What’s in Your Bag? is a recurring feature in which we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring electronic music trio Cash Cash.
If there were a theme to the items in Cash Cash’s bag, it would be “always be prepared.” It’s the touring DJ’s version of a Boy Scout’s bag, and every tiny pocket is filled with things that are there for “just in case” situations. When you’re skipping to different cities every week, carrying earplugs, Emergen-C, Pedialyte, gummy vitamins, and Zicam isn’t overkill; it’s a way to survive the cycle of late nights and early flights. In fact, today, they’ll be playing celeb-drenched festival Coachella.
The trio, made up of brothers Jean Paul Makhlouf and Alex Makhlouf, as well as lifelong friend Sam Frisch, has made their mark merging the worlds of electronic, pop, hip-hop, and tinges of rock. They’ve worked with everyone from Nelly to Bebe Rexha, and are one of the top 200 most streamed artists on Spotify worldwide. Their newest single, “Finest Hour,” featuring Abir, is a future pop burn that leans as much on powerful, warbling synths as it does on Abir’s dusky vocals.
This particular late night The Verge spends with Cash Cash is in their suite at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand. They’re playing at the hotel’s club, Hakkasan, and they have a few minutes to spare before sound check. Dumping the contents onto the room’s carpet, we comb through the myriad of things tucked inside. Turns out, there’s a lot of tech, but also mementos, entertainment options, and natural health remedies... so many natural health remedies.
Alex: Zicam is a miracle cure for everything. It’ll cut your cold in half.
JP: It’s great for when you feel like you’re about to get sick. Might as well take one of these right now! Also, you have to have your gummy vitamins. I tried to get the guys into the gummy vitamins, but they’re not into them.
Alex: I take them at home, but I don’t find the need to travel with them. I can live one day without vitamins.
JP: The Pedialyte is for those hungover mornings when you just need that extra vitamin boost.
Alex: It’s the best!
JP: Probably going to start adding kava tea to the mix.
Sam: There’s also Emergen-C. I take that a lot. It’s one of those things like Zicam, I guess. I take it when I feel like I’m getting sick. Sometimes when you’re waking up at 5AM five days in a row and hopping on a plane all the time, it helps.
JP: Too much vitamin C makes me poop, so I stay away from that.
Sam: Earplugs, of course. Need to have earplugs for the shows and for the planes. They’re essential. I think they’re just as important for the planes as they are for the shows because... crying babies next to you.
Alex: We all have the same Cabeau neck pillow. It’s really good. It’s made of memory foam, and it has a flat back. It’s the Cash Cash neck pillow for sure. You have to get a neck pillow with a flat back so it lies flat against your seat on the plane.
JP: We have the guitar picks because you never know when you’re going to be in a situation where there’s going to be a kumbaya singalong. We all play guitar, and sometimes we play at our shows, too. Spotify gave us these two picks, which we’ve surprisingly held on to. Usually, we lose our picks, but these always find their way into a random jean pocket or the bottom of the backpack, so they might be good luck charms. When it comes to guitars, it’s Gibson all the way.
Sam: The bag on the end has a bunch of camera accessories. There’s a charger in there, a second lens, the kit lens that came with it, some extra batteries and stuff.
Sam: There’s a 2015 MacBook Pro Retina 15-inch. It’s stuck around and is holding up pretty well. I’ve taken it around the world the past three years. We still produce on it and run the live show through it. I haven’t upgraded yet because I can’t give up the ports. I need my ports! I also think it’s still the best design.
The Sennheiser HD25 headphones are solid. I mean, we’ve used those from day one as our DJ headphones, and we have a couple pairs. They’re pretty much indestructible, they’re loud, and they’re easy to travel with. I also have the Beats X wireless earbuds because I have the iPhone X. I’m an earbud person for some reason.
We use the Samsung portable solid-state hard drives for video editing, photo backup, music backup, everything. They’re tiny, they weigh nothing, and they hold a terabyte. It’s pretty unbelievable. And they’re fast. When we work on a session, we’ll back up everything in Dropbox and on these drives. Double it up.
We shoot with this Sony A6500 that has a 10 through 18mm lens — technically more like a 14mm because of the crop sensor — but it’s a great camera. It’s been a lot of fun to take it while traveling. Especially in Asia, we took a ton of pictures. It’s small, it does amazing in low light so it’s great for shooting at shows, and it takes good video. It’s a nice all-around camera.
