Cuff Lynx: New kings of remix

Bedroom DJ or amateur singer-songwriter, just about anyone with a laptop can make music today. The digitization of audio has opened the doors for an ever-increasing number of wannabe artists to not only get their teeth cut in the world of music production, but to actually make a name for themselves as well. But with more and more people trying their hand at programs like GarageBand and Ableton, it becomes harder and harder to make one artist stand out in a sea of millions.

One local DJ/production team, Cuff Lynx, comprised of Jordan Hatzialexiou and Matt Ogle, are striving to become more than just another name in the burgeoning Bellingham DJ community. The two met during their freshman year at Western Washington University while living in the Beta section of Western’s on-campus Ridgeway Complex.

“Basically we would run back and forth and borrow each others’ music equipment and just work on stuff together,” said Hatzialexiou. “But because there was so much going on between freshman and sophomore year, we never got anything done.”

Hatzialexiou, despite growing up on bands like Tears for Fears and Ministry, eventually became interested in electronic music after being introduced to the popular music production program FruityLoops, now known simply as FL Studio.

“I really have no idea how I got into disco and dance music considering all I used to listen to was industrial metal and stuff. Even three years ago a lot of the music I was making was much more aggressive,” he said. “But even though the music is different, I still use a lot of the same concepts I used to make that music now.”

Ogle, who also stars in the popular local Bellingham band, Learning Team, has been around music his entire life. His father was a longtime conductor for the Boise Philharmonic and introduced him to instruments at a young age. Even though he never learned how to read music (he says he mostly plays by ear) he has always loved the process of creating it, whether by himself or with his past and present bandmates.

“When we write songs in Learning Team, I’m kind of the stickler for making sure everything we do is original,” said Ogle. “We can do simple four-chord songs but I often like to throw in a fifth chord to mix things up and make it more creative. So when it comes to electronic music, I can appreciate trap and all that stuff but when it comes to what I really prefer, it’s more melodic-based and you can tell that the person is a musician first and not a producer.”

After starting out playing small party gigs using nothing but a laptop and a copy of Virtual DJ, the two have moved on to more sophisticated software and controllers. One of their most recent and popular creations, an unofficial remix of the hit Macklemore track “Thrift Shop,” was created using programs like Reason and Ableton Live with big help from friend and fellow artist, Spencer Bell, who plays under the moniker Radical Kid.

“We had been working on songs together for almost a year now and we had about 20 songs that we’d never gotten around to finishing,” said Hatzialexiou. “Throughout that whole process Matt was like, ‘Man we got to do a remix of Macklemore, everyone loves him here and that would be a great song to do.’ Then two months ago Macklemore was reaching number one on the charts and we decided if we’re going to do it, the time is now.”

The response so far has been mostly positive, including a major compliment from Macklemore producer Ryan Lewis, but there have been detractors as well.

“Some people like it but I actually really like hearing the people who don’t like it, people who say ‘how can I erase this from my brain’ and stuff like that,” said Hatzialexiou. “I love hearing the criticisms because that’s how I make my product better.”

Despite their success with the “Thrift Shop” remix and the string of shows they recently completed at the Wild Buffalo as part of the “No Pressure Mondays” series, the duo has bigger plans for the future of Cuff Lynx than just remixing songs and playing other people’s music. The long-term goal is to eventually start producing music of their own, to create their own sound and make songs that other people can spin at parties and DJ shows while also helping out other artists who are trying to get their name out there.

“Just being introduced into this circuit for the last few months, I’ve met tons of new people and new bands who have put us on their shows and vice versa,” said Ogle. “There are tons of kids out there making awesome music so we try and get them onto the shows that we are able to book, so that later on they are able to book shows on their own. The Shakedown, Glow and the Wild Buffalo have all been really cool to us about asking who we want to play with instead of just putting us on bills with people who have been around forever.”

“Thrift Shop (Cuff Lynx & Radical Kid Second Hand Remix)” and other music by Cuff Lynx can be heard at soundcloud.com/cufflynxinc.