samedi, juillet 28, 2007

Oldies and Goldies

Some old albums still sell like new.

Titles from the '80s and '90s by bands such as AC/DC, Bon Jovi and Metallica continue to do a brisk business.

The Associated Press

A POWERFUL PREMIERE: The debut album by Metallica, featuring singer-guitarist James Hetfield, is the second-biggest selling album of the Nielsen SoundScan era. It sold 275,000 copies in 2006.


Much of the rock 'n' roll and pop canon is well established.

Buying the albums of '60s and '70s acts like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley is akin to a rite of passage for any young music fan. These are the artists that baby boomers love to keep buying, and with whom seemingly every teenager at some point experiments. (Remember A.J. hearing Bob Dylan for the first time in the "Sopranos" finale?)

Now that the '80s and '90s are ancient history, what albums are people still buying from those decades? Do critical favorites like Radiohead and the Pixies grow more popular with time? Or do the Backstreet Bo ys and Madonna still rule the charts?

The short answer is that, above all, people are buying vintage Metallica, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Guns 'N Roses and, well, Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

AC/DC's "Back in Black" (1980) last year sold 440,000 copies and has thus far old 156,000 this year, according to the Nielsen SoundScan catalog charts, which measure how well physical albums older than two years old are selling. (All figures for this article were provided by Nielsen SoundScan.)

Those "Back in Black" numbers would make most contemporary CDs a success. Metallica's self-titled 1991 album is altogether the second-biggest selling album of the Nielsen SoundScan era, which began in 1991. "Metallica" sold 275,000 copies last year.

Bon Jovi's greatest hits collection "Cross Road" last year sold 324,000 copies, while Guns 'N Roses "Appetite for Destruction" (1987) sold 113,000. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" (1996) continues to be a holiday favorite; it was bought 289,000 times last year.

Greatest hits compilations are counted as catalog releases, and account for the majority of vintage best-sellers. Artists that commercially peaked in the '80s or '90s that have had lucrative best-of collections include Garth Brooks, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tim McGraw, Creed, Queen, Tom Petty, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Def Leppard, Aerosmith and Lionel Richie.

U2, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Celine Dion, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Dave Matthews Band and the ever-touring Jimmy Buffett also all continue to sell large amounts of old records.

Michael Jackson, of course, still has one of the most desirable back catalogs. His best- selling "Thriller" moves over 60,000 copies a year and his "Number Ones" collection yielded 162,000 sales last year.

Avid fans may be buying everything their favorite artist puts out, but there's more than nostalgia fueling vintage sales.

"Young fans aren't excluded from catalog sales – especially the ones who really get interested in music, there's always that sense of discovery," says Geoff Mayfield, the director of charts at Billboard Magazine.

Not everything maintains long-term success. Asia's self-titled 1982 album was the biggest seller of 1982, but only sold 5,000 copies last year. Whitney Houston's 1985 debut, also self-titled, was 1986's top album, but now sells about 7,000 discs a year.

The same trajectory has befallen past mega-hits like Ace of Base's "The Sign," Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel" and the Spice Girl's "Spice." Though one of the best selling artists of all time, Mariah Carey's self-titled debut sold a measly 5,000 copies last year. The Backstreet Boys' "Millennium" managed only 9,000 sales.

Alas, the turning wheel of fortune isn't always kind to boy bands. "The only thing that kept coming to mind to me was that line in the Bruce Springsteen song: 'Someday we'll look back at this and it will all seem funny,' " recalls Rolling Stone senior editor David Fricke.

Now, some critical hits that were trounced on their initial release by the likes of 'N Sync can claim a measure of commercial superiority. The Flaming Lips' "Soft Bulletin," often hailed as one of the best albums of the '90s by critics, sold a solid 38,000 copies last year.

Radiohead's legendary "OK Computer," currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary, last year sold 94,000 copies. Nirvana's "Nevermind" has done even better; it sold 143,000 copies in 2006.

Current events can alter the charts. When Ray Charles died, his older albums spiked for months, says Mayfield. A new album from Alanis Morissette would surely increase sales of her 1995 disc "Jagged Little Pill," one of the best selling albums of the past 20 years.

Likewise, recent reunions of the Police and Genesis can be expected to increase sales of their catalogs. The Police's 1986 compilation "Every Breath You Take" has already doubled its already strong 2006 sales by selling 107,000 copies so far this year.

Many well-regarded albums continue to do healthy business, including: U2's "Joshua Tree," Dr. Dre's "The Chronic," Beck's "Odelay," Wu-Tang Clan's "Enter the Wu-Tang," the Clash's "London Calling," Weezer's "Weezer," and the Pixies' "Doolittle." Each sold at least 20,000 copies last year.

Still, many albums that are consistently revered on critic top-ten lists of the '80s and '90s have not sold much. Joy Division's "Closer," the Smiths' "The Queen is Dead," My Bloody Valentine's "Loveless," and REM's "Murmur" all sold 12,000 copies or less last year.

Labels often reissue classic releases to capitalize on the devotion of die-hard fans and to attract a new audience. In the past few years, revered indie label Matador Records has released Pavement's first three albums, including "Slanted and Enchanted," a disc frequently ranked among the best in the '90s.

"It's almost like a new release for us," says Matador founder Chris Lombardi. "We probably sold in a one-year period, pretty much what those records sold in their first year period when they were initially released."

Though hip-hop continues to rule today's charts, many of its most historic albums don't enjoy the catalog sales that those from rock's heyday do. Public Enemy's "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" sold 15,000 copies last year; Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique" sold 22,000; and Run DMC's "Raising Hell" sold far less than both.

So far this year, catalog sales are down 11.7 percent, but that's stronger than overall sales, which are down 14.7 percent, according to Billboard. It's a major portion of the music business. This year's total catalog sales of 95.6 million copies accounts for about 40 percent of all albums sold physically.

