French electro-duo Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé (a.k.a. Justice) seemed to disappear into the ether after the 2008 world tour for their debut album, †. Thankfully, they're back today with a worthy follow-up, Audio, Video, Disco. Vulture spoke with the guys about their second album, its seventies-rock sound (which they dispute), and getting popular in the U.S.
This album definitely has more seventies-rock influence, which we didn’t hear in your first album. Where'd that come from?
Xavier de Rosnay: I would say it mainly comes from journalists who just, like, picked up one quote — I don't remember from which magazine.
Oh, so you think it's a little overblown?
Xavier: Yeah, it is; but it's cool. I mean, that’s always the way it is, you know? Like, for example, it's been said everywhere that our first record was a blend between heavy metal and techno, and for us, it was just a disco record. There was no heavy metal at all in it. We've always said that. But that's cool because, actually, we like heavy metal and we like seventies rock and arena rock, so we are totally fine with this description. Anyway, everybody hears something different in the record. To listen to a record is such a personal experience. Whatever you hear in this record when you listen to it, you're probably right, you know what I mean?
So I guess we now have the opportunity to set the record straight: When you were recording this album, what were some of your intentions for it?
Gaspard Augé: In terms of style and everything, I think we're doing the same thing we've always done. Maybe the way of expressing it is a bit different, but the backbone is really similar to everything we did and everything we'll probably do in the future. Because I think when you make music, you just express the same thing all your life but in different manners; this is what makes the music what it is, not the way it sounds.
And what is it that you're trying to express? What is this "thing"?
Gaspard: We just try to make music that conveys really simple emotions, like a blend of melancholy, victory, and happiness.
Is there anything from your respective lives that have gone into either this album or the first album?
Xavier: No, really our music is not inspired by our lives in the sense that we don't talk about our lives in the music. And it's actually pretty different from our lives. Sometimes it was even fun in the studio to notice how different it was from our lives it’s just a window into something else that is much more romantic. Romantic in the sense that it's really naive and really first degree, you know? The music we do needs to be not serious. It’s just meant to be pleasurable.
Have you guys ever found differences between your audiences in the States versus those in France or in Europe more generally?
Xavier: I think the only thing that was different is that we didn't expect American people necessarily to react well to this type of music because this music is really French in the end. And it's fun because right now it sounds almost normal for French bands to play in the U.S., but five years ago it was almost a miracle. I know it sounds really funny or odd, but it's true. The first time we got requests to play in the U.S. we were really surprised. And to be honest, when we released the first record in the U.S., we were just really happy to release it. We didn't think we would actually sell records here. And then things have changed a lot in just five years, which is pretty amazing.
What is the music scene or music community like in France?
Xavier: I don't know. Although France is a really small country, most of the people don't have any connections between them. We are not part of any community of artists. Actually, we try to avoid them as much as possible.