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Timeflies, an ‘electro-hip-hop-dub-something’ duo, proves to be more than your average college band

Seniors Rob Resnick and Cal Shapiro translate talent into a rising profile on the national music sce

Published: Thursday, February 17, 2011

Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011 07:02

Rob Resnick and Cal Shapiro are very excited about Timeflies, and they want everyone else to be excited, too. And it's easy to be excited about it — this two-man band really seems to be on to something.

Resnick and Shapiro have been making music for a long time, though not always as Timeflies, their current project, and not always together. The pair played together for the first time as members of The Ride, a Tufts funk band, two years ago. Neither of them is new to this game, and it shows.

Resnick, the group's producer, is a senior music major at Tufts. He is classically trained in music composition as well as piano, guitar and, since starting at Tufts, drums. While studying these, he started dabbling in electronic music production.

"I built a little ProTools studio in my basement in middle school and screwed around with that," Resnick said, sitting among his various monitors, mixers, speakers and instruments in his current, slightly larger studio, nestled under his room's lofted bed.

Shapiro, Timeflies' singer and rapper, is no hack, either: "I did a couple piano lessons and guitar lessons when I was younger ... and when I came to Tufts and did the music major I sang for a couple ensembles … and for [The Ride]." With Shapiro drawn to singing and performing, and Resnick more interested in production and composition, it was a logical progression for the two to get together and make music.

Listening to Resnick and Shapiro talk about their band (their sound, as described by Resnick, is "electro-hip-hop-dub-something"), their music and their upcoming plans, it's not hard to see why the group is more than the average college band. Whereas most college students, at some point or another, kick around the idea of starting a band, and might even pick up a guitar or a keyboard, Resnick and Shapiro take their music very seriously. When the two performed with The Ride their sophomore year — Resnick on drums, Shapiro singing — the band won a spot opening for Spring Fling that year, which meant opening for Asher Roth, Ludacris and The Decemberists. All in all, not a bad gig.

After some members of The Ride graduated — a frequent occurrence in college bands —  the group dissolved. Resnick and Shapiro continued making music together but not seriously at first. That all changed this past fall, when Shapiro's housemate, Jared Glick, sent to a number of music blogs a song that the pair had recorded two years ago.

"Well, we had made what we thought was a s---ty, poorly made song our sophomore year of college called ‘Fade,'" Shapiro said. "[We] never really thought much of it, and then Jared, one day this year, was like, ‘Why don't I just send it to the blogs?' and we were like, ‘Come on, that's never going to do anything!' And he's like, ‘Let me just send it.'"

"Jared starts Timeflies!" Glick interjected, laughing. Jared Glick, now the group's manager, takes his job more seriously than most college students would, and had been sitting in the corner of the studio busily sending e-mails from his BlackBerry.

"A bunch of blogs are like, ‘Check out this new group, Timeflies'," Shapiro continued.

Resnick excitedly cut in, "And we were like, ‘If they like that, wait until we do something now,' so we popped one out in a few days — in like a weekend — and that was ‘All Night,' and they ate that up, so we were like, ‘Let's do it!'"

"We always planned on doing something," Shapiro continued, "but we could never find the time. … Our schedules were never clicking … but when we saw that ‘Fade' was something that people were into, we were like, ‘Well that was the bare bones. That was the bare minimum of our work.'"

Shapiro, by his own admission, doesn't check music blogs too often, so it came as something of a shock to him how quickly Timeflies was picked up and championed by influential blogs like Pigeons & Planes and Good Music All Day. They received kind words from both, which, the two said, helped them get to where they currently are.

Rather than play shows all the time, the two initially focused on building buzz on the Internet. Since "Fade" hit the blogosphere in October, the duo has trickled out a handful of tracks. Their first song, the aforementioned "Fade," features an auto-tuned Shapiro singing and rapping over a smooth electro beat. Next came "All Night," (2010) the first new song they produced together since their sophomore year. The laid-back jam followed the same formula as "Fade," though their sophomore effort was tighter than their sophomore-year effort.

After two smooth electro songs, Timeflies switched it up and released "Lose My Mind," (2010) a dubstep-inspired club song, easily the best work the two have done so far. Resnick's production is tight, the bass is heavy and the eclectic influences — electro-pop, dubstep, house and rock — come together surprisingly well. Shapiro's vocals call to mind recent electro-pop hits (e.g. Far*East Movement's "Like a G6" (2010)) in the best way possible.

Following "Lose My Mind," the guys changed styles yet again with "Pipe Dreams," an acoustic affair with Resnick on guitar and Shapiro singing — no rapping to be found. "We're trying to have a sound, but also switch it up enough that you don't say, ‘Oh, that sounds like their last one.' ... It showed that I could actually play guitar, and [Shapiro] can actually sing," Resnick explained.

"We were able to show versatility, which got us some of the early recognition in the blog world. That's what initially got us the attention that set us apart," Shapiro added. "The landscape of the music industry has shifted. ... Everything is changing, and we're just trying to feel it out as it goes, but also be on the forefront of riding that wave of the blogs — have someone from Canada know us before they know us at our school. It's weird."

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