When people switched from cassette tapes to compact discs, catalog sales received a windfall as people re-bought their collections. The onset of digital downloading hasn't had that affect because CDs can easily be downloaded to your iPod, but digital stores do have the advantage of unlimited (virtual) store space to sell older music.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has pegged catalog downloads as 64 percent of all download sales in the U.S. (Apple declined to share its iTunes data on catalog sales.) That still leaves illegal downloads unaccounted for, as well as a more important quantity: cultural impact. Though bands like Sonic Youth, the Ramones and Public Enemy may never sell as much as other acts, their influence remains immeasurable.

"Impact is not strictly about sales," says Fricke. "Otherwise everyone would be running around forming bands that sound exactly like Poison."

samedi, juillet 21, 2007

Kate Nash interview

It's great when you're Kate ... Yeah!

We once called her a mini-Allen, but chart-bothering songstress Kate Nash isn't "bittah". In fact, she's the new queen of London's pesky pop kids. Sylvia Patterson finds her making fey while the sun shines

Saturday July 21, 2007
The Guardian

In a big silver car carrying seven people away from a festival, Kate Nash is by some volume the loudest, speed-talking through the contents of her kaleidoscopic mind; the state of her feet ("I've got a bunion, a verruca, the skin's all coming off"), the sun-set sweeping overhead in blood-red, pink and violet ("sooo beautiful, summer's finally here!") her need for "KFC!" and, for most of the two hours, this boy she's been having a dalliance with, who's proved himself a bounder, a scholar of the dating manipulation manual The Game ...

"And when I found out he read it I thought 'loser!'" she roars, "the most horrible book ever, about how to shag girls, they're such cunts and when I found out I was like, 'I hate you!'"

Today, the irrepressible Kate Nash, just turned 20, is No 2 in the UK charts with a break-up song called Foundations. Pesky kids, they're everywhere, the biggest and best pop stars in Britain now a generation of skew-haired indie talent, the London "wing" alone a bewildering spectrum of DIY, reality-pop jesters, united in MySpace, currently numbering Kate Nash, Adele, Jack Penate, Jamie T and the Maccabees. Lily Allen, at 22, is their pioneering mentor, last year giving Kate Nash the sort of free almighty leg-up that used to cost marketing millions; in early 2006, Lily positioned her at No 8 in her "friends" list, Kate saw a fan-base duly flourish, alongside a publishing deal with Universal, an album deal with Fiction to record in Iceland with sometime Bjork producer Valgier Sigurosson and the opportunity to ogle the fragrant Leonardo DiCaprio at London fashion week and be "star-struck" into a rare bout of silence. Long dubbed "the new Lily Allen" (or "mini Allen"), her comical cockernee delivery is almost laughably identical. "You say I must eat so many lemons, cause I am so bittah," she lilts, "I said, 'I'd rather be with your friends, mate, 'cause they are much fitter."

Her eponymous debut album, though, considerably widens the picture (she's more a lo-fi Bjork), an inventive, curious, experimental sparse-beat, piano-led song-writer and sometimes deftly wry, sometimes daftly literal lyricist who is not only obsessed with rubbish boys but tells spooky tales of Emily Strange type girls who glue their lips together and have skeletons for friends. Yesterday, she played the tiny, beautiful, lakeside Latitude festival in Suffolk and is now, at 3pm, perched in a back-stage portacabin, having her make-up professionally applied (several spots have erupted), copper hair everywhere, having not long crawled from her tent after a late night festival hoopla. "I look like a tramp, I'm so tired I'm delirious and there's holes in my brain!" she croaks, a rumpled vision in black leggings, black pumps and black Love Will Tear Us Apart Joy Division t-shirt.

Kate was 15 in 2002, the year the Streets and the Libertines changed everything, but is closer in soul, she insists, to the hoary old herberts of punk. "I love punks!" she beams, perking up, "I first got into punk music at 17, The Adverts, just from being a bored teenager. The attitude is just so non-bullshit. I do believe in the revolution, yeah! But I understand you can't save the whole world."

One week on from teen-hood, she's all shades of erratic, earnest, self-conscious and honest, a once "chavvy-dressed" London kid far from the "posho" she'd previously been billed. "That's because a lot of the others are middle class and know each other from private London schools," she notes. "I'm from Harrow. It's rubbish. In Harrow, everyone goes to the same pubs, pound a pint night, on a Tuesday. But I kind of like the fact Harrow isn't very cool. There's so much cool stuff going on that sometimes it's a bit 'oh God, I'm so sick of it being so cool!' I just wanna be in rubbish Harrow and go to Safeways and have beans on toast and chill out."

You can argue with Kate forever over sounding like Lily Allen and she will not hear it. "I just disagree about it!" she frowns. "My music doesn't sound like her. It's so annoying. I just wanna be me."

She wasn't, though, as Lily certainly was, a toxic teenage cluster-bomb berserk on multi-fold drugs. "Drugs are ugly and scary," shudders Kate, "stuff like coke, I'd just hate to put something up my nose (grabs nose). And it just hits you there (top of nose). And destroys part of your brain! I've been tempted. But I've got really heightened emotions anyway. I can get really over-excited about ... a biscuit."

Harrow is an average suburban enclave of north-west, greater London where Kate grew up with her "60s" parents, her dad from south east London (Dartford) who works in computers, her mum a nurse from Dublin ("she was really cool in the 60s, black eye-liner, bit moody"), a folk-loving family who Kate describes as "a bit loopy". A creative, imaginative kid, she had piano lessons with a neighbour and wrote her first songs aged 15.

"Some were about love and friends but they were mostly political," she chirps. "I was very passionate! One was called 'Black And White' about how nothing's black and white. I remember learning about wars and poverty and corruption and was really teenage 'save the world!'. I wanted to be in the Salvation Army. Proper wanted to go to Africa and work as a missionary."

