Electronic music comes in all shapes and sizes, but few would argue that France’s scene has had a major impact on the masses. Thanks to groups like Air and Daft Punk, and protégés like Justice and M83, the country has carved out a sound that is as fluid as it is distinctive, and nowadays the ripple effect can be heard around the world. Just take Lemaitre. Since coming together in 2010, Norway’s Ketil Jansen and Ulrik Denizou Lund have made electronic pop that’s atmospheric, anthemic, and undeniably infectious. They make nods to disco, ’80s R&B, and the space-age synths of pioneers like Kraftwerk, and the result is pure, unadulterated dance-floor fodder.
This Thursday, May 29, Lemaitre makes its way to SOhO Restaurant & Music Club as part of a short run of West Coast tour dates. (The pair returns to the States in August alongside Porter Robinson.) For tickets and info, visit wethebeat.com. Below, we chat with Lund via email about the story behind Lemaitre.
Compelling pop music has long been a staple of Scandinavian culture. How heavily was creation and artistic exploration emphasized for you as a kid? Not much in school, really. But we grew up listening to a lot of different music; a lot of jazz and fusion from my dad’s record collection; a lot of French music, especially Serge Gainsbourg from my French mother and electronic music like Daft Punk, Phoenix, and Basement Jaxx through my brother. But I come from a family of architects, so wanting to do something creative has always been obvious to me. Though I didn’t know from the start whether that would be architecture, design, music, film, or writing.
When did you and Ketil first start working together? Right after we finished high school, we decided to give it a try. We both had been doing music separately for a long time, but found out we had a common interest in alternative electronic music and a lot of the same ideas of what we wanted to make. We didn’t know what we wanted to do other than make music, so we figured we’d do whatever we could for one year to try to make it. But we discovered pretty quickly this was something we could keep doing for a while, and here we are now trying to keep it going for many more years to come.
What were some of the touchstones, artists, and kindred musical spirits that you initially bonded over? Daft Punk and Justice were definitely our main influences for wanting to do electronic music. We’re also fans of hip-hop and old funk, soul, and R&B. And cinematic music, and more contemporary classic music — especially the type of scores you can hear in Miyazaki’s movies.
From an outsider’s perspective, the hype around the group seems to be growing. Have you felt things start to shift or change in recent months? It’s really hard to see it from an insider’s perspective. It feels like the past four years have flown by. And we really haven’t had time to step back and take a look at it. There is always a new and more important deadline or goal up ahead. But yes, we do feel big things are starting to happen more frequently, and the further we come, the more motivated we get.
What’s been the most career-affirming moment thus far? When we played Northern Europe’s biggest music festival last year, we were maybe hoping to play for 3,000-5,000 people, but ended up playing for 15,000. That felt pretty surreal.
Can you tell us a bit about the new EP? Who did you guys work with? What can fans expect? We worked with a female singer for the first time. We also got a feature from one of our favourite rappers, Chuck Inglish from The Cool Kids. It’s pretty varied, but still very Lemaitre-ish. We really look forward to getting the new songs out there; we’ve played them live a few times now and it’s really fun and the reactions have been really good so far.
Who are you listening to? It changes all the time, but now some of them are Cashmere Cat, SBTRKT, Drake, Bondax, Gold Panda, James Blake, Danny Brown, and King Krule.
In your opinion, is there still a firm line dividing the realms of dance and pop music? No, not at all. If it’s done right, everything works — if you stay away from the worst clichés and don’t “exploit” dance music gimmicks.