Far East Movement’s Kev Nish leisurely strolled through security at Los Angeles’ LAX airport as he was making his way to his terminal to wait for the plane that would be taking him, and the rest of Far East Movement, to Montreux, Switzerland. It’s a routine Kev Nish, Prohgress, J-Spliff, and DJ Virman have gotten used to. “We’ve been spending quite a bit of time overseas,” he explains. “It’s been back and forth, back and forth. It’s really cool.”

On this particular day RapReviews caught up with Kev Nish as he waited for his flight, and he told us all about Far East Movement’s latest release, GRZZLY (which is available for free via datpiff.com), and the advancements they’ve made with their music. He also revealed how the instant fame they experienced with “Like A G6” affected them, what brought about their current interest in Trap music, and how they ended up working on a subwoofer for Alpine.

Adam Bernard: When “Like A G6” blew up, it did so very quickly. What aspects of being thrust into the limelight, and onto Top 40 radio, were you least prepared for?

Kev Nish: Ooh, that’s a great question. I’d say it has to be the shows, the live performance aspect. We were so into the clubs, and performing in the clubs, and that set up is so temporary. You get in, you have your DJ set up, you don’t really sound check, you grab your mic, you get up there and rock. We were doing a few tours, House of Blues style tours, but it was really club centric. The second we hit the road with Lady Gaga, and Rihanna, and a few others, it really changed the game, and we saw the production value behind being an artist and really putting together an actual show that’s more than just kinda jumping around. That was a game changer. Even for TV, we weren’t really prepared. We love making music, we love performing, but the whole aspect of doing TV was just so new and alien to us, it was an eye opener, straight up.

AB: When did you realize, in the mix of all this, you had attained fame? Was there a moment that made you say, “We’ve made it?”

KN: Nah, we still don’t feel that way. There are still people that have heard our songs and don’t quite know who made them. We feel like we have a lot more work for us. We always feel that way, that’s why we’re constantly in the studio trying to improve, and always honing and improving our show and our brand. Don’t get me wrong, we appreciate it, and it’s a dream come true to get signed and to have the opportunities that we have, but we just feel like it’s a step, it’s a step towards hopefully a bigger picture.

AB: You’re so humble, I’m wondering, although the follow up to “Like A G6,” “Rocketeer,” hit number seven on the Billboard chart, at any point were you like, “oh crap, is VH1 gonna call us and ask us to be on a one hit wonder show?”

KN: {*laughs*} You know, that was actually a conscious decision. When we put out “G6” we realized that OK, following it up with another club song; one, we didn’t want to get purely just known for club music, and two, it’s a hard song to follow up. Anything will be compared to that. So when we put out “Rocketeer” the funniest thing we started hearing was people didn’t even realize the song was made by the same guys, which is exactly what we wanted, but we were surprised. Essentially we weren’t worried, because it’s like when we made “G6,” we don’t go in considering it’s gonna be a hit, we just make it because hopefully it’s from an emotion, and we want people to get it, whether it’s stumbling out the club, or whether it’s following your dreams. We never really worry. In that sense we’re really carefree. I guess we’re more worried about people coming to the show. Hopefully they get something out of it, hopefully we can convert people, or make them think OK, I’ll give these guys a chance. I guess that’s more what enters our mind when it comes to considering what fans, or media, take from Far East Movement.

AB: Over the course of your career, which has now spanned four albums and a new mixtape, you have worked with a lot of people. I know not all of those collaborations happen in person, but give me your best story from working with someone in the studio.

KN: A surreal moment for us was when we were on tour with LMFAO and Matthew Koma, and we booked a studio in Amsterdam. Just as a fan of EDM, this one night we had Afrojack, Quintino, Alvaro, Sidney Samson, David Simmons, Red Foo, Far East Movement, and Matthew Koma, all in the same studio. It was just surreal to see all these moving parts, in two studios, just to make music for our next project. As fans of EDM it was interesting to see all these producers vibe off of each other, just trying to check out what each other’s doing, respectfully, but at the same time go “oh, check out what I got.” Everyone’s kinda like trying to outdo each other. We took a picture and we posted it and we just thought wow, in dance music this is just a moment to remember for us, and I’ll never forget watching almost like beat battles, in a sense.

AB: Sounds like a great experience. Moving to the music you make in those studios, you have multiple projects named GRZZLY, one’s a radio show, and one’s a re-mixtape. Let’s focus on the re-mixtape. What inspired you to put this together?

