Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Fake Plastic's very own Fr. Jones shoots the breeze with Anthony Gonzalez from M83 about Moogfest, double-disc nostalgia, walls of sound, and music in the desert.
FR: First things first, you will be performing at Moogfest in Asheville, North Carolina. How did you get involved with this event? Is there any particular artist you are excited to see perform?

AG: There’s probably tons of artists I’d like to see perform- but I don’t know the lineup yet! I don’t know who’s playing actually. But I’ve always been a big fan of the Moog synthesizers. I have a couple of them and when they asked us to perform for the festival, there was no doubt about it. So I’m excited to see who is playing this year and… oh my God, Tangerine Dream is playing?!

FR: Tangerine Dream is playing.

AG: Well, then, I’m super excited to see them.

FR: Let’s talk “Midnight City”- the first single from Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Your last album Saturdays=Youth featured a diverse selection of 80s style synthpop ballads ("Kim and Jessie", "Graveyard Girl") as well as songs that are primarily electronica-driven ("We Own the Sky", "Couleurs"), “Midnight City” is a seamless hybrid of these particular styles. Can we expect more of this concept on your new album?

AG: You’ve heard the single, right?

FR: Yes. I've heard it.

AG: The single is kind of different. Well, it’s not too different but there are a lot of different styles of music on this album. A lot of very intense tracks, a lot of orchestrated tracks, a lot of small pieces of ambient music to connect all the tracks. This album is more like a dream, it’s a journey. It’s like a movie almost. It’s very cinematic. So there’s many pop songs, but there’s a lot of slow songs, very intriguing, very psychedelic. “Midnight City” is one of the poppiest songs on the album. The rest of the album is much more cinematic… I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. It’s a double album y’know? So there’s a bit of everything in it.

FR: Double-disc albums have become something of a rarity in music during the past 20 years - but usually when it happens, the end product are massive successes (Smashing Pumpkins, Outkast, to name a few). Why are artists so reluctant to embrace this format?

AG: I don’t know. I grew up listening to double-albums. When you’re a kid in the 80s and you know that one of your favorite bands is releasing a double-album, you really wait for the album to come out. You’re just waiting for it. Because you know it’s going to be big and thoughtful like a great piece of art, a piece of work. And I’m a little nostalgic about that musical era, y’know? Now it’s not about discs anymore unfortunately. It’s all about the single and downloading stuff and I think it’s kind of sad. I’m not saying it’s bad and it was better before. I’m just saying there is too much information nowadays. It might be too much for people. I don’t know, it’s too much for me. What I miss is when you’re really expecting something to come out NOW. But now there’s something in the same day, the same week- you’re basically excited about the album for forty minutes, and then you’re excited about something else. I don’t know. I’m an old music fan and I love listening to vinyl and CDs, y’know..

FR: How did you decide to work with Brad Laner and Zola Jesus on the upcoming record? What do you think they bring to the record musically?

AG: With Brad Laner, I was a huge fan of his band Medicine from the 90s and it was a great experience for me to work with him because I was a fan as a kid. Same thing with Justin the producer who was the bass player for Beck. Playing with them and making an album with them, when you watched them play on TV as a kid, it’s just amazing, y’know? Watching him perform with Beck as a teenager and now he’s one of my best friends and we’re making music together- it’s really unbelievable. And Zola Jesus- she’s one of the rare female artists that really gets my interest. I think she has something very special in her voice. She has something unique, such character in her voice. It’s hers and no one else’s. That’s what I like about her. And she’s such a nice person, very genuine, very smart, very intelligent. I was expecting a very perfect girl. But she was actually very simple and nice. We have a lot of things in common, the same movies…

FR: What is your songwriting process like? Has this approach changed over your career?

AG: My writing process rarely changes. I always start the same, finding a good melody on keys or with chords. I always start my songs with my keyboards. I barely start any songs on my guitar or bass- mainly piano and keyboards. Because I’m basically alone in the band, I just go into my studio and it’s basically creating layers and layers of sound. I like the idea of a wall of sound adding layers and layers of instruments until it’s too much.

FR: "Couleurs" had a great Wall of Sound effect.

AG: Yeah it did.

FR: “We Own the Sky” has one of my favorite videos of all time. Do you have a concept in mind for the “Midnight City” video and are you by any chance planning another video contest?

AG: We are maybe planning another video contest for the last single from this album but for now… for “Midnight City", I have been working with two directors from France. They are shooting the video this week so I’m excited to see it. They had a great concept for it.

FR: M83 is named after the spiral galaxy Messier 83. In particular, on Dead Cities and Before the Dawn Heals Us, the albums feel big enough to fit an entire universe. Do you have a fascination with space and if so, how has this influenced your music?

AG: For the last album… well, I’ve always been fascinated by space, science fiction. I love science fiction movies and books. I play lots of video games about space. For this album, I often drove my car to the desert with my laptop just to get away from the city, just to see the stars at night because I miss that. In the desert, you can see all of space in front of you- it’s right there. This is what I liked to do on this album. I would bring my computer and most of the small ambient interludes and songs on this album have been composed in the desert.

FR: When it comes to your music, do you favor a particular song above all others?

AG: A favorite song of mine? I think one of my favorites would be “Lower Your Eyelids to Die With the Sun”- the outro from Before the Dawn Heals Us. It’s very special.

FR: That’s actually my second or third favorite.

AG: Cool. Cool.

FR: My favorite is… well, I keep coming back to “You, Appearing”- the opening track from Saturdays. That’s a really dynamite way of opening an album. But hey...

AG: Hey... that's cool.

FR: Music these days can be heard in a variety of formats. It is available in almost any way the listener finds preferable- cassettes, vinyl, CDs, digital downloads. Is there a certain way you prefer your music to be heard? What’s your favorite format for listening to music?
AG: Obviously, just like anyone else…. Fortunately, there are a lot of mp3s. But I still like to buy CDs and vinyls. I still buy a lot of vinyls. I love the sound of vinyls- especially for the kind of music that I’m listening to. I’m listening to a lot of electronic music from the 70s and it just sounds better on vinyl.

FR: Where do you see the music industry going in the next ten years?

AG: Ohmigod. I think in ten years, there will be some software where you can say the kind of music that you want to listen to- and it will create new music for you. You know what I mean? You could say, “Oh, I want something that sounds like M83…” and it will create a brand-new track especially for you. It’s weird. It’s scary. The future is scary for music.

FR: Any advice to up-and-coming musicians struggling to make it in the 21st century music industry?

AG: Try to find another job because it’s very hard now. It’s not the best job on earth right now.

M83 will be performing at this year's Moogfest in Asheville, North Carolina on the weekend of October 28-30. The new M83 album- Hurry Up, We're Dreaming- will be released October 18 via Mute.

- Fr. Jones