Hating ordinary school, she switched to the non-fee-paying, performing arts Brit School (former alumni: Amy Winehouse, Luke Kook, Katie Melua and, crikey, Dane and Wayne from Another Level), choosing theatre over music "because I didn't think I was clever enough for the music course", immersing herself in physical theatre, Stanislavski method acting and playwriting, becoming "one of the top actors in the year". 18 months followed in Nandos and River Island ("crap, five pounds an hour"), while waiting on the reserve list for the Bristol Old Vic Theatre, her letter of rejection arriving the day she fell down the stairs at home, breaking her foot. Housebound for three weeks, her folks cheered her up by buying her an electric guitar, with amp, and she went back to the songs she'd started aged 15, now using the technological prism of Apple Mac's GarageBand. That year she also survived an operative procedure to correct her faulty heart.

Kate played her first tiny shows in local pubs in February 2006, five months before Lily Allen's Smile went to No 1 in the UK. Today, she's both fictional story-teller, chronicler of her own romantic catastrophes and is yet to have a proper relationship. Even Foundations' tale of a love affair gone stale was based on her observations of others.

"I've never had someone I would say was a boyfriend," she muses. "My longest was maybe about five months. And it was rubbish (buries head in hands) They're all full of shit! All of 'em!"

She thinks about her peers and decides the one specific idea that unites them all is "freedom". She met Beth Ditto on the Friday Night Project, "so cool and sweet and funny" and now sees herself among the spectrum of radically individual female pop voices which, even five years ago, would've seemed unthinkable. "A lot of young girls look up to me and it's amazing," she says. "When I was growing up our role models were fake and thin and pretty and pop and shiny and American R&B. If you look who's in the public eye now, everyone has a different style and body."

Suddenly, a scream. "It's Kate Nash! Coooool!" We're out by the lake, taking some photos, Kate now the striking vision of a flame-haired Irish gypsy is shimmering with the pale blue bruises of a winning weekend at a festival. Here in the open field, she's constantly mobbed, this time by Daisy, Anna and Finley, aged 10, 8 and 8, who ask her out for a row on the boats.

Daisy: "We like Kate 'cos she's got really good songs!"

Anna: "Good fashion sense!"

Finley: "And nice hair!"

"I feel like I'm having the life I dreamed of as a kid," smiles Kate before gambolling off to the boats with the next generation of pesky kids. "You know when you think you want your youth to be exciting and fun and kinda dangerous and nerve-wracking and you wanna be part of something crazy and massive? I feel like, 'wow, I am part of that'. These are the days of my life. Mental. I just wanna be an artist, like someone like Bjork and Kate Bush and Regina Spektor. These are people that have saved people, I think, by being what they are."

· Kate Nash's debut LP is out Aug 6

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

samedi, juillet 14, 2007

Daft Punk

Punk fiction.

So you've reinvented dance music, packed out stadiums and won over hip hop royalty. What next for Daft Punk? Umm, an art-house flick about melting robots, finds Alex Rayner

Saturday July 14, 2007
The Guardian

A scene from Daft Punk's Electroma
You may now kiss the, um, robot: a scene from Electroma

You can only imagine the confused faces in the boardroom when the pitch came in. Two French disco producers want to make a film about robots driving through south-west America, on a mission to have their heads transformed into human ones with liquid latex. The proposed feature is 70 minutes long, has no talking and, although neither have any experience in cinematography, the disco producers want to shoot and direct it themselves. Transformers, this ain't. Add to this the fact that they're not employing many proper actors and plan to sneak in a close-up of a young lady's pudenda into the final cut. And that the soundtrack will feature none of their own, popular music, but, instead, suicidal folk, a baroque liturgy, as well as such radio-friendly hit makers as Franz Joseph Haydn. Oh, and they want a helicopter, some explosives, a black Ferrari and a pair of leather jumpsuits made by the world's most sought after clothes designer. Drafting the cheque already, fantasy film financiers? Well, it's a good thing that Daft Punk don't need your cash.

Ten years on from their debut hit album, Homework, Daft Punk are still a formidable presence in the music world. Right now, they're part-way through a huge international tour, playing a greatest-hits set to stadiums filled with adoring fans. Clubs are throbbing to French dance music once again, courtesy of Daft Punk acolytes such as DJ Mehdi, Justice and Busy P. Hip-hop stars are also paying their respects. Last spring Busta Rhymes rapped over a Daft Punk break on his Touch It single; now Kanye West has borrowed from the duo's Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, on his new single, imaginatively entitled Stronger. Yet, despite all this acclaim, Daft Punk seem keener on half-filled film theatres than packed sports arenas.

"We expected it to be less popular than Discovery, of course" concedes Thomas Bangalter, the more talkative one, comparing the pair's cinematic debut, Electroma, to their multi-million selling 2001 album; "the film is experimental and inaccessible; however, it's a movie that does not require your brain to function."

Bangalter and his production partner and co-director, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, are seated in a smart west London hotel suite, having recently returned from their soundcheck for the Wireless festival. Known for their wariness of the press, the duo are recording our interview on minidisc.

To avoid any misunderstanding Thomas is explaining their intentions in considered sentences. There follows much discussion of Magritte, dot-to-dot books, and the subjectivity of musical appreciation; all of which sounds like, not so much cinematic nonsense on stilts as Gallic bullshit on a quad-bike.

"It is a film without dialogue, almost without actors," Bangalter says, "does it fit into the blockbuster film industry or the pop charts?" before answering, haughtily: "it does not."

This would all be rather embarrassing were Electroma not a gem. Daft Punk's widescreen debut is a beautiful, sun-blushed nugget of cinema. From the clunk-click of the 1987 Ferrari 412's doors at the start to the burning figure at its end, Electroma urges viewers to hit the "off" switch on their higher faculties, and float down a sweet stretch of 20th century celluloid, recalling the science fiction of THX 1138, through the Cali rock mythology of Zabriskie Point, via Gus Van Sant's Death Trilogy, the androids of Westworld, the nudes of Edward Weston and Brian De Palma's camp rock horror excursions.

