The Popes of Dope, an up-and-coming DJ duo made up of Donald Le and AJ Nubla,have emerged from the UCI campus and integrated their talents into the OC music scene. I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing this dynamic duo to grasp a better understanding of their musical identity and what they have in store for the future.
Q: So, how did you guys meet?
A: We met early on in our college careers as undergraduate students at UC Irvine. We actually became brothers in the same fraternity. So we’re pretty close, we partied together, lived together, etc.
Q: How did you guys first get started and actually become a “group”?
A: We had a strong passion for electronic dance music for a while, we went to club events all the time and watched all the world-class djs and producers, saw what they did and were heavily influenced by their sounds. We both had a similar tastes in music and stayed clear from the mainstream stuff and wanted to share what we heard. We ended up becoming a group when our friend John Konopka purchased a Torq Xponent (a digital DJ device). We had messed around with that and then wanted to do our own thing and researched things about the Traktor S4, which is heavily supported by Porter Robinson and it just happened.
Q: What inspires your music? What are your influences, and what genre do you identify with?
A: Our inspiration comes from a variety of factors. First, it involves what we personally like and we factor what other people like to hear. A big part of our inspiration would be the vibe of the crowd; we gotta work with them and they have to work with us.
Our influences include young big name artists our age who are living the dream and traveling the world including: Porter Robinson, Avicii, Alesso, and Madeon… plus Dada Life for their wild energy they provide at every single show, Swedish House Mafia for their inspirational sets, Bruce Karlson from Norin & Rad for his coaching and Kaskade for his innovative originality — seen him at least 15+ times and he always gets better and better. Another group of influences that helped get us going include local artists Slander, KickMix, K-Dar, LIFT, and Metalectric.
We are generally Electro-House and Progressive House. We like to keep people grinding and blowing off women’s clothes with our bass!
Q: Origins of the name “Popes of Dope”?
A: The original term was “Pope of Dope,”which was a song by the Party Harders and The Subs and we just implemented a pluralistic version of it to support both of us. The track itself has a hard-hitting drop and bassline and that was what we wanted to shoot for.
Q: I heard you guys recently played a show at Ten Nightclub with Krewella, fill us in on the deets!
A: That was the craziest event we’ve ever DJed. It was run by Cali Connect at Ten Nightclub featuring Krewella, Slander, Metalectric, and A.Kwon. The vibe was wild and the crowd had amazing energy. The main stage when Krewella was performing was crazy; there were people crowd surfing and getting wild. We also loved seeing the reactions on the crowds’ faces whenever we transitioned to a new song. It was awesome having control of the audience and bringing them on a rollercoaster ride.
Q: Have you done any collabs with fellow artists?
A: We’ve had some guidance from DJ-KDAR, who is a huge inspiration for us; he helped create us, coached us, and showed us the ropes. AJ also interned for SkeeTV, where DJ KickMix had an office, and he would bounce ideas back and forth to him and we would get great feedback. We are currently working with a close friend, Ryan Beach in producing our own songs to share with the world. The experience with working with other people is very inspirational because you give new ideas to the other person, then you receive ideas that were originally never had, and then you throw in your own final tidbits to it and then…BOOM…you have something.
Check out their beats below: