The self-described romantic electro funk duo Chromeo has been in the back of our minds for the past few years, mostly because their hits like "Bonafied Lovin" and "Momma's Boy" have proven to be inescapably timeless. Made up of Dave 1 and P-Thugg, their fourth album White Women came to us recently after a four-year wait between albums, released in April via iTunes and May 12th on all other outlets. Though they guys are buys on a massive tour schedule and making the usual rounds that comes with any highly anticipated album release, we were able to squeeze on their calendar to have a little chat with Dave Macklovitch, one half of the duo that we know so well as Dave 1. Continue below, stream the entire album here through iTunes, and check out their remaining tour dates that you can get tickets to here.
EARMILK: You and P-Thugg met back in high school. How did you end up deciding to form your first band together?
Dave 1: It was pretty much exactly that. We had a band in high school like every kid did: we knew each other, we were friends and we really just decided to form a band.
EM: How did you get to the point of becoming Chromeo?
Dave 1: Well that's a big of a longer story. We had the band together in high school, really became best friends and were totally inseparable in those days. Then we quit the band and started focusing on other stuff, really discovering hip hop, producing that and making beats and all of that – we're still inseparable by the way. I actually ended up having a cool little career as a sort of Montreal-beat-making guy where I used to produce for a bunch of people, and A-Trak and I had a record label where we used to do a lot of stuff in hip hop together. I had a record store with Tiga where he oversaw the techno section and I oversaw the hip hop section, and one time he was like, "Man, I keep seeing all of these people coming in playing your beats and you've got all of these records coming out with your beats on them. How would you feel about doing something outside of hip hop?" I had no idea what he meant so when I asked he was like, "What about something on my label? Just as long as it's not hip hop? You can just make instrumentals, or whatever." And I of course was like, "Well!" and said I would do it, but had to get P involved in there somehow. From there Tiga was kind of like "whatever you want, who cares," and let me have some freedom with it.
I hadn't made music with P in a minute, so we got together and had no clue what we were going to do. When we started working again together and started writing songs – we had never written songs before – that's pretty much how Chromeo was born.
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EM: There seems to be a little bit of comedy behind you two. Where does that come from?
Dave 1: We're just funny dudes, just look at us. It's comedy but at the same time there's a lot of seriousness. They both coexist.
EM: There are other themes that come through in your music, nostalgia being one. What inspiration does that come from?
Dave 1: There's definitely nostalgia. When we started Chromeo, our whole thing was that we wanted to pay tribute to black music from the 80s: funk, disco, etcetera. We love the synthesizer aspect to it, we love the sleazy aspect to it and the outrageousness of it all, and we really thought that it was music that just wasn't getting enough respect in hindsight. People would look back on New Order and Joy Division and be like, "OMG they were so great," but nobody did the same with Rick James – and why? That stuff seemed totally arbitrary to us because if you look at that music, it really paved the way for where electronic music is today, and the hip hop of today. We were hip hop kids so we knew that this was the original stuff that everything we love is based on, and that's what we wanted to work with. And obviously we wanted to put an original twist on it, so with our lyrics and our personality, instead of paying homage to that music, we put a post-modern twist on it.
EM: And it seems like you've concentrated on maintaining that uniqueness through now.
Dave 1: Exactly. It's not just like, "Hey baby, come hit the dance floor let's dance." That's boring. That's cliche. It's funnier to be like, "Mama's Boy," and "I get jealous but I'm too cool to admit it."
EM: There seems to still be a bit of a gap now between what inspired electronic music today and what's actually out there today.
Dave 1: There has to be, for it to be interesting. We didn't invent this, we just took it from Jack White but for a different kind of music. The way he took real Mississippi Delta country blues and gave it this funny, punk rock recontextualization with The White Stripes, we were going to do but with funk. And we wanted to give it a whole new visual universe. The same way Jack White had a whole visual language, so do we. And it's just recontextualizing it – Justice did the same thing by taking techno but dressing up like Spinal Tap. I think that's how you make music modern. A$AP Rocky even did it too by taking New York City hip hop and filtering it through a southern, Houston lens, Wu Tang Clan did it by taking New York hip hop and giving it a Kung Fu twist. That's just what you gotta do – every modern music artist that's interesting to us works like that. You're very open about your influences (that's super crucial), but then you're very overt in giving it a new envelope, a new machine, and that's how Chromeo works as well.
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EM: The system seems to be working. Do you have a similar formula for how you work together? What does each of you bring to the table of the Chromeo persona?
Dave 1: If you look at us, we're both very different, so absolutely. We both have things that we both contribute to the band: P is more into really heavy synthesizer funk and I'm more into crooner Robert Palmer vibes, but then we just join forces.
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EM: You've got a lot of shows coming up, including New York, do you have a pre-show routine that you go through when you have an intense schedule?
