Cross My Heart Hope to Die has earned its own place as one of the more brilliant outfits of 2014. Not many bands create and patent their own music boxes that they then release and distribute throughout the world, released a new EP and curate an art exhibition at Shepard Fairey’s Subliminal Projects to accompany it all in just a few short months. Undeniably one of the most refreshingly creative groups on the scene in years, Cross My Heart Hope To Die blends the realms of art and music with a fluidity representative of the distinct trajectories of each of the member’s artistic careers fully culminated in a year’s time. 2014 found each member of the supergroup at the brink of innovation as the quartet embarked on an uniquely seasoned, futuristic sound that formed under the direction of DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill fame, Los Angeles “jazz baby” songstress with a “hip hop head” Brevi, former guitarist of Strife Andrew Kline and ex-curator and social media expert Sean Bonner. Like other artists selected by mxdwn in the past few years (such as 2013’s SISU and 2012’s TEEN), the group maintains certain excitingly enigmatic quality that sets them apart from all other breakthrough artists. Cross My Heart Hope to Die is mxdwn’s Best New Artist for 2014.
Cross My Heart Hope to Die Shot For mxdwn by Marv Watson
Although often characterized by dark and cinematic musical elements reminiscent of a Quentin Tarintino film, Cross My Heart Hope To Die evolved organically from the rediscovery of a down tempo rock CD DJ Muggs recorded 13 years prior with reggae side project named Dust. “I found a couple of tracks, and I called Andrew and went ‘Hey, that girl Brevi…I found some music. Let’s put her on a couple of tracks and see how she sounds,'” recalls Muggs. “So, they went in and recorded a couple of demos for me and I thought, “This shit is dope,” so I grabbed more ideas and gave them to Andrew to finish them up and then she put a couple of musical ideas together and I finished them and then we went and started recording demos with Brevi.”
Vocalist Brevi recalls a similar sentiment about the band’s formation. “For me, it was the music itself that I was hearing from Muggs at the time that drew me in wholeheartedly. It always begins with the music for me. If it doesn’t speak to me, it’s not meant for me. The beautiful music was all the motivation I needed.” With Kline and Brevi on board and the music fleshing itself out, Muggs loved the direction everything was taking, but wanted to continue to build on the whole dynamic of the group and do something new. He had a couple of big artists who initially showed an interest in being the missing piece, but in the end, the group realized that the best fit was Sean Bonner, someone who had been working with them since day one.
“The first time I met Muggs he told me–and I’ll never forget this–that because of his previous work he could follow the easy laid out path and predict exactly how that would play out, which is fine but isn’t fulfilling and isn’t exciting. He said he wasn’t interested in that at this point in his life and wanted to work on things he was proud of and excited about. This struck a chord with me immediately and I agreed and we all said that evening that if we were going to work on this project together the goal had to be to create something that we were proud of first and foremost. Something that 5, 10 years from now we’d still be proud of…that none of us had an interest in just going the easy way or following the pre-laid out route,” recalled Bonner.
Given that each member are, “Very unique and seasoned individuals apart from each other and each member plays a vital role in the commitment to the vision and respect of each other’s expertise,” according to Brevi, embarking on a new, more profound path of incorporating the music and art worlds was aptly fitting. CMHHTD’s newest project and second EP, Vita e Morte, was designed as, according to Muggs, a sort of “3D art experience music where listeners could walk into the album art and bring it to life.” The group aimed to provide their fans with a non-traditional, interactive way of discovering and interpreting music, free from the limitations often used to segregate the disciplines of art and music.
Back in the time where, “The tail end of an era that was hungry and hunting for the best music,” members Muggs, Brevi, Sean and Andrew relied on friends, magazines, records stores and full immersion into the music scenes of their respective cities to discover new talents and develop new passions. “I would pick up zines and look at the adds, interviews and reviews, and try to seek some of this stuff out,” said Kline. “We would have to custom order a lot of stuff from our local record store or find someone to drive us an hour or more to Long Beach to pick up other stuff. Pre-internet kids would trade live videos and live soundboard tapes all the time… I found some of my favorite bands this way.”
And CMHHTD seems extremely aware of the changing dynamic of online music. “A while ago it wasn’t uncommon for you to hear about a band and then not be able to actually hear the band for some time, so you’d build up some anticipation. Now you can hear anything a second after you learn about it from a hundred different sources,” Sean said. It was this notion ignited CMHHTD’s enthusiasm to restore the magic in discovering music by developing and installing art installation music players throughout the world, in cities spanning from Los Angeles to Paris to Tokyo. “We thought putting songs out on these unmarked boxes would create some mystery and anticipation, people would hear something and not be able to place it right away, no name, no information which would likely stick with them more than if someone had just played them a song from a band and told them all about it. The mystery is exciting and fun, and we wanted to try and put a little of that back into music,” said Bonner.
Equally as interesting and complex, the insanely technologically advanced music boxes were designed by Bonner and his Hack Space Club scientists and physicist to begin playing a song upon the plug-in of headphones and for the player to stop upon the removal of the headphones. The playful blend of music immediately piqued the interests of fans around the world and lead fan discussions tracking the locations of all the scattered boxes. Till this day, the music boxes are spread to different ends of the world, their whereabouts unknown, though their redesign is on the horizon.
“In the future we plan to keep releasing those boxes and anytime we have a new song, we are going to release them on those boxes instead of the internet and put them up just randomly somewhere around the world, wherever we happen to be at that time. Hopefully our fans will have a little treasure hunt for [them],” said Muggs. With all the music done on the new more future sounding album done and the lyrics and melodies under works, CMHHTD’s third EP is projected to drop in May or June, though Muggs says, “Trying to time that far way is crazy.”
Cross My Heart Hope to Die Shot For mxdwn by Marv Watson