2020 was an overloaded year for many reasons, but two songs seemed to encompass the direction pop music was thrusting towards: Doja Cat’s “Say So” and Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now.” Both of these songs are bass-driven, funk-forward dance tunes, topped with a light, expressive guitar and boasting a sound of familiarity. Indeed, these tracks hearken back to not only the original ’70s era of disco, but also the late 2000s bloghouse sound that characterized the music of Justice, MSTRKRFT, and more.
Essentially, a new era of disco was being forged — and now, The Knocks have arrived with their third LP History (out Friday, April 29th) to cement their status as one of the prophets of this new era.
From their early days crafting bangers in their tiny East Village apartment, Ben Ruttner (B-Roc) and James Patterson (J-Patt) have always been in service of unforgettable dance music. They originally began producing remixes for other artists in the late aughts (including tracks for Jay-Z and Britney Spears, among others), but they quickly moved to making original music with an emphasis on disco-tinged pop.
As they continued to rise to the epicenter of dance music royalty, they began collaborating with everyone they could, scoring hits with Foster The People (“Ride Or Die”), POWERS (“Classic”), and SOFI TUKKER (“Best Friend”), among others. And now, The Knocks are headed back to their funk-inflected, disco-oriented basics for the bright, eclectic History.
It’s no surprise that The Knocks are keen on cashing in on the disco revival—but according to Ruttner, it’s been their “bread and butter” since the beginning. “There are songs from Dua Lipa and Doja Cat that feel like ‘new disco’,” he says. “So we see this happening and we’re like, ‘Man, we should just do this.’ This is what we know how to do, and now it all of sudden feels relevant 10 years later.”
The groove-heavy turns on History certainly fall into this category, especially with late night disco cuts like “Slow Song” featuring Dragonette,” and “Nobody But Me” featuring Cold War Kids. But there’s also a heavy amount of bloghouse revival on History: the infectious “R U High” with Mallrat has a full electro house explosion, the MUNA-featuring “Bodies” similarly has the volume knob dialed to 11, and “Bang Bang (featuring Donna Missal)” has a quicker, percussion-heavy sound.
All these choices point to The Knocks at their most confident and collaborative, and History proudly cements the duo as some of the best dance producers and songwriters around—in other words, B-Roc and J-Patt know exactly what to do to get you on the dancefloor.
Consequence chatted with B-Roc and J-Patt of The Knocks about History, their collaborative streak, New York City, and more. Check out the full Q&A below.