Meet Tanlines: The Internet's Best Dance Machine

Tanlines is a Brooklyn-based electronic duo consisting of Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm that crafts dreamy, dance-pop anthems that we just can’t seem to get out of our heads. Though they just released their first full-length album, Mixed Emotions, this March we’ve been following the band’s tropical-inflected sound ever since we first heard those bongo rhythms wash over us like a warm summer’s surf.

We recently visited the band’s homegrown production studio at Emm’s Brooklyn apartment, where the band writes and records the bulk of their material. Until recently, when they joined True Panther Sounds, much of Tanlines’ approach had been DIY and homegrown—from their recording process to their music videos. Their latest music video, for song of the summer contender “All of Me,” may look like a Twin Peaks outtake and have a celebrity director (acclaimed British comedian Julian Barratt), but it’s a far cry from the band’s humble beginnings making their own videos from found YouTube clips.

In the band’s early days, they made videos for every song they released. These were mostly created by Cohen from found footage that he ripped and recompiled and uploaded back onto YouTube.

“We really wanted to release music on YouTube because we were listening to music mostly through YouTube at the time,” explains Cohen. “The great thing about YouTube for music was that if you wanted to hear a song and you searched for it, you would find all these different things: homemade videos, real videos, live footage, people dancing, cover songs. That’s still true, but it doesn’t feel like it as much. YouTube’s gotten a lot worse for music since then, but about three years ago, everything was there. If we wanted to reference anything, we would reference it on YouTube.”

That culture of sharing, that exchange between artist and fan, was a big influence on the band, and still continues to inform their practice. They don’t spend quite as much time jamming out to YouTube vids—the site’s notoriously vitriolic commenters and crack down on music copyright infringement killed the energy Cohen and Emm loved so much—but they’ve found other outlets for it. “Twitter has replaced YouTube for me. It’s now a sounding board for ideas in the way that YouTube used to be,” says Cohen.

Follow Tanlines on Twitter. They’re regularly hilarious.

Social networks may come and go, but the internet is forever. In tribute to the band’s early creative efforts on YouTube, we had Cohen send us some of his favorite videos from the deep dark confines of the web, including two of his own favorite Tanlines videos. Check them out below and check out our video profile on Tanlines to learn more.

Cohen says: “I think this is the most successful video that we did. I had never edited a video before, so it looks really crappy. For this, I learned how to edit a film. I just made it in iMovie, but I had never used iMovie before. It made its point.’”

Cohen says: “This is my favorite one. I had this idea and I went and found all this footage of a CD manufacturing plant and slowed it down and put the song behind it. I think it’s really pretty and unusual.”

Cohen says: “I was really excited when someone did an acoustic version of one of our songs on YouTube. It felt like we had made it!”

And then some random goodies from the internet: