Los Angeles-based DJ duo Duelle is ready to “Level Up,” just like their most recent single. While being a female in the industry comes with its own battle, sisters Danielle and Gabe only used it as motivation to do better.
From throwing down sets at festivals around the world to now preparing their own EP, Duelle unleashes a unique, refreshing blend of electro-pop, dance, R&B and their favorite, trap.
iEDM caught up with the sisters at DJ City in Los Angeles.
iEDM: How would you describe your sound?
Gabe: I would say trap with a hip-hop influence.
Danielle: And a little bit of pop.
iEDM: Who are your biggest influences?
Danielle: Growing up, our biggest influence was Britney Spears because she was a dancer/performer, and that’s what got us into wanting to make music. And when we came together and actually started making music, Lady Gaga was a huge influence in our electro-pop roots. And then Nicki Minaj was a huge influence on why we started rapping. So we kind of just were experimenting. A lot of big female artists – Beyoncé too, and her live performance and how she dances as well — all of that influences our music and our live show.
iEDM: How does living in LA that plays into your lives and careers?
Gabe: We were actually born in New York, grew up in Florida. We moved out here about three years ago to pursue music. At the time, we were deejaying, traveling, and playing shows. I actually think that it’s a great push as music artists to be in the LA scene because it’s so competitive. Everyone’s doing their thing out here and it’s super motivating. Everyone’s mentality out here is the same, which is cool. Being from a smaller city, it’s not like that. The cool thing is I feel like everyone inspires each other out here and you can organically grow so much as an artist. The people are really supportive of that. The culture out here is really different. I feel like if you have that mentality, this is the perfect city to be in to keep growing as an artist for sure.
iEDM: What do you guys think of the crowds out here? Performance-wise.
Danielle: It’s not as… because we’ve played shows all over the country.
Gabe: In LA, Miami, New York, and the bigger cities, sometimes people might be more chill and not seem as into it. But when you go to the Midwest or random smaller cities, I feel like people don’t get the exposure of as many artists coming to their town. So when someone does, it’s really exciting. Whereas in the bigger cities, it’s like they kind of get to see so many artists that it’s not as exciting. So sometimes they’re more chill. The crowds aren’t as great in LA as they are in smaller cities, which is interesting.
iEDM: Danielle and Gabe, what’s the dynamic like between you two?
Gabe: We’ve always be really close and we’re actually opposites, but yet we’re into the same things. So I feel like that’s always been a good dynamic between us because we also take characteristics from each other. We learn from each other too, but we never really argue or anything. And if we do, we get over it quickly. So I just feel like being into the same music and artists and all of that has really helped our brand?
iEDM: Who gets the say in the end?
Danielle: That’s a good question. [laughs] We make decisions together, but probably me, Danielle, because I’m the oldest. So I’ve always been the leader. So Gabe trusts me with making those final decisions, which I’m fine with, but sometimes there’s pressure on that. I’m always wanting to make sure that I’m making the best decisions or choices for us, making sure that we’re good. That’s just kind of my personality and how I am as the older sister.
iEDM: Talk about the making of “Level Up” and how that aligns with your brand.
Danielle: It’s funny. We had this idea for a concept with “Level Up” and going with that theme. Especially being females in the industry, we took a lot of inspiration from things that we’ve struggled with being females and never settling and just always staying motivated and inspired to step up your game. Just all of those little things empowered us and it was just a concept that we kind of started with the hook on the track, and the verses and everything. The track actually came together super organically and fast. It was a cool transition too for us, because we do come from the electronic dance music scene and this is the first project that we’re making that’s more mainstream. So it’s a similar vibe to the EDM/trap stuff that we were doing, but just a little more hip-hop. Like we took out the drop and everything, so the arrangement is just a little bit different. But it came together super easily. And also, we hoped that it would be empowering to other people to fuel that and to get hyped and be motivated to step up their game.
iEDM: What’s the biggest challenge being a female sister duo coming up in dance music?
Gabe: It honestly hasn’t been the easiest because there really aren’t as many females on festival lineups or shows in general. I feel like now it’s finally changing. But a few years ago, when we were even just starting in that scene, it was rough. It’s an interesting thing because I feel like the guys don’t trust that you can hold it down as a female, being on the stage and deejaying. Say when we would go to shows, the sound guy would be taking our stuff like, “I’ll set it up for you.” And we’re like, “No, we got it. We know what we’re doing.”
Danielle: I feel like honestly, always feeling like you have to prove yourself. And always be given that chance because you are a female. I feel like that was something a few years ago that was definitely a challenge, but it’s been a really interesting year so far because it’s really cool to finally see women coming together and supporting each other. I feel like if we stick together, there’s gonna be a big change with there being more females on festival lineups and getting the opportunity without having to feel like you’re always having to prove yourself. Whereas for guys, it’s easy like, “Oh, I’m sure he’ll be able to hold it down.” And then you always have to prove yourself. That’s definitely one of the biggest challenges for sure.
iEDM: Talk about your upcoming project. What can fans expect?
Danielle: We’re really excited about it because I feel like we’re always experimenting. For the first time, we were like, you know what. We’re not gonna think about what people want us to make or what people want from us. We’re just going to be ourselves. I think we stuck to just creating exactly what we wanted to make. Whatever we like, whatever we were vibing with, it was purely based off of our vibe. And it’s a different sound. It’s similar, like you’re still gonna be able to tell that they’re Duelle records. It’s similar just in a different direction. We have some chill vibey tracks and some that are more hyped, like “Level Up.” There’s a couple different vibes on the project which is cool. We’re always experimenting and doing different things. Also another aspect to this project is that we’re dancers too, before even making music. And we starting incorporating that into our music and stuff recently. With this project, we’re really going to bring that into our live show, music, and the visuals. And do it in a really cool way. That’s definitely what makes us really unique, it’s the fact that we’re not only DJs, we’re not only artists on our tracks, we’re also dancers. But not the typical choreography dance style. We’re like ballerinas. We do contemporary ballet. It’s going to be really different and unique.
iEDM: You actually just got back Vegas during EDC weekend. What was the biggest highlight?
Gabe: For us, because of the transition that we’re in right now, we went to the official Billboard after party on Sunday night and Post Malone was headlining that actually. So that was super inspiring to see. And just the energy in Vegas in general was just crazy. But good vibes.
iEDM: You’ve performed at festivals. What are 3 things you need on tour?
Danielle: We need a lot. [laughs] We need so much. Our laptop, of course. Our ski masks. We used to start off all our sets with these black ski masks that had our logos on the forehead. We would start like that because everyone would thing that we were dudes. And then we would take off our masks in the very beginning of our set when everyone would get really hyped. And they’d be like, “Oh shit!” So they’re actually always in our backpacks. One more thing… we’re very superstitious, so we would always wear these gold diamond earrings. But the diamond shape was just our logo, and we wore them every festival and every show. So it became a thing.
iEDM: Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Gabe: Probably Drake.
iEDM: Dream collab?
Gabe: Drake is definitely one them. And The Weeknd.
Danielle: And Skrillex!