With Chromeo itâ€™s hard to determine if Pee Thug and Dave 1â€™s music is serious, however, Chromeoâ€™s effort is transparent and if their romantic, `80s, Minneapolis funk burners are soundtracking fashionable audiences, why not take this Montreal duo seriously?
Their sophomore album, Fancy Footwork, is better than their debut, Sheâ€™s In Control (â€œThe first album has a few good songs and the rest are filler, I find, now,â€ says Dave 1, adding that Michael Jackson, an artist Dave 1 has a confused admiration for, is a source of inspiration on Fancy Footwork), as its cleaner arrangements, melodic drive and cheesy lyrics are exactly what Chromeo wants to represent.
“The first album has a few good songs and the rest are filler, I find, now. This new one is more consistent.”
Format: â€œTenderoniâ€ is a song of affection and is a term Michael Jackson used in his song â€œP.Y.T.,â€ if you could pair Michael Jackson with a tenderoni, who would you choose for him and why?
Dave 1: I think the best match for Michael Jackson was Elvisâ€™ daughter, I think that was perfect. The dude is Michael Jackson, he may as well marry Elvis, but Elvis is dead so he married Elvisâ€™ daughter. I thought that was a great look for the dude. I donâ€™t like making jokes about Michael Jackson. Itâ€™s so easy and Iâ€™m a big fan of him. Itâ€™s so sad, because the dude is so weird, sick and twisted. I donâ€™t make jokes about him, because Iâ€™m confused about the guy, but at the same time I have so much admiration for him.
Format: At SxSw, during your performance, you say, â€œWeâ€™re Chromeo, in case I have to tell you, and Chromeo is not a band, itâ€™s a way of life.â€ If a person wants to experience the Chromeo â€œway of lifeâ€ what do they need to do?
Dave 1: They need to listen to a lot of `80s records and funk records for years and years! You become so engulfed in the music that you naturally produce it, musically. It just comes out of you. You start looking, dressing and talking like Morris Day and then youâ€™re almost there.
Format: A lot of people have some way to go before they look like Morris Day.
Dave 1: Yeah, yeah, yeah honkies! Thatâ€™s why I was saying that to all the Texans and indie kids, but weâ€™re teaching them about the funk!
“They need to listen to a lot of `80s records and funk records for years and years! You become so engulfed in the music that you naturally produce it, musically.”
Format: The new album, Fancy Footwork, has, as you described in an iFilm interview, â€œuber-romantic, cheesy, but in a good way,â€ lyrics. For Fancy Footwork, what was your lyric writing process?
Dave 1: They just came to me in the shower and in the mornings before I went to school, but in bits and pieces that come to me. Maybe, the title of the song, the chorus and the beginning of the verse and then Iâ€™d write the rest at the studio. For instance, â€œFancy Footwork,â€ I had the chorus and I wrote the lyrics in the studio, but a song like â€œBonafied Lovinâ€™â€ that has a lot of complex lyrics at least, for our standards, the chorus I had before, then the melody and then I made words for it in the studio.
Format: In an interview, you say Lilâ€™ Wayne is your favorite rapper. Lilâ€™ Wayne keeps proclaiming that he is hip-hop and the greatest rapper. What do you enjoy about Lilâ€™ Wayne?
Dave 1: Heâ€™s the greatest! I listen to more rap than funk, even. I listen to `80s pop stuff like Pebbles, Dipset and Lilâ€™ Wayne. I really, really think Lilâ€™ Wayne is the greatest rapper out now. When Jadakiss put out â€œWhyâ€ he was on top of the game for a minute. When Eminem put out The Eminem Show nobody could fuck with him. When Jay-Z put out The Blueprint, Nasâ€™ Stillmatic, even Big Pun had it. You always get a period when one rapper is the focal point. I think Lilâ€™ Wayne is the nicest now. People are skeptical and so was I, because heâ€™s kind of corny looking, but I think heâ€™s the greatest and most lyrical dude out there. Heâ€™s giving everyone in hip-hop a big slap in the face.
“When Jay-Z put out The Blueprint, Nasâ€™ Stillmatic, even Big Pun had it. You always get a period when one rapper is the focal point. I think Lilâ€™ Wayne is the nicest now.”
Format: In April, Camâ€™Ron, is on 60 Minutes explaining the â€œno snitchinâ€™â€ to police policy that he lives by and glamorizes to youths. What is your opinion on the â€œno snitchinâ€™â€ message that rappers are glamorizing to youths?
Dave 1: I think itâ€™s crazy. Camâ€™Ron apologized for that. Iâ€™m so far from that reality, the whole stop snitchinâ€™ thing, because itâ€™s a code of streets thing and a set of ethics that are so far from what I can relate to, as a middle class dude from Canada, that I canâ€™t really have an opinion on it. Itâ€™s like a foreign custom to me. I understand its justification, but I have to claim relativism, because itâ€™s another custom from another culture. When I hear people be so militant about the stop snitchinâ€™ thing, like when Camâ€™Ron goes, â€˜If a serial killer lived next to me, I would move.â€™ Itâ€™s like female circumcision, Iâ€™m like, whoa another culture. I canâ€™t be judgmental about it. Camâ€™Ron is a guy I admire and heâ€™s a trend setter, but, at the same time, heâ€™s not had a good song in a minute. To me, whoever has the best song wins.
