Back in the doldrums of summer quarantine, the Daily had the opportunity to interview No Suits, a music group you may not have heard of, but you should know. Self-described as a blend of “hip-hop, funk and alternative with live instrumentation,” their sound draws on those of artists like Still Woozy, Pink Floyd and Kota the Friend, an eclectic but effective mix. “Sue” — the driving single off their recent, sophomore extended play (EP), “SEX”(2020) — perfectly showcases this conglomeration of sound.
At the time of the interview, the group was composed of four friends: Ed Hill, Saj Sanghvi, Reed Hallums and Max Pierro. On July 27, No Suits announced via Instagram that Hill was moving on from the band. It was an emotional farewell, but the band expressed how grateful they were for their time with him. “We’ll always be best friends,” the caption ended.
The seeds that grew into No Suits were planted quite a while ago.
“Max and I have known each other since kindergarten so we’ve been friends since then,” Sanghvi said in an interview with the Daily. “We started making music in high school, making … rap music and stuff, and then when Max went to college — he went to Cal Lutheran University — and met Reed and Edward and that’s … when we formed No Suits as a whole.”
The name “No Suits” evokes quite an anti-corporate feel, both in aesthetic and musical context. Pierro explained that this was not intentional, but it could not feel any more right.
“The story from that one actually … I was working at Whole Foods back in San Diego,” Pierro said. “I linked up with my female co-worker… she was like, ‘Yeah, I … rap,’ so she rapped on a track and one of the bars in the rap was ‘no suits, no trends’ and we were like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty fire’… I feel like a lot more when we were coming up three years ago in the electronic music scene, … everyone was doing the exact same thing, everyone was going down this stream and we were like, ‘Let’s go where it feels right for us.’”
“SEX” doesn’t sound like the stream everyone is going down, nor is it the “exact same thing” everyone was doing.
“Our first EP was called ‘Virgin,’ because, you know, it was our first time, and ‘SEX’ kinda signifies our growth … the music’s gotten a little deeper,” Hallums said about the significance of the EP title.
The story behind the music video of “Sue” is quite interesting, as Sanghvi tells it.
“[The] story behind the ‘Sue’ video is pretty fun,” Sanghvi said “Basically we put out ‘Sue’ and we didn’t have a plan for the music video but this random fan hit us up on Instagram, and she was like, ‘Hey, I love your song, if you guys end up making a music video, I’d love to be Sue.’ And we kinda just winged the concept on the fly, and we had her send us a demo video of her being Sue … and we were just like, ‘Alright, great!’”
“SEX” features some well-known rappers, including Abhi the Nomad and Kota the Friend on “Sugar” and “Boat to Bermuda,” respectively. No Suits walked through what the recording process was like with these established artists. The group met Abhi in college, taking a class together and becoming friends with him. Reed spoke about the recording processes with Abhi.
“We sent [Abhi a text saying] ‘still miss you’ and just told him, ‘Yo, give me a hard-hitting blues rap song,’” Hallums said. “And then we played a show with him, I think in October of 2019, and then a couple months after he sent us the verse, and we were like ‘Oh … this is fire.’ With Kota [the Friend], we just reached out to his manager. We played with him and opened for him at the Troubadour…”
Interestingly enough, No Suits’ creative output has grown during this tumultuous moment of quarantine.
“We had a mini-tour planned that got canceled once everything hit, and we were super bummed about that, but it’s been useful because we’ve been able to write more songs,” Hallums said.
The Daily then asked, when quarantine opens up, where in the world the band would like to travel to and perform.
“Brazil … they love our [stuff] out there … they’re always hitting us up, always sending us messages … they seem like pretty chill people,” Hallums said.
The future of No Suits looks very bright, there’s no doubt about that. Their latest EP, “SEX,” has a fresh array of genre-blending songs, which stays true to their fun and uplifting attitude as a group. The band teased a new release and music video on their Instagram, due to drop next month.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly omitted Tuna Margalit as a co-author. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily regrets this error.