Chromeo :: Playing catch-up with bad taste

photo by Kasia Nawrocka
photo by Kasia Nawrocka

by Martyna Turczynowicz

They’ve called themselves the “only successful Arab/Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture”. Electro-funk/Disco duo Chromeo, have been on the scene since 2002. Their latest album, White Women, was released in May 2014. It features collaborations with Toro Y Moi, Solange Knowles and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. Stylus sat down with the with Dave 1 and P-Thugg before they played their sold-out show on Monday night.

Stylus: There’s some elements of nostalgia, retro stuff on your album. Can you talk about that?
Dave 1: It can be retro, but not nostalgic. We don’t like nostalgia because it implies that things were better before. Retro means it’s a hat trick when you make something seem new. I remember when we were kids the video for Deee-Lite “Groove Is In The Heart” came out and it was all flower power. It came out in the 1990s, and they were wearing flower prints and bell-bottoms, but it sounded both old and new. In 1990 all that bell-bottom and flower power stuff felt new. So to successfully pull our Chromeo hat-trick, the idea is to make the 80s influences feel new. You can’t top it, so you’ve gotta give it a fresh twist. A fresh twist is making it sound interesting in this context.

Stylus: Which new artists are you into right now?
Dave 1: It changes every week. It could be Twigs, could be Drake, and could be Grimes, Disclosure. The thing is now we’re all listening to the same stuff. If you’re young and in tune with youth culture we’re all listening to the same things. There’s a pool of records, and it’s cool because it builds a sense of community that we didn’t have growing up. There were the rap kids against the rock kids against the emo kids.

Stylus: There were a lot of collaborations on your last album, Ezra Koenig, Solange… Is there anyone you want to work with in the future?
Dave 1: I really like Tinashe’s new album. Travis Scott, that’s the best album of the year. Maybe we should finally have Darryl Hall on a song. The music has to come to us first, then we think about collaboration. If Ariana Grande came up with a terrific idea…  hear a bit of Gloria Estefan sass to how she sings. She’s dope, my favourite song of the year.

photo by Kasia Nawrocka
photo by Kasia Nawrocka

Stylus: You both have, with specific senses of aesthetic in terms of how you dress, what inspires your personal style in how you dress?
P-Thugg: Inspiration from unlikely sources. Stuff you see in the street.
Dave 1: P’s biggest influence right now is Dog the Bounty Hunter. He’s P’s stylistic hero.
P-Thugg: Stuff to keep you un-bored. Whatever is current that people are into, is the opposite way I go.
Dave 1: It catches up with you though. It’s fun because P just plays catch up with bad taste. You just push it and push it and push it and next thing you know, the Raf Simmons 2016 collection is Skechers. And that’s what’s cool, it always catches up.
P-Thugg: That’s what keeps you-unbored. As soon they catch up to you, you have four other tricks in your hat. You have a hat trick.
Dave 1: The idea is always to look for something unlikely. The fact that we’re really different in how we dress and how we present ourselves is unlikely. It was just as unlikely when we started referencing 80s funky music. Nobody was checking for that at all. It was not in the conversation. It’s like Jay-Z, onto the next one and you’re on to the next thing. It’s fun and it keeps you on your toes.

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