Chrome Romeo is the perfect way to describe Dave1 and P-Thugg also known as Dave Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel, collectively known as Chromeo. These international Casanovas of Cool have been re-contextualising 80s funk for a new generation, successfully manoeuvring the Internet Age AND the Age of Post Modern Irony with panache. This unlikely Canadian duo have somehow not only surfed a-top the new wave of music and media practices but have managed to avoid most of the backlash on hipster-ism and it’s post-ironic sensibilities to become an increasingly successful brand entity without compromising their artistic integrity - quite a magic feat in the current musical climate.
I think it honestly comes down to their careful balance of art and industry; just like how they manage to split time between alternate careers. Dave1 teaches French and French literature at university and P-Thugg is an accountant by trade. In fact, Dave1 flies out of Sao Paulo tomorrow to be back home in time for school next Monday. Keeping to this balance, like the way they conduct their careers as well as the name of their new album, Business Casual, can all be somewhat likened to that hotness from the early 80s that is The Mullet. It’s about business up front and party in the back, innit.
With what the boys are hoping to be the leak-proof album (sorry guys, it happened) set for official release on September the 14th, we can expect a more harmonically and musically sophisticated Chromeo; the duo having evolved their funk to the next level without losing any of their trademark humor, sincerity or fun.
In the meantime though, we sat down to chat with the Dave1 and P-Thugg about music and the internet (what else?), they answer some critical questions about selling out and most importantly, they define exactly what they mean by Business Casual.
So it’s your virgin time in Brazil - what have you done so far to pop your Brazilian cherry?
DAVE1: We ate! Last night.
But wait! Are you still a vegetarian?
DAVE1: How do you know this?? I’ve only actually been trying to be a vegetarian for a few months now.
Just wondering how that was going, because you’re in Brazil now, and it’s like, meat-land here.
DAVE1: The fish was really good.
P-THUGG: He cheats in key places.
DAVE1: In North America, Churrascaria is really cheap. Maybe there could be a Brazilian investigation, but there’s something about Churrascaria and airplane magazines. Every single airplane magazine advertises a Churrascaria. I never understood the link! But maybe I’ll cheat on the vegetarianism…
Speaking of cheating, somehow, your album hasn’t leaked yet...!
DAVE1: [knocks on wood] I think it’s gonna happen this week.
To be perfectly honest, I actually asked your PR for a download link and she was like “Yes, I’ve asked management. We’re working on it”. And I just thought, oh it’s totally not gonna happen. It was a bit of a test really, because I’ve know you guys have the attitude of; the internet is our friend, bloggers are our friends, but when it comes to leaks, it’s about not losing the momentum you’ve been building.
DAVE1: I remember the interview I said that! But I can’t remember where it was. You know, there’s a bunch of shit at my house that I’ve lost, maybe you could help me find it?? This is good! [laughs]
But yes that’s true. We are really pro-internet. I don’t say this to suck-up, but blogs for us are the most important. Hypemachine is like our Billboard. Eminem is number one on Billboard and we’re number one on Hypemachine. That’s our world. And it’s a world where there’s less journalistic authority – meaning, you don’t have to be a veteran from Rolling Stone to call what’s good or what’s not. If you have a cool blog and it becomes more read, then organically you have more authority; and it’s more democratic in that respect. Also, it’s more in tune with electronic music.
In North America the traditional media doesn’t cover electronic music a lot and it doesn’t cover black music a lot. I mean you have Rolling Stone on one side, but they’re not a funk magazine, and then you have your hip hop mags on the other side and we’re right in the middle. Print media doesn’t really have a niche for us. So we became this very blog friendly band.
P-THUGG: Print is always a bit more conservative too.
DAVE1: We’re very pro free music. And there is a paradox, because I’m really trying hard not to let our album leak. It’s like you said, it’s about a momentum thing. Once it’s out, I’m sure that people who want it as a torrent, will be able to find it. I’m just trying to create a moment; so that there can be an event. I hope that we can still create events like that in the digital age.
