David Guetta is on a deadline. Posted up at his Ibiza estate, the French producer is busy at work. He doesn’t seem to be enjoying it.
Capitalizing on the success of ‘One Love’, every track on ‘Nothing But The Beat’ was a megawatt collab, cementing the “pop star + massive EDM production = fans and money” template with cameos including Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, Usher, Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, Jennifer Hudson and Sia. (Sia’s track, ‘Titanium’, was a worldwide hit and the first of her seven collaborations with Guetta.) ‘Nothing But The Beat’ delivered four top 20 hits in the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Album.
“If I wanted to release a record,” Guetta says, “I was in a position where I had to get the green light from executives in the US, the UK, Germany and France. Honestly, if all those executives agree on a record, you probably have a shit record.”
Experiencing Chromeo is like taking a step back in time—but with all the luxuries and comforts of today. It’s in the duo’s music, which takes its cues from the funk and disco of the ‘70s, the R&B grooves and synth-pop of the ‘80s and the house and electro of the ‘90s. It’s in their live presentation which has the flair and showmanship of an era when entertaining through an exaggerated, audience participation performance was the norm.
“We draw from the same references,” says Patrick Gemayel or “P-Thugg,” the bearded member of Chromeo, the one that is more often than not heard speaking through a talkbox, that is, when he’s heard talking at all. “It’s just a matter of how much.”
At the time of Chromeo’s nascence, some 15 or so years ago, it was the golden age of music blogs, and of pirated music. This was a fortuitous point in musical time for the independent-minded music miner to discover a unique invention like Chromeo, one that wasn’t pop enough for the mainstream charts, not funk enough for the purists, and not electronic enough for the pre-EDM dancefloors and festival fields.
It has been 25 years since the two met at school as teenagers and promptly started making music together. Over the course of five albums, the trajectory of Chromeo has not been a steady positive curve, but rather extreme giant leaps between releases. For ‘Head Over Heels’, Chromeo push further than ever before. A number of firsts are involved with this album, including bringing in legendary musicians, collaborating with songwriters, enlisting producers, and trying to recreate a Steely Dan fantasy for themselves.
“Our music is not historically accurate,” says Macklovitch. “It’s from the mentality of an ADD kid from the ‘90s. We learned a lot of things through Beastie Boys and mixing up Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry with Run-DMC with Slayer. Our logo looks like ZZ Top and the music is funk in the broadest terms. From James Brown all the way to Calvin Harris featuring Frank Ocean and Migos, via Robert Palmer via Steely Dan via Bach.”
“It’s a little bit like our Spotify playlist idea,” says Macklovitch. “We’re at this point in our career where we want to share a lot of knowledge. We’re trying to promote a record, but it’s not just about us. It’s about all the things that come into our love of this music. We want to show kids what an analog synth is and how it works, how drum programming works and how to make danceable drum beats or funky basslines, the core elements of the music we make, give those tangible experiences to people.
The visual is something Chromeo has an inherent feel for, the airbrushed look for ‘Head Over Heels’ being no exception. There was a time, however, when their combination of sounds was not easily digested, and they relied on the visual to help their music go down easier. They take their cues from Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, KISS, and Daft Punk, providing a show that works just as well at EDC as it does at Coachella, at their own Funk on the Rocks recurring event at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and at a private event for radio broadcast.
The nominations have been announced for DJ Mag's Best of North America poll.
DJ Mag’s sister awards to our revered Best of British Awards across the pond, the Best of North America Awards returns for year two. We at DJ Mag understand more than anyone the often-polarizing nature of the Top 100 DJs Poll, but it’s a public vote and subsequently, out of our control. Instead of getting mad at the Top 100 get hip to the BoNA!
Here’s some scoop on the life of us raver scribes. We calculate the arrival of springtime a bit differently than other folks. It goes something like this:
1. Like everyone else, even DJ Mag staffers turn back our clocks allowing for one extra hour of sunlight in the day.
CHROMEO: IN THE FUNKLORDS WE TRUST
Chromeo are about to release their most zestfully slick album to date, ‘Head Over Heels’. Dave 1 and P-Thugg have moved to sunny L.A., where their sonic juice is flowing like never before. Here, the guys share their process with DJ Mag, and it’s unlike any other you’ve ever seen.
DO YOU REALLY NEED THAT $7K SYNTH?
Null + Void discusses how a proper producer can make music with no-frills hardware, but the appeal to splurge stays strong…
LARRY HEARD’S GOT FINGERS ON THE FUTURE
House pioneer Larry Heard returns after 25 years with a new album as Mr. Fingers. DJ Mag snags a moment of his time to discuss the aging process for a producer, and how the music of the past can inspire a beautiful future…
TOP 100 CLUBS 2018
The results and profiles for all of this year’s Top 100 Clubs are here…
BEST OF NORTH AMERICA RETURNS
Who are this year’s top underground DJs, producers, labels and more? DJ Mag has given you a place to help decide – vote for BoNA!
MAT ZO IS ZO UNIQUE
Following a year of genre-specific sets, Mat Zo returns with a performance wise beyond his years…
Check out our curated rundown of some of the best festivals and events happening this month…
Alison Wonderland is serenading DJ Mag over the phone. We’re comparing tattoos, and this author only has one – a waveform from Modjo’s 2001 hit, ‘Lady’. Miss Wonderland, born Alexandra Sholler, knows the tune. “Oh. My. God!” she shouts, pausing between every word for hammered emphasis. Then, she breaks into song. “Lady, hear me tonight, 'cause this feeling, is just so right.” We’re shocked.
Norway is the stuff of legends. It is a land made of mythical tales, where fiction and reality collide along blurred lines: Thor and Asgard, Vikings and fjords. A place where rainbow bridges span the heavens and slabs of raw rock slice through glassy blue water; where ribbons of vibrant green blanket the earth and dance through a sea of stars in the northern night sky.
For those not already in the know, there’s quite a few incarnations of DJ Magazine propping up news stands around the globe.