And The Core Of Salt Lake City's Thriving Dance Music Scene
Before The Music Interview Series – A.O.T
A.O.T is a genre bending Salt Lake City duo with a passion for House music. Their drive for success and unique marketing plan is truly impressive. This duo has spent the past five years
crafting and honing their skills with a promise for huge things in 2020. Get up to speed with A.O.T in this edition of Before The Music
Hunter: It stands for Army of Two. When we came up with it we wanted something that would signify us. We bounced back and forth between Army of Two and A.O.T, but settled on A.O.T because Army of Two was trademarked. If you’re a fan of our music you’ll know what it stands for. Alexander started out as Alexander and I was Jager. The names didn’t mix too well.
So you both had your single projects before?
Hunter: We were gonna be a duo and also have single projects at the same time, this way we could go off and do our own things if we wanted. We realized it took too much time and might as well combine our efforts.
Alexander: We had the same idea for our individual brands and decided to put our heads together for one brand to maximize our audience. We still bring the image and sound we both want to portray, but in a brand we are both comfortable with.
Hunter: Also, with the A.O.T branding we will always be first on a flyer because of the period.
How long have you two been working with one another?
Alexander: For about five years now.
Hunter: We’ve been homies since seventh grade. I started producing Hip-Hop, Alexander was DJing parties, and we decided to link up.
Alexander: We’d been raving for a long time before and never thought we would be producing music back then. Raves were a place where we escaped all the bullshit at home and school. We went to EDC and that changed our whole outlook on music
What year was that?
Alexander: Yeah 2013 because we had Decadence after that.
Hunter: Yeah man after EDC we wanted to hit this music thing full force.
How did you guys get into EDM?
Hunter: Both of our older brothers went to raves and got us into it.
Alexander: Yeah both my older brother and older sister actually. They went to underground shows at random houses where you would get a text message the day of for the location. Back on how we got started, we were both making music before we ever learned to DJ. We got booked for Decadence and realized making this a career could be a reality. That first show was our foot in the door.
Your music seems to vary in genre.
Hunter: It does vary quite a bit. We like to have a certain style though. When you come to our show, you kind of know what to expect. There’s the whole cliche about not being defined by a genre, but we’re gonna have our main genre and flex in other areas if we want. We mainly like to put out House music.
Alexander: We’re gonna keep doing the House thing. We like to add new sounds into House, but still keep our production open. We don’t want to be closed off. Being in one sub-genre really limits you on what you can release and who you can collab with. We definitely have a main sound which is House music.
How do you plan to grow your brand in a way that stands out from others?
Hunter: We keep everything unique to our style. We keep true to ourselves. Some others follow trends and go whatever way the genre they produce is going. We stay in our lane and keep making our original sound. We do switch it up sometimes, but it’s not often. ‘Midnight Disco’ is one of our slowest tracks, but it’s still great.
Alexander: We’ve been trying to keep everything fresh by creating our characters. Instead of only relying on our logo, we wanted to have mascots out there portraying our music. We looked at some big name artists and realized a lot of them have not only a logo, but characters they can base their brand off too. We thought since we are Army of Two, our characters could have a sort of military/tactical look. We’re the guys you call to get the job done. We want to create an atmosphere that fits together with the characters.
Hunter: We’re doing more of a permanent branding strategy instead of only relying on a logo. Our characters can be seen anywhere we want them to be, maybe doing some cool stuff in a music video.
Who designed the characters for A.O.T?
Hunter: We actually had our sponsor BeHappy do it, Nestor is his name. He is the label manager on BeHappy. We had him create our characters and we signed up for a sponsorship program. Since then we have released a few tracks to their label. Nessex is his art alias.
Almost like an Adventure Club type vibe?
Hunter: Yeah like that or Kayzo with his dog. There’s lots of examples out there.
Where do you see yourself in 2020, what goals do you wish to accomplish, and how do you see it affecting your audience?
Hunter: We’ve gone through trial and error with our branding and feel we have a good game plan for 2020. Each move we make this year is calculated and planned out. In past years we were doing things to stay relevant and grow, but now we have a solid plan.
Alexander: We’ve thrown enough things at the wall to see what sticks. Now we’re going with what sticks. We have all the ingredients to create a great brand and are going to serve it properly. We’ll be getting our music into the right ears and will retain those listeners and followers. Our goals for 2020 is getting on the EDC stage. That always has been a huge goal as well as some major label releases. We have an upcoming track coming out on Most Addictive Records.
What’s the biggest challenge you two have had to overcome with your project?
Hunter: For me it’s the personal doubt. I’m a very hard critique on my music. My biggest obstacle is overcoming my self worth with the music. Alexander has been a solid partner and helps me when I’m down.
Alexander: My biggest challenge is the live aspect of a show. Planning what goes into a playlist, how you start and end a show, and how to read the crowd. We really like to tell a story with our sets. We start low, then go up and come down. It’s like a big wave. Song selection can be difficult for me. I get anxiety before a show thinking the whole playlist is garbage. It’s only after the set I realize how good it actually was.
Hunter: There was a challenge when Alexander moved to Oregon, but besides that we’ve been fine. I don’t think there have been any bumps in the project itself. The whole project is a challenge in a sense. It always will be.
What do you feel are some of your biggest accomplishments as A.O.T?
