With a great amount of pride, we’d like to introduce you to Garçon Garçon! This Australian electro-pop duo will be breaking out onto the music scene within the next year, all beginning with the summer 2011 release of their debut EP. It will be appropriately entitled EP…
Luckily, we were able to secure an interview with these boys before they got too famous for us. So without further ado, meet Nathan and Nick! They spoke to us about their ’80s-inspired dance tracks, live performances, fashion and much more. Click through to read what they had to say, and be prepared to see much more from these two on Manhunt Daily!
To read the interview and check out more pics, follow the JUMP:
On your track “Maybe Tonight”, you recite the following lyrics–“If I had a love, he’d never go away from me”. We don’t want to make any assumptions about your sexuality, but…
NICK: We both own box sets of Sex and the City…
NATHAN: Guilty as charged. I’m not owning up to Sex and City box set thing though! I wrote that song when I first moved to Sydney after coming back from living in London and NYC, and it’s all about going out and secretly hoping you might meet someone, somewhere unexpectedly. I think I’m more of a romantic than I’d like to admit!
A lot of openly gay musicians avoid conforming to any labels, fearing the industry will pigeonhole them. Where do you stand on this matter?
NICK: I don’t think that the industry would necessarily pigeonhole us. Look at the brilliant stuff that Fischerspooner are doing, or Jake Shears for that matter. These bands are headed up by strong, creative, gay men who have impacted the music industry on both a highly commercial and also deeply original level, and we really respect them for that.
Having said that, it’s important to us that our songs are accessible to anyone and everyone. We don’t make music for a selective group of people, and although our personal experiences certainly do impact our music and lyrics to some extent, we’d like to think that we can musically reach anyone, regardless of who they are as private people. That’s the basic principle of pop music, right?
NATHAN: Absolutely. I’m one-hundred percent comfortable with being gay. I can totally understand the pressure to ‘play it straight’ in the industry though. I hate to think that if you’re out, it might mean less mainstream success. Hopefully, the music is enough to stand on its own and being gay or straight becomes irrelevant.
Speaking of labels, you’re both attractive, hairy men with beards. You do realize the bear community is going to eat you alive, right?
NICK: Okay, so here is the deal… If our first single debuts in the top 50 on the ARIA charts, I will gladly give a lock of my chest hair to one lucky bear!
NATHAN: People are going to hold you to that now, Nick! I like a bit of fur, so bring it on! The more fans the merrier.
Let’s move on to some questions about your music! How would you describe your sound? What can we expect to hear on your debut EP?
NICK: For us, our music is very influenced by our childhood and the types of music we listened to when we were growing up. We are both very much ’80s kids, and this seemed to be the common musical ground where we could work and have fun at the same time. Separately, we actually listen to pretty different styles of music.
If you opened up our iTunes, you would probably find LCD Soundsystem and M.I.A. on Nathan’s and then the likes of The Knife and Sigur Rós on mine. There’s no doubt that our current musical tastes certainly influences the way we write and produce, but on a collaborative level, new wave synth pop, and possibly even early ’90s house music seemed to be the starting point for the sound that we eventually developed as our own.
EP for us was about revisiting this time in our lives, but more importantly it was about us coming together and just having a fun time and making music that made us feel happy. It was this starting point that kind of led us to the warm, summer time, electro-pop sound that is on the EP. It was also really important for us to have a good balance between elements that were uptempo and dance floor slick, and then also the ability to maintain a more honest and sincere approach at the basic songwriting level.
Despite the fact that we are still recording, the results so far incorporate both tracks with fast, tight bass lines and light-hearted lyrics all the way through to soft airy pad sounds with lyrics that deal with more fragile topics. I like to think that we got the balance right…
At this current moment in time, you’ve only released two demo tracks and a remix for another artist. Are these indicative of what we’ll hear on your EP? Or will you be experimenting with additional genres?
NICK: I think it’s quite funny in that no matter how many times we sit down and say, “Right, lets record a song that is more like this…” We always end up coming back to the same fundamental sound. The EP very much uses this sound as a starting point and then explores various areas of it, and we probably are exploring different genres from track to track but we aren’t sure that we necessarily want to be too overly conscious about that sort of thing.
The EP definitely utilizes traditional ’80s elements in terms of the keyboards and synth sounds that we chose to use, but then there is also something distinctly modern about it. The fact that most of the songs were written on a guitar or piano to begin with also helps give it that traditional pop element.
