Interview: Chromeo's Dave 1
Chromeo’s P-Thug and Dave 1 (that’s Patrick Gemayel and David Macklovitch, respectively) have been working together since high school. The pair originally dabbled in hip-hop, but eventually transitioned to electrofunk. Though 2004’s She’s In Control, was a DJ favorite, it was 2007’s Fancy Footwork that ushered them into the public eye. More than three years later, everyone is still trying to figure out whether their ‘80s sound is homage or irony but Chromeo isn’t waiting around for the decision. After two years of touring the world, the duo released its third studio album, Business Casual, in September of 2010 and a live album, January’s Live in Montreal, a collection of thirteen songs from an Apple Store appearance.
TOB got a chance to chat with Dave 1—guitarist, lead vocalist and Columbia University French professor—before Chromeo’s upcoming House of Blues gig.
TOB: How is everything going with Chromeo?
Dave 1: Everything is fine and dandy in Chromeo land. We’re just working.
A lot of artists have said that their third album is where they get their feet under them for the first time. Do you feel that way about Business Casual?
Yeah, except for us, the second album is the one that really blew up. A lot of people fall off on their second album. We were completely under the radar with our first album. We had one song, “Needy Girl,” that helped us establish ourselves in the marginal electronic world. Fancy Footwork is where things really changed. We’re just trying to cement that with our third album. I think that Business Casual to some degree is like Fancy Footwork, just because I wanted those two albums to be a one-two punch. It gives us plenty of room to evolve and move on with the next one.
How has it gone over so far?
I think well. I think it kind of cemented something for us. We’re a little bit more known now, so we can bring bigger rhythms. A lot of the shows are selling out. I think the caliber of the videos is better. We’ve been getting some TV exposure. Letterman was a big get, and we’re about to do Conan. The festivals have been great. It’s been a really nice progression since the last record. To me, it seems like it’s cementing something in a way.
How is it different playing only a few songs for something that’s going on national TV as opposed to playing a more traditional show?
Playing for television is the most awkward thing ever. It’s actually not very pleasant until you go home and you watch it and then you see if you nailed it or not. You’re on a really small stage, there’s no real audience. It’s like a studio show. Essentially, it’s put on just so that it looks good on camera. It doesn’t feel good when you’re doing it in the room. Conan is fun, because he’s cool and the new show has got a great buzz around it. When we played Letterman, it was magical because Clinton was the guest.
You cannot compare playing for a studio audience to playing a real show.
What do you guys bring to the table with your live show? Why would someone come out and see Chromeo instead of just listening to the record at home?
Honestly, you want to dance and it’s more fun to dance. Well, actually no—it’s another kind of fun to dance in a room with 2000 kids than to dance at home in your bedroom. Both are cool and we do music for both. There’s a really big sing-along component when we play live. There’s a lot of crowd participation. That’s what we want to bring. The cores to our songs, when well executed, have this anthem-like quality to them. We have fun. For us, it’s an opportunity to give back. I know how expensive concert tickets are. I know how hard it is for a kid to save up money and buy tickets for a show. We just really want to express our gratitude in person.
You’re playing at the House of Blues. It has a huge stage, something like 75 feet across. How do you tackle that as a duo?
We have a big light rig, and we have a lot of gear. The space is huge, I do remember that, but we have a big light show, so it feels full.
Chromeo plays the Thursday, February 3.