By Álvaro García Montoliu
Anthony Gonzalez is a seriously thorough man. He puts all his energy into every album he makes. And the reward couldn't be bigger: almost unanimous critical acclaim, making him one of the most respected producers on the scene. Few musicians can say that they've release five records as solid as M83's at the age of thirty. In a few weeks, the new album “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”, his most ambitious album to date, will be released. A double album featuring 22 tracks, intro, interludes and outro. In fine style, we talked to him on the terrace of a nice little hotel in the centre of Barcelona about the recording of this new landmark album, about his passion for soundtracks and about his new home town, Los Angeles. Before we start the interview, testing the recorder, he hears his voice and complains: “Oh, my God, I hate it. It’s terrible”.
Do you have this same feeling whilst listening to your voice in the records?
Uhhh… with all the effects, the chorus and the reverb it’s fine. (Laughs).
So are you comfortable with it?
Yeah, yeah, totally.
I’m asking this because I’ve found that in this record you give more prominence to your voice.
I’d been touring a lot with the last album and we opened for a lot of bigger bands like Kings Of Leon, The Killers and Depeche Mode. When you see all these big bands performing on the stage you almost feel jealous because they can connect with the crowd very well and I wanted to be on stage and do the same thing. So that’s the reason why I’ve decided to be more expressive with my vocals. I wanted to go for it.
Is that the reason you decided having Morgan Kibby singing less?
Well, I was singing so much in this album that there wasn’t enough space for Morgan. (Laughs) But she was also busy recording her album and she did an EP for her solo project White Sea. So it was good for both of us.
How did the collaboration with Zola Jesus come up?
First of all, I’m a big fan, so I really wanted to have her on my album. I just sent her an email saying that I am a big fan and she replied to me very quickly saying that she was also a big fan of my music and wanted to work with me. So we met in L.A. and that was perfect. I felt that we share the same vision of music; we are expecting the same thing from music. She’s a good friend.
So, would you like to collaborate with her on a future Zola Jesus EP or record?
Probably. I would love to. It was so fun to do this track together that I would really like to do something with her. Maybe create a new band.
Why did you decided to do a double album?
I don’t know. Maybe because of my love for double albums. When I was a teenager I was so impressed by a band that could have so many songs on a double album. It’s very impressive. It’s like a big amount of work. And I just wanted to do the same thing one day. The last two years, when we were touring a lot, I said to myself: “I feel ready now to do a double album”. I had the songs, I felt good about myself and I moved to L.A. a year and a half ago. I was feeling very well there. I was going out to see tons of live shows; I went to see lots of movies. I was inspired by a lot of things. It’s been a good time for me.
What bands were you listening to while writing and recording the album?
I went to a lot of concerts of bands like White Sea, Vampire Weekend and Emeralds. But I usually don’t listen to a lot of music when I’m working on an album because, you know, you’re working for about 12 or 15 hours a day. So, the last thing you want to do is listen to music when you’re done.
Almost all of your records have had great acclaim. Does this - and the fact it’s a double album - give you extra pressure?
There’s always a pressure when working on an album, especially when it’s a double album. Nowadays you don’t do double albums anymore. When I released “Saturdays=Youth” I had the feeling that people really liked the record and wanted me to do another one like that. But I didn’t want to. I wanted to experiment, do something different. And I was just scared about the reaction of people after "Saturdays=Youth”. But we will see what happens now.
The reactions to the first two songs of the record have been very positive. Do you think this is your best work ever?
Yeah, totally. When I listened to the album finished for the first time I was proud of myself. I was feeling good about it, even if it’s hard to be objective when you work for a year on an album to see if it’s good or not. But I was feeling proud and I had the feeling that I couldn’t have done better than this. So, yeah, I feel like this is my best album so far.
You said some time ago this was going to be a dark album, but I think there is lots of light in here like there was in “Saturdays=Youth”.
