It seems the stars could be aligning for Chromeo in 2014 as the Canadian electro funk duo enters the tenth year since its debut album.
In the midst of its current tour, Dave 1 and P-Thug have a milestone set at Coachella before Outkast headlines on Friday and new album called White Women set for release in May. With features from A$SAP Ferg, Solange, Toro y Moi and Ezra Koenig from Vampire Weekend, its the group’s most ambitious release today, says Dave 1.
We caught up with him during a phone interview from a rehearsal space in the Chicago suburbs before the tour. Chromeo is in San Francisco for a sold-out show at the Independent on Saturday before returning for Outside Lands in August. Chromeo’s set at Coachella will also be streamed live via YouTube.
You’re playing the main stage before Outkast at Coachella. Do you you approach that gig differently?
Yeah, it’s a bigger show so I guess I’m going to be shitting myself a little bit more (laughs). Every show gets our maximum amount of effort and attention. We’re going to make the production a little bit bigger for Coachella, but the idea is for it to be tight everywhere.
Do you get nervous for big shows like that?
Yeah, for Coachella I’m going to feel nervous. I’ve done a billion festival by now but with something that big and high impact I’m going to be a little bit nervous.
You have been to Coachella a few times now. Do you have any favorite memories?
I loved playing in 2011. My brother A-Trak played it with Duck Sauce at the same time, so that was a huge thing for the family. He’s actually there with Duck Sauce this year, as well, which is kind of cool.
I remember seeing Kraftwerk, Prince, Portishead (that was amazing) and Kanye was very amazing.
Do you and A-Trak exchange notes much?
We talk five to seven times a day, so there is a lot of exchanging going on.
Yeah, we talk all the time.
What was it in your household that led you to become two of the biggest names in North American dance music?
Our parents are musicians and they played a lot of music, but I think for a lot of people when they discover a certain type of music it really changes their life. For my brother and I, it was hip hop music.
We were white, middle class Jewish kids from Canada, and when we discovered hip hop it was like a shock to the system. My brother was a hip-hop DJ at first, and even though with Chromeo we do dance music, I started producing with hip hop and then we moved on to Chromeo.
I guess it all started with us discovering the Beastie Boys.
What are some other key tracks or artist that influenced you?
When I was a teenager, it was Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest and Cypress Hill. Then it moved into Wu Tang and Mobb Deep. I was really fortunate to live through an amazing era for rap music, and it’s still great.
What are your favorites now?
Right now, I’m listening to YG and Ty Dolla Sign like everybody else. I listen to a bunch of different music, old an new.
Sometimes you read press and some people say, “I don’t listen to any new music.” That’s not our attitude. They say there is not a lot of good music out there. Are you crazy? There are too many good things to keep track of, really. I always feel like I’m catching up.
Let’s talk about the new album. It’s been a few years since your last release, what’s the approach with White Women?
We came at it with a chip on our shoulder and felt like we needed to improve as producers and songwriters. I felt like I needed to be a better singer.
We spent a lot of time on the record and worked on it together. We spent more time on every aspect of the record and we brought in more collaborators than before, which you’ll see with the features on the record and behind the scenes.
We felt like every band that goes for longevity needs a bit of reinvention at some point. Everything sounds like Chromeo still, but there’s a slickness and a polish and an ambition that we feel like we didn’t have before.
It’s been 10 years since your first album, She’s in Control. Does it feel like it’s been that long?
I don’t count. I feel like if you say 10 years, you’re just aging yourself. I’ll start counting at 25 years. Right now we’re still pushing and I don’t have time to look back. I have way to many things to prove.
What are you trying to prove with the new record?
That we can be more ambitious musically and also be more pop. The records is more ambitious musically and poppier than anything we’ve done. We also wanted to reconnect with the sort of happy dancy vibe we had on Fancy Footwork.
There’s really not one specific agenda other than we worked harder and we tried to make it better and more ambitious musically.
Are you looking to get more into the mainstream and maybe get some radio play?
If I setup expectations for that, I’m naturally going to get disappointed. We’re going to try to push it as hard as we can and the record labels are really behind us. I delivered the music and the videos, and I’m going to do a helluva lot of promo and I’m going to tour my ass off. Everything else is more in the hands of the people who work with us. The team seems focused, so we’ll see where it goes.
You can’t control it. At the end of the day, we’ll still be touring and going everywhere and our show will get better. When you see the new show, it’s unlike anything we’ve ever done.