As a multiplex option, Electroma is unlikely to appeal to all the ravers who cheered along in Hyde Park this summer. Yet, rather than an embarrassing stab at vanity cinema, the film could seal Daft Punk's reputation as art-house playboys. Unlike the Sex Pistol's Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle, the Monkees' Head or U2's Rattle and Hum, Electroma may be their first film of many.

Hundreds of bands may tout cinematic references, yet few have them as hard-wired as Daft Punk. Guy-Man and Thomas met two decades ago this year, at the perfect cinema-going ages of 13 and 12. They spent much of those early days in the flea-pits of the Latin Quarter in Paris. Bangalter says the first movie they saw together was The Lost Boys.

"We went to the cinema on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, when there's no school in France," he explains, "We watched a lot of classic films, from Charlie Chaplin to Fellini."

The one movie which they saw together more than 20 times was Phantom Of The Paradise, Brian De Palma's 1974 rock musical, based loosely around Phantom of the Opera (both this and Electroma feature "a hero with a black leather outfit and a helmet").

A love of smart movies and movie-makers remained. Daft Punk began working with Spike Jonze on their first video, when they were barely in their 20s. Michel Gondry directed the second, while Roman Coppola (Sofia's brother, Francis' son) shot the final promo from their debut LP. To accompany the singles from their second CD, Thomas and Guy-Man commissioned their own cartoon sci-fi feature, in conjunction with Japanese anime legend, Leiji Matsumoto.

These contacts stayed in the robots' Rolodex. Bangalter lives in LA with his actress girlfriend, Elodie Bouchez, star of one of Roman's features, and perhaps the model for Electroma's brief nude shot, sneaked in among a sand dune sequence. It was Jonze who put Daft Punk in touch with Electroma's special effects maverick, Tony Gardiner.

"Tony worked on Michael Jackson's Thriller video, when he was 17," explains Bangalter, "he turned Gwyneth Paltrow into a very fat woman for Shallow Hal." Although the duo's Parisian friends, Alex and Martin, first made the robot outfits, Bangalter says that on Electroma, "Tony brought them to life."

The film's producer, Paul Hahn, was a close associate of Gondry's, before co-founding DP's production company, Daft Arts. Hahn was tasked with finding two Thomas and Guy-Man sized actors to fill the lead roles. After considering a number of hunky Hollywood types - much to Guy-Man and Thomas' amusement - Paul eventually cast Peter Hurteau and Michael Reich, two production assistants who had worked on other Daft Arts projects. Hahn describes the process as a "Cinderella story". "The leather outfits and robot masks were tailored to Guy-Man and Thomas's physiques," Paul explains, referring to the biker-style leathers, designed by Hedi Slimane, former chief-designer at Dior Homme, for the duo in 2004; "it was a case of finding someone to fit into their bodies."

A number of additional helmets were produced for the extras. How many, is hard to say. The net figure is somewhere around 40.

Beyond these, few props were made solely for Electroma. Even the high-tech facility, where the robots have their faces slapped on, has appeared in another film.

"There's a big prize for the person who can name that movie," Bangalter jokes.

Electroma contains no use of CGI, and Thomas shot the movie himself, on 35mm Kodak stock. As this was his first experience of lensing a motion picture, Bangalter prepared by buying and reading more than 200 old copies of American Cinematographer magazine. The resultant shots are surprisingly accomplished. Just as Daft Punk are meticulous in music production, so they are equally obsessive in their film work.

Thomas: "I don't know if it's obsessive."

Well, you are perfectionists...

Thomas: "Perfection is also something that doesn't exist."

Erm, do you work hard?

Guy-Manuel: "We work hard."

Thomas: "We pay attention to every detail."

Rather than being distributed nationally, the film now plays every Saturday night at the witching hour, in an old Parisian cinema in the same movie-going district as they used to frequent.

"You have people there every Saturday," says Bangalter, rather proudly.

Daft Punk may sell-out stadiums and kick it with Kanye, but they seem happier pleasing a few Parisian film geeks.

Bangalter: "It's unexpected, doing underground art next to a Kanye West single. It's funny to be able to stretch and still not feel like you're a sell out - to be able to express yourself with integrity."

Having already hit the big time, it seems that Daft Punk's hardest task now is to avoid success, and damn the cost.

· Electroma is on at selected cinemas across the UK (see, DVD out Sep 3

Pop screen: five more cult rock flicks

200 Motels (1971)

Bonkers Frank Zappa-fronted hippy flick that resembles Tiswas for acid casualties. Plus, Keith Moon as a nun!

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains (1981)

Take lower league brat packers, Diane Lane and Laura Dern, cast them in a fictitious punk band, then draft in half the Sex Pistols, Paul Simonon and Ray Winstone. Grindhouse gold.

Phantom Of The Paradise (1974)

Brian De Palma's glitzy rock musical reworked chunks of Faust and Phantom Of The Opera.

Privilege (1967)

Pitched somewhere between Hard Days Night and 1984, Privilege predicts the corporate takeover of rock'n'roll and stars Paul Jones of Manfred Mann.

Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1978)

The Bee Gees "interpret" Beatles classics for this rock opera. Badness.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

lundi, juillet 09, 2007

Indie News

Smells like indie spirit

In the Eighties you knew where you stood with indie music but, twenty years later, 'indie' means major-label, mainstream guitar bands like Snow Patrol and Coldplay. But there are welcome signs of a return to the genre's DIY roots

Kitty Empire: We won the indie wars - but at what cost?

Jude Rogers
Sunday July 8, 2007

The Observer

Indie used to be such a simple term in the Eighties - a byword for an attitude, a subculture and a territory of music that was quietly, stubbornly, alternative. In the UK it meant anti-commercialism wearing a cardigan and glasses; a protest against the mainstream sporting twee hairslides. But now it has come to mean something entirely different. A few weeks ago, Big Brother contestant Emily Parr proclaimed, hilariously: 'There's a new music taking over this country and it's called indie.' Mario Testino shoots 'indie fashion' for Vogue and multi-platinum-selling guitar groups such as the Kooks, Razorlight and Snow Patrol are 'indie bands'. Indie is now a byword for something very different: for commercial savvy and success disguised as contemporary cool. It is no longer independent of anything: indie has become the mainstream.

