Artist Name: Air
Members: Nicolas Godin, Jean-Benoît Dunckel
Album: Moon Safari
Album Year: 1998
Active: 1995 – Present
The electronic-ambient French duo Air consists of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel. Their name is an acronym of the phrase ‘Amour, Imagination, Rêve’ (translated to Love, Imagination, Dream), and under this they’ve released upon us all 7 albums over the past decade and more, as well as several remix compilations. The pair work quite often with director Sofia Coppola, responsible for the film ‘Virgin Suicides’ which includes their probably most well-known track ‘Playground Love’.
The sound that comes from Air differs quite dramatically from track to track, yet all the while building off a consistent electronic, ‘dream-pop’ structure and sound. A song like ‘Cherry Blossom Girl’ reflects their ability to write and sing a lyric-based track while still keeping their trademark crazy instrumental solos (whether it be flute, saxophone, guitar, keyboard, etc). Yet a track like ‘Alone in Kyoto’, from the soundtrack of ‘Lost in Translation’, reveals their true talent in being able to create effortlessly flowing, ambient instrumental music.
When interviewed by Last.fm on whether they have interest in other artistic areas, Godin comments on the danger of “an artist’s ego”, and the delusion that “anything you make” will be good. So whether we see them involved in screenplays, or films or not it really doesn’t matter, given the calibre of the music they’ve given to their fans.
The entire of Air’s most recent album, ‘Le Voyage Dans La Lune’:
“We’re really just a mob of imbeciles though” says bassist Nick “Paisley Adams” Allbrook in an interview by Under the Radar Magazine, when questioned on their links to drugs and ‘coolness’. “We take less drugs than people think” Parker says, and that in reality they’re more ‘geeky’, or just more normal than what people think as result of their strongly psychedelic music. Yet together they’re very comfortable with that, as they’d rather people take drugs and put their music on while “visiting their mind’s engine room”, then simply being a fan because of a materialistic drug-hyped image.
Bands like this invigorate burning rebellion inside the hearts and minds of teens, as well as add new fuel to the old flames who remember chaotic live rock shows of the 60′s and 70′s. They stir creativity and force the mind to expand; whether by following an intricately connected melody such as the one in ‘Jeremy’s Storm’, or from the frustrating simple yet undeniably catchy riff at the start of ‘Half Full Glass of Wine’. Tame Impala seem set to release their second album later in 2012, with them just releasing this teaser-video which gives a short glimpse into what we can all expect from their new sound. I can’t fucking wait.
‘Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind’ performed in California. Enjoy:
So first of all, how did APES come to be?
Billy: APES formed out of a break-up with our ex-drummer (in the Boo Hoo Hoos), who is an awesome guy by the way. But-
Sam: It really started with me and you though.
B: Yeah me and Sammy moved out together, and wanted to keep things going after the Boo Hoo Hoos.
How old were you when you started recording as the Boo Hoo Hoos?
B: 17 I think. It was when I was talking to you (at James Toohey), and I was talking to Toohey online and asked him if he knew any drummers and that’s how Rohan joined really.
What influences you all when creating new music?
S: I mean, definitely performance wise we try to kick it up a notch, and vocally we all try and pull from a band such as The Hives. But musically, Black Keys, Black Rebel, some Strokes and Jeff Buckley. Billy’s a big Jeff Buckley fan.
B: Definitely the Stones man too.
S: Yeah, and definitely anything from the early blues period.
B: It’s about getting that good blues, but making it, I don’t know, catchy you know? More radio-friendly. But not everything’s in that vein, I mean a lot of it has that White Stripes feel. And Jack White does the same thing. He’ll have a solid blues track and then the next thing is something like ‘Seven Nation Army’, he just hits that many genres and categories of music.
Toohey: (stirs from his quick drunken slumber) I really just want to make guitar rock with pop-hooks.
S: Exactly man. Amen.
B: Not exactly typical pop-hooks though. I mean, you want to be able to leave a song but still know and remember it.
Whose idea was it to incorporate Ray Charles in the track Cheatin’?
S: This boy here (points to Billy)
B: Yeah I wrote that song.
S: It doesn’t really have much of Charles in it, but really it’s our way for all of us to pay homage to all sorts of blues records really. I mean, essentially it’s our tribute song. I mean with the opening line, people may misunderstand it at times.
B: What you have to understand though, is that when I wrote that line I didn’t intend to like, make my own version of Ray Charles’ music, it’s just a small glorified blues tribute really. And it was our first sort of step towards thinking like hey, ‘Why aren’t we making more music like this?’ You know?
So it’s a mix between paying homage to the blues, and taking control of the direction of your music?
S: Yeah I mean, I remember back where we were living we were just listening to ‘Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time’, and we were listening to a lot of late 50’s, sort of American-Blues stuff. So we really didn’t want to trivialise the blues or anything, it really is just our own little ‘nod’ of respect towards great music made by someone like Ray Charles.
So who writes most of your music?
B: Yeah but the thing is, I can’t write guitar like Toohey does, which is what makes him such a valuable asset. I mean we’ll jam and mess around and stuff, and Toohey will just come out with these riffs and it’s a sort of sound that I couldn’t even begin to imagine thinking of myself.
From seeing you play, I feel like your live shows can musically go anywhere. How much is impromptu between you guys?
B: Oh well I mean anything improvised on the spot is really just what you’re feeling at the time. You can just take it wherever you want, and that’s really the best thing about music.
S: The performance will always dictate it too.
