Justice: “We turned down remixing Tame Impala as the original song was too good”

Justice: “We turned down remixing Tame Impala as the original song was too good”

Justice’s brilliant, bombastic new album ‘Hyperdrama’ is their first in more than eight years. The French electronic duo’s previous albums – 2007’s slamming ‘Cross’, 2011’s softer, proggier ‘Audio Video Disco’ and 2016’s disco-leaning ‘Woman’ – were also well spaced out. “We really started this album in the mindset that we had, like, unlimited time,” says Xavier de Rosnay, the more talkative of the pair. “Because by the time we started, ‘Woman’ had already been out for four years. It’s always been like this in Justice: every time we start working on a new record, we’re already too late to be in a rush.”

Justice also believe in giving their music time to “brew”, so they made ‘Hyperdrama’ by hunkering down in the studio one week, then taking a break the next. “It’s good to have some perspective on what you’ve just done,” says Gaspard Augé, de Rosnay’s slightly quieter bandmate. “And then [that way] you can refine stuff way quicker because when you’re too much into it, then you can lose a bit of the general picture.”

Justice’s measured methods definitely produce explosive results. Since they broke through in 2006 with an incredibly influential electro house remix – ‘We Are Your Friends’, credited to Justice vs Simian – they’ve become known for pairing arena-ready dance music with heavy metal-inspired visuals. ‘Hyperdrama’, which features collaborations with Tame Impala‘s Kevin Parker, alt-R&B star Miguel and psychedelic genre-blender Thundercat, among others, is a punchy, pummelling, immersive listen. Lead single ‘One Day/One Night’, a team-up with Parker, feels as sleek and lethal as a panther on the prowl.

According to de Rosnay, ‘Hyperdrama’ is designed to be digested slowly over time, so it can grow on you like an acquired taste. “It’s full of moments that are meant to be a bit unsettling,” he says. “So the ideal plan is on first listen, you like some parts of it and some parts you’re like: ‘Is this for me?’ But then you come back to it and it becomes the most important record of your life.”

In a wide-ranging In Conversation interview, they talk about moving away from making remixes, the limits of their interest in heavy metal music and why there will never be another Justice tour documentary.

There are two tracks on the album featuring Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker: ‘Neverender’ and ‘One Night/All Night’.  What made you want to bring him on board?

Xavier: “We’ve been listening to Kevin’s music from almost the beginning… To be honest, we liked the first album, but we really understood the genius of Tame Impala before the release of their 2012 album ‘Lonerism’ when we were sent ‘Elephant’ to remix. We had to turn it down because the song was too good. We replied saying: ‘Sorry, we can’t think of anything we could do that potentially is going to make it better.’ The song was perfect and hitting so many things right at the same time.

“And then things started to unfold [for Tame Impala]. People who listen to electronic music, people who listen to rock music, people who listen to pop music… everybody was thinking: ‘OK, that’s the best thing happening right now.’ And so we always had him in the corner of our minds. Then we started working on our album and felt it was the right moment to try something. Because although Tame Impala’s music and ours is very different, listening to the evolution of Tame Impala, we felt that the common ground is really big. There’s a lot of things we share in terms of, like, taste and ways of making things.

“And so we got in touch, I think, in late 2020 or early 2021. And we were working on those songs over the span of a couple of years: meeting, working a bit, going our separate ways, then meeting again six months later to maybe work on the beat again. That’s a very good way of making things. It’s like when you brew a liquor: you let it age in the barrel or whatever, then come back a couple of years later to taste it again.”

Heavy metal has been an influence on Justice from the start. Would you ever want to work with a metal vocalist?

Gaspard: “[For us] it’s mostly about the imagery [of heavy metal] and obviously in the beginning the distortion. But we never really felt like [metal] was a huge influence on us. And probably the thing we like the least in metal is the vocals. We liked the classical influences… and mostly the imagery. It’s still fascinating.”

Xavier: “Weirdly enough, because I think a lot of people associate Justice with heavy metal, of all the contemporary genres I think it’s the one… that appeals the least. I never listen to metal at home, but we do have a song called ‘Heavy Metal’.”

Gaspard: “Yeah, but that was because of the magazine.”

Xavier: “Most of the time, if I play a record, it’s going to be a rock record…  I mean, if you listen to any track on [T-Rex‘s 1971 album] “Electric Warrior’ and any track on, like, an old Slayer record, the T.Rex track is gonna sound massive and just [filled] with way more power because that’s the power [of] soft power. The power of having space and not, like, playing as fast as you can, you know what I mean? We do like some [metal] stuff, but it’s really not something that we take inspiration from. I hope I’m not gonna make a lot of enemies from the heavy metal scenes!”

How are you feeling about playing Glastonbury next month? It’s your first time there since 2017.

Xavier: “There’s such a long gap between every tour and every album that we always feel that we start again from zero. You know, every time we make something [and] come back, we really feel like rookies again. The world is also changing so fast that, like, really we have no idea what it’s like to play a festival now… What’s the scene? What are the expectations of people? It’s like everything is completely new again.”

Do you like being on the road?

Xavier: “We like the results of being on the road. We like, after a while, to [look back and] say: ‘That was the show, that was cool, that was nice.’ Being on the road, per se, it’s cool and there’s a lot of months of fun. But we’re definitely more studio guys than stage guys. Maybe things would be different if we had, like, the charisma of Mick Jagger or whatever. But things are the way [they are] and we prefer being in the studio.”

You did make a tour documentary once before – 2008’s Across the Universe. Would you do that again?

Gaspard: “It could only be made once. We did it.”

Xavier: “And we knew it. That was the statement of this documentary. It was like, ‘Let’s make it because it’s now or never. In two years, we’re already gonna be too old.’ And also, we made it so that we are never tempted to make a documentary about ourselves… that’s meant to make good publicity [for] the band. Like, we don’t imagine ever making a documentary where you interview people and [they] say, ‘Hey, Justice is actually so great, man. They were like pioneers!’ It’s the worst.”

“So we were like, ‘Let’s make one documentary where we’re gonna make fun of ourselves.’ We loved the idea of embracing the rock ‘n’ roll clichés that we fantasised [about] being kids in the ’90s born and raised in France. For us, it’s almost exotic. And yeah, that was a once in a lifetime thing and it’s done now, so we’ll never do a documentary again.”

Have you watched the documentary recently?

Xavier: “I haven’t seen it since it was released, actually.”

Gaspard: “We’ve seen a bit here and there.”

Xavier: “The bit [that keeps] resurfacing is where I sing ‘Under The Bridge’ to Anthony Kiedis’s face, which was very embarrassing even to do, you know what I mean? Because this documentary was shot in a very short amount of time, we had to have the maximum amount of footage and just, like, make things happen otherwise there would be nothing happening. And so I was with him and I started singing to his face.”

Are you guys still interested in doing remixes these days?

Xavier: “No, I’m not really interested in doing remixes.”

Gaspard: “I mean, we’ve done a lot and it was really a very experimental playing field for us. But now I guess now we’d rather do our own music.”

Xavier: “And there’s this thing about remixes. It’s either less good than the original song, so what is it for? Or it’s better and it destroys the original song and then it becomes a problem. So there’s not really like a win-win situation in [doing] a remix. That said, sometimes we hear a remix of a track and we love it. But the trade-off is that when we hear the original track, we find it corny compared to the remix. So it’s not good.”

‘Hyperdrama’ is out now via Genesis

The post Justice: “We turned down remixing Tame Impala as the original song was too good” appeared first on NME.

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