How did this happen? And does there remain such a thing, in 2007, as a genuine indie kid? In the mid-Eighties these types were easy to identify. Inspired by the do-it-yourself culture that started during punk, they were devoted to independent labels, wrote fanzines, released their own records and wore second-hand clothes. The music they liked was often unrefined, heartfelt and honest, and championed by John Peel. 'Indie was about a mutually supportive network of groups who were doing it for themselves,' says Phil Wilson of the June Brides, a jangly London-based pop band who were seen as one of indie's first groups. 'It was all much more grass-roots and self-supporting.' Gregory Webster of Razorcuts, a London indie-pop band who formed in 1985, agrees: 'There was a strong element of being outside the music business machine.'

In 1986 the NME released a tape of independent bands called C86 that captured the spirit of the time, collecting together guitar bands with winsome names such as the Wedding Present and the Pastels. The following year a small label called Sarah Records launched in Bristol, and quickly became the favourite label of weedy, sensitive, lovelorn souls. In the words of label bosses Clare Wadd and Matt Haynes, the songs they chose were 'full of wrong notes and wrong chords but crammed with right Everything Elses'. But the indie kids' biggest band was the Smiths, a group who objected to miming on Top of the Pops - they refused microphones to make their point - and sustained a four-year, largely self-managed career on the independent label Rough Trade. The two men who fronted that band - whey-faced, effeminate outsider Morrissey and confident guitarist Johnny Marr - would come to represent the different paths the term 'British indie' would take.

I became an indie kid in the mid-Nineties, at a time when the term was changing irrevocably. Although I was traditionally indie in looks and attitude - I always wore my £10-from-Barnardo's long leather jacket with tiny badges on the battered green lapels - the music I loved was getting harder. The Stone Roses were indie's most revered band at the time, a group who mixed Johnny Marr's Sixties-influenced guitars with dance music's psychedelic nous. They had disappeared for years to write their second album, 1994's arrogantly titled Second Coming. But like Oasis - who would seize their throne that year after the release of their debut album, Definitely Maybe - they hated what indie had come to stand for. In the final episode of the BBC's recent Seven Ages of Rock series, archive footage showed Stone Roses singer Ian Brown sneering: 'The independent scene's a joke, isn't it?' and Noel Gallagher bullying the 'nancy boys' of indie who 'need psychiatrists'. These bands were laddish and cocky and their lyrics were about being famous rather than being an outsider.

There were, however, still bands that were fey and self-deprecating - Pulp, Suede and 'pre-Parklife' Blur - and they were the bands I adored. They glorified the geeks rather than the geezers, and made my gawky teenage self feel part of a wonderful club. As their popularity grew, the major labels came calling. Pulp were signed to Island Records in 1993, Blur were signed to Food, which had backing from EMI, before being bought out completely in 1994, and Suede were on Nude, which got subsumed into Sony in the late Nineties. The next decade would be marked by big companies gobbling up the independents. Even Rough Trade, the Smiths' label, was bought by BMG in 2002.

And gradually, the term 'indie' changed. It came to mean any shambolic guitar band that wore vintage clothes and harked back nostalgically to the past. Indie kids now are more likely to be the boy with artfully messy hair or the cool girl in skinny jeans than the 'mis-shapes' and 'misfits' that Jarvis Cocker used to treasure.

But something is happening that might just revitalise the original indie spirit: 21 years after C86 acted out its quiet revolution, the do-it-yourself ethic is back. Arctic Monkeys - a band that built up a grass-roots following before signing to independent label Domino while remaining in control of their songs and their image - are the Smiths of this scene, and bands such as Koopa, from Essex, and John Peel favourites the Crimea have sustained careers by releasing their songs as digital downloads - in the Crimea's case, for free. As major labels crumble, sites like MySpace and act as free publicity machines, and internet forums provide a new way to connect communities of like-minded people.

Bands such as Wakefield's the Cribs rail against the corporate excess of mainstream indie bands like the Kooks, who, they claim, once turned up for a small gig in their hometown in a bus bigger than the actual venue. 'Indie's a word bandied about with reckless abandon with no consideration for where the word comes from,' says singer Gary Jarman. 'We're genuinely indie, we've toured independently, and we want more bands to follow our lead.' And even though the Cribs have signed a distribution deal with Warners in the US, they insist it is strictly on their own terms and they'll walk if the label starts interfering.

In addition to the indie spirit fomented on the internet there has also been an explosion in 'small-scene' activity over the past few years, with underground clubs and labels such as How Does It Feel To Be Loved? and Fortuna Pop! providing gentler souls with old-fashioned indie entertainment. So is the original spirit of indie returning? I donned my red spectacles, fastened a 'Home is Where the Record Player is' badge to the strap of my vinyl bag, and headed off to gigs and clubs to find out.

First stop, the Astoria in central London to see Art Brut, a band that are a perfect blend of old and new indie. Based in London, they make their own record sleeves - 'Every one of them different!' says their charismatic but deeply unglamorous lead singer Eddie Argos - write literate, self-deprecating songs and exhort their fans to form bands. Their inspirations are American independent artists such as innocently childlike Seventies singer Jonathan Richman and ramshackle contemporary songwriter Jeffrey Lewis - whom Gary from the Cribs also likes 'for writing genius songs and still touring the world in a shitty van with his guitar in a binbag'. So far, so old indie. But Art Brut have also sold out a 2,000-capacity venue and become ever so fashionable. Their fans are all shapes, sizes and ages - a good cross-section of the new indie spirit.

Outside, a group of teenagers in velvet jackets are handing out flyers. They positively ooze indie. 'We're independent, not indie,' says Cyan, 16, with a studied world-weariness. 'We would've been, but indie means the Libertines and the View these days. We're more DIY.' He's in a band called I Am the Arm with his friend Aimee, and they both like Art Brut because the band doesn't subscribe to any notions of 'cool'. 'Indie's not difficult or energetic at all any more. It's just music for the mainstream. It's music for poseurs.'

