clear: to fill dance floors with friends. At every show, the group aims to not only break boundaries by bouncing and shifting between genres, but also to beak social boundaries and push their fans to find a commonality among all people. According to Jonney, “No matter if we’re having a bad day or if it’s raining or if the party’s delayed, we want people to know that we are true music lovers and we believe in unity—bringing people from every stroke of life to one meeting ground and giving them something in common.”
We had the opportunity to meet with Jonney and Oren of Let’s Be Friends while at Mysteryland USA, shortly after their set on the Boat Stage. Despite having an afternoon slot and the added interruption of it pouring rain in the middle of their set, they brought the crowd into a dancing frenzy. Taking turns between nearly every track, Oren and Jonney alternated DJing behind the decks and sliding up between the equipment and the front of the stage to wave and holler and direct the crowd, keeping the energy really high and the show feeling honestly intimate. The artists weren’t remote, tiny specks on a huge stage– they were right there, practically jumping off the stage and into the crowd.
Similarly, when you meet them, the two are incredibly easy going and friendly, but also very different individuals. Jonney is high energy and right there in your face, while Oren is more laid back and chill, and much quieter; but both always have a smile on their face and listen to you when you speak, even if you’re a perfect stranger. The more time you spend with them, you’ll realize that they are both equal and opposite, like yin and yang, and it’s what makes them so tight with each other and easy to get along with.
And that’s when you understand why they call themselves “Let’s Be Friends.”
Sensible Reason: How do you get everyone raging like it’s a night time set during a midday festival set?
Jonney: Well, actually, it’s very simple: you just put everyone on the dance floor on the first page in a few seconds. [It’s] always good to be verbal; always give them something [to] cheer together for to keep them kind of like a tribe… When they all cheer together, that’s first step. Then, give them a track they know, and they’re all going to jump on the same drop and they’re all going to go at the same moment and its bomb fire inside the dance floor. From that moment on, it’ll be spontaneously predictable. You know there’s something coming that you’re gonna know, and you’re going to enjoy, but you don’t know what it is and you’re hanging on to every build up. Do it like that and everyone’s unified. It’s one big unity on the dance floor and everyone is having a great time together. And that’s the way you make it feel like it’s a middle of the day, you need to just remind the people that they have so much in common, and that’s the music, that’s the energy that we all watch on YouTube, Soundcloud, whatever, and it’s coming out of the speakers right now. Gives everyone the energy of the whole night in 15 minutes. That’s how it works. We’re lucky to be able to take it to that point so early in the day.
During your set you switched between which goes up to the front to pump the crowd up while the other DJs play, almost like a tag team throughout the set. How do you decide who stays behind the decks and who goes forward to pump up the crowd?
Oren: [Grins] It’s natural.
Jonney: I’ll be honest, we have some mixes where I say to him, “I want to take this one.” There are some mixes where we say, no matter what, I have this one and he has that one. And some of them he goes out to the crowd and asks everyone to get down and I take those. But the rest of it, we all know the set, we all know the mix, we know where everything goes and how it’s going to be mix so we can just throw the headphones. When we get started in the set, it’s kind of important that he gets his first four, I do my first four, and then we have a good vibe. Once the good vibe’s going it’s more ‘you take it, no I’ll take it.’ Then we have fun with it. That’s the main thing—having fun! But not in front of doing a good job… It’s a good time on stage, once we get comfortable behind the decks, we’re having a really good time and it’s just a free for all on the mixers.
How does NY compare to other places you’ve played at around the world?
Jonney: NY is automatically one of the top 5 places in the world for people like us. It’s very universal, it’s very cultural, it’s loud, it’s small, you can get around, it’s pretty understandable, and it’s very famous around the world. To know your way around NY feels pretty good. We’re quite well-acquainted with NY. I lived here ten years ago for a few years and he’s been coming here for years. He has family here.
Oren: I lived here for a year back in 2000/2001. What better place– on vacation, in the middle of the tour, 5 days– than Manhattan!
Jonney: This time it’s a lot different because normally when we came to the US, especially NY, you come, you’re doing your job, you’re playing around the world, and then you come to NY—vacation time, you’re passing through and you stay a few days. But this time we had this festival in NY and it was this big thing at the end. All the way through the trip to NY it was building up to this! It was the first time that’s ever happened, and I think it’s the first time that’s happened for many people on this lineup, because there’s never been Mysteryland in NY before. I know there’s been other festivals in NY, but I think that this is quite a significant one.
Oren: Plus, we had amazing weather! What a good surprise!
How does Mysteryland compare to other festivals you’ve done in the past?
Oren: It’s not every day you get to perform in such a legendary place!