Format: The ability for musicians to use the Internet as a resource to promote their work is as easy as creating a MySpace account; the Internet is congested with a lot of music, but not much talent. How does Chromeo separate itself on the Internet from its peers?
Dave 1: Weâ€™re not the most Internet savvy group. I mean, we have a MySpace like everyone else. The Internet isnâ€™t a reflection of whatâ€™s going on, it just makes everything available. We separate ourselves from our peers musically, not from the Internet. Our music is more song driven and melody driven, and the arrangements are much cleaner. This is our second album and most bandsâ€™ second albums are worse than their first ones. I was thinking of how to make this album better than the first one. The first one had â€œNeedy Girlâ€ on it, but this one has more good songs. â€œNeedy Girlâ€ would have felt more at home on our second record. The first album has a few good songs and the rest are filler, I find, now. This new one is more consistent. Who did and album that did a better second album than their first album; Michael Jackson! Thriller is better than Off The Wall. We studied the way Thriller sounds and it was very clean, sonically.
“The Internet isnâ€™t a reflection of whatâ€™s going on, it just makes everything available. We separate ourselves from our peers musically, not from the Internet.”
Format: In past interviews, youâ€™ve said that Chromeo consciously injects a`80s sound into its music. What are some influences from music in the `80s on Fancy Footwork?
Dave 1: There is a lot, but Hall and Oats, and Robert Palmer on this album, definitely. Theyâ€™re both important, because theyâ€™re both songwriters and producers. A lot of people donâ€™t know about Robert Palmer, dude was a genius, I donâ€™t know why he is not more celebrated. Heâ€™s a huge influence on this album and on me â€“ the way he wears suits and the real smooth, nonchalant singer thatâ€™s a romantic-type. Robert Palmer was a huge fan of Minneapolis funk, but he did his interpretation of it, just like weâ€™re doing our interpretation of it. Hall and Oats, too, they were disciples of funk, jazz, soul and black music, in general, but they made it their own through their own cooky perspective. Minneapolis funk is important, because itâ€™s very particular. Minneapolis funk starts with Prince, then The Time with Morris Day, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis went on to produce everyone in the `80s.
Format: Youâ€™re signed to Vice Records, which also has a magazine. What do you read while on tour?
Dave 1: I read the Economist religiously, cover to cover, every week.
Format: Fancy Footwork has an interesting cover â€“ long, attractive female legs fused to keyboards are sexy and probably good for sales. The artwork really stands out, why did you choose to take that direction?
Dave 1: Weâ€™re big fans of Hypgnosis, theyâ€™re an English artwork collective from the `70s, and they did Pink Floydâ€™s covers, a lot of Peter Gabriel covers and other classic rock covers. Weâ€™re huge fans of them. I was in Paris this year, and I was hanging out with an art collective called Surface To Air and I asked them to do our album artwork. We looked at a lot of Hypgnosis stuff for ideas, but it was also inspired by a ZZ Top video called â€œRough Boy.â€ In the video, there are legs walking, but no body, just metal plates and the legs are just walking, so we did that with keyboards.
“Iâ€™ve been sick for a month, but I have shows and I do them anyway. I was doing interviews, two weeks ago, in Germany and I had an intestinal infection and between every 20 minute interview Iâ€™d spend 20 minutes in the bathroom. Weâ€™re troopers.”
Format: Youâ€™re constantly on tour, city to city and club to club. How do you prepare yourself to have energy, gusto and character to spark positive reactions from a Chromeo audience?
Dave 1: It kind of takes its toll on you, because Iâ€™ve been sick for a month, but I have shows and I do them anyway. I was doing interviews, two weeks ago, in Germany and I had an intestinal infection and between every 20 minute interview Iâ€™d spend 20 minutes in the bathroom. Weâ€™re troopers. Itâ€™s kind of weird, because people think our music is hipster, tongue-in-cheek and then there is the Vice association, but if you talk to us weâ€™re record collectors and disciples of black music.
Format: Currently, your brother, A-Trak, is a popular (if not the most popular) DJ in the world. Being that youâ€™re both in the music industry, is there a brotherly rivalry that exists?
Dave 1: Not at all. We support each other. Heâ€™s like the third member of the band. He was supposed to do a remix of â€œTenderoni,â€ but he didnâ€™t have a chance and we had a lot of remixes for that one. Heâ€™s doing an edit of â€œFancy Footwork.â€
Format: In a recent Format feature, Married To The MOBâ€™s Leah, says that men in the streetwear community are â€œvery feminine,â€ because they troll blogs, take photos of their clothing and lineup outside stores waiting for clothing to be released. What is your opinion on the feminine characteristics that males in the streetwear community have adopted?
Dave 1: I donâ€™t know how feminine that is. Whatâ€™s so feminine about blogs and lining about for clothing, itâ€™s a little simplistic to call that a feminine behavior. But I call it dorky. I understand it, but, for me, the people that I think dress the best and look the coolest do it effortlessly.
More Info: http://www.chromeo.net