Some things come in pairs. The obvious musical examples are Lennon and McCartney, perhaps Blur and Oasis. To those and many others, we can add Justice and Simian Mobile Disco.
Okay, so that’s ultra-simplistic – but as the two outfits have been known to finish each other’s musical sentences – or rip them up – it’s pertinent to note both electronic acts are capable of bringing vibrant performances of essentially programmed music to the masses, with a freshness, energy and humour all of their own.
Justice are perhaps all the more remarkable in the live sphere for their admittance of a complete ignorance of musical knowhow. So when musicOMH cornered Xavier De Rosnay before yet another gig, we sensed a chance to explore this unique situation.
Essentially, though, the duo of de Rosnay and Gaspard Aug are now playing old material. “We tour so much at the moment because we still enjoy it, and for the moment it’s really cool to make a live version of what we did on the first album. We’re still getting reaction to songs we did there, four years ago.”
Does that mean work on new music is in the offing? “Not yet, as for the moment we’ll still work on the live shows, so that we have new versions of the tracks. We took a couple of weeks off in December to work on them. As we are not live musicians we have to think about the whole album first, and then start to write the songs.”
The way de Rosnay talks about the pairing and their musical achievements implies he didn’t expect them to come this far. “No, we didn’t expect as much from the album. We are not confident, perhaps, when it comes to what we do, so it was unexpected. We are both graphic designers, and we just met only four years ago and started to be friends. We didn’t ever think that our occupation of making music would come to this!”
I ask if they were drawn toward their style of music through Daft Punk, and de Rosnay cheerily refutes the suggestion. “Not really, because they are like another generation. We know Cassius and Daft Punk because we have some common friends, but we are not really part of the set-up.” There’s no bitterness to that statement, no suggestion of exclusion – rather an acknowledgement of mutual friends and contacts.
A bigger influence can be detected in rock music. “We love Sparks, we are big fans of them and we wanted to imitate them on the first album. We almost wanted that to be like a rock opera, that was what we were trying to achieve.”
De Rosnay goes on to talk about D.A.N.C.E., one of the most popular electronic records of 2007 and the hit, with its innovative T-shirt video, that brought them to a whole new audience. “When we made that song, with our producer, it was like the Waters Of Nazareth type of music, we wanted to make something really strong that was along those lines. But we still had something to add, and we said “what could be the best interpreters of the music that we wrote?” We decided that children would be ideal because they have the right voices, and they’re not nave in this song”.
Although de Rosnay talks in hushed tones about his heroes, and almost quivers when I bring the forthcoming series of Sparks gigs to his attention, he doesn’t see Justice in any way pretending to their crown “I tell you we that don’t feel like we are making rock music, we are making electronic disco. Though it should be said that even The Beatles were incorporating more rhythm into their music!”
Inevitably the question of their relationship with Simian Mobile Disco is next. The two have made a strong electronic connection in the form of the successful We Are Your Friends. Is there really competition between them? “No, not at all. We do like them but we are very conscious that we don’t do the same music. We like their music a lot, but ours is more based on rock as we spoke about.”
Their current arrangements make it difficult for the duo to catch any bands live. “We definitely can’t at the moment because of touring. If we could see any two bands though it would be the White Stripes and Sparks. Regarding the former, Xavier elaborates. “The thing is The White Stripes hate remixes, but at some point we were talking with XL and Jack White liked our music, and they asked us to make a remix. On the other hand, though, they say “This is our music,” and it’s not meant to be remixed. We didn’t want to feel like criminals and so we didn’t do it in the end.”
De Rosnay goes on to big up their cohorts on tour. “Midnight Dragons are supporting us. We asked them to come out and support us as we are in love with their album. We’ve found that when we were supporting CSS and the Klaxons that it’s good to be a support band, because people don’t expect too much of you, you just come out and play, and then you can escape and let the main band play.”
And with that, Xavier has to call time and go off for another sound check – a brief but good natured interviewee. It may be a little while before we hear from Justice in long playing form again, but for now they’re intent on bringing their music to as many people as possible – it really is their greatest form of musical pleasure.