Interview by: Mister Lee - March 22, 2012 NYC
Photos by: Tommy Agriodimas www.agriodimas.com
For: OWN magazine
Words with the duo Victor Masne and Pierre Leroux of Housse De Racket.
What was it like for you two meeting in the beginning?
Pierre: Actually, we met a long time ago when we were kids at a music school
We played in an orchestra, doing very classical music. At that time, when we were growing up all we wanted to do was play electronic music and to us classical was a bit boring.
Victor: Pierre wore a Pearl Jam t-shirt and I was really into Pearl Jam then. I recognized him and I went to chat. Years and years had passed and we began our 1st band. Now we’re playing in New York as the headlining act. The 1st time we were here with Yelle, as a supporting act. To us, as Parisians this is quite a big fantasy and to be here we are very proud
Is there something you treasure finding in New York, which you can’t get in France?
Victor: Momofuku cake truffles. My mission is to have those.
What bands either past or present do all you admire?
Pierre: Metronomy has gotten a great response and I think they really deserve it, but, I find it hard to listen to other bands when you’re on tour. There’s a French proverb that ‘It’s the people who make the shoes the have the crappiest shoes.’ Maybe it’s the same way for musicians.
Victor: Right now we’ve been heavy into The Cure. New York has so many amazing bands from Television, Blondie and even to now from LCD Soundsystem to The Rapture.
Didn’t you all collaborate with The Rapture?
Victor: Yeah, we shared the same producer Philippe Zdar. When The Rapture finished mixing their last record in Paris, we went there to start on our own record with Zdar. One morning at the studio and he said I missed something on this Rapture song and asked if we could play one of classic synthesizer parts.
Pierre: The Rapture realized we played on their record later on.
Your album Alesia is much like a soundtrack, are there any filmmakers you would die to collaborate with?
Victor: Indeed, we do love soundtracks and try to make our music as narrative as possible. Some of our songs are totally instrumental like Alesia, the title track from album. For the making of the album we watched a film each day to inspire each song. We really put a whole-hearted effort into the construction of that album.
Pierre: If we could make the soundtrack to the next roman Polanski movie, we would be really proud cause we’re huge fans of his work. Someday a film score is in order, but we’re just waiting for the right moment, the right project. It could definitely be a natural progression for us.
What Polanski films are your favorites?
Pierre: Rosemary’s Baby has a deep and beautiful meaning to it.
Victor: There’s a very claustrophobic feeling about the tenants, the flat and even the main character in that film.
Pierre: Bitter Moon is another favorite, which also inspired the album.
How does the cover reflect the feel of the album?
Victor: It’s like we created our very own mythology with a golden face goddess being a mix of Greek mythology and futuristic. Even in the songs there are multiple meanings, which is why it’s maybe a bit surrealistic.
Which are your favorite tracks off the album?
Victor: Maybe Alesia cause it’s the center of the album. We tried to build a certain symmetry in the track list, with Alesia as the climax. I do like the track Aquarium, as well.
Pierre: Sometimes my favorite varies on the mood I’m in but overall Roman is mine. It’s weird cause it isn’t until you’re playing gigs that you realize the songs you have created. We did a radio show and played that song for the 1st time in a long while and I was reminded how much I love that song.
What’s the meaning behind Roman?
Pierre: Funny cause it talks about Roman Polanski and another artist who was a painter, Roman Opalka. His goal was to count to infinity by drawing numbers in white on a black board. Each time on the board, he would place 10% more white on the black of the background. At the end he would be left with white on white. Coincidentally, he happen to die in 2011 when we were shooting the video.
How do you choose which songs go in English or in French?
Victor: We try not to decide it and let it happen naturally. For the 1st record it was all in French. Sometimes when the song comes in your head, English comes 1st and you try translating it to French and it sounds bad. English was very new to us then. Although, now we just let them flow.
Do you think any songs get lost in translation when converted to either language?
Pierre: I don’t think so cause the 1st language is music and maybe the words are secondary to us. Even if we sing in French I guess English people would feel something. The very 1st time we came to London we sang in French and the audience didn’t care they still went crazy. Words are secondary to sound.
Victor: Last year, when we opened for Yelle we were amazed that she only sings in French and surprisingly it works everywhere. People guess what she’s saying, but the energy and sound are there. It’s really special to us to see people try and sing our lyrics without really knowing what we’re saying, like sort of half singing and half humming along. In France the term for that is called ‘yogurt.’
Are the big differences between the French and American crowds?
Victor: There is more crowd participation here. At some point in our show, we always ask the crowd to pronounce our name cause we have the trickiest name ever, but they still do it. The French crowd is not so expressive and sometimes indifferent. The culture is all about drinking and after a few beers and red wine they get into it.
How has it been working with Kitsune?
Pierre: It was a logical step because they’re close to us. They’re one of the few French labels that are raging throughout the world. Kitsune is a strong brand and we played in Chapel Hill, where fans came simply cause it was Kitsune and hadn’t known of Housse de Racket. The brand has helped us in that respect, however we still feel more motivated to make our name large.