Weeknight makes it work as a duo | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Weeknight makes it work as a duo

"There has to be time set aside to say, ‘Let's go out in the daylight now and we're not going to talk about music at all.'"

Getting along: Weeknight
Getting along: Weeknight

"Production duo" has become one of those terms in the music press that is meant to imply everything but, in most cases, gets at nothing at all. For every Daft Punk or Air that the term hints at, it can describe a hundred pairs of beat-makers who collaborate when it suits them, but may have never even met in person. As a descriptor for artists, collaborating on art, "production duo" is non-committal, businesslike.

To call these partnerships doomed from the start may be an exaggeration, but compared to the alternatives, they are much riskier creatively. Their foundation is more tenuous than the solo artist, who has the luxury of being uncompromising in vision, or the band, whose members can pull their weight to overcome creative difference.

Weeknight, the New York act that stakes its claim at the intersection of electronic dance music and post-punk, may bill itself as a "production duo," but the pair is much more. Like the best solo artist, the two possess a singularity of vision. And they can match the creative heft of a band of any number.

And the members of Weeknight, who go by their first names only — Holly and Andy — are also a couple. The risk in their collaboration is not merely professional, but emotional. It's a collaboration that yields results that are chilling in their intimacy, as on Weeknight's years-in-the-making debut, Post-Everything.

Prone to keys that shimmer and guitars that ring out just in time to release the tension built by a thick percussive foundation, the strength of Weeknight is in its disciplined deliberation. It's a sound in which everything arrives just in time. Holly and Andy bring the same deliberation to every move they make as Weeknight, such as deciding when they were ready to gig. "We had spent so much time fleshing out exactly how we were going to do this," Andy says, "before we played our first live show, we were very polished."

The couple quickly learned to trust in the division of labor that presented itself early in the collaboration. "Natural orders just popped up," Andy says. "In the very beginning, I was writing a lot of songs on an acoustic guitar." As the collaboration progressed, "Holly emerged pretty quickly as being able to arrange very well, and I got pretty good at making the beats."

In keeping with this staid approach, Holly and Andy intuited that patience, re-evaluation and aggressive editing would go a long way toward producing the polished results they were after. "It was always important, since we started the writing process, that we had time to step away from the music for a little bit," says Holly. "So that when we came back to it, it would be fresh and new in our ears and we could decide whether it was something we would keep doing."

Creatively and otherwise, Weeknight works because of the pair's ability to communicate effectively and keep the dueling aspects of the relationship in proper context. "You have to focus your time, otherwise I don't think the relationship aspect would ever work," Andy says. "There has to be time set aside to say, ‘Let's go out in the daylight now and we're not going to talk about music at all.' People get tense when they work."

"If [Holly] managed to take personally everything that I said, or if I got stressed out about some song we were working on, this would totally never work."

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