The difference is in the details for Lucky Guess, a dance-pop and house DJ/producer duo formed by Samuel Schmelzer and Tom Huettner. The two’s perfectionistic tendencies sometimes entail listening to a song hundreds of times during the production process to ensure they get every effect and layer just right. It’s what sets their music apart and has gained them over 400,000 streams on Spotify—that, and the sheer variety of their sounds.
Huettner jokes that the duo’s name is a play on words in the sense that it would take a ‘Lucky Guess’ to pin down exactly what kind of dance subgenres they produce. Their music combines many different influences and ranges from energetic dance tracks to more chill, relaxing study sounds. Right now, the duo is fusing together two genres—hip hop and slap house—to create what they call ‘slap-hop.’ According to Huettner, this experimental combination is essential.
“It’s important as an artist that you have your own niche, that you have your own sound,” Huettner explained. “We think [slap-hop] is going to be a cool, fun genre that hasn’t been executed, well, at all. Dark bass lines and hard-hitting kicks—that’s the basis for the genre in terms of the instrumental [aspect]—but happy lyrics.”
Crossing boundaries between genres isn’t the only new endeavor for Lucky Guess, either. Schmelzer and Huettner will be playing their first-ever in-person show together on Friday, April 15 at The Patron Saint, a nightclub in downtown Indianapolis.
The set will feature a mixture of well-known crowd favorites and the duo’s own original music. Schmelzer explains their mix as “TikTok tech house,” where underground sounds are made appealing through the inclusion of more mainstream songs and popular lyrics.
“In terms of DJing, I think that having your audience be able to sing along to a good portion of your set is a big deal to most people,” Schmelzer said. “…That’s something that I try and incorporate into every set that I put together, something that’s singalong but in a way that you’ve never heard it before.”
But if you ask the other half of this lucky duo, the answer is much more simple.
“The songs are electric,” Huettner said.
The two’s excitement for this show has been brewing for quite some time. Because of COVID complications, their onstage debut—which was originally planned for 2020—was sidelined. In its place, though, came support and expansion.
At the start of the pandemic, and during the midst of COVID-related cancellations, Lucky Guess was self-releasing their music. While they were able to quickly churn out their releases, the duo wasn’t seeing the growth they had hoped for. But getting their track “No One Knows” signed to Tropical House Records at the beginning of 2021 changed that, skyrocketing the song to over 70,000 streams.
Since then, Lucky Guess has signed with some of the most well-known record labels in the dance industry, including Spinnin’ Records, Revealed Recordings and more. These partnerships have elevated the pair’s visibility through their connections to popular playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.
Support from other artists is equally as beneficial and provides a healthy dose of motivation. Schmelzer remembers one of Lucky Guess’ songs being included on Dutch DJ Tiesto’s radio station, Sirius XM BPM, and Huettner recalls receiving a supportive message from Australian DJ Timmy Trumpet encouraging the pair to continue making music—a moment he says felt ‘huge.’
“It’s the moments when you realize that all the hard work and all the hours that you are putting into music and your artistry, when you finally have the validation—I hate to use that word, but it’s kind of what it is—those are the moments when we’re like, ‘Okay, maybe we should keep working on this and try and get better,” Huettner said.
Like all artists, the duo has faced other setbacks in addition to canceled shows. Breaking through a sea of artists isn’t easy, especially when it comes to fighting algorithms on streaming sites like Spotify and standing out in a saturated dance music scene. Huettner notes that to succeed, persistence is key.
“Rejections are constant, and that’s true for every artist,” Huettner said. “Everyone from the largest producers in the world to people at our level to people lower than us experience that. You’re gonna get nine rejections for every one. It’s just the nature of it.”
But Schmelzer and Huettner won’t let that stop them—the two’s love of dance music is more than enough to keep them going. It’s what brought them together in the first place. Schmelzer’s EDM-heavy DJ sets he played during the duo’s DePauw days bit Huettner with the dance-pop bug, and after graduating and moving to Indianapolis, the two honed their music skills and started making music.
Producing high-energy sounds takes a high-energy attitude and plenty of dedication, but for Lucky Guess, the blood, sweat and tears bring some of their favorite memories. Regardless of the end result, Schmelzer says hours spent in the studio are well worth it.
“There are songs that we’re not even sure will see the light of day,” Schmelzer said. “But we just love them in the moment, making them in the studio… I mean, I think the studio is probably both of our happy places. Those are the moments that I live for.”
Luckily, the future holds plenty of studio time for the pair. They’re throwing themselves into their music, booking more shows, promoting Lucky Guess and working towards their goal of producing music full-time and playing festivals.
For now, you can check out Lucky Guess on Friday, April 15 at The Patron Saint or give them a listen on Spotify or Apple Music. To keep up with the duo, you can check out their website or follow them on Instagram!