If you feel cheated by society’s focus on finding your perfect soulmate and relative inattention to finding your perfect bandmate, you’re totally justified in that feeling. For those who must make music to feel alive, such as Mejora and Rylo who make up the Trance duo HGHLND, nothing will change the game quite like finding that perfect match. Though they live in different parts of the United States, HGHLND have mastered the open communication, dedication, and genuine friendship that any bandmates – or soulmates for that matter – should strive for.
Behind their distinctive matte-black masks are two humble and eager souls who are taking their newfound success in stride. Working with huge labels like Armada and being featured on Super8 & Tab’s latest compilation ‘Past, Present & Future,’ the trajectory for these guys is only looking up. They sat down to chat with Trance Farm about working as a team and staying hungry.
You’ve had some pretty big projects going on, a personal favorite of mine being ‘Icarus’ with Apollo Nash. What was the production process like for that one?
MEJORA: So it started like two years ago, it was a long project. I started the track with Greg [Apollo Nash] when Rylo and I were just solo acts. So maybe a year after Greg and I started we just had to put it down, it wasn’t sounding right. But we came back to it, and once the song started taking shape I had begun working with Rylo, so we reworked it a bit to give it more of a ‘HGHLND sound’ rather than just my sound.
And what is a “HGHLND sound?”
M: The back and forth we do together is what gives our tracks our sound. We aren’t in the same place. We actually met online, in a masterclass, but we meet in person a lot, travel back and forth with gigs.
Are there some times that you’re frustrated with the long-distance relationship?
RYLO: Yeah, there’s only so much you can do online, ya know?
M: A lot of times we will just let each other work on something then trade and give feedback, but there are times when it would be really nice to be in the same place. There is the advantage, though, of kinda being forced to give each other space.
You’ve both worked on your own before forming HGHLND, so tell me: does teamwork truly make the dream work? What do you each add to the duo?
R: I’d say Mejora is the bass guy, he’s definitely really good at that shit. He’s got a knack for creating really dancey sounds, so whenever we do a bassline, that’s mostly him.
M: Rylo is really good at melodies. How long did you play piano for, almost forever right?
R: I’ve been playing since I was four years old so, like 23 years.
Impressive. That’s gotta come in handy.
M: Yeah, he’s got a great ear for melody. I think that’s the cool thing about working together: being able to hear each other differently. I can make something and send it off and then he works on it, and when I get it back I’ll hear it in a different way. You get so stuck in your own work, so when someone else plays with it, it’s like you’re looking at someone else’s work and you can see those little things you wouldn’t have noticed just being alone in your room.
How would you describe your personalities?
R: Well, I’m the type of person who just loves to chill at home. I wanna be home making music all week then play a show on the weekends. I have friends, but I’m not really ‘social.’
M: I’m pretty quiet honestly. I talk to a lot of people when I…need to? I guess? I think at the end of the day it can be exhausting for me. Now that I produce I don’t go out to shows that often, I just like being home.
What about your own shows, do you want to be home then too?
M: I like playing shows, I like dancing, I just… it changes over time, now that we produce so much, hear it so much, watch live streams to see what other people are doing, our friends are all doing it too. You’re just around it so much it gets kind of exhausting a little bit quicker.
What do you guys have coming up that we should be hyped about?
R: Well, we have three tracks right now that are signed and ready to go, and two more signed on Armada. Let’s see, we’ve got one coming up with Jorza in August, and sometime soon we’ll have a remix coming out for our track ‘Omnia.’ We’re just waiting for the release date, but that’s gonna be a big one.
Consider me hyped. How has it been so far dealing with this industry, the people, and the problems that can come with it?
M: It’s like working with anyone else, I think. When we first started we were always so nervous about whether anyone would even, like, open our emails, but once you’ve gotten used to it you just realize, they’re just people too, ya know? The one thing that still gets to me is the waiting. As an artist, you want your stuff out as quickly as possible, but you don’t wanna just throw it out there until someone hears it. So the guys who’ve been in the industry for a while are more in-tune with how releases and timing work, but that’s what’s great about working with people like that: we can focus on producing, and they can do the stuff we don’t know how to do!
Is producing electronic music your main artistic outlet?
R: I play guitar as well as piano, I actually have an electric guitar that we’ve used in our tracks. I play around with vocals also. We have a vocal track coming out pretty soon, so keep your eyes out for that.
M: I used to be into hip-hop pretty hardcore. I produced, I rapped, I mixed and mastered for other hip-hop artists, but nowadays it’s pretty much all producing for me. That was in my last life, I guess.
R: I mean if you’re not producing, you’re not moving forward, so we spend most of our time doing that.
M: That’s what I like about working with Rylo, we have accountability, and we’re able to get more done. We both have the same ideas about where we want to take this, so we’re not just making the same stuff over and over. We have ideas in mind that we want to make better expand and explore, and we keep it fun. And that’s the important thing with music, you gotta keep it fun.