Matt, the versatile hip-hop influenced producer half of Prelow and draped in all black, meets my photographer and I by the merch table at 7:15pm, about 45 minutes before the show starts. He puts on a blue hoodie once we make it to the green room backstage.
Jesse, the guitarist and vocalist half of Prelow, meets us there. He has on a grey jacket, a DYSN shirt (the opener’s merch), and navy blue dress pants with black Doc Martens, before putting on a white hat as he sat down. Both are a bit reserved (for now).
The pair of 26-year-old NYU graduates caught my ear when Skizzy Mars remixed their biggest track to date “Mistakes Like This” off their 2015 EP Why Does Everything Happen So Much.
“I think he killed that verse,” Jesse said. “And then what’s cool is we went on tour with him as well.”
The remix obtained just over 4 million plays on SoundCloud, while the original held its own with just over 3.5 million SoundCloud plays and approximately 10 million Spotify streams. In fact, while at NYU, David Kahne, producer, musician, and composer, heard the track and wanted to work with Prelow to perfect it.
“I’d say after five or so sessions of working with him on that song,” Matt said. “I remember us both kinda realizing that it got really much better than the demo.”
“That was like an early moment of encouragement for sure because he’s done a lot of classic records,” Jesse said. “He’s worked with Paul Mccartney (and ) he’s worked with The Strokes.”
Since then, the New York-based band has released 10 tracks, according to their SoundCloud. In a 2015-interview, they said they wanted to release their debut album then, but, as of 2018, they’ve yet to release it
“I think it will just happen when we feel like the timing is perfect,” Matt said. “Between how we’re feeling about what we have, the momentum we have, (and) working on finding the right time and date with the label.”
“I think we’ve been spending a lot of time figuring out what our sound is,” Jesse said. “And getting the right records.”
Jesse, born in Nebreska, said it would’ve been cool to release an album right after releasing “Mistakes Like This”.
But additionally, Jesse said the band can definitely produce another track that reached the success of “Mistakes Like This”.
“I don’t think we were necessarily super prepared for that, like Matt touched on earlier, it was really early for us as a band,” Jesse said. “So, I think even getting out on the road now and playing in front of people, and getting a lot of live experience, has been really good.”
Matt said the band thought the song would be popular before they released it, and that they pondered how to roll out the track. Admittedly, he said the band wasn’t prepared to keep up the momentum they obtained after releasing “Mistakes Like This”, but that if they released the track now they’d be able to capitalize on the momentum.
The band’s taken a methodical less is more approach the last three years. But, they’ve built a following, obtaining over 20 million Spotify streams, approximately 700,000 YouTube views, 6,000 Facebook likes, and 4,000 Twitter followers. With the amount of streams they’ve obtained, Matt and Jesse felt it was time to co-headline their first tour.
To purchase tickets for the tour click here.
🚨🚨Tickets on sale Friday 🚨🚨 pic.twitter.com/KyXuFJZaAC
— PRELOW (@prelow) August 21, 2017
— PRELOW (@prelow) February 6, 2018
“We’ve been reaching more people on Spotify, so it felt like it was a good time,” Jesse said.
“We probably still will open (for other artists),” Matt said.
Matt, who moved to Connecticut, New Jersey, then New York, said they were looking into opening for a bigger artist on another tour later this year. In addition, Jesse said the band’s still working on booking dates for an overseas tour.
The band met at NYU after both members transferred into the same music program after their freshman years. In fact, Jesse was in a band named the British Incline from sixth to twelfth grade. Jesse left fellow New York-based band Little Sir for Prelow after moving to New York about seven years ago.
Matt began pursuing music at 15 after breaking his leg playing soccer.
Shortly after graduating college the band was signed to Atlantic Records. Matt said the band had to figure out working with a label, keeping fans engaged, and keeping themselves creatively satisfied.
“I think we’re just starting to hit our stride,” Matt said. “When we first started working together, we got signed really quickly. We got signed before we had a name. We had like three or four finished songs. We were still figuring out how to be a band I would say in a lot of ways. But right now, it feels like we’re sitting on a lot of music. We’re way more active on social media.”
The band’s songwriting process includes Jesse writing down phrases and ideas in his phone saved under lyrics.
“With (“Good People Do Bad Things”),” Jesse said. “that was something where I looked at my phone and I sorta saw the phrase ‘good people do bad things’
“Actually, the second verse of that song,” Jesse said. “remember I rewrote that second verse, there’s a line ‘why do you always keep your phone faced down’, and that was another one that I sorta had written down before”
Jesse, who considers his music his personal diary, said the band puts tweets that get a lot of retweets and likes in their songs. In addition, he said the band has posted tweets in the past of unreleased songs. Jesse said it goes both ways.
Matt said the band’s songwriting process’ identity is more so one of a rapper and producer than a band.
“I think it’s less often that we have a written song on chords and just chords, melody, and lyrics, and then we produce that,” Matt said. “We usually have some sorta production idea floating around, and songs come around that, like recording on top of that.”
“‘Mistakes Like This’,” Matt said. “We made the entire beat first.”
After listening to a few of the band’s songs one could notice the theme of females and love in their music.
“Sometimes I’m thinking about someone in particular,” Jesse said. “Other times maybe it’s a combination of experiences. Sometimes I might be sorta making something up that’s more imaginable as well.”
Jesse grew up listening to the likes of The Beatles, The Strokes, and Miles Davis, while Matt listened to the likes of Bob Dylan, Elton John, and artists signed to Roc-A-Fella Records growing up. Together, they form Prelow, a part hip-hop, indie, rock, and alternative band.
Obtaining success early on in their career, then figuring out how to follow up on it the last three years, Prelow offered tips for other upcoming artists.
“I would say just hone in on what it is you want to be and how you want to sound,” Jesse said. “And put something out there that’s unique.”
“I would say once you start don’t stop,” Matt said. “And in the beginning you might feel like you’re not ready, or your music’s not ready, but I think you should just put it out.”
The band and I caught up after the show. The once reserved pair enthusiastically greeted me, as I praised them for their set. Prelow’s live show is a theatrical (understatement). The band gave my photographer and I free merch, but, I owe the pair a few rounds of drinks the next time they come to Philadelphia, as Voltage Lounge’s bar only accepts cash (It’s 2018, bro).
My photographer and I departed the show after shaking the band’s hands, a rare genuine real-life exchange that can’t be found on Twitter.
After seeing them live I truly feel Prelow’s the next big thing in the music industry (the rest of industry just doesn’t know it yet).
You can listen to the full interview here.