We interviewed SIDEPIECE about performing “Eye of the Tiger” live at Lollapalooza and their favorite memories from the Kiss & Tell Tour.
Nitti Gritti and Party Favor have found massive success with their SIDEPIECE project. They just announced the second leg of their Kiss & Tell Tour, which is hitting cities like Dallas, Detroit, and Tampa as well as stops in Canada, England, and Australia.
SIDEPIECE has had a busy festival season with a memorable performance at Lollapalooza 2022. Playing at the Perry’s Stage for an hour on Friday afternoon, SIDEPIECE debuted a live performance of “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor with Jim Peterik, the band’s guitarist and songwriter in the 1980s.
SIDEPIECE is a collaborative project from Nitti Gritti (Ricky Mears) and Party Favor (Dylan Ragland). They both have had successful careers as high-energy EDM DJs and started the SIDEPIECE project out of their mutual love for house music. Their single “On My Mind” with Diplo was nominated for Best Dance Recording at the 2021 Grammys.
We interviewed SIDEPIECE before their Lollapalooza set about playing Tomorrowland and remixing one of the most recognizable songs from the 1980s. Read the full interview below and watch all of our interviews from Lollapalooza on our YouTube channel!
Tickets to SIDEPIECE’s Kiss and Tell Tour: Second Base are available now.
What’s your experience playing massive, multi-genre festivals like Lollapalooza? Is it different than performing at other EDM festivals?
Ricky: I’d say so. I think our set for this one is a little more straightforward with some more known songs and vocals when compared to a deeper nighttime set. We have a couple of big remixes that we’re playing…it’s different than what would we be playing at a place like Electric Forest. Hopefully, we kill it for this all-ages and all-genres type of vibe.
Dylan: I like this vibe because the crowd isn’t getting banged on the head with crazy music all day. When it’s time for our set, the crowd is still fresh. The genres change throughout the day, and everyone is ready for the next set when it comes, no matter what style it is.
You mentioned the late-night sets – you also have an afterparty coming up tonight. How do your aftershow sets compare to festival sets?
R: It really depends. Not every afterparty is the same style. We freestyle afterparties more. That’s our time to relax and have fun. It’s not like we have pyrotechnics or big production planned. Like, if somebody’s vibing out to a disco record, we’ll switch it up and play three more disco songs. Afterparties are a lot of fun for us.
D: At the afterparties, we like to improvise a little more. However the party’s going, we go with the flow.
You just played at Tomorrowland. I saw this was your first show as SIDEPIECE in Europe. What was it like playing there?
D: That place is like Disneyland! It’s hard to describe unless you’re there. Ricky had played there before, but it was my first time there and it was beautiful. All I can say is…go! I can’t really describe it. It’s full of a lot of tall Dutch people.
R: It’s a raver’s paradise!
The Lollapalooza set is going to be particularly special – you’re playing your unreleased remix of “Eye of The Tiger” by Survivor, and you’re bringing out their guitarist to perform the song live. How did that all get started?
D: I don’t remember how it started exactly. A lot of times we’ll flip a record to play in a set or just to try stuff out. It started as a fun remix we made, and when we started playing it live, the response was insane. Our team reached out to Survivor’s label to see if they wanted to clear it. [Survivor guitarist] Jim Peterik heard it and loved it, and they hit us back up and said they wanted to be a part of it!
R: It made the whole experience more exciting. Knowing that they were excited about it and being able to perform it live together kinda makes the whole thing concrete. When we release the song, it’s gonna be the most epic thing. We got the co-sign from the band and got to play it live with them…we have everything we need to really push the song now.
D: We just always want to do different stuff. We’ll have Jim playing guitar out there, and Ricky will be playing drums. It gives the audience something different. It’s a cool blending of a song that came out in the 1980s, and now we’re bringing it into 2022.
R: We might be the first tech house group ever to remix an 80s song and play live drums! I’ve never really seen anything like that in house music before.
“Eye Of The Tiger” is a song that everyone across the world recognizes. Was it difficult to remix it?
D: I feel like Ricky and I have both done so much stuff…Ricky does pop production for other people too, so for us, it just felt natural. The hardest part was actually adjusting the stems to be on a perfect grid. When you’re playing in a band, music isn’t always on a perfect grid. We had to do a lot of adjusting with the vocals to make sure everything grooves at the right tempo.
In June, you remixed another iconic track in “1,2 Step” with Lee Foss. Do you think remixing tracks like that is important in order to find new fans?
R: Sometimes it seems like there’s a stigma from people in the scene about reusing vocals that everyone already knows. But that’s exactly the point. A, if we like it, who tf cares? And B, for people who don’t really know our music, reeling them in with a fun vocal that’s already known is helpful. I think we do a good job mixing our original songs, our sampled songs, and our lesser-known deep cuts.
D: I think we bring our own flare to our music. I want people to listen to our music and instantly know “oh, that’s a SIDEPIECE record”.
I think you guys have that. You have a pretty distinct sound that’s very well produced. Was it difficult for you to come up with your sound as SIDEPIECE?
R: Once you collaborate with someone enough, I think it just comes naturally. When we were making “Eye of The Tiger”, Dylan would send me stems and say “Add your Ricky sauce!” and vice versa. I’ll send him something and just tell him to do his thing, like adding a crazy bassline. We always know what to add for each other. No matter if I start a song or if Dylan starts one, it always ends up sounding like SIDEPIECE.
You recently finished up the first leg of the Kiss & Tell Tour. What’s one special memory you have from the Kiss & Tell Tour now that it’s over?
R: My mom came to our last show in Seattle and got us a cake for selling out all four shows! It was just a cool moment that I was able to share with Dylan, my family, and our team. Selling out our first tour is something I’ll remember forever.
D: Whenever you start a project, you always want to be as big and successful as possible. But for SIDEPIECE, we really started with the music first. We didn’t know where it would take us. I think we’re just grateful that we get a chance to play music to sold-out crowds. Hopefully we can keep it going!
Finally, what’s one goal you have for the future of SIDEPIECE?
D: Win a Grammy!
R: Definitely take home the Grammy next time.
D: A goal of mine is to headline some kind of bus tour. I also think there are a lot of festivals and other things that we have yet to do. Also, maybe we’ll keep breaking boundaries. Maybe there’s other stuff that we can do that’s just different than everybody else.
R: The live music setup with the guitar and the drums made me realize how much I missed that. I played drums in a band for years before I was a DJ. Dylan plays keyboard, and I think it’s very possible that there’s more live music in our future.