The Chicago-based, taco lovin’ brother duo known as AYOO have been aware of their love of music since childhood, and residing in the veritable “home of house music,” naturally became enamored with EDM and sought to specialize in house and bass music. James and Eric are one of Chicago’s favorite genuine artists in the game. They’re recognized by their bouncing banging opening and direct support sets at Concord Music Hall, Prysm Nightclub, Spybar, Electric Hotel, Spring Awakening, North Coast Music Festival, Congress Hotel and the list doesn’t end here. These boys are so comfortable together on stage, their musically connected by not only genes but also the atmosphere they set for their fans. Their range of music will hit everyone differently. AYOO will make their audience remember why they fell in love with the way their favorite artist made them feel and move. James and Eric are cooking something good for us while they’re being quarantined. Make sure to give them a follow and check out their latest song features at the end of the interview below.
What genre would you describe yourself as? Why?
J: House and Bass music would be best honestly, there’s so much energy in both.
E: House and bass music because we bring a lot of energy to stage.
Who would you say are your biggest inspirations within the industry?
J: Habstrakt, Dada Life, Taiki Nulight, Eminem and Phlegmatic Dogs.
E: Alicia Keys, Matroda, Habstrakt, John Legend, Jauz, kompany, KLOUD, SYN and Excision
What was the moment you wanted to take the leap in this lifestyle?
J: YOO, this moment was at SAMF 2013. It was my 1st ever music and I haven’t looked back since. Now that I think about it too, Sunday night at NCMF 2015 when Dada Life headlined.
E: Spring Awakening 2013 and Ultra Music Festival 2013 After movie. They both inspired me and brought out the love of dance music.
Since you are a duo, how would you describe your relationship?
J: Why this person right here is my lil brother – I get to work on music and pick on him at the same time, best of both worlds! All kidding aside, we both have a solid work ethic and have become more fluent w/ working together as things have progressed. We’re brothers, we have our ups and downs as siblings do but we are ultimately a team.
E: We’re brothers by 4 years apart and we were always active in anything we did. I can say this has brought us closer more
How would you describe your personalities on and off stage?
J:On stage I can’t lie, I’m more focused on DJing but still love to interact with the crowd. Eric and I are pretty goofy so we end up doin’ some weird dances on stage haha. Off stage, I’m pretty chill but still be a goof. Did I mention I like to cook too? I love being with my daughter and let me tell you, she is quite the gymnast!
E: On stage: Fun, goofy, energetic, and focus. Off stage: Goofy AS HELL, hungry because I am fat, silly, loving and caring.
You’ve done quite a few original songs & remixes. Who do you want to work with in the future?
J: Great question! Achilles, Migz, Proppa, Birthdayy Partyy, Tombz, Masteria, Dobadlyy, Morgan Stone, Saint Punk, Mom-n-Dad, Cloverdale, Dr Fresch and Nukid are a few people we’d like to work with.
E: Birthdayy Partyy, Matroda, Masteria, Bijou, Qlank, and Odd Mobb
What do you usually start with when preparing for a set?
J: I personally gather playlists that will fit the vibe of whatever show we are playing. I’m always updating my folders with new music, whether it be an opening slot or direct support. If a bigger show (fest included), Eric and I will sit down and go over songs.
E: We usually prep our set for the time slot. If we are opening, we make sure to set the vibes for that time. It’s the same procedure when we are direct support or headlining.
What’s your creative process like when making a new track?
J: As of lately I’ve been focusing more on my kick/percussions and then going forth w/ a bassline. Something to groove/vibe to and then proceed with stacking layers upon layers in Ableton.
E: I start with the piano. I do this because it’s so natural and clean to use when I start to write a track. It brings a natural texture to the canvas and I personally love it.
What are currently your main challenges as a duo artist?
J: I would say finishing projects/songs. We have a lot and though our day jobs (grateful for) keep us busy, we’ve still been able to reach deadlines which is good!
E: I would’ve said “agreeing on a change in the song” hahaha. We are brothers and we fight a lot but its okay because we are learning from it. We both have different taste and styles but in the end we find a way to agree.
What’s your favorite Chicago venue to play at? Why?
J: I’d have to say playing at Concord Hall and The Mid when it was around! Both venues have extreme energy from the crowd despite their capacity difference.
E: The Mid and Concord Hall, they’ve always welcomed us with open arms. The Mid helped jump start our career and Concord Hall gave us the recognition boost we deserved. I love them both and I can call those places my home.
What are you top three tracks right now? Why?
