“It was the first show of the tour; the first moment we’ve taken to the stage. We walk out there: ‘All right guys?’ The lights go black. And our mics are not on…” Pittsburgh-born duo Social House are telling me about their first night supporting Ariana Grande’s colossal Sweetener World Tour in Albany, New York. “Literally, the worst thing had happened. We’d been like: ‘What if we went out and the music wasn’t on?’ We just started laughing… The worst is over!”
It’s not hard to imagine Michael “Mikey” Foster and Charles “Scootie” Anderson finding the funny side of any situation. When we speak in August, London’s late July heat wave has given way to gales and torrential rain. “I think it’s so beautiful,” Mikey enthuses, without a hint of irony. “Overcast is lovely lighting for everything. It’s like a photographer’s dream.” Visiting Europe for the first time on tour, the pair spend a solid five minutes marvelling at the “inspirational” idiosyncrasies of London life — the diversity, the fashion, the “special tea stores,” driving on the wrong side of the road, how “pants” means underwear, not jeans — and taking down the names of supermarkets where they can find the best vegan snacks.
First meeting Grande in 2015 after both moving to LA, Social House have worked on tracks including “thank u, next”, “7 rings” and Sweetener’s “goodnight n go”, most recently featuring on her latest single “boyfriend”. “The funny thing is, we never think of Ariana in that terminology,” Mikey laughs, when I ask what it’s been like to work with an artist shaping pop culture on such an definitive, unrivalled scale. “We met her as friends, so we all just hang out and do music all day, laugh, joke and watch movies… We don’t see her as a pop star or anything, she’s just Ariana to us.” Scootie agrees, but admits it’s a “surreal” sight, watching someone close dominate music. “She’s doing some really big, amazing things,” he says. “To allow us to be part of it is crazy. We’ve just been watching our dreams come true.” Since releasing their debut single “Magic In The Hamptons” (with Lil Yachty) last summer, Social House have branched out from writing and producing hits for other artists, to cement their status as one of the most exciting new sounds of 2019. “We wanted to fuse as many genres as we could, ‘cause people listen to every kind of music since streaming services,” Mikey says on their debut EP, August’s “Everything Changed…” They describe the project as a “melting pot” of different influences, mixing relaxed, guitar-led verses with 808s and R&B elements, decorated with heavy, hazy synths and “the clarity of pop vocals.”
Made over a number of days with friends in a remote cabin, its lyrics stem from stories shared over midnight s’mores, weaving together universal emotions over six eclectic tracks. “We didn’t want to tell the story from any specific standpoint,” Mikey explains. “We wanted to tell it in a very neutral way. There are certain songs where it’s the fight and it’s the make up, it’s ‘we shouldn’t be together’, but also, ‘I love you and I don’t want to be mean to you’. It’s both sides of the coin and we really wanted to show that in our music.”
The pair tell me new projects are constantly in the works (“a little fact about us: we’re kind of addicted to making music”), but for now, they’re taking the time to enjoy writing, travelling and performing with their best friends, and digest how far they’ve come. Before they hang up to hunt down the nearest supermarket for those vegan snacks, I ask the pair how they would have felt five years ago, before moving to LA and meeting each other, to know how their dreams would unfold. “We wouldn’t have believed it,” they scoff, laughing with reference to their EP title: “Everything definitely changed…”