Further down the queue, Carrie, Lucy, Laura and Paul agree. They're a little older, at the cusp of their twenties, in the classic indie uniform of dyed hair, cardigans and blouses. 'Indie's just chirpy rock that will get you in the charts,' says Carrie, swinging her blue charity shop bag. 'And it's all about looking the same as everyone else. It's become Topshop indie.' Sam and Sam, two boys a few years older again, who amusingly look like carbon copies of each other, think it's about more than that: 'Original indie still had a bit of danger - there's no danger in it today.'

Pavement T-shirt-wearing Johnny, 26, is just old enough to remember indie in the early Nineties, 'back when it meant groups from America too, and not just crap British bands'. It was about listening to Steve Lamacq's Evening Session until something jumped out; it was about a spirit of discovery. Inside, Clemmy and Mat say something similar. They think the term 'indie' has died but that something else is in its place - a new spirit of enthusiasm inspired by people who are fed-up of dull contemporary sounds, and who are buoyed up by the internet's capacity to store and disseminate music using next-to-no resources.

Just before Art Brut take the stage, I find the only people who actually like the term 'indie' - although they like it for very different reasons. First there's Aidan, 24, on a mission to reclaim the word. 'That is indie,' Aidan says, handing me a flyer for a club, Shot By Both Sides, that he started up with his friend Rob in New Cross. 'The word's become derogatory. We want to make it exciting again.' Dana, 19, likes the term indie because it's become more inclusive. 'I'm young and black, and I'd go to indie gigs five years ago and people would be, "What are you doing here?". It's become much more welcoming.' That said, her friend Ben, 21, says, 'Indie is something to make you look better next to the chavs.' And Emma, 23, and Jo, 26, two very well-spoken, pleasant girls with thick fringes, like the term because 'being indie made you cooler at school, because you were wearing the right kind of clothes'. They agree this isn't the kind of indie that ruled back in the Eighties, but a modern, fashionable strand. And how would they define indie now? 'Cool guitar bands,' they say, before running down the stairs to hear Art Brut arrive in a flourish of feedback.

After enjoying Art Brut's songs about unglamorous sex and the sadness of record shops being full of computer games, I catch a bus to the Young and Lost Club in Shoreditch, east London. I come here to investigate a related complaint about contemporary indie: that it has gone posh as well as cool; that the music of the underdog has been taken over by the rich kids, including ubiquitous gossip-column staple Peaches Geldof. Pop critic Simon Price recently complained about indie gigs being full of 'horsey young fillies canoodling with flush-faced bucks, fresh out of public school', deeming the indie gig the new 'social club for dressed-down debutantes to see and be seen'. Given that every pop culture movement from Fifties rock'n'roll through to punk and new wave has teemed with people of all classes wanting to be different, this isn't particularly surprising. But Nadia Dahlawi and Sara Jade, both 22 and founders of the Young and Lost indie club and label, operate a little differently. They are undeniably posh, and most probably wealthy, but they also use the tools of mid-Eighties indie to promote their passions.

We speak as Florence and the Machine, a confident, bluesy band far removed from the winsome indie template, take to the stage. The crowd are loud and stand-offish, but Nadia and Sara are gentle and affable, Nadia in smock and leggings, Sara in Blondie T-shirt and jeans. They met at boarding school when they were 11, and started making fanzines a few years later, inspired by a book about the DIY ethic of indie. They liked the idea that they were girls making things their own way - echoing a shift away from the masculinity of rock that was a huge part of the early indie manifesto. And the bands they promote on their Young and Lost label include Fear of Flying, whose first single was about a bus driver in love with another bus driver - a sentiment that wouldn't be out of place on any Sarah Records release.

But there the similarity ends. The girls describe indie as being music away from the mainstream that exists on an independent label; but then they tell me that their label is funded by Vertigo Records, which is an imprint of Universal. And then they tell me they'd like their bands to become mainstream too. 'Of course we would,' says Sara, sweetly and proudly. 'Because the mainstream should become a place for good music.'

It's this argument that reveals the flaw in the original indie kids' plan. The indie ethic as it was in 1986 - a protest against music that most other people liked - could easily become very snobby. A knowledge of obscure bands often became more important to some than the act of sharing this music for the pleasure of others.

But this isn't the case with many of the people reviving original indie today. The night after Young and Lost, I head to Seven and Seven Is in Highbury, north London, a Thursday-night club dedicated to the 'happier, simpler time of the seven-inch' and an offshoot of an increasingly popular, bi-monthly club night called How Does it Feel to Be Loved? The HDIF music policy is to combine jangly Eighties bands such as the Sea Urchins and Heavenly with girl groups and northern soul - music, crucially, that has its roots in pop rather than rock. Accordingly, indie-pop has become one of the terms these indie kids cling to, a term about sensitivity rather than contemporary indie's conventional rock swagger. As I walk down the stairs I see a small crowd of people wearing outfits from everyday jeans to tea-dresses and beads, dancing shyly and joyously.

'Indie used to be heartfelt, it used to be pure,' says Ian, a rosy-cheeked 24-year-old. 'It was never about triumphalism. Since it became that, it's been a meaningless brand.' 'What indie is at heart is a place for community,' adds Sarah, 27, from Glasgow, 'about doing things in your home town, not having to go to a big city to make it.' She's followed the scene in Glasgow for years, tracing the rise of bands such as Franz Ferdinand. But a visit to a large venue last year threw up a curveball - a 'new indie band' called the Fratellis. 'I'd never seen them before - they just came out of nowhere. And that really annoyed me.' There are some bands today, I say, whose approach to work and cost-cutting measures are properly indie, even though their sound and aesthetics are something quite different. 'That's right. But indie isn't a haircut, it's a work ethic.'