KN: I think a lot of that was we’re always checking out new music, as fans, and we really got interested in the trap stuff. It’s just a harder sound. We started going to a few shows locally on our off days. If ETC!ETC!, or Brillz, is playing, we just show up, we check em out, and something about that really caught our interest. Even when we came out with “G6” and “Girls On The Dance Floor,” and a lot of our earlier stuff, it was the same thing, we were always in the clubs, always into the new and bubbling music scenes that are poppin. I think trap caught our interest more than most genres, more than dub step, because it’s hip-hop based, so it has the dance elements in there, and people respond the same on the drops, but the elements, you have the drum patterns, and the drum programming, and the 808s, the way everything is kind of hidden, it’s very hip-hop centric. We come from both worlds, so for us it’s a really good medium, and we automatically were inspired to be in the studio and get in with some of the up and coming trap, and electro, producers and make some music. When we started we were making original stuff, which “The Illest” came from, but we decided we would love to give a completely different outlook on some of the songs that we’ve already made on our old albums, some that are really pop/electro leaning, and give them a whole new feel, and a whole new look, kinda inspired like how Linkin Park did it with the Reanimation project when they remixed their whole album. It was just a lot of fun to do. We wanted to put it out for free to give our fan base, and music listeners, something different from us, something unexpected, while we’re working on our new album. We had no expectations, we just wanted to put out free music, so we were really honored when all these different websites started picking it up and hosting it. It was a pleasant surprise for something we just wanted to put out for free.

AB: You mentioned you’re working on the next album. Is the re-mixtape a preview of that, or will the album feature a completely different sound?

KN: Actually the last song on GRZZLY is a song called “There Will Be No Rain.” It’s a semi preview of where we’re going as far as with the production, bringing a lot of soul sounds, a little more hip-hop, we’re bringing in a lot of Talkbox stuff, too. We grew up in LA and that west coast Talkbox was a staple for like every song we loved, so we wanted to bring that into the production. So that song is kind of a preview, but not every song is going to sound like that. We’ve been really tapping into a lot of hip-hop, and listening to a lot of Fatboy Slim, Moby, a lot of that era where you have uptempo tracks that are dance friendly, but they have like a hip-hop bass, crazy samples, a lot of that stuff. We’re really getting into that. It brings us back to the record digging DJ days we were really into.

AB: The pre iTunes days when we actually had to go out and find music.

KN: Yeah. I think a lot of that went away because producers just didn’t really want to… you know the sample fees and the clearances were just so heavy, so everything went electronic, but we’re not afraid. We’d rather spend more money in our budgets on making sure if we want to use that soul sample it’s not about the publishing on it. We just want to get across the vision more than anything.

AB: You tour constantly, you’re always working, and you mentioned you go out to nightclubs to almost do research to find out what you like. At what point to you take an entire week to stay home and catch up on The Walking Dead? You gotta get tired at some point.

KN: Nah, you know it’s more than work. It started as a hobby, and a passion, and as a fan, and if I wasn’t doing it I would still be at the clubs, I would still be downloading music and going to all the music blogs. We all would. I think that’s just being music fans. It wouldn’t change. I couldn’t imagine time off without it.

AB: I saw a promo video you did for the Alpine Bassline subwoofer. Is this a piece of equipment you guys designed?

KN: It’s a piece of equipment we did have input on. I used to install car stereos at Circuit City back in the day, and Alpine was one of those brands that growing up you’d hear all your favorite west coast rappers name drop it. It was a high end product at the car stereo store. Subwoofer culture is really more popular in the South and in California, and it’s something that really inspired us musically. Whenever we were in the studio we were like we have to make songs that bang in the trunk, that make your trunk, and your mirror, and your windows just rattle ignorantly, so when we had a chance to meet the Alpine people it was already an honor. They had no idea that we were such bass enthusiasts, so the conversation just naturally, and really organically, formed into “we would like to work with you.” They’re a Japanese based company, too, which I didn’t know. I always thought they were out of Torrance (CA). It was good to know that the heads of the company kinda knew who we were through our international work and wanted to collaborate with us. For us it was, for me especially, it was a dream come true. I called my parents. I was like yo, this is crazy. Our main focus was, for our fan base, and the type of music we put out, we wanted to make something that’s affordable, not like the obvious high end subwoofer that runs off of thousand watt amps and that costs like $700 a sub. (We asked) how can we make a moderately priced (subwoofer), or a subwoofer that’s affordable, but make it the best, hard hitting, sub in that category? That’s what we set out to do with Bassline. We took it old school. If you’ll notice, the cone on the subs is made after an old school subwoofer. It’s made after like an 80s, old school, kind of like a throwback to the bass that we grew up on. We’re really proud of that.

AB: I know we’re about to run out of time here, but you said you worked at Circuit City installing speakers. What was your last day there like, when you knew you were out of there, and your career had started?

KN: You know, it was a sense of unsureness because at the time we were so early, it was a risk. It’s like leaving school without knowing what career you’re gonna get into. It was like stepping into the wild and not knowing where it’s gonna go, but taking a risk. I had no other way of making money. I was unsure of what was gonna happen, but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do. At the end of the day I love music so much, so the day after I quit I went over to Arista Records and applied for an internship. I wasn’t going to school, but I really just wanted to learn about the music biz, so I went there and kinda figured it out. It all kinda worked itself out.