TORONTO – Leighton James and Christian Srigley had just landed back home in Montreal when the Grammy nominations were announced last month. As they coasted down the runway, their phones lit up.
The two friends, who make up electronic act Adventure Club, were just learning they’d been nominated in the best remix category for their rework of Kehlani’s “Undercover.”
While they took a few minutes to savour the recognition, Srigley said his mind almost instantly shifted to his next big track, despite being sleep deprived after an overnight flight.
“The first thing I did when we got back was (get) in the studio,” Srigley said. “There was no chance I was going to sleep.”
A superior work ethic is something the 29-year-old high school buddies developed over the years as they rose through the ranks of the electronic dance music scene.
Fans of melodic dubstep know Adventure Club’s tracks like “Wonder” and “Gold,” which are popular on dance floors and streaming services.
But their version of R&B singer Kehlani’s gentle vibe “Undercover,” reshaped into a quivering and spastic energy booster, caught the ears of Grammy voters. James and Srigley hope to capitalize on that attention as they put finishing touches on a new album ahead of a spring release.
All of this productivity comes after Adventure Club ran into a lifestyle hurdle a couple years ago that could have knocked both of them out of the game. Like many electronic DJs, James and Srigley were living the lavish party lifestyle.
Eventually, it caught up with them.
“We were getting sloppy,” Srigley said. “There was a lot of concern coming from management and our tour manager.”
After an intervention of sorts, the guys pledged to start playing shows without alcohol. They say it’s been two years of clean living on the stage and they haven’t looked back.
“We’re not taking a stance against alcohol or drugs, that’s not our place,” Srigley said. “It was just a personal choice.”
“It’s hard to get a bit of altitude in that situation,” James added.
Other musical pairings might have fallen apart in those trying times, but James and Srigley say their strong bond has never wavered.
After meeting at a high school talent show, the two almost instantly became best friends.
They soon formed a pop-punk band that underwent many iterations and through a few members. Eventually their tastes shifted to dubstep music about the same time it was gaining popularity online.
Adventure Club first caught listeners’ attention with an unconventional remix of “Daisy,” a song originally recorded by rockers Brand New. It climbed the charts on Hype Machine, a website that culls together popular songs from music blogs.
The popularity convinced them to permanently shift gears to EDM and pursue the club bangers that listeners craved. Despite the many differences in sound, the duo think their music is a distant relative to the rock songs they would have written years ago.
“The timing of these drops in dubstep are like breakdowns in hardcore (rock) songs,” Srigley said.
“Every single pop-punk song we did, we (wrote) a breakdown in where you half-time the drums and start chugging the guitars.”
Even if dubstep goes out of style, Srigley and James say they don’t see an end to their successful collaborative partnership, which has received three Juno Award nominations so far.
“We’ll be on tour for two weeks, we’ll come back home and I won’t want to drop Christian off at home,” James said. “I’ll want to hang out some more.”
Srigley said he hasn’t found another working partnership that clicks so well.
“It’s just like constant support where you feel more like yourself when you’re around the person that you’ve been building your life with,” he said.
“We’ve never run into an example in the outside world that is comparable to what we do.”
The Grammy Awards are set for Jan. 28.
Follow @dfriend on Twitter