Hunter: Playing V2 shows for sure, we’re grateful for that. Getting three tracks signed to our favorite artist’s label was dope too. Staying true to ourselves has been an accomplishment as well.
Alexander: I think my biggest accomplishment was getting on Das Energi. Being there in the culture and getting a family feel for it. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, V2 is a family and they always have had that family environment from the beginning. The unity they bring to the table is awesome. It’s a blessing to be apart of it.
Who inspires your music?
Alexander: Mine would be Will Sparks. He’s been one of mine since ‘Chemical Energy’ back in his early EP days. When Bounce first came along, I thought it was so outside of anything I had ever heard. It was so cool. The energy I took away from those early pioneers of Bounce is amazing. I still think back to those shows and think nobody is doing it like that. It brings you up and then down.
Hunter: I like Will Sparks’ energy a lot from a live aspect. When it comes to producing I like people who push boundaries. I’m always inspired by those who have a unique style. When I first heard Drezo I thought woah this is cool. I’m inspired by the whole bass house scene. It took off with that Jauz and Joyryde sound then plateaued. Now different artists are spicing it up again and it’s growing. So to answer the question, I’m inspired by people who push the boundaries.
What upcoming music do you have and when can we expect to hear it?
Alexander: We have an old song that’s being released on all platforms the first of January. We have our Most Addictive release ‘Don’t Stop’ which comes out on January 18th. We’re pretty hyped about that track. We have a MC on the track, Young Yankee. He’s super good.
Hunter: Yeah Young Yankee is getting up there for sure. Right off the bat we have four or five songs that we are sending to labels. We also are going to start dabbling in self releasing to test our new marketing strategy. I’d say once a month you can expect a new track from us. We’ll also do some quarterly mixes. So look out for that. We would like to and are collabing with Z&Z, but they are busy too.
Alexander: We have some upcoming projects with Nico & SWEA; they’re a group out of Vegas. We also have a new song with Andru Markel.
Hunter: We have placement tracks as well. It’s not quite ghost producing, but making tracks for the mainstream. We have a contact in LA who will play the tracks for major non EDM artists like Halsey.
Alexander: Also in the near future we are sending a demo to V2.
Do you have a plan to release an EP or album?
Hunter & Alexander: We’ve been debating and thinking about that.
Hunter: Our marketing strategy works really well with singles. We’ve heard from people above us that an EP can be hard. If the person listening doesn’t like the first song on the EP, they might not listen to the rest of it. You have to hit the EP or Album on the head. When we feel like we’re ready, and can nail it, we’ll do it.
Alexander: For now we will be focusing on singles. Maybe around the end of 2020 we will have an EP ready.
What’s the ultimate goal with A.O.T?
Hunter: We want this to be our career. I don’t think it’s unrealistic to be the next David Guetta, but we also know that takes work and time. We’d like to be happy and show those who support us that we did it.
Alexander: Getting on a tour and taking it to that next level would be awesome. Being a Grammy winning group would be a great feat. I’d like to retire happily with this.
Hunter: This isn’t a joke to us, this is our passion. We’re here and we aren’t going anywhere.
Alexander: Yeah we’re gonna be making some noise in 2020 that’s for sure.
If you could have your fans remember one thing about you, what would it be?
Alexander: My Hair. Man people know me because of my hair. I can’t even cut it because it’s a part of my character. I’ve basically branded myself
Hunter: I’d like for people to remember our brand. Look at the history of music. When you see the red lips and the tongue sticking out you know it’s The Rolling Stones. If you’re a stones fan you will think of all the great memories you had to their music. I want the same for A.O.T I really hope the fans feel and connect with the music and the brand behind it all. Even if our fans don’t listen to our music for the rest of their lives they can carry the good memories they had around it.
Alexander: That’s why we really want to push hard and incorporate our characters, logo, and story into the brand. They will leave everyone with more than just the music.
What’s something you are proud of but never have an excuse to talk about?
Alexander: Accomplishments that we don’t really boast about.
Hunter: You can’t just walk up to a group of people and let them know we have tracks signed to multiple record labels. The real ones know the work it took to get there.
What are the biggest labels you have signed to?
Alexander: Born is the biggest, then Most Addictive, and BeHappy
Hunter: BeHappy has some cool stuff going on right now too.
Alexander: BeHappy started doing live events in Denver, New York, and LA. We will be playing in all of those cities at some point in 2020
If we finished this interview and you found a winning lottery ticket for 500 million, what would you do with the money?
Hunter: Whoooo shit, can I be real for a second? I’d pay off all my debts, I’d trade in my piece of shit truck and get a nice new one. I’d put some money in the savings account and buy a bunch of random music shit. Bro I could spend like 3 million and be fine. Some dude’s would be like “I’m gonna save it all” Hell no bitch, I’m on my way to Larry H. Miller baby, where’s the new Raptor in blue?
Alexander: That’s life changing money. What would you do with that kind of money?
Hunter: What would you do? Get your ass down to Larry H. Miller for that new Raptor!
Is there anything else you want to say?
Hunter: We truly love the people who support us. After this year we know who we can trust in this life. Thank you to V2 for this interview. This scene has changed the way I live my life and has become my whole lifestyle.
Alexander: I want to say thank you to all of our fans and a big thank you to V2 for the bookings and support. Also some advice to newcomers. If you have a dream, chase it and don’t hold back.