B: Yeah, you have that freedom to do whatever is based on the mood of the show I guess. And that’s going back to blues as well I suppose. I mean, you listen to 100 different artists and then listen to them live and it’s never the same. I mean you don’t want it to be as simple as ‘this is what is sounds like on the record’, so ‘this is what it will sound like live’.
S: Yeah definitely.
B: I mean we’ll be recording in the studio and I’ll still be writing lyrics there and wherever the fuck we’re staying.
S: (laughs) Yeah it’s basically Billy’s motto that ‘We don’t use any lyrics until we bend them in the studio’.
So you guys do quite a bit of in-studio writing?
B: Yeah, you get that definite freedom of trial and error that you might not get rehearsing. It’s just easier to set something new down.
So would you say your process is half together in studio, and half making things on your own?
B: Well kind of. I mean, I never write any lyrics down or anything, they’re just all in my head.
S: Plus the process is never pure improvisation or anything, and it’s much more about the music than the performances. But yeah, we never finalise any lyrics until right up till we’re about to record.
B: Just what I don’t like about penning down lyrics is that is just feels so permanent. It’s like, if you record a song, you’re stuck with a certain image of a song and it makes it difficult to work off it.
(Sam assist’s Toohey to the bathroom)
So what would you say has been your greatest live performance yet?
S: (returning to the interview) Did you say greatest gig? Because I’ve got this one covered. The best gig we’ve ever played I reckon, and probably not the tidiest but the most fun, was our gig in Brisbane at Comic Sans last show.
B: Ah that was fucking sick. It was Bleeding Knee’s first show and Comic Sans last, and we played right in the middle.
S: We just got the perfect audience and atmosphere, copping a lot of Comic Sans supporters’ right when we started played. And up in Brisbane they just have the greatest people coming out to check out the local music scene so it was just the best. It wasn’t our greatest show musically, but I’ll tell you what I loved about it. You always want to go see a filthy, debauched, garage rock n’ roll show and that show absolutely embodied every part of that. People were pissed, speakers were falling over, the bar was wrecked and for me that was the epitome of growing up and playing in a band and it absolutely fucking rocked.
Talking Heads gradually become known for the avant-garde nature of the band publicly, especially of their front-man and main lyricist David Byrne. In a quirky mock-interview he conducts with himself over the release of their ‘Stop Making Sense’ concert DVD (below), he shows us through his mockery that Talking Heads aren’t another media-manufactured, profit guzzling sell-out band. When asked when they will tour again (by himself), Byrne says “When there is something new to say”. Yet it’s funny how 18-years later Byrne stayed true to this sentiment, refusing to tour with ex-band members after their mini-reunion in 2002 because he saw it as simply profiting off the band’s name.
Throughout their incredible influence of American ‘New-Wave’, primarily through the 1980′s, Talking Heads left a significant mark on the industry. So much so in fact, that the globally-recognised band Radiohead adopted their name from the TH track ‘Radio Head’ from their 1986 ‘True Stories’ album. In 2002, each of the four members were inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’, where together they played a few of their major hits after having disbanded in 1992. Rolling Stone placed four Talking Heads albums in their ’500 Greatest Albums of All-Time’, and ranked them #100 in the ’100 Greatest Artists of All-Time’.
Only 5-minutes of TH’s 1984 ‘Stop Making Sense’ Concert will make you a fan:
Their surf/punk-rock sound was that of the most “compelling music” of the 1980′s, to quote David Bowie, and acted as major inspiration for iconic artists such as Kurt Cobain and many others. It was their 1993 break-up that allowed Nirvana to complete the job that Pixies had started; to ignite a wave of alternative-rock throughout the UK and across Europe. Their construction of seemingly simple, yet now-infamous tracks like “Here Comes Your Man” or “Where Is My Mind” reflects the purity of their dynamics as a band, despite the conflict they at times had with each other personally. Much of the controversy that surrounded Pixies had to do with the direction of the band’s music at the beginning of the 1990′s. With bassist Kim Deal wanting to incorporate more of her own songs into the band’s live shows and albums, tension began to form between her, Francis and Santiago, leading to their split.
Pixies brought us emotionally roaring choruses, and warming imperfect melodies with rememberable, quirky lyrics from the combined minds of four musically-gifted musicians. The 1991 album ‘Trompe le Monde’ was their last-released album before the break-up, despite their reformation in 2004 to play several incredible live shows across the UK and Australia for the first time. Rumours of a reunion album were quickly dismissed through, revolving around Kim Deal’s reluctance towards the idea. Yet speculation began to stir during May, 2011, after Santiago told ‘The Guardian’ that after they finish touring, it could “be time”.
Time to just sit back and wait.
An iconic performance of ‘Hey’ in 1988, at the Town & Country Club, London:
Jaar officially began his public-music career with a 3-piece band called ‘Clown & Sunset’, yet released his solo-debut album, Space is Only Noise, in January 2011. The album received wide-spread positive reviews, with many surprised at Jaar only being 22-years-old at the present date. The sounds that Jaar gives us through this album reflect a unique mind, and an ambition to find a new sound. “Balance her between your eyes” resembles quite a slow, yet immersive track, with Jaar becoming known for slowing his BPM to under 100, whereas its more common for his style to have 120-130. Jaar explains that “interesting” things can occur between beats unexpectedly, and regardless, all genres get “put into the same box at the end”.
“People use music like fashion”, Jaar says to Gouru in Paris, and to him reflects a danger of making music just like a clothing brand. It’s a process that “disgusts me”, he says, explaining that his album is almost an “anti-album”, designed at trying to get a genuine response out of people.
Part interview, part live performance, part music video in New York: