Monday, October 4, 2010

Chromeo Interview with Dave One and P-Thugg

Chromeo is an act made up of two former hip-hop producers hailing from Canada, Dave One (guitar/vocals) and P-Thugg(Keys,Synth and Voice-Box). Their newest release "Business Casual" has been creating a great deal of continual buzz in the indie community.  Chromeo's perfect combination of heavy beats, smooth vocals, 80's synth-pop and the occasional voice-box keeps listeners coming back for more, and their shows sold out. Recently I had the chance to chat it up with this duo, before a show in Atlanta.

Being an internationally recognized act, do you feel like there are any barriers between you and the audiences when you travel overseas?
Dave One: No, not now. At first maybe, just because people didn’t know our records when they were first released. I think that culturally our music was closer to certain American or British sensibilities. Now, people know the songs, and thankfully they have traveled everywhere. We just have to show up, play them, and try to put on the best show possible.
So Business Casual came out the 14th of September, can you tell me a little about the writing and recording process and how it differed from previous releases.
Dave One: We tried to make the arrangements and the production more sophisticated, making the sound fuller. We had songs on “Fancy Footwork” that we were really happy with. I guess the difference was that when we did “Fancy Footwork,” we were sort of already over our first album and thought we could do way better. For the making of this one, we still think that the second album was really good and we are totally happy with it still. We haven’t outgrown it that much; we just wanted to make it more interesting.
P-Thugg: We wanted to make it a bit better musically, pushing the envelope on everything we do musically. We worked on improving the music in multiple areas including our vocal harmonies, piano cords, and core progressions. We even added string sections on two of the songs. Which was departure for us because we really hadn’t done anything that orchestrated before.
How does the writing process normally pan out for you?
Dave One: It depends. P does a bunch of demos, and I choose the ones I want us to keep and we just work on those. Sometimes I will come up with ideas, present them to P and if he likes them we work on those as well. It really does depend on the track. Luckily there is no strict formula…
P-Thugg: Most of his ideas come in voicemail messages (laughs).
Dave One: Yeah, I will sing a melody or hum. I usually have all of the arrangements in my head, and we just sit down and do it together. Yeah, a lot of phone messages and beat-boxing (laughs).
For this album, did you stick to your classic formula of funk/electronic?
Dave One: A little more soft-rock this time around.
P-Thugg: Still a lot of funk, but with a bit more soft-rock and some pop.
What would you say influenced your funk sound in the beginning of the project?
Dave One: Yeah, funk and pop from the 80’s. Anything from New Edition, to Cameo, to even the first Madonna record. Daft Punk was always a huge influence, along with Justice and whatever was going on in electronic music at the time was also a big influence.
P-Thugg: We have always listened to soft-rock; we just haven’t integrated it into our music that much. Now it takes a bigger part of the songs.
Dave One: On the new record, you can definitely hear it.
You guys have always shown a unique artistic style even through imagery and the visuals that you use, including album artwork and music videos. What would you say influence these specifically?
Dave One: A lot of the 80’s artists that we looked up to had that “total package,” which was both music and aesthetic. Someone like Prince, for example, was recognized not only for his music, but for his album covers and obviously his image. His image branched out to his off-shoots, and the other bands that he was working with. Someone like Jack White even does the same thing today, where everything he does has a really strong musical and artistic drive behind it and the same goes with Daft punk. We just want to build an aesthetic legacy down the line that will be as defined, and refined as those people.
You have recently released two music videos in support of your new album. I especially liked how in the “Night By Night” music video, you (Dave One), seemed to get almost shorter when you were dancing with the girl?
P-Thugg: (Laughs, while almost falling over)
Dave One: (Laughs) Huh, how could that be? That was so weird right? How I managed to get shorter, then taller again (laughs). It’s funny because when I was shorter in the music video, I danced better. Then the taller I got, the more I started to suck (laughs).
How do you normally come up with the ideas for them? Are they normally presented to you, or do you have a hand in the creation?
Dave One: They were presented to us, but usually for the videos it is a dialog between me and the director that last for a few weeks(laughs), if not a few months. Most of the times for videos instead of making a call for treatments and filtering between a dozen different treatments, we zoom in on one director that we like and we try to elaborate a concept with him/her. In both of the recent videos, they were people that we chose to work with, beforehand and there was a dialect in the creative process. Obviously the ideas mostly came from them, but we try to chime in and stay involved until the editing stages, until the very last stages of color correction. It is extremely tedious, especially for “Don’t Turn the Lights On.”
Have you worked with some of the same directors?
P-Thugg: Yeah, on some of them we have.
Dave One: “Tenderoni” and “Night, By Night” had the same director. He also might do the next one, “Hot Mess”. Maybe…
Are there any particular favorite music videos you guys have done?
P-Thugg: Mine is “Momma’s Boy,” still. It just has something. Maybe it is just the childhood dream of seeing yourself drawn out, and the guy is really good too.
Did they film you guys first, and then draw it?
Dave One: Yep. He basically just drew everything over at 24 or 32 frames per second I think…
What would be some of your favorite all-time music videos?
Dave One: “Thriller,” obviously.
P-Thugg: “Take On Me”
Dave One: Yeah, A-Ha’s “Take on Me” is the greatest music video of all time. “Money for Nothing” is amazing, and we reference that in one of our music videos. Prince, “When the Doves Cry” is cool. Daft Punk “Around the World” is one of the greatest ever and the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” Even all of the Hype Williams stuff from the 90’s. I think people go back and say “Wow, that is such a unique look and sign of the times.”
Are there any re-mixes that you are working on for other bands/musicians?
Dave One: Not now, we just finished something for Aeroplane, because we just did a “swap” with them. We did a re-working/cover of one of their songs and they did “Don’t Turn the Lights On.” We just got done last week on all of the musical projects, now we just have to sit back and wait for them to all come out.

1 comment:

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