twins age 18
ISAAC AND EDDIE BURNS
Debut EP - "Sweet Asl"
Chicago musicians and twins IZ and Eddie Burns are leading Chicago in the right direction. Following the release of their highly acclaimed EP "Sweet Asl," the twins are back in the studio with their friends and family doing what they love. I was able to talk to them about the EP, Chicago, and future plans as a production duo. Take a listen.
(Seamus) : Introduce yourselves. Tell me your age, instruments, and what expertise you bring to this production duo.
IZ - I’m IZ. I’m 18. I was born first. I play trumpet, I produce. I can sing a little bit, but I can’t play drums. If I wanted to, I’d be picking up more horns, but I just don’t own any. And then, I do a lot of auxiliary production. I write basically all of the bass lines to most of our songs.
Eddie - I’m Eddie Burns. I’m a drummer and I produce most of the stuff executively. I’ve been playing drums for twelve years. I also play piano and sing a little bit. So, in general, right now, for the Burns twins when we perform live, I play drums and arrange a little bit, but not much. Also, I just produce. Most of the record is a lot of the beats I made and I gave them to IZ and we collaborated on them from there. Right now, I’m playing drums for Ric Wilson, Malcolm London, Burns Twins, and I’m in the O’My’s now.
Let’s talk about Chicago for a bit. I can tell you guys have a lot of pride in this city. How does that come through in your music?
IZ-Well, I mean, I got it tattooed on my legs. But, for me, it’s huge. You go to New York and everyone says ‘New York’s dope. I love that place.’ But, it’s extremely cramped and very expensive. Chicago is extremely segregated, but if you know how to navigate the city and you go out of your way to do so, you’re gonna find something incredible. And, the music scene here is all about bringing people together. That’s why we got to be mentored by the Social Experiment, and that’s what has kind of propelled us. And, along with that, we’ve always just had support from our friends and people who may not be in this scene but want to be in this scene, or may just love music. So, it’s just been a lot and you don’t see that in other cities. We’ve been really lucky to have that, that’s for sure.
On a typical day back in Chicago, what would you find yourself doing? Where do you find yourself?
IZ- When I move back home, basically all I’m gonna be doing is recording. But, If we were to be out...So, our lead singer works at Bucketfeet, so I like to go bug them in there. They have dope shoes. Nini’s Deli, our homie Juan owns it. We’ve modeled for him for Chicago Native. Around Wicker is cool, but it can kinda be slightly played out. I love Pilsen. We did a photoshoot in Pilsen up in this sick apartment. One of my favorite restaurants is on Halsted and 18th and it’s a Maxwell Street ‘walk up and get your greasy ass food here and walk away’ place. A lot of the time, it’s just chillin at people’s cribs and making music.
Do you have other music that is not up on your soundcloud? ?
IZ- Oh, there’s so much stuff that we have just sitting on our computers. We’re hopefully releasing a project in a few months, and we’ve already started that. I have stuff that’s from me goofing off, because I haven’t gotten all of the tools that I need on my computer to produce everything. My brother has a lot.
Tell me a little bit about Sweet Asl and what it means to you.
IZ- I think Sweet Asl was a lot about friendship. So, we’d met Kaina I think the day before our 18th birthday which was in April. And, she was like ‘oh, we should work,’ and me being the timid ass person I was, I was like, ‘okay for sure.’ We released Mango Kisses and we realized that people really f----- heavy with this shit, like maybe we should do something with it. The first song, or maybe it was “La Luna” or “Honey,” was made over the ocean. We were in Sicily for graduation and Eddie was facetiming with Kaina sending shit back and forth. It was a lot about collaborating and building something together, and creating our own sound
Eddie- It was the most organic music experience I’ve had in my life. The first time we made “Mango Kisses”, Kaina said she wanted me to make that feel good, sunny, mango beat. She wrote the most perfect damn hook in five minutes. Kaina Castillo is the best songwriter I have ever met, and by the time she is 25, she will be the best songwriter in the world, hands down. The lyrics she says are straight from her heart and they mean so much. They’re real as hell. You listen to “Petals” acapella and you will be blown away because she wrote that in ten minutes. We made just a bunch of loops with Kaina and I’d facetime her till 4 AM. We wrote “Petals” together over Facetime. So, a lot of this inspiration was a new chapter in my life. I had just finished high school, there was a woman in my life that I had a lot of tweak moments with that it was just driving me crazy in good and bad ways, and I was just inspired. I was sitting at the waves with my brother and best friend and facetiming with Kaina and it was so inspiring to make those two songs there, yet to come back here and be surrounded by all my mentors and be making music every day here in beautiful Chicago, my favorite place on Earth. We didn’t think it would be anything. We didn’t know what we wanted to do. It just happened. e took it to Soundscape, worked on it there, released it, and put everything into it, and by that time, I was like, ‘f--- it.’ I had already been thinking about a gap year and IZ was convincing me that I would ruin my life if I stayed in Chicago.