JP: We rock the Sandmarc iPhone lenses to record all our social media content. They are by far the best-quality wide-angle and fisheye lenses you can get for your phone. They screw into the case so they are always in the right position compared to all the cheap clip-on brands. They also don’t record with any weird black rings or shadows. They handle the best in low light settings like clubs and really give you the closest thing to having a pro camera on you at all times.
Alex: I purchased the Nintendo Switch online, and I have it because I noticed that I was pretty bored on the airplanes all the time. The Switch was out, and I was like, “That thing’s perfect for me.” So I bought it. It’s a good time. Zelda was the first game I got for it, and I played it from August until about December. It’s a long game. There’s a lot of shit to do! I just recently started playing Mario Odyssey. That’s a trip.
JP: I still keep my Apple iPod Classic 120GB in the backpack. Sometimes you just need to plug into the old iPod and get those vintage sounds.
Sam: Hey, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!
JP: It’s got bootlegs you can’t find on Spotify, old recordings. It’s got good stuff on it! My phone is filled with videos and photos, so it’s a good way to keep things separate. It has older stuff and other rarities, things you can’t find anymore, like live albums and acoustic stuff. There are some Jimmy Eat World B-sides on there that are pretty A+.
Alex: Jimmy Eat World demos... you are ridiculous.
Sam: You need USB sticks as a DJ. We have a ton more, actually, but I like the Sandisk USB 3.0 ones. They’re the fastest I’ve found, by far. So that’s always clutch. I like the flip mechanism. The other one is a Pioneer USB we probably got as a promo at one point, but it pretty much stays in my backpack. I always have a few random ones as backup. The bigger the USB stick, the better. Otherwise, I’ll just lose them.
JP: So we got the shit Mophie charger. The poop emoji. It works. You get about one charge out of it, so I guess it’s actually a shit charger.
JP: One of the rings belonged to my grandpa. I inherited it and turned it into a pinky ring. It’s kind of a good luck charm that reminds me of what a strong dude he was. It makes me feel like he’s always got my back and helps me get through stressful times when I’m away from home for too long or feeling tired and rundown. Also, you have to have the case for the Rolis (Rolexes). Protect the investment. Can’t just scratch it up. There’s nothing like a classic Rolex watch. But one piece of advice: don’t be an idiot and burn the first chunk of money you make on a fancy, expensive watch. The watch comes fourth. You get a roof over your head, a set of wheels, some security funds for later, then treat yourself to a nice watch to reward your hard work.
Sam: The brown wallet has my passport in it. I destroyed my previous passport so I was like, “I actually have to put in a wallet.” It just got all bent up because I was keeping it in my pocket, and jackets, and sitting on it. So that’s just for my passport, and the black Saint Laurent one is my actual wallet. It was a Hanukkah gift. Cheap sunglasses. I lose sunglasses all the time so I gave up on buying nice sunglasses. If I buy $15–$20 ones, then I don’t have to worry about them.
JP: We’ve got the gold PBA (Police Benevolent Association) cards over there, which are like get out of jail free cards. It basically says, “I’m a family member of a detective or a police officer.” One time, our tour bus got pulled over, and there was weed everywhere because some of the roadies were smoking. I showed the police the card, and they let us off. I haven’t gotten a ticket since I’ve had them, and I get pulled over a lot for dumb things like making a left hand turn when you’re not supposed to.
Sam: It works best in the New Jersey / New York tri-state area, but some cops respect it around the country.
JP: Yeah. One time we were in Arizona and a guy said, “What the hell do you think this is?” and threw it right back at me. But it’s gotten me out of trouble with things like a bar fight. If the cop’s interviewing you to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong, you show them the card, and they might sway their opinion toward you.
Sam: The bag is an Ogio bag. It’s definitely not the most attractive-looking bag, but it holds everything, the organization is awesome, and it has a really good laptop compartment that’s extra protected and has saved my ass a ton of times. It also has a strap where you can put it on a suitcase. I threw a bunch of extra zipper pulls on it to make it a little easier to get into everything. I use all the pockets, too. The USB sticks and hard drives go in these little front ones, earbuds in the top pocket. Everything is organized.
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