‘We don’t see them as rivals anymore’: Cheat Codes on The Chainsmokers rivalry and Demi Lovato

I was given the opportunity to speak with Cheat Codes about their collaboration with Demi Lovato in their latest single and we also spoke about success at their age and having a friendly rivalry with The Chainsmokers.

You have collaborated with Demi Lovato in your new single. How was it working with her?

It was really awesome. We first came in contact with her at a show in Sao Paulo in Brazil at Z Festival.

At the time it was the biggest show we ever played – there was like 17,000 people there – and she was a headline and we remember seeing her perform and being like ‘Wow she’s such a good vocalist’.

She’s actually the first female vocalist we’ve ever had on a song and we were like ‘It would be great to work with someone like that.’

When we went back that way all of the Brazilian fans on social media were hitting us up. It’s been crazy how it happened. She really just nailed it and knocked it out in a matter of an hour and a half. She really is just a real professional.

Are you going to be working with her on her new album?

It’s just one single for now. I actually don’t know anything about her new album. I haven’t really heard anything about that.

I’m excited now that you’ve brought that up. I’ll make sure that I check that out.

Any other artists you want to work with?

There’s a bunch of them. We kind of have this dream of working with all the quite big artists and bringing them into a dance track.

So Paul McCartney, Sting – those are kind the dream collaborations. We kind of grew up listening to that kind of music.

We started as songwriters, so kind of different to typical DJs. We always start with the song first, so maybe just with an acoustic guitar or a piano and then we kind of add everything else afterwards.

So we’d like to work with quite big songwriters like that where the songs really stood up on their own without all of the bells and whistles like they do today. They’re the dream collaborations.

As far as future collaborations, we’d love to collaborate with there’s a bunch of people we’d love to work with. So now we’re just kind of opening that door of creative collaborations.

Top ten already in iTunes since releasing the single in March, that’s a pretty big achievement. How does it feel?

It feels great. The fans are really crazy and supportive, especially the ones on social media. Going back to Brazil is crazy.

On the very first day, we were number one on iTunes in brazil overall. It’s kind of crazy that that was able to happen so quickly.

Getting the support from radio so early on as well has been amazing, we’re so grateful for that.

You also have a platinum selling single. Must be quite crazy for you?

It’s crazy and surreal. It just kind of happened by accident, one of those super lucky accidents.

Ever since that song we just go with the flow and just go with our gut and because that’s how we figure out what’s good or bad.

We like to just with our intuition and our gut and just whatever feels good because that’s kind of one of our cheat codes so to speak.

It makes us feel good, it makes us feel easy and just go with the flow. We wrote Sex in about an hour and a half – that’s how long it took us to write that song.

We were just really inspired and it just came together in the moment with that song. I think a lot of people, especially music fans, they kind of think that ‘Wow this is crazy, how did they do this?’

I think that sometimes it just comes in a really inspired moment.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

We used to just listen to classic music – The Beatles, Bob Dylan. I still like the classic like rock stuff like AC/DC.

I think just being able to quieten your mind and be in the moment is a really powerful tool that we try to utilise as much as possible and not overthink it.

At the time when we wrote Sex, the whole melody just kind of popped into our head. We actually didn’t even reference the song, we didn’t go back to the original record.

We just wanted to recreate and do it however it felt natural and that would be relevant in today’s music – I think that’s important, to just allow whatever is natural to just happen. The fans will know if it’s forced, it will be awkward.

Ever wanted to go into rock industry? Or always DJing?

That’s kind of how we started. I used to be in a rock band. Trevor used to be in a different project – more of an acoustic singer-songwriter background.

Kevin used to be a rapper. We all come from different backgrounds and that was kind of the idea of this project. We didn’t want to be boxed into one specific genre. We wanted to be able to go in any direction,

If you come to see us live it really puts it all into perspective and everything makes sense because we’re mixing in hip-hop with big EDM mixes and also big pop records that everyone knows and loves.

All with a sense of just loving life and loving music. That’s kind of the whole idea of what we’re trying to do.

You have also been commissioned to do remixes. Is this something you wanted to do and would you do it again?

Definitely working with people in person is always amazing. The remix side is always fun just to put a different spin on songs. We just did this for an artist and it’s just kind of blowng up on Spotify right now. Sometimes with remixes you never really know what’s going to happen –

We just did this for an artist and it’s just kind of blowing up on Spotify right now. Sometimes with remixes you never really know what’s going to happen.