Dave 1: It's pretty boring: we eat, we joke around, I warm up, we change, we do the show, we finish the show, and people think our dressing room is a crazy sexy party with girls and drugs, but it's really just two grown men on their laptops.
EM: White Women is out, and it's your fourth studio album. It's been four years since your last one – how did you realize you were ready to get back at it again?
Dave 1: We didn't really have a break because we toured for two years and then after that worked on the record one and a half, and that brings us to now. We just were like, "OK, tour's over!" and took a month to breathe and then set up a studio, moved to New York and basically dedicated ourselves exclusively to making this album.
EM: Is there anything about this go-round making the album that was different for you guys?
Dave 1: I mean, I hope you can hear it! If you listen to it I really hope that it speaks for itself. We worked harder on everything, put in way more hours and tried to challenge ourselves as much as possible.
EM: Outside the album and the tour, what are the other big things you're looking forward to this year?
Dave 1: The tour is gonna be crazy, the album is gonna be crazy, there's going to be more singles, more videos, we're doing Letterman soon, more TV appearances, we're hitting literally every single festival, we're playing Red Rocks which is one of the most exciting venues to play in the world and all through the album campaign there's going to be artistic collaboration. Whether it's new merchandise, images, capsule collections launching with certain brands, it's always about keeping things interesting for our fans.
EM: That sounds like a lot of celebrity stuff. Has there ever been a point where you've felt like you've "made it"?
Dave 1: No. Nope. We still have so much to prove.
EM: Do you have any collaborations you've dreamed of doing?
Dave 1: This latest record is our most collaborative record that we've done. We've got Toro y Moi, Pat Mahoney from LCD Soundsystem, Solange, Ezra from Vampire Weekend, and we'll have even more coming down the road.
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EM: There are some artists who work in the hopes of some day getting to a level where they can work with their idols. That doesn't sound like you guys.
Dave 1: Right, for us it doesn't work like that: it's gotta happen organically. It's gotta be based on mutual respect and a real relationship.
White Women Tracklisting:
1."Jealous (I Ain't with It)"
2."Come Alive" (featuring Toro y Moi)
3."Over Your Shoulder"
5."Lost on the Way Home" (featuring Solange)
6."Play the Fool"
7."Hard to Say No"
8."Ezra's Interlude" (featuring Ezra Koenig)
12."Fall Back 2U"
Upcoming Tour Dates:
- 5/16 New York, NY Terminal 5 (SOLD OUT)
- 5/17 New York, NY Terminal 5 (SOLD OUT)
- 5/28 Berlin, Germany Postbahnhof
- 5/29 Leuven, Belgium Het Depot
- 5/31 Barcelona, Spain Primavera Sound
- 6/1 Barcelona, Spain Primavera Sound Closing Party
- 6/3 Paris, France La Cigale (SOLD OUT)
- 6/4 Amsterdam, NL Paradiso
- 6/6 London, UK Roundhouse (SOLD OUT)
- 6/6 London, UK Brooklyn Bowl, The O2
- 6/7 Manchester, UK Parklife Festival
- 6/12 Manchester, TN Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
- 6/13 Manchester, TN Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
- 6/14 Manchester, TN Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
- 6/15 Manchester, TN Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
- 6/27 Glastonbury, UK Glastonbury
- 6/28 Glastonbury, UK Glastonbury
- 6/29 Glastonbury, UK Glastonbury
- 6/30 Roskilde, Denmark Roskilde Festival
- 7/1 Roskilde, Denmark Roskilde Festival
- 7/2 Roskilde, Denmark Roskilde Festival
- 7/2 Arendal, Norway Hove Festival
- 7/3 Roskilde, Denmark Roskilde Festival
- 7/4 Roskilde, Denmark Roskilde Festival
- 7/5 Roskilde, Denmark Roskilde Festival
- 7/6 Roskilde, Denmark Roskilde Festival
- 7/10 Lisbon, Portugal Optimus Alive
- 7/11 Lisbon, Portugal Optimus Alive
- 7/12 Lisbon, Portugal Optimus Alive
- 7/19 Berlin, Germany Melt Festival
- 7/25 Seattle, WA Capitol Hill Block Party
- 7/26 Seattle, WA Capitol Hill Block Party
- 7/27 Seattle, WA Capitol Hill Block Party
- 8/1 Montreal, Canada Osheaga
- 8/2 Montreal, Canada Osheaga
- 8/3 Chicago, IL Lollapalooza
- 8/5 Morrison, CO Red Rocks Amphitheatre
- 8/7 Las Vegas, NV Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas
- 8/8 San Francisco, CA Outside Lands
- 8/9 San Francisco, CA Outside Lands
- 8/10 San Francisco, CA Outside Lands
- 8/15 Somerset, WI Summer Set Music & Camping Festival
- 8/16 Somerset, WI Summer Set Music & Camping Festival
- 8/17 Somerset, WI Summer Set Music & Camping Festival
- Big Beat Records