French electronic music duo Justice has won acclaim for its past two albums, both featuring vastly different styles. We chatted with half of the pair, Xavier de Rosnay, before their November 4 performance at The Warfield while he was on tour bus traveling around the East Coast.
Justice “New Lands” A-Trak Remix
What’s your favorite part of touring in the United States as opposed to Europe or anywhere else?
When you tour in the U.S., in a span of two weeks you will have winter in New York and summer in other places. You will have mountains and big cities and countryside, so a lot of different environments. We like the landscapes and the people and the shows are usually quite good in North America.
Back in 2007 your song “D.A.N.C.E.” was one of the tracks that helped start electronic music going mainstream in the U.S. What do you think of the new popularity of electronic music here in the States?
It’s hard for us to say because what we hear is different than what we do or what we think we do. We’re happy for all those people who are doing it now in the U.S. If it somehow has to do with the music we’ve made, we can only say thanks to you guys.
Your first album Cross had more electro elements than your second album Audio,Video, Disco. Did you feel that sound was becoming too mainstream, was there a decision to not repeat the same style?
Not really, what we did was really natural and we didn’t predict the outcome to be anything we wanted to do. We didn’t force ourselves to continue doing anything we didn’t want to. I think naturally we just made it a bit less in your face and a bit more understated. The writing had more harmonies, more thoughts and a more sleek production, maybe a bit too much. So we went with a bit more rough, dry kind of role.
But also a lot of the records we play aren’t dry or gloomy or rough. This is the sound you hear on record but in our live shows we need to have a different sound because the music is going to be played on big PA systems. So our live shows of this album sound in your face and a bit more clean.
You reconfigure your songs for your live shows. Do you see that as more a burden or a pleasure, having to change them into a different form to play live?
It’s a pleasure because it’s very natural and you really think of those as two different things. It’s a pleasure to explore a different manner, we have to make things very straightforward and very different from the record, we have to think about the potential audience. We really have to think about the live show.
Your songs have been sampled and played in hip hop music and shows. Would you say you have a special relationship with the hip hop community and how did you get into that?
Well, I love listening to rap. When I was a teenager I listened to a lot of hip hop especially West Coast music—lots of Dr. Dre and Snoop. I think hip hop producers don’t have any problem sampling something that was out last year or two months before the record. All they want to do is make a great beat without really caring if it’s known or new. It’s great that some producers really like the music we do and it’s very different but we are very happy and like watching what they make.
Are you guys making new songs now or looking toward a third album?
Not yet, we have to finish touring. We like to focus on one thing at a time so generally when we tour we just focus on touring and trying to make the show better and different and finish the tour. Usually when we come to the end of a tour we’re ready to go back in the studio and then after all that work we’re ready to go back on tour again. We’re always trying to do one or the other which is great.
Does touring refresh your creativity or change how you’re making music?
Yes and no, because we see how things are and what people like we could be making music that sounds the same way, what we do live. But we tend to forget what we did on tour and make a record with no preconceived ideas and really make a record for listening.
What’s your favorite thing to do in San Francisco when you’re here?
Unfortunately, this time it’s for just one night so we won’t have time to do so much but maybe, if we get a chance, we’ll go to Amoeba.
Justice performs at The Warfield on Sunday, November 4. More info.