A large part of tonight's crowd come from the indie messageboard Bowlie, an international web community that grew out of the Belle and Sebastian and Jeepster label websites. Regular member Emma, 24, laughs as she tells me what a bouncer said to her recently: 'He said, "You're the most uncool crowd I've ever seen. You're like a disco for the computer club."' The messageboard's founder, David Kitchen, agrees. 'Indie initially was never about coolness. It was about the people that Pulp summed up so well - a little bit ugly, a little bit kooky, a bit fucked-up. It's for people who want to do things for themselves, and share things together, without fear of recrimination.'

HDIF founder Ian Watson is especially delighted that this culture is booming. Thanks to the internet, and a renewed enthusiasm for stuff away from the flimflam of popular music, he thinks we're now living in a golden age for DIY music. He mentions a new indie-pop festival, Indie Tracks, to be held in a station in Derbyshire this month, and how he keeps hearing about people setting up their own clubs, bands and labels. This reminds me of something Art Brut's Eddie Argos told me: 'You know why the real spirit of indie has to come back? Because everything else is so dull. And because it's time! Because something needs to happen!'

Ian agrees: 'At the end of the day, the only indie that works is indie that isn't based on fashions and hairstyles and profit and being cool. If that's the way anybody's indie project is heading, it will fail.' The logical conclusion of this is that if indie continues to get commercialised, it'll only end up annoying people - which will in turn only encourage the original indie spirit to reload and refire. So maybe indie will never really die? Ian drains his lager and grins. 'Indie as it used to be won't ever die,' he says. 'Because indie will always work when it's just about the passion.'

An indie summer: events for sensitive souls

Twee as Fuck Club
Buffalo Bar, Highbury Corner, London N1, Fri 13 July
, £6/5

New monthly club night whose organisers, according to their myspace manifesto, 'believe in fun. And indiepop and dancing till you're dizzy and snowball fights and early Creation Records and Sarah Records and cardigans and picnics and coach parties and Polaroids and janglecore and Molly's Lips and C86'.

Truck Festival
Hill Farm, Steventon, Oxfordshire, Sat 21 and Sun 22 July
, £55, returns only

Tenth outing of the Truck label's resolutely independent, 3,500-capacity Oxfordshire festival where the stages are on the backs of trucks. Due to the organisers and punters not wanting the festival to change and get bigger, it sold out in a day. Line-up includes Idlewild, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Brakes and Electric Soft Parade.

Indie Tracks Festival
Midland Railway Butterley, Ripley, Derbyshire, Sat 28 and Sun 29 July
, £45 for weekend ticket, £25 for one-day ticket

Two-day, two-stage event of 36 bands in a heritage station in Derbyshire reached by steam train. Headliners are recently reformed Sarah band the Orchids, and former Hefner singer Darren Hayman's new band, Darren Hayman's Secondary Modern.

Fortuna Pop! and Spiral Scratch Present...
The Luminaire, Kilburn, London NW6, Fri 10 August

Independent label Fortuna Pop! and independent club Spiral Scratch host 'queen of indiepop' Rose Melberg, singer of indiepop bands the Softies and Tiger Trap, and 'England's very own reclusive jangle pop genius' Harvey Williams, who released singles on Sarah Records under the name Another Sunny Day, and played guitars with indie band the Field Mice.

The Bowlie Alldayer 2007
The Rose of England, Mansfield Road, Nottingham, Sat 25 August
, £4 advance, £5 on door

Annual August Bank Holiday indiefest, this year moving from London to the Midlands. Bands confirmed include the School, Horowitz, Amida and Pocketbooks.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

vendredi, juillet 06, 2007

Live Earth..?

The Brazil show has just been canceled.

Rock group Arctic Monkeys have become the latest music industry stars to question whether the performers taking part in Live Earth on Saturday are suitable climate change activists.

"It's a bit patronising for us 21 year olds to try to start to change the world," said Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, explaining why the group is not on the bill at any of Al Gore's charity concerts.

"Especially when we're using enough power for 10 houses just for (stage) lighting. It'd be a bit hypocritical," he told AFP in an interview before a concert in Paris.

Bass player Nick O'Malley chimes in: "And we're always jetting off on aeroplanes!"

Large parts of the band's hometown of Sheffield were flooded at the end of last month after a deluge of mid-summer rain that some blamed on global warming. Two people were killed.

But the band wonder why anyone would be interested in the opinion of rock stars on a complex scientific issue like climate change.

"Someone asked us to give a quote about what was happening in Sheffield and it's like 'who cares what we think about what's happening'?" added Helders.

"There's more important people who can have an opinion. Why does it make us have an opinion because we're in a band?"

The group, whose first record was the fastest-selling debut album in British history, will clock up thousands of air miles -- in normal airliners not private jets, they say -- during their tour to Asia and Australia in the next few months.

They are not the only stars to take a cynical view of Live Earth, which aims to raise awareness about global warming but which will require many longhaul flights and thousands of car journeys to and from the music venues.

Many of the biggest acts have questionable environmental credentials -- the car-loving rapper Snoop Dogg appeared in a Chrysler commercial last year -- and there are doubts about the ability of pop stars to galvanise the world into action.

Bob Geldof, the architect of Live Aid and Live 8, the two biggest awareness-raising concerts in history, had a public spat with Al Gore about the need for the event.

"Why is he (Gore) actually organising them?" Geldof said in an interview with a Dutch newspaper in May, adding that everyone was already aware of global warming and the event needed firm commitments from politicians and polluters.

Roger Daltrey, singer from 1970s British rock band The Who, told British newspaper The Sun in May that "the last thing the planet needs is a rock concert."

And the singer from 80s pop sensations The Pet Shop Boys, Neil Tennant, attacked the arrogance of pop stars who put themselves forward as role-models.

"I've always been against the idea of rock stars lecturing people as if they know something the rest of us don't," he was reported as saying by British music magazine NME.

