SF Station sat down with P-Thugg of Chromeo hours before their packed Saturday evening set at Treasure Island. He discussed his 16-year friendship with musical soul and bandmate Dave 1, working with idol Daryl Hall, his appreciation for the fans and more.
Over the last few years Chromeo has been climbing the ladder as one of the most talked about acts in dance music. Their brand of 80s nostalgia electro-funk has made them one of the bigger draws at festivals around the world and these sentiments remained true when they took the stage to a large audience Saturday at Treasure Island.
You guys are no strangers to the festival scene.Wwhat’s it like now to be one of the bigger draws at a festival compared to earlier in your career?
You get better slots (laughs) and you’re playing for more people, which exponentially grows the new fans who are being exposed to you. You know when you start off you’re playing at two in the afternoon and nobody’s there.
Which is also awkward for electronic music, too.
Yeah, exactly. But when you start getting good slots your actual fans are there but there’s more people that don’t know you still that are in the back and you get more of a chance to get their attention.
At Bonnaroo last year you guys collaborated with Daryl Hall of Hall and Oats, one of your idols. How did that come together and are you planning on doing future one-off collaborations?
That came about because of the show we filmed “Live From Daryl’s House” webisodes. It was one of the first 10 he did and it stayed relevant a long time and people really liked that particular episode with us. At some point the guys at Bonnaroo liked it so much they said “Why don’t you take this to Bonnaroo this year for a one-time deal?” And of course we said yes and Daryl was into it, he’s getting a bit of a revival so he was smart enough to take the opportunity to get back out there and it worked out great.
As far as other collaborations, we try to keep it natural and organic when we collaborate with somebody. We don’t really have premeditated requests so we’ll just see how it happens.
The past few years DJs have ruled the top slots on Saturday of this festival, but tonight the top four acts all feature live instruments. How important has it always been to you guys to make sure your set has live elements?
It’s important for us because, first of all, we’re bad DJs (laughs). What we do is we actually create music, so we’re there in the studio with our instruments. I wouldn’t see ourselves getting out on stage doing acapella or fuckin’ karaoke the whole show (laughs).
We try to keep as much as we can in our hands during the shows, switching instruments and playing everything that we can with two hands and that’s really important to us. It’s also about how you look at us on stage—two guys like us you want to see us busy doing guitar faces and synth faces.
You’re halfway through your huge Night Falls tour, is there a secret to maintaining the same energy every night?
There’s no secret really. It’s not really us it’s the fans. I mean,if nobody’s there we’re not going to be out there kicking it every night. If the fans don’t come and give us something to work with we’re not going to have the same passion in 20 shows with 10 people per show. As cheesy as it sounds, all the credit is really due to the fans, it’s what keeps us going.
You’ve known each other since you were 16, is it safe to say you and Dave 1 are musical soul mates?
Man, yeah it’s not too far. We met in a band, our friendship was based on music and we’ve stayed friends all this time because we have the same taste in music. We discovered funk music together, we used to collect records together and watch videos together. It’s a special bond that we have.
How has the process of creating music changed for you guys over the years? Do you shake things up or does it just flow naturally?
There is a flow. We kind of see eye to eye on everything, but even when we don’t, the most important part of making songs quickly with good results is listening to and trusting the other person while letting all ego aside. You will always hear it in the results if it’s fake or if we’re not both into the idea 100 percent. So I think it’s really important to trust the other person and put egos aside.
There seems to be a strong theme regarding legs in this band. What is the symbolism of the legs on the albums and as part of your stage setup? Or is it there to be sexy? I think we all like a nice pair of nice legs.
I think it’s just a sexy thing you know? We’re men, right? I mean it’s not a macho thing. I think people are forgetting what beauty really is and how beautiful a woman is just because of all this objectification bullshit. We got to bring back the sexy machoness without the stupid condescending side.
When Duck Sauce plays live they have the giant inflatable duck, ever think one day well see a giant pair of legs up on stage?
One day maybe (laughs), we’ve definitely thought about it.
You’re from Montreal, speak French and on Business Casual you recorded a song in French “J’ai Claque La Porte.” Have you ever considered recording a whole album in French? When you’re in France or Montreal do you play a couple extra songs in French?
When we play in France or Montreal we perform that song but (an album in French) has to come naturally. We can’t really switch on and off and be like ‘Ok, today we’re doing this song in French’ cause French doesn’t sound good on every type of music.
What artists are impacting you right now? I know you’re touring with Mayer Hawthorne, but who else are you feeling at the moment?
Well Mayer, Duck Sauce, Danny Brown, who is also on Fool’s Gold, Action Bronson—whoever’s out there of quality, we definitely pay attention.
Last question, what do you love about playing in San Francisco and the Bay Area?
You know, the West Coast is kind of like a second home for us. We’ve done everything here from the smallest venues, and The Fillmore, to stadiums; we’ve played here a lot. San Francisco, L.A, even San Diego—these are Chromeo cities.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ElCapitanSalty