From the days of homemade, auto-tune jams to an upcoming full-length album, Chattanooga duo Twice Adapted has its sights set on the pop, electronic and R&B music scene.
John Drexler, who is currently an economics student at Covenant College, and aspiring actor Michael Johnson, who currently lives in New York City, make up Twice Adapted.
The duo published their two-track EP, “Book of James,” online this January, which they describe as “pop electronic R&B.”
Twice Adapted blends a super-lyrical, largely unstructured sound with lyrics that rely just as much on the power of their musicality as the impact of their meaning. There is no set verse, hook, verse setup here, but rather a surprisingly balanced and magnetic flow of beats and words.
Drexler and Johnson grew their sophisticated sound from more humble beginnings, however.
“When I was 17, I figured out how to auto-tune vocals on my computer, so I started making these ungodly, terrible R&B beats for Michael to record [as] fake radio hits,” Drexler said. “After a few months of goofing around, we realized that we could make legitimate R&B tracks that we really liked.”
Drexler explained that the two spent another few years creating more bad songs—about 100 or so—before actually writing material they felt rose above the rest in the spring of 2012. They trekked out to St. Louis for a five-song recording session with Louis Wall at the Texas Room.
Twice Adapted finalized the EP and uploaded “Glenwood” and “1900” to a basic Soundcloud-like site this January.
The duo has plans for more new music, despite living in two separate parts of the country. Johnson explained that the distance actually works in their favor.
He pens the lyrics while Drexler composes the music. Even when they were in the same city, they wrote their individual pieces solo before trading to put the full tracks together and found that process yields the best product.
Twice Adapted claims a laundry list of influences—James Blake, Stevie Wonder, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Animal Collective, Kanye West and Flying Lotus—but Johnson noted that Ocean’s Grammy-winning album "Channel Orange" had a lasting impact on the duo’s work.
He pointed to the New Orleans rapper’s “honest, creative, musically astute and still remarkably listenable” style of pushing his genre forward, a career trajectory they would like to follow.
“It’s not exactly formatted like traditional R&B,” Johnson said of their own music. “We want to keep it serious, focused on the vocals, but still let it groove.”
In the next few months, Twice Adapted will record a full-length studio album with Matt Skudlarek at the producer’s St. Elmo studio Motion Music. The duo will also promote the album with shows in both Chattanooga and New York.