No other musicians get the audience up and dancing better than electro-funk duo Chromeo. Friends since childhood, David Macklovitch (Dave 1) and Patrick Gemayel (P-Thugg) formed their musical partnership in 2002, establishing themselves as up-and-comers with their debut album, She’s in Control, released in 2004. With their amalgamation of 1980s-style groove beats and contemporary synth sensibilities, the duo has created a distinct style that’s easily identified by their fans. In addition to their singular music, the unlikely pair — Macklovitch is Jewish and Gemayel Lebanese — have become fashion trendsetters. Classic hits and songs from their recent album, White Women, can be expected on the set list for their Saturday, May 30, show at the Santa Barbara Bowl. I spoke recently to Macklovitch over the phone to learn more about Chromeo.
You guys are like brothers. Yeah, I see P every day of my life. We’re best buddies — we’ve always been. We work together; we make music together. It’s an inseparable thing.
So your backgrounds never affected the relationship? Nah, not at all. My mom is from Morocco, and Pete grew up in Lebanon. We actually have a ton of cultural similarities, and we’re both very open-minded and moderate. In the beginning, our backgrounds actually brought us closer because we were bonding over the fact that our families were doing similar things.
Who or what are your influences? Mainly funk music from the ’70s and ’80s, and pop music from the ’80s. We also grew up listening to hip-hop, so that made its way into our approach to music. Oh, and R&B. The way I write lyrics is almost like … “What if Woody Allen wrote the same lines?” Like this weird, neurotic lover-boy thing. But we see the whole artistic endeavor of a band as one big enterprise. Stage, design, photography, they all go hand in hand with music. So whether it’s Italian furniture from the ’70s, David Lynch movies, or whatever, these things influence us.
How did you come up with your style of instruments and sound? Our main thing is using a lot of vintage analog equipment; we kinda just nerd out on that. The idea was to buy a lot of vintage gear and use it. The equipment is obviously used different now than in the ’70s and ’80s, ’cause we’re just two weirdo Canadians who grew up in the 1990s. But we had an urge for analogs, synthesizers, and vintage drums machines, which is the bedrock of Chromeo sounds.
Are you excited to play in Santa Barbara? Yes. We performed at a college there once but never at the Bowl. I’ve hung out in Santa Barbara a couple times, and it’s really nice — I went to some awesome taco spots. We have a solid California fan base. It’s gonna be like a mini festival. It’s gonna be dope.
What’s in the future for Chromeo? We’re doing a bunch of shows and working on new music. We’ll have a new album next year, bringing you new funk.
Do you think you’ll be around for another 10, 20 years? I don’t know! Don’t ask me that; you’re stressing me out. Fuck, I don’t know. What do you think? I hope so! Music like this should get passed on for generations. Yeah, totally! You need to dance and get sexy. Those are the important things.
Chromeo plays Saturday, May 30, at the Santa Barbara Bowl (1122 N. Milpas St.). For tickets, visit sbbowl.com.