In a singles era, Cheat Codes are keeping their focus on bodies of work and their just-released Hellraisers, Pt. 1 album is more than what it appears. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, KEVI, Trevor Dahl and Matthew Russell ended up in the studio much longer than anticipated and after working on so many records, the trio thought it'd be fun to pull out an idea they conceptualized early in their career. They wanted to work on a three-part album that honed in on each of their personalities. After 18 months of recording, they did just that.
"We wanted to showcase our personalities and our styles: one being very pop, one being very dance, and one being very hip-hop," the group told iHeartRadio of the three-part series. Pt.1 dropped on Friday (May 7) and focuses on Dahl's pop sensibility. "Each representing each one of us. It was intriguing and being able to do it now is perfect timing."
Hellraisers makes for a fitting title for the trilogy as it honors their late manager, Michael Theanne, who passed away just over a year ago. He used the term as a nickname for the group because of their playful and rebellious nature. As for why the Los Angeles-based act kept focused on releasing an entire body of work when the digital landscape might suggest otherwise, they explained that there's an emotion that arrives when listeners consume an entire album compared to singles.
"If you hear a full album, you really get to know who they are," the group declared, adding, "You fall in love with that person or people and you get more attached to them. I don’t think albums will ever die. I think people will fall in love with artists through albums and not through singles." Hellraisers, Pt. 1 boasts a number of guests, including CXLOE ("Between Our Hearts"), Tinashe ("Lean on Me"), Marc E. Bassy ("Do It All Over"), Bryce Vine ("Stay"), Lil Xxel ("No Chill"), Au/Ra ("Wish It Was Me") and AJ Mitchell ("Hate You + Love You"). For listeners, they'll be able to hear how the act plays as chameleons through Dahl's lens and the opening two tracks, "On My Life" and "Lean On Me," remain standouts for the star.
'"On My Life' is very descriptive of how music is to me and my whole journey as far as coming up from nothing and trying to make music my thing and for people to look back to say, 'Damn. That’s pretty cool. He's doing his thing,'" Dahl said, admitting that he grew up "in a very modest household." "My parents grew up poor when they were young. When they were raising us, we were comfortable, nothing crazy. It's always been a goal of mine to be able to do big things and make music that gets heard by everybody and take it to a whole new level," he continued.
Looking forward, the second installment of the Hellraisers project will be focused on KEVI's hip-hop stomping grounds, while the final part will revolve around Russell's dance-influenced sound. "We have been working with people who have been in this space forever [and] people who we have been fans of since we were little kids," the group teased of Pt. 2, adding, "I don't want to give too much away but there is one person on the [follow-up] album who is one the main reasons we got into music."
Understandable aware of the feat that is releasing a trilogy album, Cheat Codes want to continue to push their limits and predict that there will be plenty following their footsteps in the years to come.
"Back in the day, we started putting out music on streaming. We were putting out a song every single month. People were like, 'Why are you putting out music every single month? You can’t do that!' And now everyone does it," the group recalled. "Watch, in two to three years, everyone is going to start putting out two-to-three-part albums. It's the way that it goes. Watch, I guarantee everyone that has released 10-12 songs in the past, and in the next three, four, five, six years, artists and bands are going to start releasing 20 to 30 songs as a project. Because they have to. It's one of those things where there's too much music being released nowadays. You have to be able to stay in the battle and fight."
Photo: David Higgs