Throwback Thursday: Big Shot’s 2011 Interview with M83’s Anthony Gonzalez

m83 anthony gonzalez

For Throwback Thursday we dial the clock back to 2011, when we talked to M83’s Anthony Gonzalez about his ambitious double album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, which was regarded as one of the best albums of the year. Here we talked to Gonzalez about the ambitious album and how ’90s alt-culture informed the now-classic album.

When you hit play on disc one of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, the new album by M83, you know you’re in for something big. The album’s intro opens with a rising ambiance intercut with an arpeggio of synthesizers. A frail monologue can be heard among the rising action before we hear M83’s mastermind, Anthony Gonzalez, yell out “I carry on!” His voice sounds like it has never before – a commanding lead that wails into the night sky. The rest of that opening track is handled by Zola Jesus whose chilly tenor gives the album a stately and memorable intro. Speaking with Gonzalez about the collaboration, it was apparently a mutual desire to work with each other. “I just wanted to do something with her for a long time. I’m a big fan of her music and for me it was almost obvious I needed her for the album. She was a fan of M83 as well. It was cool. We were both very fond of each other.”

The size of Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is a large factor in the listening experience. M83 songs are always aimed skyward but this record also packs in as much lengthwise. At two discs, totaling at a length of 72 minutes, it’s their longest and perhaps best work to date. The inspiration for such a large scale structure came from a few different places, one of them being from ’90s alternative heavyweights, the Smashing Pumpkins. “When I was a kid and I first bought Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, I remember I was so excited about it. I mean I skipped school to be able to go to the record store, and waited in line in the morning and then went back home to listen to the album like ten times in the same day. I was just excited, and I feel my new album is kind of a tribute to this era of music where we used to go to the record store and wait for the album of our favorite band.”

“I feel my new album is kind of a tribute to this era of music where we used to go to the record store and wait for the album of our favorite band.”

Aside from the ballad “Wait” borrowing a little bit of Billy Corgan’s guitar tone from “Thru the Eyes of Ruby,” the Pumpkins influence is more in the vein of size, not sound. Continuing the nostalgia-fest started on Saturdays = Youth, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming relies heavily on 1980’s style production, an age of gated reverb and squeaky clean sonics. “The sound of the ’80s is a big influence. The way they used to mix the albums at the time and the way they used to produce albums was definitely a huge influence on this album. You know sometimes when you listen to an ’80s album and it sounds super clean and bright sounding. We wanted to achieve the same thing in terms of soundscape.”

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Helping Gonzalez achieve that sound was one of the unsung heroes of the ’90s and 00s, Justin Meldal-Johnson. Best known for his work as Beck’s bassist, Meldal-Johnson has performed with dozens of seminal artists since the early ’90s such as Air, Goldfrapp, and Tori Amos. Meldal-Johnson came into contact with Gonzalez when he was touring with Nine Inch Nails in 2009.

“Justin is one of the nicest guys on the planet and I felt like because we shared this same vision of music, it was like really easy to work with him, you know, he was flawless. And we never had any issues of communication. We were always getting along very well…He came to me very genuinely, in a very sincere way saying that he wanted to work on this album with me. And I trusted him and am really happy with the results.”

Those results are pretty spectacular. Tracks like “Midnight City,” “Reunion” and “OK Pal” are all mountain sized anthems that pull at the heartstrings and your dancing feet at the same time. Breathy ballads like “Wait” and “Splendor,” the latter which features Brad Laner from Medicine, are lovely dreamscapes that wash over with a heavy euphoric feeling.

While Gonzalez had reportedly set out to make a dark record this time out, he ended up making his most accessible and varied and one that asks the listener to hurry up and join in the fantasy.

Throwback Thursday: DJ Krush Looks Back on 20 Years

DJ krush

In 2011, we interviewed Japanese turntable legend DJ Krush (a.k.a. Hideaki Ishii) about celebrating two decades in the mix, his plans for the future and his thoughts on the earthquake and tsunami which devastated his country that year. For the first edition of Throwback Thursday, we’re republishing our conversation with one of hip-hop’s master mixers.

DJ Krush is celebrating 20 years in the business, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. To commemorate his anniversary, Japan’s king of spin is about to embark on a worldwide tour and will continue releasing new material via iTunes in preparation for a looming new solo album. Hugh Bohane got a chance to interview him just after his recent U.S tour.

What have been some of the best memories of your 20 year career so far?
DJ Krush: There have been many special memories in last 20 years and it’s hard to pick one. But if I had to pick one, I would say that one would be joining a band called Method of Defiance with Bill Laswell and Bernie Worrell (of P-Funk fame), who are both legends and have both been important artists for a long time, even before I started my DJ career.

How did this year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan effect you personally?
It’s was just such a sad story… some of my relatives live in Tohoku, where the earthquake hit. They were all safe but received some damage to their home. My city, Tokyo, looks like it is getting back to normal, but if you go to the Tohoku area there are many people still living in temporary housing and it will take time before they can return to any kind of a normal living existence. As you know we are still having the nuclear problem as well. I can’t begin to describe the clean up but the whole experience has had a big influence on both my ordinary life and my life as an artist.

How have your tours been going?
Most of my tours for this year are finished and they were all great tours and I had a wonderful time in each city. My 20th anniversary world tour will start from this December. I will be touring China in December, Europe next January and also in late March, America in mid February, and Australia and New Zealand in early March. Looking forward to seeing people from all over the world real soon.

What’s your feeling when you are playing on stage in front of large crowds?
I’m always so happy but I also feel tense as well.

What’s the best kind of audience to play to?
I’m happy to perform to any kind of audience who are interested in DJ Krush.

What’s the best part about being a DJ?
This can best be described in my music and how I communicate through my music…

What’s the hardest part?
I’m always changing but some of the audience tend to stereotype me into one style or into one set of songs… sometimes this kind of stereotyping makes it hard.

What records have you bought recently and or are listening to?
I’m currently working and producing in the studio, so I don’t buy or listen to other music just at the moment.

DJ Krush

Rumor has it you maybe working on a new solo album and that there maybe a release coming, could you tell us about it?
I just started a monthly single project that is part of my 20th anniversary project. This is released digitally at the moment and the first two singles are on iTunes now. There will be further monthly releases throughout 2012. I am planning to release songs on vinyl as well.

What’s the process of making a DJ Krush album like?
I just throw all of my originality into it, in the same way I have done with all my previous work.

Your last album Jaku blended lush, traditional Japanese folk with hip-hop. Can we expect more Japanese traditional fusion on future albums?
Maybe you can!

What advice would you give to any young DJs starting out?
Find your own style, have your own vision and keep doing it.

“I think the most important point is that we (people) need to use technology and not let technology use us.”

Where do you see DJ technology going in the future? I have no idea about this. But I think the most important point is that we (people) need to use technology and not let technology use us.

Who are some Japanese artists that are inspiring you lately?

MC Sibitt is just one of the more interesting Japanese artists inspiring me at the moment.

Who are you looking forward to collaborating with in future?

I have some people already in mind, but I will have to let you know later!