In the midst of working the major music festival circuit this summer, I got a chance to sit down with Dave 1 and P-Thugg of Chromeo on Sunday afternoon to chat with them for a few minutes about Outside Lands, their collaboration with Daryl Hall, their hip hop roots, and their new album.
KataRokkar: You guys have had a really ambitious tour schedule doing festivals in the US and Europe. Now you are at Outside Lands in San Francisco – what’s your impression of the festival here versus other ones that you’ve been to?
Dave 1: It’s a little smaller, but in a good way.
P-Thugg: Like a boutique festival.
Dave 1: Yeah, exactly. That’s what it feels like. It’s nice. I mean, the hospitality is nice and it’s not overwhelming. The site is not overwhelming and it feels like it’s easy to navigate. So yeah, it’s great. And the bands that are playing are amazing.
KataRokkar: I was wondering; Are there other bands that you’ve seen at some of these festivals that you have been excited to watch as fans?
Dave 1: Yeah, The Strokes. Their US comeback has been cool. We caught their first show at Lollapalooza last weekend. They played yesterday here. Mayer Hawthorne killed it; Al Green – it’s insane.
KataRokkar: Did you see The Strokes last night?
Dave 1: No, but we saw them at Lollapalooza.
KataRokkar: They put on a great show. I was really impressed.
Dave 1: They are good live, man.
KataRokkar: Speaking of artists that you are fans of. It’s been the talk to the town; your collaboration with Daryl Hall…
[This is the point in our conversation where we were interrupted by some woman walking up and telling Dave 1 how she met him before and they have some bullshit mutual friend or something like that and she wanted to say hi and maybe meet up later, I’m guessing, so she could ride his jock even more or who knows what, blah, blah, blah. P-Thugg glanced over at me and shrugged his shoulders as if to say, “What can ya do?” So I waited patiently. Dave 1 was cordial enough to humor his wanna-be groupie for a few moments and then pick up where we left off.]
KataRokkar: …So yeah. Working with Daryl Hall, one of your proclaimed influences. A lot of people, when your first album came out, were comparing your music to his. You got to do “Live From Daryl’s House” a couple years ago and then played with him at Bonnarroo this year. What was that like for you guys?
Dave 1: An honor; really humbling. It was just the best experience you can think of for a band like us. We are going to do more stuff with him so it’s about finding the perfect festival. I think Bonnarroo was a great venue for that.
KataRokkar: Do you have any ideas for future collaboration with him?
Dave 1: We are talking about it. We have to be really selective, but I’m sure there will be more stuff soon.
KataRokkar: Any studio work is what I’m curious about?
Dave 1: I mean, that too.
P-Thugg: If it happens organically, it’s going to happen.
Dave 1: I think we have to be, not careful, but really cautious about it because the stakes are high now. You can’t mess that one up.
KataRokkar: It’s been talked about the influence of Hall & Oates on your music and other pop/R&B artists from the eighties, but you guys started as hip hop producers. Could you talk about your hip hop influences and how that translates into your music?
P-Thugg: All of our influences stem from hip hop. Hip hop was the first music I started listening to. I discovered funk with that. Both of us.
Dave 1: Yeah, digging for records. Finding out what the samples were and actually then listening to those records as themselves.
P-Thugg: Getting into Parliament after EPMD. Getting into Zapp & Roger after Snoop and Dre.
Dave 1: So, that’s how we got into it, really. Thanks to hip hop, you know. I think that even the way we still produce as far as chopping up drums, using the MPC for all of our drum stuff, there’s still a hip hop aesthetic. And we still listen to a lot of hip hop too. A lot of our friends are hip hop artists. I think now the gap has been bridged between hip hop and electronic music many times over.
KataRokkar: I know you guys collaborated with Solange Knowles on one of the songs from the new album, giving a nod back to the R&B genre a little bit, as well.
Dave 1: Yeah, yeah. If you listen to some of the nineties R&B like Jodeci’s records, it sounds almost like our stuff too.
P-Thugg: It actually does sound like our stuff. There are a lot of similarities.
Dave 1: Yeah, so it’s not that far off.
KataRokkar: Speaking of the new album, which is coming out in about a month. What can we expect- is it along the same lines as your previous two albums or do you deviate at all?
Dave 1: I don’t think we deviated. I mean, there are a couple of strikingly different different moments – there’s a ballad in French, there’s a seven minute synth jam – but you know, the Chromeo staples are there. We made sure that they were there. We don’t want to alienate people, but I think, “Dont Turn The Lights On” shows how we can go on the darker, smoother, more atmospheric side, and still maintain our quirkiness. So we’ve got a lot of songs like that and a lot of big dance floor jams like “Night By Night“.
KataRokkar: Well thank you so much. I’m looking forward to catching your show in a little bit. I hope it’s dark because I’ve been reading some of the reviews from when you just played in Seattle and Portland…
Dave 1: The lights! Yeah.
KataRokkar: Yeah! All I read were very positive reviews. Everybody was just gushing over it.
Dave 1: I’ve been reading them too. It’s been cool. I try to stay up on all the reviews after the shows.
KataRokkar: I think some artists shy away from that.
Dave 1: No, no, no. I want to know everything!
KataRokkar: That’s cool. Well like I said, I’m looking forward to it. Thanks a lot guys.
[mp3] CHROMEO – NIGHT BY NIGHT from BUSINESS CASUAL (2010)