Photo credit: Toine from DTMD It might seem strange that musicians Joshua Davis and Cheakaity “Chea” Brown, the duo that makes up ACME, weren’t fans of each other’s projects at the time they started working together, but sometimes opposites attract. And actually, the more time you spend with these guys, the more in common it seems they have. For one, their musical influences run the gambit from hip-hop to folk, including everything in-between (electro, jazz, rock, experimental). And another, they’re both extremely talented. Between the two, they play about as many instruments as one can count on two hands, yet neither has ever taken a lesson. Instead, to create their unique sound, which can really only be adequately described by saying “just click this link and listen to their EP,” they rely on a combination of natural talent, passion and a fearless crusade to bring new sounds to their audiences.
I first encountered ACME (A Company that Makes Everything) at Submerge late last month. Since then I’ve had their EP on heavy rotation, so I was excited to finally have a chance to sit down with Chea and Joshua last week:
SCOUT: How long has ACME been around?
CHEA: We’ve been doing ACME for about a year, but people just started finding out about us this summer. We came out with the EP in May and people started catching on slowly and now it’s starting to seem like we’re walking up a mountain.
JOSHUA: A little bit, yeah.
CHEA: Yeah, we’re all DIY, so we’re just now realizing we have to promote this thing for people to listen to it. We’ve been in our own little world, pretty much, just making music.
SCOUT: Were you guys friends for a while? Or how did you meet?
CHEA: We both had a mutual friend on Facebook and he knew that we were both doing our own separate projects. Josh was rapping and making beats and I was singing in some pop-punk band, but we both weren’t fans of each other’s music at all. Then one day he told me about this grant for a music project so we met in person to talk about it and we had some form of odd chemistry. We ended up failing horribly at the audition because of technical difficulties and a piano player didn’t show up, but…
SCOUT: But ACME!
CHEA: Yeah, it was weird. I had forgotten some music equipment at Josh’s and one day he came to drop it off and he just so happened to have his gear, so I was like, “Hey, let’s make a beat real quick,” and we ended up making our first song ever. From there it just stayed together.
JOSHUA: That was like a year and some change ago.
SCOUT: What do you think clicked so well between you two? Obviously, you both know how to play about a gazillion instruments. How did you learn?
JOSHUA: We’re both self-taught.
CHEA: I’ve always played by ear. I think the best instrument I’m at is still the drums. Any instrument that involves keys, bass guitar, the theremin... I actually figured out that one the first time I played it. I was at a music store and I just started messing with it. And we’re also into all kids of electronic things, from synths to chaos pads. That’s actually the juice of what we do live. We use all kinds of machines, until we get our live band, which we’re working on now.
JOSHUA: I dabble with everything. I think my best instrument is guitar.
CHEA: And I guess maybe my voice counts. For “We Got the Love,” that’s me stacking my voice maybe about 20 times.
SCOUT: Do you guys record it all yourselves, too?
CHEA: We’re primarily producers, so the EP is supposed to showcase our production skills. We didn’t even intentionally set out to make an EP.
SCOUT: Where do you record?
CHEA: In Josh’s living room, basically.
JOSHUA: We’ve become unofficial roommates.
SCOUT: The live performances you guys do must be an interesting change of venue then, well, unless it’s at a house party...in your Josh's living room...
CHEA: Actually, we only did one house party show and that was the one we threw. That’s also when people started talking about us.
JOSHUA: Yeah, August 19th.
SCOUT: How is it going from something that sort of started randomly on a whim to having actual fans?
CHEA: I didn’t think people would like us at all, honestly, because if you listen to the radio, we didn’t do the whole techno thing, or super crazy rap thing. We just were doing something that I don’t hear too much of. I thought if people liked it, it’d be more like, “Yeah, it’s cute guys,” and keep it moving…
JOSHUA: I was surprised, too. I have a theory that people don’t like good music anymore. The worst music always seems to be the most popular.
CHEA: I think it’s a lot of luck, too. It’s not always the way we sing or play the instruments but the combinations and how we put things together.
SCOUT: Aww, you guys are modest!
JOSHUA: You gotta be. There’s always someone out there who’s better than you.
Yup, ACME is talented and down-to-Earth. If they’re not on your iPod yet, get them there immediately. Their first EP is available now and they're working on two more. Maybe get a sneak peak of their new material, too, when you see them live on October 30. They’ll be teaming up with DYDC to throw a Halloween costume party at the warehouse on New York Ave., and playing an hour-long set. Details are TBD, but keep up with it all by following ACME on Twitter.