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There are some things as an up-and-coming DJ that you just have to get used to, such as female fans dropping their pants for you. And while Bruce Karlsson and Nick Sember (a.k.a. Norin & Rad) might've done okay with the ladies without help from their fast-rising DJ career, getting tweets from girls with their names written on their butt cheeks and fans stopping them at airports has been kind of a new thing for them lately. "This one girl in New York almost took down the small barrier around the turntables as we were performing to take a picture with Bruce," says Sember.
In an age when it seems just about any douche with a laptop can have some sort of DJ career, it still takes a certain amount of je ne sais quoi to create something that's unique and perpetual in the scene people will physically go apeshit over. So far, that spark has found its way into Karlsson's and Sember's beats. In a short period of time, the pair morphed from bedroom producers into current rising stars signed to trance heroes Above & Beyond's acclaimed Anjunabeats Record Label. Their deal with the U.K. trio came after doing a remix for them in 2011. Norin & Rad's first original single, "Bloom," combined contemporary synths and piano breakdowns that created something that's far beyond the realm of progressive trance. Not bad for two young, whacky guys from Orange County who like to party but also enjoy being at home watching movies and putting fiery Sriracha on everything they eat.
"Our obsession with Sriracha comes from loving pho and basically representing our hometown," says Karlsson. They claim Pho 79 on Bolsa Avenue and Brookhurst Street is the best in the world, despite having tasted the Vietnamese staple in divey restaurants all over Las Vegas, Hawaii, Belgium, Argentina, New York City, London, Asia and India in barely a year's time. (Australia's up next!) Joining the likes of Arty, Mat Zo, Super8 & Tab, Andrew Bayer, and, of course, Above & Beyond on the Group Therapy stage of festivals and shows worldwide, Norin & Rad have become household names in dance music and have created a coalition with their label mates.
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Karlsson and Sember met through mutual friends in 2007. Bruce learned music-production programs shortly after high school, while Sember had learned guitar and other instruments from his father. In high school, Karlsson picked up vinyl records and began spinning hip-hop before finding his calling for electronic dance music. What they created was a tad unforeseen given their musical backgrounds, but became a genius blend of progressive trance and house that is now being called "trouse."
Their talents have ignited dance floors with hits such as "Five Finger Death Punch," which fuses trance, tech, house and progressive melodies. They're influenced by everything from Four Tet to glitch hop, which they showcase almost bi-monthly on their radio show, The Remedy. Their debut artist album (which is slated for next summer) will feature a medley of EDM, including a dubstep collaboration with a DJ who has worked with Anjunabeats in the past.
Yet the best part of their rocket to fame has been the fans. The duo is relishing the attention at shows and encourage the crazies at their upcoming gig at the Yost Theater this weekend. "Even if someone were crazy, we wouldn't even notice," says Sember. "As long they are not going to John Lennon me, we will keep playing kick-ass music."
This column appeared in print as "Drop It Like It's Hot."