J: Es isso by Habstrakt, Warning by Saint Punk and Brooklyn by Joyryde
E: Blinding Lights by The Weeknd, Bodies do the talking by Walker & Royce (San Pacho Remix, Sad Machine by Porter Robinson (KLOUD Remix)
What is your proudest moment so far? (blogged/signed/etc..)
J: There are a lot of moments but to name 3 for now: SAMF 19, playing at Park West w/ AC Slater and our last performance at The MID w/ Valentino Khan. We also headlined Prysm w/ Teknicoz this year, which is a huge milestone for us! We packed Prysm all while Radius had Carl Cox, Galantis at Aragon and Mercer at Soundbar.
E: I would say us headlining Prysm Nightclub with our friends Teknicoz. We were worried because it was the same night as the sold out show for Carl Cox at Radius and Galantis at Aragon. When we got on stage, all we saw was a sea of people dancing and the first thing I told James was “soooo they came out to see us play? Let’s give them a show”. We had support from our close friends Flynninho, Maximo Quinones and White Owl who absolutely murdered their sets! It was the best way to start our 2020 journey.
If you guys had to do something else (outside of music), what would it be?
J: I’d probably take up cooking and go all out. Thinking about owning a taco truck w/ a DJ in it. Of course that’d need to be a big truck but it’s not impossible!
E: The gym, kitchen, batting cages, video games, and golfing. I love to golf.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
J: Las Tablas. Their skirt steak dinner combo is fire, yo. Also Dona Naty’s, El Taco Veloz and Taqueria el Asadero.
E: I would say Sushi Taku, Ramen Wasabi, El Taco De Veloz, Arturos and Lazos.
What was your favorite show that you’ve played in Chicago?
J: Easy, when we opened for AC Slater, Volac & Phlegmatic dogs at Park West & Tchami North Coast After Party!
E: My favorite show was headlining Prysm Nightclub and the Tchami North Coast After Party at Concord hall.
What’s your favorite thing about this city?
J: The variety of food and people in the city! Plus the Hawks, Bears, Sox, Bulls and no not the Cubs.
E: The festivities they host. They host so many street festivals with live music, art and amazing food.
If you were stuck in an elevator, what album/record would you have playing to keep you sane?
J: Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon [The End of Day]
E: I would say J.Cole Forest Hill Drive Album
What’s your current favorite show (tv/netflix/etc…) worth binging?
J: Sometimes I’ll go through family guy, bob’s burgers, the office but I wish there were more cooking shows. Also, Ozark is nuts!
E: Supernatural is my favorite and anything Marvel or DC related.
What is a quote or phrase that you try to live by? Why?
J: Positive mind, positive results & Work hard, it will pay off. If you work for something you want you will get it, you have to have that mentality/hunger.
E: I would say “close mouths don’t get fed” and “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”. I live by these because if you do not speak up or make the first move, then you’ve lost an opportunity for yourself. Same thing for the other phrase, when you’re sleeping or playing games, I’m up working on music & learning new techniques to help our brand. It’s a never-ending grind and when you stop, someone else is passing you up.
Do you guys have any upcoming tracks or projects you want to share with our readers?
Both: We have a song coming out later this month or beginning next month – label pending,4 collabs in process w/ a few individuals mentioned previously and we’re working on our Spicy EP. We have more edits that we’ll be releasing as a free download, so be on the lookout for those soon!
What advice do you have for producers trying to make it in the music industry?
J: Honestly it would be to work hard. Like anything you want to be good at, you need to eat, sleep and breathe it. There are a lot of DJs but there are not many people who can create their own art (music). Work hard, play hard but also remember to take care of yourself. Support your local promoter/shows and build relationships, we’re all in it.
E: KEEP MAKING MUSIC because that’s how you get better. You will fail, but that’s how you grow and become better. We’ve made plenty of bad tracks but learned from our mistakes. Your music is what separates you from other artist. Be unique with your music and add your taste. That’s how you stick out.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
J:We hope everyone is doing well and distancing properly, we’re all suffering but I know we can get through this. I want to say thanks to Good Looks Chicago for this interview and thank you to our fans – we appreciate the love and support! Going to be releasing more music soon so stay tuned!
E: Just be yourself. There’s no need to impress someone or try to make yourself likeable just for their pleasure. People in the music industry can tell when someone is being a friend or when someone trying to be friends so they can get something out of you. BUILD FRIENDSHIPS AND RELATIONSHIPS. That’s huge advice that someone told me and it’s never left my brain.