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Interview: Anthony Gonzalez (of M83)

on October 18, 2011, 6:30pm

m83feature Interview: Anthony Gonzalez (of M83)

This week, Anthony Gonzalez releases his sixth studio album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, a 22-track effort that CoS President/Editor-in-Chief Michael Roffman calls “incredibly ambitious” and one that “shines, sparkles, and thrills.” Packed with a dazzling array of synth pop, the new LP elevates the French multi-instrumentalist to new heights, championing a sound he’s pioneered for the last decade. In just two weeks, he’ll take that sound on the east and west coasts of America, covering cities like Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and beyond. He’ll also be performing at festivals like Asheville’s Halloween-extravaganza that is Moogfest and Austin’s late-year BBQ, Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Recently, Gonzalez had a chance to sit down with Cluster 1 correspondent Sami Jarroush in New York City, where the two discussed the idea of crafting a double album, working with Zola Jesus, the accessibility of orchestrating electronic music, and scoring films. At the end, you’ll also find the corresponding video interview.

Bonjour, je m’appelle Sami Jarroush, and…

Je m’appelle Anthony Gonzalez.

m83 Interview: Anthony Gonzalez (of M83)Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming: Why a double album?

Well, I took some time to do it. I took three years to make this album, so, it’s a different process I would say. It’s not very different from making just an “album”, it’s just a different concept. And, of course, you take more time…I took my time because I wanted to do it well. And yeah, it’s a long process.

I always wanted to do a double album, I don’t know why, probably because when I was a kid I was in love with big albums, you know, very epic. That’s probably some of the reason why, and I felt like it was the right time to do that.

And how did Zola Jesus come into play?

I really wanted to work with Zola Jesus and she actually wanted to work with me, so it was really easy to get in touch with her. And she’s a really nice person, very talented, and she’s living in L.A. so it was really easy to work with her.

Is it one of those situations where you’re at a point in your career where you can just sit down and be like, “Okay, I want to work with this person”? And just give them a call?

Yeah, that’s the way you do it.

[laughs] Really? So there’s no going through management?

I just wrote her a check for $1,000, for $1 million…she wanted $1 million but I couldn’t afford that. I love her music, I love her singing, I love her voice, and she’s such a nice girl and very smart, very intelligent, and it went very well. It was very easy.

Is this definitely more of a “headphones” album?

This is one of them. The way we did this album is, and how the people evolved in the process, we really did it like we would do an album in the 1980’s. There was going to the studio, we put in the drums, the bass…I couldn’t picture myself making an album just on a computer. It’s not my style of making an album.

I want to do it right, I want to work with producers, and sound engineers, and I feel like my music needs that.

You have such an affinity for the synth, and just in that “Echoes” video alone there 20 synthesizers all over the place. And you’re playing Love Fest? Was that just a natural idea to play that festival?

Not necessarily…it’s just another festival. I’m in love with the max synths, and it was great to be part of this festival, but I didn’t really ask my management, and say “I want to do this”. So no, it’s just a festival. I don’t use max synths that often, they’re too expensive…[laughs]

So what type of instruments do you find yourself latching onto more than most?

Max synths, definitely. I used to, back in the beginning of my career, play a lot of my music on guitar, piano, but now I’m using many more synths in my music. It feels natural to me, to start writing with my synths, and I have a couple of sounds I am using all the time. Yeah, this is my signature sound, I’m using always the same two, three sounds.

Electronic music continues to blow up. Everywhere you look now there’s some type of artist from pop, or even rock, trying to sink their teeth into some type of electronic sound. David Guetta, Skrillex, Deadmau5, Afrojack, Swedish House Mafia, to name a few. How important is the electronic movement to music, and why do you think so many artists want to latch onto that type of sound and just try to get that type of beat?

Electronic music is very accessible. It’s easy to create a beat, a bassline on the computer. It’s less easy to play guitar, for instance. I feel like it’s easy to create music on the computer, like a drum, a drum kick, so I think that’s the reason why people are using a lot of electric music now.

In a sense, is electronic music now just becoming like a fallback for other artists, just so that they can think, “If I use this particular type of sound, I’m automatically going to get a hit…”

I don’t think that’s really the case, I feel like electronic music is there for so long, since the ’70s and ’80s. Bands were creating alot of synths. I think its just part of the music business nowadays. You have the tools nowadays to create something easy, not too long, not too much time. It’s not that hard.

blackheaven Interview: Anthony Gonzalez (of M83)In 2010, you scored Black Heaven. Have any other directors reached out to you?

No, but I’d love to work with tons of different directors, there are so many artists and directors, and the reason I am in L.A. is because I want to start working on soundtracks. I feel like my music fits well with pictures.

It’s just a very hard business, and it’s hard to get in, but I want to try and start a career.

Any particular names?

I’ve been trying to work with Gregg Araki.

Earlier this year, Trent Reznor [and Atticus Ross] won the Academy Award for Best Original Score for The Social Network. Does that give you hope?

I feel like nowadays in the movie business, it’s about taking risks, and working with a lot of artists from pop and rock and roll. It seems more interesting, but it’s not like a classic soundtrack, it’s getting more experimental, and I like that about it.

What did you think about Daft Punk’s take, in the Tron: Legacy movie?

I think they did very well, I love the soundtrack.

Because I think a lot of people had misconceptions in the beginning…

Well, the thing with Daft Punk is, they were working on this huge movie and I feel like it was hard for them to deal with such a big movie, so they tried to do a mix between their music and something more commercial, because that’s probably what the producer wanted. But I think they did really great on this.

And being as involved with movies as you are, have you ever had the idea, or notion, of “Maybe, I’ll direct a short film, and then put my music behind it as well”.

My brother is a filmmaker, he directed a lot of short films and I’ve done the music for them.

m83 kim and jessie montag remix Interview: Anthony Gonzalez (of M83)

Are there any artists these days that are getting you excited?

I feel like nowadays it’s a perfect time for music. There’s a lot of great bands coming out, and I was excited for a lot of albums recently. Living in L.A. as well, I go see shows a lot, and it’s a source of inspiration. And you’re right, you see a band you like play, and you’re like, “I have to get better and try to achieve the same thing”. There’s tons of artists I really like, and in today’s music there’s so much good stuff. I’m getting lost, it’s a jumble, it’s hard.

And being in L.A., I’m sure you’ve been to plenty of shows. Do you have a tendency to go towards more shows featuring artists that fall into the genre of your specific type of music, or are do you try and catch everything?

I’m playing the kind of music I’m playing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m listening to the same kind of music. I like a lot of styles of music. Two months ago I went to see The Melvins play in L.A., and it’s very different from my style of music, but it’s still great music.

When you see someone that is at the complete opposite spectrum of where you are musically, can you still look at them as a band, or listen to their sound, and still manage to draw a small molecule of inspiration.

Especially with this album, I really tried to play different kinds of instruments, instruments I’ve never used before, like the guitar, saxophone, flute. This is the first album where the spectrum of the music is larger and wider. So yeah.

Check out the complete interview below:

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