JA: I’m here w Dirtyphonics Pitchin and Charly, at HARD Summer.
C: Mind if I smoke?
JA: Not at all. You fellas are from Paris, it’s kind of your birthright yes?
P: It’s in our DNA.
JA: (We all laugh) Right. So in addition to cigarette addiction there has also been some great electronic music from France. Air, Daft Punk, Étienne de Crécy. Are you familiar with American wrestling?
P: A little bit.
JA: There’s this event called a royal rumble, where a bunch of wrestlers all pile into the ring and beat each other’s brain’s out. If Dirtyphonics were in a royal rumble with Air, Justice, The Penelopes and Discobitch, who would win?
C: Us, straight up.
P: They’re too old to compete.
C: We move too fast, we jump around and we fight dirty!
JA: Hence your name! So your music is big room, jump up tunes yet the process for making music is so internal and can be really static. How do you guys balance that while you’re creating?
C: Well you know it starts inward. An idea you just had, a sound that you’ve heard. Something that happens in your life. But in the process of writing for us, we certainly think of how it’s going to be played out on stage. I mean you can listen to our music wherever you want but it goes really good on stage, that’s where the maximum energy is. And the longer you go through the process we start to entertain ourselves, we’re having fun with ourselves and seeing how far we want to push it-
Pitchin begins to laugh heavily.
JA: Why do you laugh? What mental image just went through your mind?
P: We’re having fun with ourselves in the studio, 3 guys, c’mon!
JA: Sausage fest!
P: We definitely have fun and play with the boundaries when we create. Especially when we have the structure, now is that time when you put yourself on the dance floor. I mean we are all still ravers-
C: It’s our job to rave! Hey daddy what do you do? I’m a raver motherfucker!
JA: There could be worse jobs. So you love to collaborate, you’ve created with everyone from your label boss Steve Aoki to Zed’s Dead and Bright Lights on “Where Are You Now” which I Love by the way. You’re a 3 man group, Pho is not currently with us. How do you divide up a track, who does what where?
C: We do it together, sure there’s 3 of us but weather we are on stage or making music we are like one. So it’s very interesting when your collaborating to do it on a different vibe, the vibe of the artist you are collaborating with. So we take the stems and we start off with the thought how are we going to make this ours but maintain the original vibe and emotions that are in the song. It’s funny to find that balance. You want to play with the material, you have respect but at the same time you think “How can I fuck with this person?” What can we write to fuck with them and push them to be different and discover something new?
P: There are different set ups too. Mainly during a remix you just get the stems but with the Zed’s Dead guys we went to their studio, had a couple of drinks listened to music and picked two tracks. Then got the stems and went back and forth, back and forth it was really easy. Sometimes with vocalists, we get the vocals after we have made the track. And sometimes with Matt Rose, the last record the EP, he sent us the vocals first. So we wrote the track around the vocals. That was very interesting to vibe, he gave us a frame, so we knew exactly where it was going.
C: You just brought up something important that’s not talked about enough. Like when it comes to collabs, everyone thinks oh it’s a producer with another producer. But when we work with vocalist’s we also see it as a collab. We don’t want to just grab some vocal bit and put it on a song we already have. Everyone is involved in the process and we want everyone to be happy with the final results. I like for other ears to hear as the track is being made. You listen to it over and over, it’s good for someone else to give you direction.
JA: Word. Let’s talk about the road. For many musicians, DJ’s when your starting out there is no hotel room or rider. You’re sleeping on floors, in vans. What’s the weirdest place you’ve slept while on the road?
P: The cave. The huge cave in St. Louis.
C: Yeah it was also a gig.
JA: You had a gig in a cave in St. Louis?
C: Yes. Some years back some dude had the bright idea to buy this cave and started digging because he wanted to build a football stadium for the city. An underground football stadium that’s next level shit. So anyways for some permit reason he couldn’t make it happen. I can understand maybe it wasn’t such a smart idea, but now there are left giant caves.
P: You can get lost, it’s huge!
C: It’s big enough that there is a fucking river underground as well. We are on stage playing and it’s like a movie set, lazers going off all over, everyone’s raving. It was super trippy. Then after the show someones like “You want to go trip on the river?”. We were like sure, let’s go! So we expected like a small little river, and then we get there and it’s a huge fucking river! With boats! And on one of those boats was a party, with Dj and lights, people raving! And there is no light anywhere else, so the only way anyone can see is the lights from that boat. It made no sense and we fucking loved it.
(The cave is called the Crystal City Underground by the way and other than raving they also hold beach volleyball and disc golfing tournaments down there.)
P: I just want to say something about the first part of the question. We really started from the bottom, djing promoting our own parties at bars and basements, eventually it getting a bit bigger. We toured a lot in France, eventually spreading out in Europe and after Dirtyphonics became strong released a record on a U.K. label. Man, we’ve been doing this for like 15 years now.
C: Even before Dirtyphonics we were in bands strapping guitars and drum sets into a shitty van your not even sure will go to your destination. Yeah, that’s how we started touring France.
P: We’ve actually been producing music for 20 years. This year will be my 20th year. I’ve been doing it since I was 13, I am 33 years old now.
JA: Hold up you need a Hollywood age, if you tell the kid’s your real age they might not like you anymore.
(We all laugh)
P: Hey man, we have literally done everything from pressing the vinyls, designing the sleeve, everything! We have done all the steps.
C: That’s why we appreciate every success we have, because we know what it takes. We have a great community, because I think no matter your job, DJ, doing what you do, photographers, we all have climbed from somewhere to make our dreams happen. That’s what this is all about community. In Europe during the 80’s and 90’s ravers came together and really created a community. No one was professional back then. It was just a bunch of kid’s wanting to party and had to find an illegal space to put all the equipment in.
P: We had a residence, every Thursday for a year and a half in the basement of a bar. We brought in turntables, compressor, speakers, lights everything.
JA: What was the name of the place do you remember.
P: Yes, it was Le Crotte Tetard , how do you say in English, baby frog.
JA: You mean a tadpole?
P: Yes the Dirty Tadpole.
JA: Ha, so that’s the real origin of the Dirty in the phonics, thanks for the exclusive guys!
P: Not quite but sure.
JA: So you are now 3, but you used to be 4. Thomas Desbouvrie, a founding member of Dirtyphonics has just left the group to become a painter and daddy full time. How has Thomas’ absence changed the dynamic of the group, the way you create songs, etc?
C: I don’t think it’s changed the writing process. Obviously we all have different personalities and tastes. Not having Thomas in the band anymore, his input, his emotions, his crazy ideas are not there anymore, but the writing process hasn’t changed. We are all so much inline with each other that even with Thomas no longer here, we will honor his legacy. Thomas if your listening, don’t worry we still have some craaaaazy ideas that we have no idea what to do with. But we will eventually figure it out.
P: It’s like, at the beginning it was hard, touring without him. Like I would see someone who looked like him and they would turn around and it’s like “Oh shit he’s not here”. It’s all good now, but on the personal side of stuff the transition was like the brother is not here anymore. But the fans are still here with us, supporting us whatever happened. And he’s happy, he’s killing it. Like this is the most important thing. He had a kid and when he knew he was having a kid he decided he wanted to be with his family and not on the road anymore. He embraced the artist that he always had inside him and Dirtyphonics continues on.
Dirtyphonics can next be seen this Friday Aug. 7th at the Emporium in N.Y. Download their awesome new EP “Write Your Future” featuring UZ, Trinidad James, Matt Rose, July Hardy and 12th Planet.