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Former interns get their own record deal

By Carolyn Sung, CNN
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Far East Movement
  • Members of hip-hop collective go from interns at record label to opening for Lady Gaga
  • Group recorded hit song in "the middle of a bedroom with a microphone up against the wall"
  • Members of Far East Movement say they're hoping for longevity in music business

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- A few years ago, members of Far East Movement were making copies and clipping articles as interns at Interscope Records. Now, interns are making copies and clipping articles about them.

In February, the hip-hop collective inked a deal with Cherrytree Records, an imprint of Interscope. Within weeks, they found themselves on tour, opening for Lady Gaga on the Japanese leg of her "Monster Ball" tour.

Prohgress, Kev Nish, J-Splif and DJ Virman are definitely on a roll. But their success didn't happen overnight. The quartet worked hard to promote their music -- passing out fliers and recording songs in their bedrooms all while working jobs on the side to pay the bills. Then, a few of their tracks got airplay on Power 106, an influential radio station in Los Angeles. Suddenly, Far East Movement found themselves back at Interscope Records -- this time as artists.

CNN recently sat down with the members of Far East Movement.

CNN: So, you used to be interns and now all of these people are working for you.

Proghress: Working with us.

Nish: It's kind of crazy walking in there. I used to stand by the copy machine maybe eight hours a day, get lunch. I'd see like G-Unit come in or Will.I.Am and just get star-struck. So it's definitely a trip and even around executives, I would never even be allowed to be up in the fifth floor. That's like the top floor. And now I go up there like every week, and it trips us all out that we're there.

CNN: What were some of the hardest moments of starting out in the industry?

J-Splif: Getting the music, probably. Making sure the music sounds, you know, up to par with all the other artists on the radio. That probably took the longest time, and we're still trying to perfect that craft.

CNN: Starting out, you guys didn't have the resources you have access to now. Did that mean getting together in someone's basement?

Nish: You know, it's funny you say that. We did "Girls on the Dance Floor," a song that was a top song in Los Angeles, and that song was made in the middle of a bedroom with a microphone up against the wall. It was nothing -- no big studio -- we wrote and recorded that song in two hours. So it really doesn't matter where you record. It's all about, these days, technology. You can get all the right software, all the right computer programs and teach yourself everything through tutorials online.

Prohgress: I mean there were tough times. At one point, Jay was literally sleeping three hours a day because he had a 9-to-5, which was two hours away from where he lived. And then he'd pretty much write and record every day until 3 in the morning. Just knowing that we had each other kept us going.

CNN: Would you say the social-networking mediums of Facebook, Twitter, etc., played as a factor in your success?

Prohgress: Absolutely. We used to go out and just like print out 5,000 fliers and just go around to different performing venues and just pass out fliers. And you get like 5 percent retention rate. But when MySpace and everything started popping off, we just made sure that we really tried to capitalize on [those] as much as possible.

CNN: What else do you hope to accomplish?

Nish: Longevity would be nice. You know, we don't want to be a flash in the pan. We have a lot to prove; we haven't really done anything yet, and I think we could all safely say that longevity in the music industry and entertainment would be ... would be very, very key.

CNN: Any last words?

DJ Virman: Me? Just want to say thanks for having us here. Thanks to CNN.

Nish: Shout out to Don Lemon and Anderson Cooper. [Laughter]

J-Splif: Wolf Blitzer! Larry, whenever you need us in the studio. ...