The more things change, the more they stay the same. That would seem to be a motto for Justice. Following a record as well received as † would never be easy, but still they might have anticipated a slightly easier ride than the one they’ve received off the back of second album Audio, Video, Disco. It is a record that has puzzled many with its apparent change of direction, a point we put to Xavier De Rosnay…
“You think so? Actually we made this record with the same obsessions that we’ve always done since we started. It feels very natural to us, only the varnish has changed a little bit. We’ve been joking about this record, it’s like seeing an old friend with a new hairdo. Only the details have changed, but that can make a hell of a difference sometimes. It does sound a bit different but at the same time the backbone is very similar to everything we’ve done so far.”
What are those different details then?
“We wanted it to sound a lot drier than it had before, so when we produced the record we used barely any effects. No reverb, nothing to make it sound polished. We wanted to create some sort of closeness between the listener and the music, so you could almost feel the room it was recorded in. Although of course it was actually made in a computer but we tried to make it sound like a rehearsal. It doesn’t try too hard to be slick”.
It does sound very ‘live’ for an electronic album…
“It’s more how you make a lively album from the least lively kind of music in the world. We’re not live performers, it’s our job in the studio to put together millions of details but it’s important that it sounds natural and laid back. It takes a lot of work to make it sound as though it’s not much work. That’s the challenge of every sort of art, to make it look easy.”
Is the easy option with electronic music to keep adding layers and layers?
“That’s the magic with all the new tools, you can make things sound full very quickly. It’s a great advantage but also can limit your possibilities, we didn’t want this record to sound too full. On our first album after ten minutes it already sounds as though it’s reached the maximum. We wanted this one to sound more unstable at the beginning. All the songs only sound full for the last thirty or forty seconds, the rest is just the build up. We still like the songs that go bang bang bang from the start but for this record we wanted something different, not too much cream on the cake. It’s a very classic way of making a record, but also a very modern way. We used technology that didn’t exist before, we couldn’t have made it twenty years ago.”
Despite the modernism, the album seems to hark back to the days of progressive rock. We can hear touches of Focus and ELP in there…
“I don’t know, of course I can see how it could make you think that and there are some details like that but I’ve never listened to ELP. We always say what ever you hear in the music it’s probably there, even if we didn’t intend it that way. Maybe this time you can hear some of the influences more clearly because of the way the production is backed off”.
One noticeable aspect is the fact that the record is comparatively short to many these days. Did you want to keep it tight?
“It’s true that we have trouble listening to really long records, although some do work. It’s already a big involvement you ask of people to listen to a whole song, it’s a big favour that you ask of people. Maybe one day we’ll make a longer record but for us the right length for home listening is half an hour, forty minutes.”
Are you aware of those people listening when you make your music?
“It’s something you can never predict, everyone makes music to be listened to but we can’t really work like that. To be honest we still don’t know what people expect from us, we don’t even know what people like to listen to. Music on the radio sounds strange to us. We work in a very personal way but we don’t have a choice, making hit records is a science we don’t have. It’s a job that we don’t even try to do.”
Audio, Video, Disco is out now on Ed Banger Records