New F-O's Make Serious Business Out of Fun
Nightclub crowds are boisterous bunches. With all that drinking, flirting, and dancing to do, who has time to focus on a live performance?
Despite the many distractions, when local hip-hop/pop duo The New F-O's take the stage, all eyes are on them. MCs Lifted and Pancho command the crowd with bright smiles and pounding beats. People might be drunk and hanging out with their friends, but The New F-O's manage to put on concert-caliber performances regardless of their popping up in non-traditional venues.
The duo's unique look and catchy music have made them the go-to band in the Old Town Scottsdale club scene. They've played spots like American Junkie, El Hefe, and Club Afterlife and are scheduled to perform at the grand opening of Roxy Lounge. The club is the offspring of The Roxy in Los Angeles, managed by Cisco and Nic Adler, the sons of famous L.A. impresario Lou Adler (owner of The Roxy, director of Up in Smoke, producer of Rocky Horror Picture Show, Carole King's Tapestry, and more).
The association with "modern legends" doesn't stop there: The band's music has even made its way onto the quintessential dance club television show Jersey Shore.
"Jersey Shore is wild when I watch it," Lifted says after the airing of the episode featuring his music. "Snookie is my favorite cast member because she's 'turnt up' the whole damn time!"
"I wasn't a fan of the show when it first came out, but I can safely say I've warmed up to it more the last two seasons," Pancho said. "I gotta say, I like me a JWoww."
It's easy to see why producers felt the music would make sense on the show. The New F-O's exude a laid-back, easygoing charm.
"I feel like people can tell we have fun making our music, that it shines through there are no rules, that we just have a good time," says Lifted, who made his name in the scene locally as a DJ and rapper early in the 2000s with his group, The Formula. "I feel like that with our live show, too — the vibe is super-positive and uplifting. It's a party."
The duo's current five-song EP, Real Life Feel Good, features Auto-Tuned pop on tracks like "The Wall," sex rap on "Nasty Girl," and a bilingual banger called "Mira, Mira!" The band's songs touch on girls, partying and love, and even tracks about heartbreak have a carefree, upbeat sound to them.
"It's mainly about having a good time and knowing someone out there's always got it worse than you do," says Pancho, who raps and contributes the singing vocals to the record. "You can make light of any situation."
Pancho, who, along with Lifted, serves as the group's frontman and songwriter (sometimes the duo plays shows alone when the venue can't support a full band), also has a long history with the Valley's music scene. His old group, Unlimited Phlavor, played some shows with The Formula, and it didn't take long for the two to recognize their chemistry. The duo collaborated in the studio in 2009, recording three songs at their first session, and The New F-O's were born.
"When I did one song with Lifted, it was funner dance music that I wanted to do, and I just felt better about it," Pancho says.
The band soon signed with Cahleb Branch's Money Power Respect Entertainment, a Phoenix-based entertainment company, which also represents Mathmadix, The Mob Fam, and Cut Throat Logic.
Iroc, a local producer and director of the duo's music video, "The Good and the Bad," says he isn't surprised by the group's success, dropping iconic names as he speaks about them.
"Lifted's style reminds me of Beastie Boys, and Pancho [has] sort of a Red Hot Chili Peppers-meets-Michael Jackson [thing]" Iroc says. "When you put that all in one room, it's a lot of energy. Every single time, it's guaranteed they're going to put on a good show."
Their high-energy performances and poppy songs helped score them a spot on the roster of Hype Music, a joint venture between MTV and production music library Extreme Music that places artists on television and in movies and advertisements. In addition to Jersey Shore, The New F-O's were also recently heard on FX's Wilfred.
"A lot of artists are weekend warriors, and we do this every day," Lifted says. "I feel like our rate of growth is so much higher because we're consistent."
While the guys say they'd be open to the right deal from a label, they're enjoying the independence of their current deal. Plus, the duo have no problem scoring high-profile gigs, taking stages at US Airways Center and Mesa Amphitheater with Lupe Fiasco and LMFAO, and providing entertainment at political soirees.
"I feel like we can cater to any audience," Lifted says, mentioning the band has a lot of child fans. "We can play to a middle school, and we can play to an Obama fundraiser at a mansion party. We can play in front of any crowd and kill it — not too extreme for the old or young, but extreme enough for people our age to get loose to."
And when they're not working on their own band, they're producing for other artists, such as the aforementioned Cut Throat Logic, and providing cameos on tracks by other performers — Lifted recently produced the track "Can You Believe It" on The Game's mixtape Hood Morning [No Typo] Candy Coronas, which featured Lil' Wayne and Baby.
The guys' work ethic seems tireless, aided in part by the group's relationship with another multi-genre group, The Phunk Junkeez. Rapper/DJ Soulman (Joe Valiente) is Lifted's cousin, and Pancho and Lifted's former bands played with The Junkeez, who taught the duo a lot, as they are quick to acknowledge.
Valiente says that though he might have been an inspiration to Pancho and Lifted, the guys hold their own in the Valley's music community. The New F-O's play at clubs where cover bands can't even play, and they're very relevant in the party scene," Valiente says. "Those two guys together personality-wise make a good thing happen."
The group's hustle reveals a group with eyes on the big time, and the music of Real Life Feel Good is effervescent and infectious. The key to sounding so effortless? Ask the New F-O's, and they will say the answer is simple.
"We feel like music should be fun, and that's our main objective when we're in the studio," Lifted says. "If it's not fun, why are we doing it?"
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