The multi-faceted, Colorado-based EDM/post-hardcore/electro-pop unit Breathe Carolina was founded in 2006 by Kyle Even and David Schmitt. The Denver group’s blend of synth-based beats and melodic screaming first appeared on the public radar in 2007 with the self-released Gossip EP. It was followed in 2008 by the band’s first full-length for Rise Records, It’s Classy, Not Classic, which featured all of the tracks that appeared on Gossip with six additional new songs. Hello Fascination was released in 2009 and peaked at number 43 on the Billboard 200, and in 2011, the group released their third full-length, Hell Is What You Make It. Though founding member Kyle Even left the group in 2013 to focus on being a parent, Breathe Carolina would continue without him, eventually releasing a fourth album, Savages, in 2014, which featured the singles “Collide,” “Bang It Out,” “Sellouts,” and “Savages.” The following year saw the release of a new single, “More Than Ever,” a collaboration with Ryos featuring vocalist KARRA. It was issued via Dutch indie Spinnin’ Records. Over the next year, Breathe Carolina had a prolific streak, releasing a bevy of high-profile singles and a pair of EPs in 2016’s Sleepless and Oh So Hard. They collaborated with artists like Blasterjaxx, APEK, Haliene, and many more.
How are you guys feeling today?
Breathe Carolina: (Tommy) Really good.
You’ve played Ultra in the past, and they have a lot of shows lined up that week – tell us a little about what you’ve got going on.
Breathe Carolina: (Tommy) Music, shows. We are playing about seven shows on that week – way too many! We have to go to Detroit the day after, and then fly right back. We go straight from the show to the plane, fly right back here then play three shows on Friday. It’s very hectic, but we wanted to be as busy as possible because otherwise you’re kind of just standing around. (David) It’s a week of Miami on that time and it’s kind of crazy so you need to have stuff to do otherwise you’re kind of hanging around.
I remember seeing you play Warped tour back when I was in high school. What made you want to make the progression into electronic music?
Breathe Carolina: (David) After a while, when you do the same thing for so long you just want to see what else is out there. It was kind of natural to be honest with you, to start making music like that. We naturally just got more into this scene, but realized that we couldn’t double dip. We can’t do this and then go back on Warped Tour because people aren’t going to take us seriously. We had to stay away from all of that, which was weird because that’s what we started with and how we grew up, but everything is great now.
Do you miss that scene or are happy where you are?
Breathe Carolina: (David) We’re really happy where we are. Those times were great and fun but also these are very awesome, and it’s just new. There is a new passion that we have so it’s pretty cool and feels new again.
What would you say is different about Ultra as compared to some of the other festivals you’ve played?
Breathe Carolina: (Tommy) It is really based on the day. Most festivals are based on the night, but it’s a festival that starts at 12 in the afternoon. It is really a beach Miami vibe, where other festivals are open but more focused on later. EDC doesn’t open until 6 pm, Ultra opens at 12 and is very daytime, fun, laidback, chill. Not to mention they base a whole week of stuff around the festival and it starts the entire year. Everybody starts playing new sets right now, everybody tests all the stuff they are going to do for the rest of the year. Starting this week is pretty much the EDM New Year.
After touring in various cities and countries, do you have any picked out as favorites to play?
Breathe Carolina: (David) We just broke into Asia last year. The first time we went to Asia was September, and we had never gone in the past, and we are doing so much over there so I think that is my new favorite spot right now. Everyone is super nice, it’s just cool to experience those cities because it’s a whole different culture. (Tommy) Yeah it’s really amazing, I like Asia a lot. We did Budapest, we just walked around to go get food and all of the sudden 5 hours later we are climbing a castle. It was the most beautiful place. We expected it to be like a farm – we didn’t know. And then we landed and it was just the most beautiful place in the world, and it caught me so off guard. It’s my favorite place I’ve ever been to.
Do you find a lot of places you travel surprising like that?
Breathe Carolina: (David) It’s honestly surprising if we want to go explore. We have been traveling for so long that when we get somewhere, it’s always the same sh*t. We get to the hotel, we go play, we leave. Everything starts to blend together. Everything is the same. In the US especially, we have been everywhere like 30 times. (Tommy) The US people and shows are great, but the US as a country and things to see, not so much. There’s New York, Texas, and California. What is there in the middle of the country? What are you going to see? The shows and people obviously are amazing but as far as stuff to see, there’s not much. (David) There’s just not a huge want. I’d rather lay in a bed all day than walk around. (Tommy) When you fly 14 hours or something, and you have to work too. Today we were working on finishing our set, and music, and our radio show right until the second that we got here. We are always doing so many things.
But you enjoy the life right? Other people wonder what it’s like to constantly be hopping around. Practical things like – when do you sleep?!
Breathe Carolina: (Tommy) We were with Blasterjaxx on other days, and we were like with the flight and this and that, we were all just looking at each other like, “Oh this could be so much worse.” We can’t complain about this sh*t. Can’t complain about the fact that we have to be on a plane. (David) It’s one of those things where you sleep whenever you have time to. Yesterday we landed, I slept for an hour, then we played till 5 in the morning last night, slept a couple hours, so it’s always a random couple hours here and there, and you just try to make the best of it. (Tommy) But we could sleep for like 9 hours a night and work at a Papa John’s, but we don’t, so we cannot complain about what we do.
Can you name any artists or styles of music that you’ve tried to incorporate sounds from into your music today?
Breathe Carolina: (Tommy) Recently he (David) has been on a Weeknd, Post Malone vibe. Not so much the artists but the producers – beat wise. So we have been trying to incorporate that which is different for us because usually we make club bangers and stuff. We grew up on pop punk. Listening to Daft Punk, MSTRKRFT, Justice, Tiesto. We try to not make anything that is your average stuff. We try not to make anything. One day he will send me a whole finished song, and we won’t even use it. (David) I had a tropical house phase for two months. (Tommy) He was like, I know we can’t use any of this but I just want to get good at making it. We’re songwriters and producers first, so for us we always want to learn how to make new stuff even if we aren’t going to use it. We always want to be writing different stuff so our brains keep growing. We need to keep growing as artists and producers and writers.
I remember back when I first heard of you, you always had a different sound. You were playing Warped Tour but you still always had that electronic undertone in your work.
Breathe Carolina: (Tommy) If you listen to any of our albums fully through, one song will be like Metallica, the next song will sound like Justice. We have always prided ourselves on not being placed as a certain kind of artist. We want to make whatever we feel like making.
What do you predict for Breathe Carolina in the next few years? Where do you see the future?
Breathe Carolina: (Tommy) I mean jet-packs are going to be a big part of our lives (laughs.) I think we are always going to be growing and exploring. I don’t know what is going to happen in two years. I didn’t know this was going to happen two years ago. It’s hard with us because we’re the kind of guys who are never satisfied. We’ll set a goal, and reach it, and be like this goal sucked. People will say, “You had a two year goal and you reached it in six months,” and we will say it’s not enough! We’re always trying to grow past where we’re at. Tomorrow we may say we need to play on the moon, and that’s the goal. We’re getting to a point now where we are starting to focus on songs, not just club bangers – but also club bangers at the same time. Just trying to grow and see what happens!