NATHAN: I agree. I think those first two demos (“Take Me Out” and “Maybe Tonight”) were definitely the beginning of our own handwriting as a band. It feels like anything that we work on now has a similar thread through it, and you can tell it’s a Garçon Garçon track. The EP builds on that, and I think it’s a good showcase of what we can do and where we’re going.
You mentioned before that you both come from very different musical backgrounds. What made you decide to come together and collaborate?
NICK: We are actually neighbours! We were introduced through a mutual friend a few years back and then kept bumping into each other on the street. One day, in conversation, we both happened to mention that we liked to write music, and it simply developed from there…
The first few months were quite funny. We would meet very formally every Saturday morning and have an extremely polite jamming session. I come from quite a classical background, focused on musical technicalities and production techniques, whereas Nathan’s history lies in punk rock and self-taught instruments. It’s been quite the mesh of worlds!
We are, however, really similar in many ways, and as such a great friendship has been formed. It’s been really rewarding getting to know each other as musicians and also as mates. The fact that we can both bring different musical elements to the table is simply the icing on the cake.
NATHAN: It’s been really cool getting to know Nick. I think we have a good balance of serious and fun in our music and our working relationship. We’re both really driven and ambitious but like to cut loose and have a crazy time too.
I’m really lucky that Nick has a classical music background since I don’t at all! I can learn a lot from him, which will help me become a better songwriter and make us a better band. I think we both bring something unique to Garçon Garçon and to me, it’s a new sound that I haven’t really heard before. I’m really excited to get the EP out soon and let people hear it!
Watching videos of your previous live performances, it’s just the two of you on stage. In your upcoming tour, do you intend or hope to work with a live band?
NICK: At the moment, we are really enjoying trying out new ideas and concepts in a live environment. In fact, we often rework our songs based on the type of gig that we do. We have a performance coming up at the Market Hotel in Melbourne on the 11th of December, and for this we have reworked some of our tracks into more of a hard-hitting club explosion. Kind of like live remixes whilst still maintaining the key elements of each song.
The actual EP tour is still very much wrapped up in planning, however it’s definitely going to be just the two of us on stage from a musical perspective. It’s really important to us that we get the live thing right for the tour, and visually we are really fussy about how its going to pan out. We want it to both reflect the nature of the music and yet still have a high “performance” level.
You can also expect to see more instruments on stage. We have been experimenting with a really cool new Japanese instrument called the tenori-on which basically gives a little light show to the audience whilst playing around with samples. I think we are also going to be using live guitar and possibly bass, and I’m going to be adding in some beats with live electronic drum pads. So, pretty much just Nathan and I showing off on-stage!
NATHAN: The live aspect is really important to us. We definitely want to think about making the show a performance and give people something special. I really appreciate it when I go to a live show and there’s been some thought put into the show rather than just a straight-up performance.
I think Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Róisín Murphy and Björk are some people that come to mind when I think about great live experiences that are clever and interesting. Like Nick said, we’re working on how to put it all together now, which is the fun, creative part but also really scary!
Finish this sentence. Ideally, I would like to see people leaving our show thinking…
NICK: When I’ve been to a good show, I leave with this really ecstatic feeling of happiness, like I could do anything I ever wanted for the next hour or whatever. I would be so happy to think that people could leave our show with a similar feeling.
NATHAN: I would love people to leave our shows thinking that they’ve seen something special and sincere. That they’ve been satisfied both musically and visually. That they were part of something with us and want to come back for more.
Beyond music, it seems like you both have a heavy interest in fashion.
NICK: I think It’s really important to us that we are visually representing our music in the correct way, as a visual document of our songs. Here, fashion certainly plays a really important role for us. I’m not sure its fair to say that I have a strong interest in fashion, at least nowhere near as much as I do with music, art or even photography for that matter. However, I think that fashion in general simply enables a person to synchronize their inside feelings with their external appearance… Well, at least that’s what I use it for!
I guess I am more inspired by sound. So, for example, if I find a really cool synth sound whilst programming one night, I kind of know what look I would attribute to that sound in terms of an image or theme. That might sound marginally wanky, but I guess it serves as a source of inspiration for me.
NATHAN: I worked in fashion retail straight out of school at some cool boutiques. Had my own little label for a short while, and my daytime job is in fashion now again. When I was young, my family was pretty poor, so I never got those Reebok pumps or Mooks T-shirts I wanted as a kid. Once I started working in the industry and could afford to buy things for myself, I developed a real taste for it.
