Justice’s seminal dance manifesto, †, influenced an entire generation of budding musicians to consider blowout synths and sledgehammer drums as a legit form of musical expression. Two of those people were Branden Ratcliff and Jared Poythress, L.A.-bred artists who grew up in a hip-hop and R&B ecosystem, but who gravitated towards EDM after having their brains imploded by that Justice record. Eventually, after exploring new sounds on their own, the duo formed Vindata, a production partnership that combines elements of hip-hop and EDM with finesse and swagger.
After being discovered by Skrillex at a party, he almost immediately signed Vindata to his OWSLA imprint and released their Through Time and Space EP, which features the stadium-sized single “Own Life,” a collaboration with Cali rapper Anderson .Paak. We’re premiering the video below, and it should give you an idea of the kind of jacked-up bangers Ratcliff and Poythress produce when they’re in the studio together. It’s undeniable.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Jared: Free-flowing and positive.
Branden: All inclusive, soulful.
How did your career get started?
Jared: Around 2008-2009, I was producing a couple local hip-hop acts in LA while also working at Circuit City. I met Branden through a mutual friends of ours. We all clicked and started making early dance records out of a small studio setup in my garage. Circuit City shut down and I decided to go work as an engineer for my friend’s studio in Hollywood. While working at that studio I was introduced to Joel and Benji Madden. I became an in-house producer for their studio for about 4-5 years. Branden and I developed the Vindata sound throughout that time.
Branden: I feel like the foundation of my career has alway been building since childhood. However, the leap of faith from side project to full career happened for me around 2011. That’s around the time I realized this was my calling. Before that I had a regular day job and way only producing on the side. After forming Vindata with Jared, and each of us going through our own ‘baptism by fire’, the reality of this being my career really became clear.
Where do you hope to be professionally in 5 years?
Jared: Still writing/producing records with other artists, developing new acts, exploring fresh talents.
Branden: Hopefully still pushing this movement forward. The music will always be there, and I want to be on the cutting edge of things.
What’s your next project?
Jared: Working on new records for our next EP.
Branden: We also have a few remixes/collaborations in the works.
What are you most proud of so far in terms of your career?
Jared: Staying true to myself as an artist.
Branden: This career has really given me some insight about life and opened my worldview. I’m grateful for every experience.
What famous person dead or living do most wish you could have as a roommate?
Jared: Will Smith.
Branden: Dave Chappelle.
What is your favorite driving music?
Jared: Lately I’ve been listening to Empire of The Sun, Bryson Tiller, Crystal Castles, Two Door Cinema Club, and Drake while traveling.
Branden: I usually listen to mixes while driving. But lately it’s been a lot of Bryson Tiller, Bonobo, Drake, Tycho, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar.
Whose career would you most like to emulate?
Jared: The Neptunes.
Branden: The Neptunes. Their career is so flawless. They have the most diverse discography, everything from ‘grimey’ hip-hop to beautiful love songs.
If you had to live in a past time, what do you think would be the most fun era and why?
Jared: I wish I was an adult in the early ’80s Prince-era time. That was a cool time for music.
Branden: I would go back to the ’90s. I was only a kid back then and could only experience the golden age of hip-hop from a distance. Not too mention the rave scene must’ve been ill too.
What activities do most enjoy doing alone?
Jared: Riding bikes.
Branden: Daydreaming, producing, web surfing.
How do you wind down before bed?
Jared: Watch a movie.
Branden: Turn on Seinfeld re-runs and kick back.
When are you most relaxed?
Jared: When I’m in the studio.
Branden: After I know the job is done.
What kind of person were you in high school?
Jared: A loner.
Branden: I was somewhat of a social butterfly, who thought he was cool but really a nerd underneath, sadly.
Can you tell me a quality about yourself that you are genuinely proud of?
Jared: My ability to learn and adapt. I’m also a pretty good observer, I can usually get a good read on people.
Branden: Same here, adapting to my environment is a great quality I think I have. I also think of myself as a dreamer, and I like that about myself.
Do you have any phobias?
Jared: Ants and heights .
What’s a serious side of you that people are unlikely to know about? Either in terms of interests, hobbies, or personality?
Jared: I may seem quiet, but I’m usually taking it all in. Observing life.
Branden: I can get pretty philosophical at times. I might go a little ‘deep’.
What are some new hobbies you would like to take on?
Jared: Hiking .
Branden: Possibly surfing.
What are some of your favorite Internet “memes” of all time?
Jared: Any Chuck Norris meme.
Branden: “Chipotle Kid”, “What are those?”, and “Why you always Lyin’”.
How do you hope to grow as a creative person?
Jared: I want to learn more of the branding/marketing side of things.
Branden: I want to see more of the world and utilize my experiences creatively in songs.
If there was a phrase that you think best sums up your approach to life what might it be?
Jared: PMA - Positive Mental Attitude .
Branden: Same here, PMA.