No, no, no. I mean I know what you’re saying. I said that to Pitchfork like almost a year ago. At that moment I was into the composition of the album. But things after that interview have changed quite a lot. I don’t feel it’s a dark album, actually it’s one of the brightest albums I’ve done. But it’s also a very eclectic album with a lot of different phases of my music. I really wanted to have something very eclectic, like a soundtrack almost, like travel, like a journey. Something you can listen when you are travelling or driving. I want something that connects with the landscapes and the nature. You know, like a movie with stories.
I think “Raconte-Moi Historie” is the most beautiful thing on the album. Where did you get the voices?
It’s from the daughter of my producer, Justin. Celly is five years old. She’s so young, cute and smart. She was perfect for this. I will always remember when she first came to my apartment and I never met her before. She started to scream: “Oh, Anthony, I’m so happy to meet you!” She shook my hand. Most of the time kids are super scared of adults, but she was so nice and very uplifting. Then I wrote the text with my brother.
The instrumentation of this record is really rich. What have you used?
I just wanted to have fun with this album, to enjoy myself. I wanted to experiment and improvise with instruments I had never used before. I wanted to go to different directions and I thought the best way to do that was by using those instruments. Saxophones, flutes, acoustic guitars… I never made music this way and it was almost like a discovery, because when you have a track with a new instrument it opens windows on different walls. This was exactly what we were looking for: surprises and getting away from boredom.
It has a cinematographic touch. Have you expressed here previous ideas you had for movie soundtracks?
I think my music has always been cinematographic and it’s probably because I like movies so much. Since I’ve been a kid I’ve been listening to movie soundtracks. It has been forever. I’m addicted, fascinated and obsessed with films so much that it’s impossible for me to spend one day without watching at least one. I need it. It’s very important to me. So, obviously, my music sounds like a movie to me because I’m inspired by movies a lot.
You moved to Los Angeles partially because you wanted to record movie soundtracks. How are your plans going?
I’d love to do movie soundtracks, but it’s difficult. It’s a very tough and different world. But I would love to try. I have had an agent for a couple of months and I’m really excited. I’ll try my best to make it work. I think that my music can fit into the picture very well. My music can give power to the pictures.
One of the remixes of the “Tron: Legacy” soundtrack is yours and it has been said many times you have been influenced by Vangelis, something that has been also noted in Daft Punk’s score, which had mixed reviews. Did you like it?
Uhhh… What do I think about the “Tron” soundtrack? I think they did a good job. People forget about the fact that it was a Hollywood movie not a score for an indie movie. It’s Disney, Hollywood. They had to be very classical and couldn’t go crazy with the synths. They had to do a mix between synthesizers and orchestral, real classic, film music. I think people were expecting a new Daft Punk album. But no, they were working for the director and for the movie, not for themselves. So they had to make choices and they had to make concessions. I think they did a great job if you think about the fact they were doing a movie for Disney and a big budget Hollywood film.
How has your life changed since you moved to Los Angeles? It’s great. I love it. It’s fantastic. I love the fact that it’s very alive, there’re lot of things to do. But in the same way you can drive your car to the desert, which is only two hours away. You have the mountains and the ocean near which is great. I feel very well there.
With so much epic and uplifting material, how do you anticipate your live shows being?
I don’t know. We have no idea. We start the rehearsals in mid-September and I’m excited about it. It’s going to be a challenge, but at the same time it will be interesting. We are not going to play the full album, of course. We will play songs from the previous records because people are expecting that. But I just want to have fun now that the album is out. Midnight City by M83 Anthony Gonzalez is about to release “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming”, his most ambitious album to date. We talked to him about the record, soundtracks and his new life in Los Angeles.
Tracklist: CD1 01. Intro (feat. Zola Jesus) 02. Midnight City 03. Reunion 04. Where the Boats Go 05. Wait 06. Raconte-Moi Histoire 07. Train to Pluton 08. Claudia Lewis 09. This Bright Flash 10. When Will You Come Home? 11. Soon, My Friend CD2 01. My Tears Are Becoming a Sea 02. New Map 03. OK Pal 04. Another Wave From You 05. Splendor 06. Year One, One UFO 07. Fountains 08. Steve McQueen 09. Echoes of Mine 10. Klaus I Love You 11. Outro
Crítica: " Saturdays=Youth"