I think that’s also an exciting side to it. But we definitely want to focus on our original music and we have been.

You’ve all had a lot of success at such a young age. Must be great seeing the world?

I’m 26, Kevin is 25 and Trevor is 24. We’re just really grateful that we’re able to do this as a full-time job.

When we first started we were eating ramen noodles, sharing a one bedroom flat, struggling to pay rent and making all of our music from our bedroom.

It wasn’t a struggle though, it was a fun challenge. Like ‘We can live off of this for a month and make it work!’ We love what we’re doing.

Have you seen an impact through streaming and Spotify?

Honestly, without streaming I don’t think we would be where we’re at so quickly.

I think streaming has opened the door for us to really break in and get into the market and it levels the playing field in a sense where the song is the most important thing.

It takes away a lot of the political business stuff that the fans might not realise is going on.

We were in the top ten in Spotify and we didn’t have a major label behind us, we didn’t have a long-term deal.

That was pretty crazy when that was happening with Sex. At one point we had almost three million plays in a single day.

It puts the power in the artist’s hands and it also puts it in the fans hands, they’re getting the music that they care about most, it has nothing to do with the label or CEO’s or the major companies.

It just has to do with what music they want to listen to. When we first started, I remember we never had that much money so we were recording it all by ourselves, writing it all by ourselves, singing it all by ourselves.

I remember we spent about $50 for the entirety of our first song just to be able to put it up on Spotify and iTunes.

For an independent artist that’s a huge tool because there’s no overhead. If you can create music on your own then you’re able to spend like $50 and if you’re able to get a couple million plays on a song then you’ve made all of your money back times a hundred.

I think it’s amazing for an independent artist and it was a huge help for us in the beginning for sure.

You started as an independent group is that still the case?

We signed a deal with 300 Entertainment. They also have Fetty Wap as well as a bunch of other artists. They’ve just allowed us to do all the things that we want to do and release music the way we want it to be released.

When we first started we were releasing a song every single month and that was a radical thing for certain people at the time.

And then The Chainsmokers did it not too long after that. You can release a song every single month and they don’t compete with each other, they actually help each other. It’s kind of like a snowball effect.

Being able to release music whenever we want was a huge priority for us and they’re allowing us to do that at a bigger level. We’re excited about it.

You’ve been on tour with The Chainsmokers. How was it?

That wasn’ actually the first tour we ever did with The Chainsmokers. That was 2015.

That to be the first tour we ever went on was really great to witness and be a part of because that was back when their song Roses was taking off on radio and it was right before they released Don’t Let Me Down.

They used to actually play their song Don’t Let Me Down as their encore song every night so that was cool being back stage and hanging out with them.

Even just hearing them play Don’t Let Me Down, we could just feel that this song was going to be big.

I think that just being around people and seeing their success right in front of your eyes is a really inspiring thing. That was really motivating for us. Just to see that it’s possible.

Do you see The Chainsmokers as a rival?

I think maybe in the beginning a little. But now they’re kind of their own thing with their own sound. Especially with their new album, they’re doing something that dance artists are really doing.

I don’t think it’s healthy to compete with other artists on that level, I think it’s more about the fans and inspiring music lovers. I think when you’re first starting there can be feelings like that because you just want to be successful. Once you start doing it for a while, you realise that it’s not important.

I think when you’re first starting there can be feelings like that because you just want to be successful. Once you start doing it for a while, you realise that it’s not important.

Did you get invited to The Chainsmokers tour?

Early on we became good friends with their manager – he actually flew out to LA to meet with us.

Then they just invited us on their tour. I think we had like two songs out at the time so we were really excited to be able to do that. It was great.

What’s next for you?

We’re doing a world tour for No Promises and we’re hitting a lot of countries that we’ve never played for which is really exciting.

We’ve just come back from Dubai, we’re going to Latvia, Croatia, Norway and a lot of countries that we’ve been dreaming about going to.

So that’s taking up a lot of time. We have a bunch of music that we’re sitting on that we’re ready to release so look out for that.

On Thursday we’re leaving again for a bunch of America tour dates and Canada. It’s going to be good. We’re doing a bunch of American festivals as well as European festivals in summer as well.

Coming to the UK?

We’re going to be playing around Europe. We’re playing this festival called Electric Love in Austria.

A couple of months ago we did UK and Ireland. I’m sure we’ll be back pretty soon – we’re always bouncing back and forth.

Playing in London is one of our favourite shows. We love London.


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