IZ- When we graduated, he had no idea what he was going to do. And, during the last two weeks of the summer, he had offers from the O’My’s to play for them, our shit had popped the f--- off and I didn’t even want to go to college anymore. And, now I’m coming home soon. We just passed 60,000 plays on “Honey.” The six tracks on the album have over double digits in the thousands. There’s no way we can go down. It’s only up from here.
Eddie- I was at Soho the other night. And Mike Kolar said, ‘so what’s it like? I know your dad taught Nico. I know Greg taught you. What’s with the O’My’s? I remember I was in fifth or sixth grade at my school, Carter Lang, a really well known producer in Chicago, was in the O’My’s. It was the original group. And they put Kids These Days on to their first gig at our school. Erick Mateo, the guitar and saxophone player for the O’My’s had long ass hair. He always wore flip flops. I was just so overjoyed. Those events, and seeing them around my school when I was that young, just inspired me. And now I wake up one day and I’m in the O’My’s, I’m working with this people, these people are my brothers, they wanna be on my music, and Kaina and I are both influencing their music. I’m producing on their album. Me being in the O’My’s, I think it’ll add a lot.
How did you go about making the album?
IZ- We only featured Maceo from the O’My’s and then we had Bedows, Kaina and us. It was basically just working all the time. I was really frustrated because I wasn’t there enough, and now when I go back home from school, I work all the time and I’m happy about that. Eddie would just have something on the keyboard and I would just play something on the trumpet and I would just sit and layer my horns and listen and listen and listen and listen. It was about ‘what do you like?’ and there were so many times we were up until 4 AM working and the next day having a mastering session. So, it was just a lot about continually working.
What was the studio process like?
IZ- We made all of the songs together at our house and then all the mastering was done at Soundscape.
Eddie- I made the beat for “Petals” and “La Luna” in Italy, facetiming with Kaina.
IZ-I made the bass line, the heavy chorus for “Petals” in my crib in my brother’s room. We had moved the studio that summer three times, from his room to my room to where it is now, like all around the house.
How long did this project take?
Eddie-three months. We were working 6, 7 hours a day.
IZ - There’s one song called Run that didn’t make it on to the album which is a two part interlude. One is an acapella version of something Kaina made and it went into a very laid back piano-driven kind of beat. It was more like a drunk beat or like a very sad beat. There’s a lot of vocal stuff we’ve been working on that never came to fruition. And I think that’s the only one that we really thought about releasing. It didn’t go anywhere. There was too much arguing about that one track in general.
Do you guys get along well when working?
IZ- Eddie and I get in fights all the time.
Eddie- when we first started really hitting shit this year, I’d be playing this horn line and this man would be like ‘nah’. And then he’d be playing this drum lines and I’d be like ‘nah.’ So, honestly what ended up happening, which really worked, is I’d make a beat and I’d leave the room. I’d go downstairs. I’d tell IZ to ‘do whatever’ and it’s hot every time. So, we’re better now, of course.
IZ- So much better, because now we can actually share, except he doesn’t let me do drums anymore.
What do you hope people take away from Sweet Asl?
IZ - You can make music with your friends and it can take you places. Straight up. When we play shows and we get off stage and people are like ‘Yo, I just cried through your set, thank you,’ anybody can do that if they really want to. It’s about finding what you possess to create your art. It doesn’t have to be music, but it can be visual art, it can be performance art. It can be basically anything. It can be your science, and this album right now is our science. Even though I wanted to be a doctor for so long, this is all I want to do right now. This is what I spend my time doing, what I dissect, what I sit in the practice room at college doing.
What are you gonna do when you come home?
