2014 Artist Survey: Chromeo

David Macklovitch on the Question He's Tired of Answering, Racism in America, Uplifting Fan Interactions, and the One Who Got Away

Feb 09, 2015 Issue #52 - January/February 2015 - St. Vincent Bookmark and Share


For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Still Corners, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from David Macklovitch of Chromeo.

[A shorter version of this interview ran in Issue 52, the Best of 2014 and January/February 2015 Issue, which is still on newsstands. This is the full version of the interview.] 

Top 10 Albums of 2014

1. Travi$ Scott: Days Before Rodeo-The 2014 ODB.

2. YG: My Krazy Life-The 2014 DJ Quik.

3. FKA twigs: LP1-The 2014 Kate Bush.

4. Migos: No Label 2-The 2014 Souls of Mischief.

5. Duck Sauce: Quack-The 2014 Avalanches.

6. iLoveMakonnen: I Love Makonnen EP-The 2014 Joe Jackson.

7. Death From Above 1979: The Physical World-The 2014 Deep Purple.

8. PartyNextDoor: PARTYNEXTDOOR TWO-The 2014 Aaron Hall.

9. Spooky Black: Black Silk-The 2014 Jon B (turtleneck included).

10. Tinashe: Aquarius-The 2014 Monica.

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band?

This year, our personal highlights we also the band's: releasing our album, scoring our first Top 40 hit with "Jealous," playing main stage at Coachella, selling out Red Rocks, selling out Central Park, selling out The Shrine in L.A., and most of all, still making it as Chromeo after 10 years and still having fun.

What was the low point of 2014 for you?

Sadly, take your pick: Russian/Ukraine/Crimea, Boko Haram, ISIS beheadings, Ebola, Ferguson, Mexican students disappearing, Gaza, and the U.S. election results from a couple of days ago. Rough year, politically. And then no Kanye album. On a band level, seriously, we have nothing to complain about. We're just grateful.

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

Coming out with new music and improving as singers, songwriters and producers. Making even better, more evolved, more competitive Chromeo material. And playing a bunch of festivals next summer, once again.

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

Here's my thing with the U2 album. It was invasive, yes, but it was also innovative and bold. But the problem was that, by all accounts, the music sucked. I think that if it was a brilliant record, people wouldn't have complained as much. Put a Drake album in millions of people's iTunes and everybody will be smiling. You can't force-feed people shitty music. Yet you can play "Latch" on the radio 100 times per day and, rightfully so, everyone's just happy to hear it. Of course I think that Hall & Oates' greatest hits and Rick James' Street Songs should find their ways into the world's iPods, but beyond that, the real goal for artists ought to be "let's try making music that's good enough that, if it were to be snuck into everybody's computers one night, nobody would delete it."

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

I don't think that the grief Grimes got was deserved. I'm weary of mass movements and chain reactions, especially when they start with memes. Ironically, I was all for the ice bucket challenge and ready to take part in it when a meme made me change my mind: the one of a white person in America pouring gallons of water over himself and a kid in Africa with an empty cup. Should've been the polar bear challenge where you jump in an icy lake: no waste.

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

Tough question. It was one of the biggest malaises of the year, for me. Who's to say if things will change, but it is a good thing that America's latent racism and culture of police violence be underscored and part of a new national dialogue. We all need to dust off those old Public Enemy and Gil Scott Heron records once in a while and be reminded that these issues that our musical forefathers sang about have yet to be entirely resolved.

What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

#iblamePutin?

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

I can't speak on Mr. Kozelek because I'm not really familiar with him as an artist nor his beef with The War on Drugs (whose album I really like). But we've played in front of our share of unfriendly audiences over the span of our career and we've never insulted anyone. I don't know... to me that's part of playing live: you get good shows and bad shows. We're lucky to be in the position we're in. Pee and I just keep it gracious and grateful.

"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about?

That would be a dream. "Weird Al" is a brilliant auteur and he's only now beginning to get the respect he deserves. He was a big influence on us over the years, especially with songs like "Momma's Boy" where we've flirted with his sensibilities. It'd be interesting to see him lampoon our music since it already comes packed with a dose of humor. Do two jokes work on top of each other? Have him do "Jealous," though: it needs to be the hit. He could talk about IBS maybe? Instead of "I get jealous," "I need Maalox?"

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

That we're derivative. Like Billy Joel recently said during his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: "I know I've been referred to as derivative. Well, I'm damn guilty. I'm derivative as hell. If the Hall of Fame disqualified candidates on the basis of being derivative, there wouldn't be any white people here."

What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had?

Too many to name: kids who've seen us play five times in one year, kids who drove for eight hours to come see a show. Kids who bring their parents, parents who bring their kids. A girl in Tucson gave me a beautiful Navajo bracelet that her family made. Some kids in El Paso found pics of Pee and I as children and blew them up. Fans making matching T-shirts. I know it sounds kumbaya when I say that we're grateful and blessed but believe me, we've spent years struggling to get more than 30 fans at our shows. Now we're just elated.

What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

Honestly, this is one of the most original interviews I've received this year. That's why even though I was swamped and on tour, I kept telling my management that I wanted to do it. It feels like this past year we've finally broken away from the usual Chromeo topic of "what is it about the '80s?" and "are you guys serious or are you guys joking?" and have been able to talk more about our artistic influences, the current state of music, new media, new business models for bands, and even nerdy tech synthesizer stuff. It did get trying to answer questions about our album title but we asked for it: we called it White Women, hello? 

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

Hmm, there's this one girl in high school that Pee never managed to fix me up with. Part of me wonders if she's still bae, but who am I kidding? She's probably married with three kids and I could find out immediately on Facebook if I bothered to log in.

www.chromeo.net

 

 

 



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