Living in London and NYC gave me the confidence to really embrace my own personal style and run with it. It’s important not to take fashion too seriously and to have some fun with it. I really admire designers like Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld, Jeremy Scott, Marc Jacobs, Romance Was Born and Vivienne Westwood. Not only for the fashion they create, but everything else that goes alongside that. Brand image, campaigns, the photographers they choose to work with, the music they use in their shows, the references in their collections.
I love that aspect of the business, and that’s what I try to bring to Garçon Garçon when we’re thinking about image and visual style. Choosing to work with Elvis Di Fazio–who is an incredible fashion photographer–gives the music a new context and a personality of its own. Roundhouse Audio Visual, who designed our logo and website, gave us exactly what we were looking for, which is an identity that looks more polished and interesting that just a standard pub-band look and feel.
Slightly related to this topic, one of your songs was featured in a fashion show by designer Peter Morrissey! That’s kind of a big deal, eh?
NICK: Absolutely! We were really excited that Morrissey chose to include our song in his show. I think we were even more excited when we saw all the hot models in their underwear parading down the catwalk to it!
NATHAN: That was pretty cool, we were so honoured. Peter Morrissey is an icon of Australian Fashion and is doing something really clever with his new line. What I liked about his song selection for that show was that he was consciously putting new and old tracks together and to me that reflects his brand–the Morrissey of the past and the new Morrissey as it is today. His brand has a lot of history and a definite signature, so it was cool to see that reflected in the collection but also seeing it go in a new direction too.
The images in this post were all provided by Elvis Di Fazio. If you don’t mind me saying, they’re super-sexy without going overboard to Hoochie-ville. Tell us a little bit about working with Elvis…
NICK: Elvis is such an amazing talent, and a really sweet man too. Basically, Elvis has his own visual style that is so distinctly smart and amazing, and he is a really clever guy. Nathan and I (Well, more Nathan, as he knows about these kinds of things more than I do) really felt that his style would match the feel of what we were doing and where we wanted to be heading.
To be honest, we hadn’t really ever done a shoot with someone so professional! So, we got into our outfits, and after suggesting that I might swap the Aphex twin I was playing for some chilled out disco (immensely good suggestion!), we got cracking. I always laugh when I see that photo of me in the crouched position with the dolphin. You know, I stacked it so bad the take before that shot… I was all up and ready in position when the stool slipped out from under me causing me to crack my head on the wall behind me! It was massively funny, particularly as I was trying really hard to be a proper model. Fail!
NATHAN: That was pretty funny when Nick fell off the stool and we had to hold him in place! Elvis is amazing. He has such a unique point of view and just sees things in a different way from other people. He is so clever and really works with you to get those amazing shots.
I’ve worked with Elvis before for my club night Hot Rod where we stripped people down, styled them up and Elvis shot them in a bedroom scene inside the club while everyone was there watching. Those photo’s are INCREDIBLE, and it was something really different in a nightclub environment. The shoot for the EP perfectly captures us, our sound and what we wanted the EP to be about.
In regards to both music and visual elements, who are you dying to work with? What would be your dream collaborations?
NICK: Wow, this is a big question.. Musically, I think we would really enjoy working with some of the producers and artists who have dominated our CD players for the past decade. For me, this would be something like Peaches on drums, Mirwais doubling up on synths with me, Nathan on vocals, and then the whole track mixed by Mark “Spike” Stent. Wow, that would be bliss…
Visually, it would have to be Michel Gondry, hands down. Although I think we would be waiting in a pretty long line! Seriously, that man is such a genius; his concepts and ideas are so far from anything I could ever dream up on my own that you could pretty much call him extraterrestrial.
NATHAN: Terry Richardson, Chris Cunningham, Peaches, Björk, Pharrell Williams, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, M.I.A., Robyn, Stussy, Quentin Tarantino… This list could go on forever!
Are there any plans for a music video in the near future? Is there any chance that you’ll be wearing very little clothing in it?
NICK: Yes, and more than likely.
NATHAN: We’re definitely thinking about our first video. We have a few people in mind that we’d like to work with first-up. We’ll keep you posted about the clothing.
Any final words for fans or potential fans in the making?
NICK: We are really excited that people are going to get to know our music, whether that be in a club, sitting out in the sunshine, or even simply at home dancing around with headphones on. If we can inject even just a momentary happiness into someone who listens to one of our songs, then that makes all our hard work more than worthwhile.
NATHAN: Thanks to everyone who has checked us out so far. We’re super excited to share EP with you all very soon. Stay tuned!