It’s often said that we are the sum of our influences, whether that be a combination of our parents, favourite acts or otherwise. Our earliest encounters with images, people and sounds often inform our tastes and passions later in life and there is something admirable about unashamedly wearing those influences on your sleeve. A certain duo from the outskirts of London are following this very approach, Rhys and Harvey draw from their experiences, perhaps unconsciously at times, to weave vivid cuts under the name Everyone You Know.
The group is a manifestation of a brotherly bond built on a love of music. The pair have drawn comparisons to Plan B, The Streets and even Arctic Monkeys, and these influences are peppered throughout both of their EPs, illustrating the real blend of genres that push their pen and inform their instrumentals. From some more poetic, rap-fueled efforts to rave-inspired, brasher numbers there’s no boundaries or rules to what they do. Although it sounds like conflicting ideals, the juxtaposing sounds work cooperatively almost reflecting the duo’s working relationship.
Despite being half brothers by blood, genetics mean little when it comes to their bond, illustrated by the innate level of comfort they have with each other when we met in a back room in Whelan’s. They were still chatting about the weekend’s football and we mused back and forth about QPR’s recent run of form. It was normal 20-something chatter. There was no bravado or front, just small talk that lead to their recent inclusion on the Fifa 20 soundtrack.
Responding with a grin wider than his slender frame, Rhys noted that it was a nice moment for them both, having a track on a game they grew up binging on, with much of the previous edition’s soundtrack ingrained in their subconscious.
“You know all the words to every tune without realising. It’s sick.”
Harvey cut in. “I love Fifa, I bought it the other day cause I couldn’t wait for our copy to come. I thought fuck it I’ll buy it anyway. It’s mad to hear it when it comes on. Every year we’ve traded in the previous game and got the new one and it’s nuts man, it’s proper cool.”
We continued to wax lyrical about the nostalgic magic surrounding music in video games. Reminiscing about being introduced to Lil Jon on ‘Need For Speed’ and the variety of tracks on ‘Tony Hawks Pro Skater’. These games fulfill the position as a de facto taste maker for so many kids. But, alongside this, the boys had their parents who were themselves music aficionados.
“Music has always been played in our house,” Rhys told me.
“Our old man and Harvey’s mum were bang into their music. So when we were growing up music was always on.”
As the lads loosened up, warmed by throwbacks to games that have now been discontinued, they dipped back into their older memories of albums once digested. They cited Eminem’s early approach to building bold imagery that was frequently glued together with exaggerated skits.
“With the skits I think it’s wicked cause you don’t get them as much anymore,” Harvey said.
“People don’t listen to things like they used to. With vinyl you could sit and play the music the whole way through, but with Spotify now it’s different.”
He noted the duo’s deliberate use of monologues between tracks, “I think skits are important, they represent us outside the music and what our friends are like.”
Rhys continued, “It gets a bit of personality across. I think they are important because Eminem, Ludacris and Biggie Smalls all used skits… People normally skip them, but I used to love it.”
The boys tend to draw from music that was perhaps a bit before their time. They’re evidently inspired by the rave culture of the 90s and some of the classic British films from the early 2000s. Their music bleeds a blend of these aesthetics, and although coming back to popularity now they’ve always embraced this style.
Harvey reaffirmed this notion.
“We grew up with our dad who has been a big influence on us musically. He’s bang into his hip hop and the rave era, even with film we are into ‘The Business’ and ‘The Firm’ and stuff like that. Those iconic British movies, ‘Trainspotting’ and what not. It’s always been around, but it’s come back into fashion recently the whole retro look. We’ve always been into it. I don’t think we made a conscious effort to do it.”
Since seeing the Everyone You Know music video for ‘The Drive’ I’d been fascinated by the way Rhys and Harvey delivered their stories. Coupled with their style and aesthetic they manage to paint pictures of experiences that were new to me. Yet I felt some sort of connection to it all. There is a sort of faux-nostalgia lingering in many of the cuts in their most recent EP.
As we talked about the way their recollections manifest and how they obtained what felt like collective memories from their parents, Harvey and Rhys pondered their creative process.
Pausing to make sense of how they bring their experiences to life Harvey ruminated on the idea that perhaps they draw from hip hop when they want to tell a story and then electronic music when they want to be more emotive or aggressive.
“You know I’ve never thought about it like that. I just kinda send Rhys beats, but now you’ve said that I think the slower tunes are more emotional.”
It may appear that some of their workflow is without structure when in reality the half brothers just have their own way of creating. Often inadvertently spinning clouded, nostalgic landscapes, the boys perhaps don’t have a signature sound, but more a trademark feeling. Illustrated by the string-led atmospheric cut ‘She Don’t Dance’, the pairing provide verbal vignettes into their past and their sonics represent a comforting level of faux-nostalgia.
Rhys ended our chat on a note that sums up the effortless approach that Everyone You Know take to producing their thoughtful numbers.
“It’s easier to write about normal things,” he said.
“You don’t have to think about what you’re doing. You’re just writing what you’re living”.
Photography: Ellius Grace