By Rakhee Bhatt | April 5, 2017 | People
JP Makhlouf chats about Cash Cash’s Vegas residency, the song that changed their career, and why he loves Vegas.
Success didn’t come fast or easy for electronic trio Cash Cash. Comprised of brothers JP Makhlouf and Alex Makhlouf and their childhood friend Samuel Frisch, Cash Cash spent years fine-tuning their skills and sound before garnering mainstream attention with their infectious hit “Take Me Home” with Bebe Rexha.
Here, we chat with JP about the band’s Vegas residency, their latest hit single “Matches,” and where they like to eat in Vegas.
Why the name Cash Cash?
JPM: Basically we were in a previous group growing up and never thought to copyright the name because when you're young you don't have the money and don't think it really matters. After we signed our first record deal, it kind of did matter. We got hit with a ton of legal notices about it from the person who owned the name, and had this old agent trying to screw us over, so when putting the new group together out of frustration, I was like, “We should just name this group 'Cash Cash' because everyone is after our cash, and we don't have any yet.” We all looked at each other, laughed, and it just stuck.
What drew you guys to do all these shows in Vegas?
JPM: Vegas is honestly starting to feel like a second home since were there so much. This is our fourth year having a residency there, but before then we were playing shows ever since 2008 and it never gets old. There’s always something to do and the city is absolutely gorgeous.
How will these shows differ from the ones you put on across the country?
JPM: We’ve definitely stepped up our Vegas residency to stand out from our other shows. We’ve been bringing instruments in the club to make special moments in the set that are crowd engaging and memorable. We’ve been having these acoustic sing-alongs that have been going absolutely amazing. We didn’t know what to expect being in a club.
When you’re in Vegas, are there any restaurants, bars, or other places that you like to visit?
JPM: Vegas has bomb food everywhere you go. Some of our favorites spots are definitely Tao, Beauty & Essex, Carbone, Hakkasan, BLT Steak, Herringbone, and Blue Ribbon (RIP for now).
What’s your process for forming the lyrics and sound for a song?
JPM: We usually start with a little melody or riff either on an acoustic guitar, piano, or it could even be just something we’re humming. Then we’ll build our sounds around the vibe of the song whether it’s dark or up lifting. Lyrics come from anywhere. Old relationships, new ones, friends, family…there’s no limitations. The best part about having most of our features in the studio with us when we make the songs is that we always end up sharing stories and bringing up things that kind of make you relive them or even put them to rest.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
JPM: Mostly Nutella…sometimes sushi. But never Nutella and sushi together.
Are there any musicians from the past or present that have influenced you and how?
JPM: Definitely. Kurt Cobain. Bands like Third Eye Blind, Goo Goo Dolls, and Stone Temple Pilots were huge influences to us growing up. We all love a lot of alternative rock.
Is there a song, more so than your others, that you’ve had the most response and love to from fans?
JPM: Our song “Surrender” featuring Julia Michaels is definitely one of our fan favorites and always goes off live. It has one of those hooks that just sends goosebumps down your spine. Julia sounds amazing and the emotion on it is the real deal.
Is there a song more personal to each of you and why?
JPM: “Lightning” for me because I was hugely influenced by the singer John Rzeznik growing up, and to do a song together was just one of those priceless moments as an artist. Sam’s most personal song is “Matches” because the whole track idea started from him just messing around with the drop riff by himself. Alex’s would definitely be “Take Me Home” because we made that song in our home studio and always would get chills hearing it on the radio or at a random bar we’re at. That feeling never gets old, and hearing it always reminds us of home and where we came from.
You guys have collaborate with some amazing artists like Nelly and Busta Rhymes, and most recently Rozes. How do these collaborations come about and how do you work with these artists to form the final product?
JPM: We had the pleasure of working with so many talented features on the album. Working with Nelly was wild because we literally raged in the studio till 5 a.m. Making “Lightning” with John Rzeznik from the Goo Goo Dolls was also a trip. We started it just messing around with acoustic guitars and a note pad of lyrics, then ended up recording gang vocals together in our home studio. Most of the artists we work with actually record with us at our home studio. We brought Christina Perri there to record “Hero” which was a lot of fun. Afterwards we gave her a solid tour of all the spots near us where they filmed The Sopranos. Fitz of Fitz and The Tantrums was also a lot of fun to work with. He also came to our basement studio where we just hung and wrote. We like to be very hands on with all our features instead of just getting vocals sent to us. We write lyrics and melody with them together in the same room just vibing out. We found we get the best results that way.
Is there anyone on your bucket list that you really want to collaborate with?
JPM: It would be nuts to collab with Stephen Jenkins of Third Eye Blind or Adam Levine.
“Take Me Home” was such a massive hit, among so many others. Can you walk us through how that came about and how you decided to collaborate with Bebe Rexha?
JPM: A funny story about “Take Me Home”—it was made around a time where we really didn’t know what we were doing with our lives and the group was in a serious funk. We barely had enough money to live on our own, we got dropped from our old record label, and had to move back home with our parents. The amazing coincidence was that it was literally made in our home after being gone on tour for years. Even though the song is associated with success, platinum and gold records, and radio play, it’s meaning to us is way beyond all of that. It’s a song that will always remind us of our family and friends that have supported us through thick and thin since the very beginning.
Can you talk about your latest song “Matches” with Rozes and how that came together?
JPM: We first heard Rozes’s voice on The Chainsmokers song “Roses” and thought she has so much energy and emotion. We knew it would be sick to collab with her. We ended up playing a show together and then exchanged info, and bada bing bada boom…“Matches” was born! It’s one of those songs that just gets your feels organ going. It’ll remind you of like that old high school crush or nostalgic relationship.
What’s next for you guys?
JPM: We currently have a ton of new songs finished in the pipeline that we’ll be releasing every 6-8 weeks in 2017. We’re also constantly working on new ones with random artists of all genres, so you can definitely expect some more interesting collabs from us. You can also catch us all year in Las Vegas at our new Hakkasan residency. We’ll be playing their whole family of clubs (Hakkasan, Jewel, Omnia, and Wet Republic). Definitely come make some memories with us there. You can find all our latest dates at our website and keep up with us on Twitter and Instagram.