Since 2015, Bonnie X Clyde has been EDM's favorite vigilante duo. Hailing from Fairfax, Virginia, Daniel Litman, 27, and Paige Lopynski, 26, met in high school, but their collaboration didn't come to fruition until they were miles apart.
While in college — Litman at the University of Miami and Lopynski at Virginia Tech — the pair began working together over the internet.
"During my senior year, we would Skype," Lopynski says. "Daniel would teach me Ableton, and we would make music. I was getting out of the sorority, and friends would invite me out to party, and I just wanted to make music instead."
Litman says the Skype sessions would top five hours.
After college, Lopynski moved to Miami, where she and Litman officially formed Bonnie X Clyde. By 2016, they were playing major festivals, including Miami's Life in Color. Their South Florida home base also made it possible for the duo to tour the state extensively, traveling from venue to venue and developing a dogged fanbase dubbed "the Rosegang."
"I think [Miami's] don't-stop-the-beat attitude helped us," Litman tells New Times. "I sort of like to stop the beat at times — depending on the context — I like more of a show than a DJ set. But maybe that's how it inspired us: parties going to 11 a.m. with different styles of dance music that we don't really produce."
The city's reputation as a nightlife mecca also helped Litman and Lopynski forge the relationships that laid the foundation for their success.
"Miami inspired a lot of what got me into electronic dance music," Lopynski says. "My first festival was Ultra Music Festival and all of the shows around Miami Music Week. I met some of the most amazing people. I met my manager and a bunch of people who helped change my life. Even venues like Grand Central gave me this 'keep going' mindset."
Still, if you aim to break through as an artist, Miami can only get you so far. After three years in the Magic City, Bonnie X Clyde decamped to Los Angeles.
The change of scenery hasn't affected the pair's chemistry, though. In the studio, Litman and Lopynski's production has a softer edge, thanks to Lopynski's airy vocals. In a live setting, Bonnie X Clyde tends to skew toward a grittier, bass-to-the-face experience, with Lopynski often singing live. Inspired by the likes of Rüfüs Du Sol and Tame Impala, they strive to deliver something more than your standard DJ set.
"I'm a singer first, and Daniel is a DJ first," Lopynski says. "When you put that together, we are very in-your-face while playing. We love to get the crowd involved and dance together." They intend to keep fine-tuning their sets and eventually bring live instrumentation and choreographed visuals.
Bonnie X Clyde's dynamic energy is on full display on the new single, "Love Is Killing Me," released today on Ultra Records. The track is deceptively lush. A bubbly, carefree melody clashes with vocals that relate the mental gymnastics you engage in when you love something so much it hurts. "You put a bullet in my heart/Every time you look at me, I think it's worst when we're apart/So, I need you right next to me…. Because your love is killing me," Lopynski sings.
"The coolest part of writing the song for me was this juxtaposition of the love and hate factor," Lopynski says. "You love something so much it tears you apart."
Clocking in at under three minutes, the track is nestled between layers of expansive sounds. Catchy claps, bouncy bass lines, and effusive synthesizers create a stick-to-your-ribs tune that the duo classifies as "pop dance music."
"I remember the night," Litman says. "It started with that chordal movement, daa-da-da-da-da, and then Paige sang, 'You put a bullet in my heart.' The words and melody were written fairly quickly."
"I think 'Love is Killing Me' is one of the best songs we have written," Lopynski declares. "A lot of our past songs have fewer vocals and heavy on the electronic side. I think people, in the broader sense, can relate to this."
This year seemed propitious for Lopynski and Litman. The duo was set to play Ultra for a second time, as well as festivals like Bonnaroo in Tennessee and Electric Forest in Michigan.
For now, Bonnie X Clyde is in limbo, awaiting the day when it's OK to get back to performing for large crowds.
"When this thing is over," Litman predicts, "we are going to be ready, and our shows are going to be bigger and better."