Once it’s out if someone wants to buy it, fine, and if someone gets it for free, I don’t care. Obviously we’re not going to make money off records. For artists in our position, who want to be able to give stuff away for free, we gotta make partnerships with brands. And that’s really important. The irony is some people criticise that. I feel we’ve done it tastefully. Like the night by Night video was possible because of Mountain Dew. Chromeo and Mountain Dew, it’s not the coolest or whatever, but I think it’s done really tastefully, where you don’t see me and P chugging Mountain Dew in the video.
We could give a song away for free, we could have everything we wanted, we didn’t have to drink or endorse anything, and who wins at the ned of the day? The fans! I don’t think you can criticise. That relationship has always existed. Patrons of the arts have always existed, and now more and more in this climate, they’re gonna be bigger companies. It’s about being crass versus being tasteful.
We don’t have loads of record labels putting lots of money into what we do. It’s us. We do that creating partnerships with brands. We do it in a way where we have creative control, and they’re happy with their product. The other option is to sign those deals where the record labels own everything (360 deals) I do.
What’s more of a sellout? I can do what I want with the money that comes from Mountain Dew, or I sell everything I do to a major record label. I think that’s more of a sell out.
Bands like us have more options and outlets these days. But the corporate bashing is like...there was some funny comments about that. Our answer is, at least we didn’t sell it all out to a record label. At least we own everything we do.
Let’s talk about the Chromettes for a second. Is it right that one of them was actually your vocal coach?
So who’s idea was it to step it up with the three girls?
DAVE1: Mine. Maybe I should, but I haven’t taken lessons with her for a while. A couple of years ago I started vocal lessons with her and that’s how we met. Then I had the idea that for bigger shows, we should have like, Palmer girls singing back up and I randomly asked her and she said, “I’ll do it. I know two other chicks, I’ll do it.” Unfortunately we can’t use them for all the shows, due to budget and logistics. But it’s cool to keep them for special events.
You guys have been best buds since high school - where were you on the food chain in terms of social status back in the day? Have you guys always been inherently cool, or -
DAVE1: Yeah! We were the cool guys!
P-THUGG: Smart ass. I was the class clown.
DAVE1: I was like, the nerd, who was the best student that was also the funny one.
P-THUGG: He was the funny cool nerd.
DAVE1: Everything was great for me in highschool until it came to gym class, and then my world was reversed for the one hour and it sucked. And all of a sudden I had nothing going for me.
P-THUGG: I was the class clown teachers loved to hate, cos I still had good grades, but I was in the back laughing and talking.
Can you guys please define what business casual attire means? You’re both pretty sharp dressers…Is this a kind of mullet thing - party in the back, business in the front?
P-THUGG: That’s what it is! It’s both sides of Chromeo - Chrome Romeo. Business Casual. It started with Dave making a reservation in a restaurant in Paris and they said the dress code was business casual. It always just starts with us laughing or having fun at something.
DAVE1: I just thought it sounded so 80s and hilarious.
Did you go to the restaurant? What did you wear?
Dave1: I wore a suit wihtout a tie! To me, I think Don Johnson and Miami Vice; suits with a tshirt. It symbolises the 80s relaxed elegant atmosphere and it ties in with the 80s atmosphere of our music. Cause, at the time, people were like, trying to compromise between laid back and still classy; like Huey Lewis. Oh and Phil Collins had an album, No Jacket Required. And I think also in the 80s was the start of yuppies. I’m talking about young guys who have to go to work and are like “Oh man, I gotta wear a tie”. And the beginning of Casual Fridays,
P-THUGGS: And the rebellion against ties.
DAVE1: Nowadays if you look up business casual, you see Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. And that’s not what we mean! We mean like, Don Johnson!
And as for this one off gig in São Paulo - is a proper South American tour in the works?
It’s really really hard for a band like us that still has so much to prove in so many territories to tour everywhere we want to tour. We will come back and do proper South American dates with bigger shows here. But we will for sure. Tonight’s a tease for everyone, including us. We’d like to play more and meet and interact with more people. Management said “Let everyone know you’re open for business!” It’s not really about the Business thing -
P-THUGG: It’s more about the Casual thing!