Interview Dance Music

DMA : So, your album comes out in stores tomorrow here in America…excited?
Thomas: I think we are, yeah. We are not quite sure how it will turn out, but…being from France, it’s really exciting for us because not much music comes out of France that is embraced in other countries

DMA : And then to be a dance group from France has to make you even more proud of your achievement.
Thomas: I don’t think that it’s good to consider anything you’ve done to be an accomplishment. It’s just that we’ve been doing this music for a while now and now it is easier for people to obtain [the music].

DMA : Your album has been out in Europe for quite some time now, and has been quite well reveived — I’m looking at the figures here, debuted at #8 in England, top 10 in France, top 20 in Germany…how has this changed you from these bedroom producers into a album-selling band?
Thomas: It hasn’t changed us. It’s only been two months now, and we’ve been travelling and promoting the record and haven’t seen it yet; meet the audience or whatever. We’re starting to prepare the tour now which will begin in May and that will change some things, not about us, but maybe about realising what has happened since the record has come out.

DMA : You guys started as an indie band called Darlin. Were you both in the band.
Thomas and Guy-Manuel: Yeah.

DMA : What instruments did you play?
Thomas: The bass.
Guy-Manuel: Guitar.

DMA : Since you guys are from a rock’n’ roll background, can audiences expect more of a interactive live show than they usually get from electronic dance artists?
Thomas: The way we’d like to tour, apart from doing this DJ tour, which is a very underground thing, is to show to people something new. Our show may be shorter here than it is in Europe, because there is a delay in the way people respond to our kind of music here in America. The people in Europe may be more ready for a longer show, but as far as our stage presence, it’s myself and Guy-Manuel up on stage with our equipment with no DAT or prerecorded sequences everything is done right there.

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DMA : What do see as the differences between the European audiences and from what you’ve seen, American audiences?
Thomas: It’s just the delay in how people get aquainted with the sound. In our country it took time and it started up later in America. More or less, the underground scene here is as it is anywhere in the world, this is a very international music, but still the UK is really ahead, and France’s scene really started up in the early ’90’s, and from touring, we can see that the sound is more or less appreciated from country to country. It’s a little like the industrial revolution of the 19th century, each country it took a different time for each to become modernized.

DMA : Do you think America right now is ready to accept an album like Homework as an entire work in the pop mainstream, as it has been appreciated in Europe?
Thomas: We’ll see. As I told you, some of these people are ready, some are starting to be ready, and some are not ready at all. The difference is, we have countries who are on different evolutions, so there are different stories, but at the same time, they are more or less together simultaniously worldwide. Of course, in some countries, it is not working because the scene hasn’t started yet. That’s why we’re wondering how we’ll do in America right now.

DMA : Do you two feel that you have essentially kickstarted the French dance music scene, or are you a sign of how much it has grown in the past five years?
Thomas: We’re not gonna say ‘yeah, we’re the leaders!’ I think the answer to your question is ‘maybe’, but maybe the good reactions we’ve had from the outside world have been motivating people to make dance music in France but I don’t think we are leading the way.

DMA : What would you attribute the lack of dance music production in France prior to your breakthrough single and bidding war last year?
Thomas: (long pause to munch on his KFC) It was probably the stereotypes people had about French music in general.
Guy-Manuel: The way that techno and house music are not totally legal in the eyes of the public may have something to do with it also. We are trying to put some credibility to what we are doing. You can’t say that it’s totally there in the mainstream. You still have people talking negatively about it…

DMA : Like that song on Homework, « Revolution 909 » Is that your statement to the French government regarding their anti-stance on dance music?
Guy-Manuel: I don’t think it’s the music they’re after, it’s the parties…

DMA : What is it that they don’t like about the parties? Is it the same as Britain or how some local governments here frown upon raves?
Thomas: I don’t know. They pretend it’s drugs, but I don’t think it’s the only thing. There’s drugs everywhere, but they probably wouldn’t have a problem if the same thing was going on at a rock concert, because that’s what they understand. They don’t understand this music which is really violent and repetitive, which is house; they consider it dumb and stupid.

DMA : Does Homework have some kind of theme to it? Like you started out with « Daftanddirect » which is a loop of « Da Funk » with the refrain « Da funk back to the punk » and then you end the album with « Da Funk » played backwards…
Thomas: « Daftanddirect » was a live track, the beginning of the old live show.

DMA : But then you have the live radio snippet « Wdpk 83.7 », then « Revolution 909, » then « Da Funk »…Is this arranged in any particular order, so that the album is saying something?
Thomas and Guy-Manuel: Balance. It is done for balance.
Guy-Manuel: We had many tracks and we had to put them on four sides. It’s not like cooking, but there was no intended theme because all the tracks were recorded before we arranged the sequence of the album. The idea was to make the songs better [more listenable] by arranging them the way we did; to make it more even as an album.

DMA : A track like « Phoenix » — that song to me has almost a gospel-house quality about it. Is that the idea you guys had in mind for that song?
Guy-Manuel and Thomas: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Thomas: ‘zis is an important track, but not anymore important than any of the other tracks. When I was speaking with some people about the promotion of the album, they said they had a problem promoting it because DJs were not focusing on one track, but liking all the tracks. It’s true that there’s not one track that is more important than the other on the album.

DMA : How come « Musique » did not make it onto the album, even after it was such a huge buzz record?
Thomas: Because it is a b-side to « Da Funk. » It was never intended to be on the album, and in fact, « Da Funk » as a single has sold more units than Homework, so more people own it anyways than they would if it had been on the album. It is basically used to make the single a double-feature.

DMA : I read somewhere about how you were staunchly against new remixes for « Da Funk. » I just happened to receive a copy of Armand Van Helden’s « Ten Minutes of Funk » remix. Was that a record company decision, or a personal one?
Thomas: There is no decision without us giving the final OK. Most of the things we do are self…(Thomas stumbles around looking for a word, finally asking his road manager for help)..self-decided. The idea of the remix is not something we had thought about. This does not mean we are not OK about it.

DMA : Being the first time somebody has remixed your record, are you happy with the turnout?
Thomas: Yeah. We chose the remixer, so it was not like we thought Armand would do a bad job. At first we weren’t sure how it would turn out, but in fact it is something we really like. We kind of understand how Virgin US wanted a remix, because of the fact that the record was already released in Europe, and they wanted an exclusive.

DMA : You two have been friends for a good portion of your lives. When did you guys meet?
Thomas: In like the eqivilent of seventh grade.

DMA : What kind of friendship did you have? Was music the central part of your friendship?
Thomas: No, no. We’ve been friends for something like 10 years now, and we concentrate on music for maybe the last five.

DMA : So, how about all the girls who love you?
Thomas and Guy-Manuel just look at each other and start babbling in French. This concludes our interview.

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