Jonney: You see, for me when you say “Mysteryland,” there’s Mysteryland and then there’s the location that we’re at. For some reason I’m disconnecting Mysteryland with the location. The thing is it’s [Mysteryland] already existing around the world, so I’m thinking of Mysteryland as a whole. It’s amazing to be playing at Mysteryland. It’s also amazing to be playing where Woodstock was. It’s two different things I’m really happy about. And yeah, he’s right, this place is legendary, it’s history, it’s a pillar in the foundation of musical history, especially rock in this country. It’s amazing. So to come here and play this festival, and do the same thing that these guys did at this Woodstock in 1969, it’s just overwhelming to know that we are essentially doing the same thing that those artists did on that day. Come, play music, to unify strangers. It feels great and I think that’s what makes today special compared to all the other festivals we’ve played at.
What do you have coming up? Any tour dates? New music?
Jonney: We are leaving tonight and playing tomorrow in Tampa at Sunset Music Festival! Getting a bit of heat! If it does rain, well then it’ll just be a repeat of today: full rain, massive energy, and it just made everything even more wild. I think a country like the United States, they can take that wild energy and turn it into a good time as opposed to a downer. We’re really looking forward to that.We just played in Edmonton with Dillon Francis, Luck Date, and Borgore—that was fucking mental. Before that we played in Atlanta last weekend. So this is our IOA, Invasion of America, it’s our 2nd EP we put out, this is our sort of pre-Invasion invasion—soon we’ll have a proper tour of the States, it’s something we still need to develop, but this is a great first taste for us. All across the country, literally.
We’re able to do that, on the music side we’re going to do the right thing and not feed people rushed music. We’re going to make sure, even if it takes a month to release each track, then we’re gonna do that. We’re not just going to pump out material to meet deadlines that aren’t really there. It’s more important what we have after 20 years, than keeping up with this rat race which I don’t want to be a part of. And I think it’s more important to put out a nice, solid product consistently and make good music for our events. That’s kind of the plan, it’s pretty simple, but we have to stay true to that; that’s going to be the challenge—embracing every opportunity that is thrown towards us by our management and tour organizers and labels, while still staying true to the quality of the of the music—that’s our next challenge.
IOA all depends on the noise we make on this tour. I’m not going to speculate—the tour went really well for us—I hope it translates equally as well as I perceived it to the people of America. Depending on that, that determines how lengthy the tour is. But I’m hearing good things, so I can’t wait to come and tour here. I want to take a bus across your country! [Jokingly] People of America: I’m coming to take your children!—as long as they’re over the age of 18.
How did Let’s Be Friends become friends?
Jonney: We had been making music for a while; we both had projects making trance, a bit more underground. We bumped into each other on the circuit of the trance scene around the world—I was playing a lot in Israel, since there was a massive trance scene there. We shared the same booking agent at one point for South America, so on a lot of the South American tour dates we sort of bumped together, and it didn’t take us long to realize that we had a lot of the same life goals, like, incorporate lots of genres, and vocals, and ideas, but still staying very underground and true. And we really wanted to take this idea, which is now what we call “Full Flavor”—a 2-worded explanation for every single genre inside one mix, one product, one idea, one good time— not staying true to one house scene or electro, but also hip hop, rock, underground garage, drum and bass, pop, mashups. You name it. If you can have a good time to it, we want it in our sets. And we realized along the way of doing these projects that that’s what we wanted to do in life, and unfortunately our scene didn’t offer us too much flexibility. Quite rightly—they are entitled to their genre, and who are we to come and dictate the new terms? So we knew it would be a long journey, but we decided to start Let’s Be Friends—the most positive name we could possibly think of. It made us feel fresh, it made us feel good. I can explain “Full Flavored” to you now, and you’ve seen it on the stage. But in the beginning, we knew what we wanted to do, but I just didn’t know how to say it to people: “I want everything! Fast, slow, jumping, hip hop, down!” We wanted the whole thing and we didn’t know how to explain it, so we just showed people with Let’s Be Friends. And that’s it. That’s how we met.
What is a message you really want your fans to know?
Jonney: It’s really, really important that people understand why there is another project out there that they should have faith in. I know exactly why there’s so much music around and it’s hard to chime into another thing to follow but we are dedicated to bringing people a good time, no matter how we feel. No matter if we’re having a bad day or if it’s raining, or if the party’s delayed, we want people to know that we are true music lovers and we believe in unity—bringing people from every stroke of life to one meeting ground and giving them something in common. Any ethnicity, any genre that you like, whatever, that’s what we’re there for. That’s our cure for cancer right there. That’s what we’re going to build upon and I can’t wait to start the journey and build upon it here in the US.
What’s amazing about Jonney and Oren is their level of dedication to the idea that music, and specifically their music, can bring all kinds of people together. Their music is intense and fun to dance to and the sea of people raging in front of the stage, whether the sun was high or the rain was coming down, was definitely a testament to that. Their music doesn’t fit into a box, and neither do the people who follow them. Even within themselves they show this: despite being from two totally different countries, they embody their core values and make an example of how we can all really be friends and show that music really can bring us all together. I hope that the consensus comes in and they decide to do a full tour here in the US. I can’t wait to see their army of Friends for their Invasion of America.
You can check out Let’s Be Friends’ current show dates, including a stop in Oregon as well at Moonrise festival in Maryland, here!