IZ-We’re probably gonna play less shows and record all the time. Hopefully we’re releasing a project at some point soonish. It’s gonna be a nine piece project and a single.
Eddie-ideally nine songs, but you never know.
IZ- We want features, and that comes so much later. For production, we will be working with Kaina, Bedows and we also have been working with a friend of ours named Nico. A lot of this album is gonna be focused on us creating and really emphasizing our sound and hopefully getting some cool features. We’ve come to the decision that we have to finish every song before we get one feature. But, for me, I’m hoping to have The Mind and Maceo again. Our best friends ever in music (they were at our house basically every day this summer) are Manwolves . They’re our family and so what I’m thinking about doing is trying to find a studio where we can get both full bands together and make one banger for the outro of the album.
Who are your musical influences?
IZ- My dad, J Dilla, Madlib. I love classical music, so the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. My dad is a classical trumpet player. I still learn from him everyday, because he does contemporary music. He taught Nico from the Social Experiment and Will Miller from Whitney. I got to be around a lot of great trumpet players and I started teaching myself and went to Merit Music School and got to learn from a lot of really dope,really crazy jazz trumpet players.
Eddie- Then Nico become his trumpet mentor and teacher. I took lessons from Stix. Stix is like my older bro. I listen to Lauryn Hill, Robert Glasper, Bilal. I have a lot of jazz influences: Lee Morgan, Fela Kuti. We listen to a lot of Cuban/Venezualan music, so Oscar D’Leon, and a lot of Afro stuff too. The first hip-hop rapper we really got into was MF Doom.
IZ- I’m probably gonna get an MF Doom tattoo at some point. Clifford Brown stood out forever for me as a jazz trumpet player because I see similarities personality wise. He never swore, he didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke, and I don’t do any of that stuff. I mean, I swear like a f---in sailor, I swear to god, but I remember downloading this album of all jazz trumpet players, like Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Fats Navarro, and the person who stood out to me the most was always Clifford Brown. When I started going to jazz conservatory, that was the person who I always kind of modeled my sound after.
Eddie - I have a lot of drummer influences: Chris Dave, Questlove, Billy Higgins. Lot’s of gospel influences.
IZ - Kids These Days. The album Traphouse Rock-I listen to that on a weekly basis.
Where do you feel you fit into the Chicago music scene?
IZ - A couple weeks ago, we had a photoshoot with These Days and Haight Brand, which is the brand that manages Chance. We are basically being poster children like ‘We are the new wave of Chicago music.’ And, I hate saying that about myself. We are the leaders of the new wave. We are the ones rollin up right now, and we’re really excited to pull all our friends along with us, like Manwolves and Ric Wilson. Everybody’s up there with us. We’re just pushing the scene right now. We’ve been welcomed by our mentors. Hopefully by next summer, we should be playing some college shows, and hope to have a small tour. I mean, if you look at Noname, her album popped and now she’s doing international tours. So, if we could get the love like that, that would be brazy, straight up.
If you could say one thing to the world and to your fans, what would it be?
IZ - Oh my god, thank you to everyone. What the hell? I was not expecting this. Thank you so much for letting me do what I love and showing me that music is more important than almost anything, except for breathing... and family.
Eddie - I’d like to say that where this world is right now, where a lot of people are not safe, are not loved, are not looked at as human beings, it’s my duty and job and responsibility to make this world a more loving and better place. It’s my duty and job as an artist and as a human being with my voice, my powerful ass voice that I have, no matter if I’m playing drums, that I change the world. It’s my duty to make people feel like they’re important, like they’re loved, because they are. Music, yes it’s fun, but at the same time right now, I feel pressure to truly do what I can do for this world, because it’s really f---ed. I’m not going to focus on flexing right now, I’m not going to focus on money, I’m gonna focus on people. These past two weeks have just been wild, and I put everything in my heart into this music. Just look for music that’s gonna really do something, and I’m calling to everybody, all my artist friends, all the people I don’t know that are artists, that we have a voice.
IZ - We have the privilege of being able to make art. And, beyond that, as Burns Twins, we grew up with immense privilege, that for us not to utilize it would be violent to our friends and to our family. Right now, we are here to create, to protect our friends, to make sure everybody knows we are here to create a difference, to make people happy, healthy, and safe. We want to create a Chicago that’s not known for violence and segregation, but create the Chicago that’s known for fostering an amazing arts community and great people.