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Cardiknox are absolutely everything we crave from a synth-pop dance duo: dynamic, energetic, and oh-so stylish. But Lonnie Angle and Thomas Dutton’s first collab wasn’t exactly the explosion of effervescent pop they so expertly play nowadays. In fact, the Seattle natives met years ago when Lonnie started working with Thomas on a musical theater project.
Despite working tirelessly on librettos and staging, their minds were brimming with ideas for something with a little more sass and spontaneity. Behind the scenes they began working on acoustic tracks that became the backbone for the ah-mazing Cardiknox tunes we hear today.
When the band stopped in Baltimore (aka GL's HQ) on Carly Rae Jepsen’s Gimme Love tour, we chatted with Lonnie and Thomas on their bus as they cozied up to Lonnie’s adorbs French bulldog, Sumo. Read on for secrets about their brand new album, on-the-road essentials and pal Troye Sivan.
GL: Cardiknox is such a unique name! How did you come up with it?
Lonnie: It’s a play on a family name actually. Thomas’ family name is Cardinax. We thought it sounded cool and it’s kind of like an homage to his family. Finding a band name was a weird thing! For a while we were going to do Lonnie and Thomas, or Thomas and Lonnie. But then we decided it sounded like a folk act which wasn’t at all representative of what we were making, so Cardiknox fit.
GL: Your new album Portrait just released. You must be so excited. What influenced its sound?
Thomas: It’s really exciting. A lot of synth-y stuff influenced it. The kind of music we enjoy listening to the most is the kind of music that sounds like Cardiknox; we had been listening to stuff from the '70s and '80s.
GL: Your music video for “On My Way” looks like it took some serious skills to create. How did you land those tricky moves in just one take?
Lonnie: We worked with one of Thomas’ dear friends that he grew up with, Natalie, who is a dancer for Justin Timberlake. We wanted the video to feel like you were moving through an obstacle, so to speak. Natalie was like, “I’m not going to make you look like dancers. I’m going to take your movements and the way that you look on stage and just build upon it.” We probably rehearsed with her for a month. We ended up doing 10 takes and we went with the ninth one.
GL: What’s it like to tour with Carly Rae Jepsen?
Lonnie: Carly is a sweetheart and so crazy talented. She sings a 90 minute set every night and I don’t know how she does it. She’s a unicorn. The other band that we’re touring with, Fairground Saints, is great, too.
GL: What are your on-the-road essentials?
Lonnie: Sweatpants, my mouthguard and my dog.
Thomas: I love having sparkling water. It just makes me feel very bubbly.
GL: Do you have any funny or bizarre tour stories?
Thomas: In Houston we were trying to order pizza but we could not find a place that was open and would deliver. I went outside and there was literally just a pickup truck in the middle of the road that said, “Pizza Truck.” I walked up and was like, “Hello?” and this guy was like, “Do you want pizza?!” And I was like “Yeah!” And I gave him $20 and he gave me like three pizzas. It was incredible.
GL: You guys did a killer remix of Troye Sivan’s song “Wild.” How did that collab happen?
Thomas: We’re on the same management company as Troye, so we got to hang out with him a few times and we’ve been to a few of his shows. He was looking for people to remix the song and we threw our name out there and we got to do it. It’s really fun to remix songs that are really good because when you strip away all the other production, you can add anything.
GL: What can we expect from your live show?
Lonnie: I hope that you can expect to have a really good time and walk away feeling empowered. I’ve talked a lot about women and wanting to connect with these women in the crowd and giving them this strong sense of self. I get really excited when I talk to people after the show and they relay that back to us. And we definitely want people to dance and have a great time!
After our chat, we sped inside to snag a spot for Cardiknox’s set. They rocked it in between performances by tourmates Fairground Saints and Carly Rae Jepsen. They may have been an opening act, but they completely stole the show.
The duo, accompanied by a synth player and drummer, bounded onto the stage overflowing with energy. Lonnie channeled serious ‘60s vibes with a devilishly playful red fur coat, winged liner and skin-tight disco pants. Meanwhile, Thomas kept it cool in a light wash denim jacket over a baseball tee. The contrasting combo was quirky and eclectic—and matched their onstage personas to a T.
With seven songs, the setlist was a perfect taste of what Cardiknox has to offer: “Earthquake,” “On My Way,” “Souvenirs,” “Bloodlust,” “Wild Child,” “Perfect Storm” and “Into the Night.”
With the first note of “Earthquake,” the entire crowd was already moving, cheering and dancing. But it's hard not to when you hear those down-to-earth, relatable lyrics and punchy, electronic beats.
The standout of the night was “Wild Child” where Lonnie put her vocal chords to work. The audience ate it up—including us! She even let inner wild child shine when she threw off her eye-catching coat and danced across the stage like no one was watching.
When the group closed with “Into the Night,” Lonnie got serious for a sec and chatted about a past heartbreak that inspired the song (ugh, we know that feeling, girl). When she belted out, “Baby, I remembered everything you forgot to say to me / I was looking for a little something that could save me, but it wasn’t you,” we knew we were in good (and crazy talented) company.
We were bummed to see their set come to a close, but all good things must come to an end. But we’re not terribly sad because, TBH, we’ve already got Portrait on repeat!
For more Cardiknox, check them out at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this June in Tennessee. Heads up to all you European GL girls: Lonnie says Cardiknox tour dates on your side of the globe might be coming soon!
Want to see more from Sydney? Check out PopSyd for her current pop culture obsessions.
What do you think of Cardiknox and their tunes? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo credit: Cardiknox