Tag Archives: House of Blues San Diego

Wherefore Art Thou, Chromeo?

These days, it’s not that difficult to find Patrick Gemayel (P-Thugg) and David Macklovitch (Dave 1), the childhood friends who comprise the retro-electro-funksters Chromeo. They’re on tour, of course, wrapping up the third, and final, round of dates around their 2010 release, Business Casual. The pair, based in Montreal, Quebec, first burst onto the scene in 2004 with their debut, She’s in Control, and it’s worldwide club smash, “Needy Girl.” But it wasn’t until 2007’s Fancy Footwork that things really blew up. Since then, the tongue-in-cheek mobile dance party has funked-up the biggest stages across the globe including Glastonbury, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Reading and Leeds — among hundreds of others. On Monday night, they’ll be in town converting wallflowers at the House of Blues downtown. I recently caught up with Macklovitch before a gig in Boulder, Colo., and talked new music, putting his teaching and student career on hiatus, and that signature Chromeo sound.

Scott McDonald: How goes it?
Dave Macklovitch: Everything’s cool. But it’s the autopilot tour grind right now. We just try to maintain and make sure every show is good. We want each performance to be better than the last.

SM: Has that been working?
DM: People love it. And they react that way because it’s real. You know what I mean? There’s no big label telling us what to do. We don’t make songs for the radio. And we’re not thinking about anything but making it a party. We’re just two childhood friends, making weird music and having fun with it.

SM: Have you started working on new material?
DM: I started writing about a year ago. But we’ve both been writing on our own and when the touring stops, we’ll put all of the ideas together and really get crackin’.

SM: Seems like you have a lot going on outside of the band as well.
DM: Yeah. But I’m just doing music right now. It will stay that way for the next couple of months. I’m going at (his PHD in French Literature) at my own pace now. And at this point, all I’m doing is writing. So when I get off tour, I’ll be headed to the library and I’ll start writing again. They know I’ll finish it, when I finish it. I haven’t been teaching as much, but when I want to teach, I teach. Before, I was teaching 3 days, then I’d fly out, do a Chromeo show, fly back, and teach again. But I wanted to do a real tour this time. Thankfully, this does make me a little bit flexible when I want it.

SM: Does it ever seem like too much?
DM: Naw. We’ll never burn out. We’re too smart. We plan everything very carefully. And we try to stay healthy and balanced in how we strategize all of the Chromeo activities. If you look at the touring we did around Business Casual, no one can fuck with us. We did one before it came out, we did one at the height of the promotion, and we’re doing one now – to make sure we go out with a bang on this record.

SM: How do you reconcile all of your influences?
DM: Well, for example, things like hip-hop and R&B are more of an attitude for us. While our music might not exactly reflect it, people like R. Kelly and The Dream directly influence us because of the way they approach their lyrics. To us, that is really, really important. And we’re the kind of band that wants to turn all of the love song tropes on their head. But it’s a vortex. The 80s are our backbone, but there are a whole lot of other influences in there as well.

SM: Could they ever change the formula?
DM: I don’t think so. There’s one Chromeo sound. And if we lose that Chromeo sound, we lose who we are. But I feel like we can really stretch it. Everyone we admire can do that. A LCD Soundsystem song is unmistakable, but it could be anything from a jam to a ballad. He (James Murphy) can stretch it, but it still makes sense. Same thing with Kanye West. And that’s exactly what we always want to do as well.

SM: You said lyrics are important. Yours are pretty funny.
DM: It’s the classic high-brow/low-brow trick. There’s no middle ground. If you want middle ground, you can listen to Maroon 5.

SM: What’s next?
DM: Back to the studio to make some new music.

 

Originally published by NBC San Diego on October 17, 2011

It’s Getting Hot in Here!

But it was all just a mere warmup for the electric Ms. Tijoux. The ghost town transformed into a crowded floor when the tiny MC took the stage, and the audience showed quite a bit of love for the show opener. Dressed casually — T-shirt, flannel, jean shorts and high-tops — she patrolled the stage, spitting her mainly autobiographical, and mostly high-energy, rhymes with flair. Her keyboard player held things down with tight grooves, and I was sad to see her set end.

Next up were the Venezuelan funksters Los Amigos Invisibles. I’ve never seen them disappoint, and Tuesday night was no exception. As per usual, singer Julio Briceño was drenched in sweat by the second song, and it was literally flying off of him as the band cranked through an unbelievably spot-on version of Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” Their relentless stage energy makes it hard for me to believe the band has been around for 20 years (!?!). But according to guitarist Jose Luis Pardo, whom I spoke with a few days before the show, they can’t quite believe it either.

“We really started the band when we were teenagers,” Pardo said, “so we really consider it a miracle that we’ve been together this long. We never thought we’d make it this far, and we never thought we’d be able to make a living at it. We just really like playing live music with each other. But it really is a miracle, and we’ve seen it all in this band. Really, for us, it’s about that experience, of seeing people having fun and dancing each night. We love it and we serve that.”

After their fiery set, it was amazing that anyone had the energy left to stick around for local faves Bostich & Fussible. The Norteño-electronic mash-up specialists kept the party going until well after midnight. It still seems so awesome to me that their special niche of music appeals so far across the board. But, ironically, when I spoke with Fussible (aka, Pepe Mogt) shortly before the show, he said there was a time when it didn’t even appeal to them.

“Me and Ramon have been doing electronic music for a long time,” he said. “It’s crazy to say, but we’ve been doing it since ’88. And at that stage, we didn’t even like Norteño. We hated it. In our minds, there was only electronic music. We were collecting drum machines and synthesizers, and doing projects based on technology. And then I started my career in engineering and computer science at university. But now with Ramon, we combine all the Norteños with all of that new technology. And when we make that mixture, it doesn’t sound like a Norteño house remix. We put all the sounds together and make it the right balance between both worlds.”

Balance was the theme of the entire night, and all three acts got it right. And for all of the cities on down the line — whether you know these acts or not — there’s just no reason to show up if you don’t want to dance.