AUDIO-GASM "We were searching for something between epicness and melancholy," explains Justice's Gaspard Augé (right), "and just having fun without any concern with genre."
Most musicians, at a certain point, discover a paradox at the center of the whole act of musical creation: that seemingly complex music can be simple, and that making simple music is often a complex process. After all, what do you expect in a medium where mathematics and pure emotion are intertwined? But for the most part, it has to do with the strange alchemy that occurs when an artist hears a sound in his or her head and then labors to make that sound occur in the real world. French production duo Justice know a thing or two about musical alchemy, having fashioned some of the more breathtaking music of the past decade — and what they have found is that in order to stay true to the emotional core of their muse, they must make some strange musical detours along the way.
"Our music is simple, in the sense that it is not abstract or experimental," explains Gaspard Augé, relaxing at home in Paris before he and Xavier de Rosnay embark on a world tour, in support of their sophomore long-player Audio. Video. Disco. (Ed Banger), which brings them to the House of Blues on Monday. "When we make a record, we don't think at all about people's reactions, or dance-ability, or radio-DJ friendliness, because it's impossible for us to predict what people will like; we just are trying to convey simple human emotions."
This can be tricky territory, especially for a duo known internationally for their electrifying dancefloor mastery. After all, Justice burst from the French electro underground six years ago on the strength of a series of high-profile remixes and records made for happening Parisian label Ed Banger Records, only to become electro rock stars on the strength of mind-frying glowstick killers like "D.A.N.C.E." and "Phantom."
The leather jackets and mondo light show didn't hurt their cause, either. "We don't think of ourselves as rock stars," says Augé. "We just prefer leather is all."
Still, there's no denying the attention the duo got upon the release of their debut album, 2007's † — pronounced "Cross" — a record as towering and straight-up rocking as it was a primer in then-newfangled electro-dance. Judging from the transition from their debut to Audio, however, it's clear that de Rosnay and Augé were looking to branch out. "We were searching for something between epicness and melancholy," Augé explains, "and just having fun without any concern with genre." For Audio, that search took them to strange musical lands, from the extreme disco-pomp of opener "Horsepower," to the AC/DC-goes-ABBA of "New Lands," to the straight-up '70s prog of album centerpiece "Canon."
"In techno-electro circles, it seems that people freak out with you put more than three notes together!" he adds. "But for us, it's just extremely enjoyable to harmonize stuff. For others it might sound cheesy, but we never had a desire to make parodic or retro music. The prog elements are more about Arthurian imagery, some medieval influences, but mostly the freedom we allowed ourselves in terms of tempo and key changes."