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Anthony Gonzalez of M83.

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M83’s Anthony Gonzalez on His New Album, Writing a Song About Frogs, and Nostalgia

French musician Anthony Gonzalez, better known as M83, established himself as a musical force in 2008, with his electronic dream-pop album Saturdays=Youth, a shimmering meditation on adolescence. Following such a popular and critically acclaimed album was bound to be difficult, but thankfully his newest LP, the epic Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, outdoes expectations. Over two discs and 22 songs, the album feels like a culmination of all that Gonzalez has been building toward, a confident grasp for the heavens. Vulture recently spoke with Gonzalez about finding that musical confidence, his love of children's stories, and why he's so nostalgic.

Your last album had a theme of being a teenager. What's the theme for this album?
It's whatever you want, you know? This is exactly what I like about making an album, about music: When someone is listening to a record, they can interpret the music differently. This feels like it's a make-your-own-concept album.

What was the goal when you started working on this album?
I really wanted to enjoy myself and have fun. I moved to Los Angeles for the making of this album, and for the first time in years, I was happy in the studio. That wasn't really the case with Saturdays=Youth. I just needed to change my environment. What's different with this album is that I was excited to make it.

When you started on this, you said you wanted to create something really epic. Why did you want this album to be so big?
Because I felt inspired. Sometimes when you're inspired, you just don't want to stop. Obviously, I had a lot to say. I felt that I was confident enough to make a double album. It was a dream of mine since I was a teenager. It was the right time for me to make this one.

Why were you so confident this time?
Maybe because I have more experience. I have more things to say about my experiences, my life, my fears, my thoughts. We'd been touring so long, for Saturdays=Youth, which really gives you time to think about your next project. When I started to compose songs for this album, I was ready to begin to tell stories to people.

You mention you had a lot to say. What was the main thing you were saying?
I am still a very shy person. It's very uncomfortable to talk about myself, to talk about my career, to talk about my music. Everything I express seriously as a human being, I express through my music. Music is the only way I've found to express myself, to talk about my life, what I'm thinking, my fears, and my pride. I feel like even if you don't know me, if you listen to my music, you know me very well.

One song that's going to stick out to listeners is "Raconte-Moi Une Histoire," the song with a little girl telling a fantastical story about frogs. What's the significance of this song?
I just wanted something very innocent. Something very innocent and very childish at first, that builds and builds and gets more nostalgic and very touching at the end. I've always been fascinated with kids' stories. I was obsessed with this kids' magazine I used to read as a kid, Raconte-Moi, and this is kind of like a tribute to it.

You mentioned nostalgia, which pops up in so much of your work. Why does it?
I don't know, I'm just obsessed with it. It's a part of myself. I had the best years of my life when I was a kid and a teenager, and being nostalgic is a way for me not to forget about it. I'm scared to forget these moments of joy. Music is like a good way I have to remember those moments.

Your voice is stronger than it's ever been before. Why the different approach?
I was just tired of being shy in front of a microphone. I wanted to try something new. I toured so much for the previous album, and also opening for bigger bands like the Killers and Depeche Mode, and seeing singers perform, it really gave me the idea to going forward with my own vocals.

You mentioned having a lot of confidence while working on the album. How do you feel about it now that it's done?
It's still very fresh in my heart and in my mind. Especially when you put all this work into the songs and rehearsing for the live show. It's something super new, so I don't really know what to think about it, but I'm proud of this album. I feel like I couldn't have done better than I have done here.

Photo: Annouck Bertin