Live Earth takes place Saturday in seven cities -- Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hamburg, London, Johannesburg and New York -- and organisers hope for a television audience of two billion.

An eighth show in Rio de Janeiro was cancelled by police due to security concerns.

"Live Earth is going to bring together a massive audience around the world to take action against the climate crisis," says Live Earth organiser Yusef Robb.

"Some may say that rock stars tend to be conspicuous consumers, but if we can get those people to turn the corner then we're happy to do so."

Planners have put an enormous effort into minimising the environmental impact of the event in an effort to pre-empt sniping from critics about hypocrisy and the pollution caused by the concerts.

Fans are being encouraged to share cars or use public transport to attend, all lightbulbs will be energy-efficient and the food will be sourced locally where possible.

All the signs from the New York show and the stage in Tokyo will be recycled or composted.

"Where we can't use biodegradable materials, there'll be comprehensive recycling programmes," said Robb, who says the Live Earth gigs will set new green standards for the events industry.

After the shows, the organisers, with the help of accountancy group PricewaterhouseCoopers and an army of consultants, will calculate the volume of carbon emissions created and will then "offset" the difference.

Carbon offsetting means investing in carbon-reducing initiatives such as planting trees or making donations to renewable energy projects.

Robb highlights the good work being done by many artists.

British ska-rock group The Police and US funk-punk band Red Hot Chili Peppers are examples of "people who practice what they preach."

Meanwhile, nu-metal headliners Linkin Park have their own climate change charity and Hawaiian artist Jack Johnson tours in a biodiesel-fuelled bus.

lundi, juillet 02, 2007


Electronica That Rocks, à la Française

By WILL HERMES, New York Times
Published: July 1, 2007

ONE of the most blogged-about sets at this year's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Southern California took place on a stage dominated by towering Marshall amplifier stacks and a huge illuminated cross. When the dark-clad musicians let loose with a familiar hammering riff, the fans erupted in roars, punching their fists in the air and barking out lyrics.

Young audiences "just want more fun in electronic music," says Gaspard Augé, right, of the duo Justice, with Xavier de Rosnay. No, the group wasn't a heavy-metal revival act — not exactly. Justice is a French D.J. duo at the forefront of a new school of electronic music far removed from the genteel soundtracks one commonly hears in W Hotel lobbies and design-conscious restaurants. The music is harder and hookier, as apt to inspire slam-dancing as hip shaking. It's more like rock, which effectively dislodged dance music early this decade as the hipster soundtrack of choice.

"Our crowd is more a rock crowd," said Gaspard Augé of Justice, who is still surprised that fans sometimes stage-dive at its gigs. Young audiences, he suggested, "just want more fun in electronic music, more hedonism."

So in a year that has seen indie rockers like Bright Eyes and the Shins releasing conservatively tuneful CDs that parents might borrow from their kids, rowdy electronic music seems to be seeding a new underground. "People are dancing again," said Tom Dunkley of GBH, the New York company behind Cheeky Bastards, a weekly club event that has embraced the new sound. When Justice and several like-minded D.J.'s performed at a Cheeky Bastards event in Manhattan in March, Mr. Dunkley said, the demand for tickets was "crazy, completely unusual."

Justice's debut full-length CD, whose provocative "title" is a simple cross icon, arrives July 10 via the Vice Records label. The duo had a video added on MTV (extremely rare these days for an electronic act) and has just finished a remix of "LoveStoned" for Justin Timberlake. And it has emerged amid the ever-growing influence of Daft Punk, the Parisian D.J. duo that pioneered the harder, faster approach that characterizes Justice's music with its thrillingly crude electro-house debut, "Homework," in 1996. The rapper Kanye West sampled a track from that album for his hit "Stronger"; this summer Daft Punk will embark on its first major tour in a decade, a multimedia extravaganza that will come to Keyspan Park at Coney Island on Aug. 9.

Some American acts, like LCD Soundsystem and Ghostland Observatory, have been channeling this new sound, as have cutting-edge artists elsewhere. (In recent recordings and live shows, Bjork has been adding noise to her usual dance beats.) But for the past couple of years France has served as its most exciting incubator, on indie labels like Kitsuné, Institubes and especially Ed Banger, which signed Justice and whose name suggests its M.O. (Try pronouncing "headbanger" with a Parisian accent.) And despite some tut-tutting by fans of minimalist techno and other esoteric electronic styles, the new headbanging aesthetic has found an audience.

The members of Justice — Mr. Augé, 27, and Xavier de Rosnay, 24 — met in Paris. Mr. Augé was a Metallica fan who once played in an experimental post-rock group. Mr. de Rosnay was a fan of hip-hop and pop. Justice was effectively born in 2003 when the pair, on a lark, refashioned a song for a remix contest promoted by a college radio station in Paris.

"You could download the separate tracks: guitar, drums and other things," Mr. de Rosnay said via phone from Paris, explaining their remix process. "But we were working without music software: just a sampler, a sequencer and a synthesizer. So we downloaded just the voice on the chorus, because there was not space enough for more than eight seconds of sound on our sampler."

The remix, a radical reshaping of "Never Be Alone" by the British rock group Simian, lost the contest (no one seems to recall who won) but netted the duo a deal with the nascent Ed Banger label in 2003. Eventually retitled "We Are Your Friends" to echo its shouted refrain, the track became a club and Internet phenomenon. To top it off a striking video clip for the song, which looked like the aftermath of a college keg party as dreamed by Michel Gondry, won the award for best video at last year's MTV Europe Music Awards, trumping even the Evel Knievel-themed flamboyance of "Touch the Sky" by Kanye West (who, characteristically, threw a tantrum over the outcome).

"We Are Your Friends" isn't on Justice's new album, but there are plenty of other signs of the members' fusion-minded taste, from a pixilated take on Parliament-Funkadelic ("New Jack") to the kiddie-disco singalong single "D.A.N.C.E.," which seems to have struck a chord: A leaked version was so widely remixed by Internet sample-jackers that Vice posted alternate versions on its blog.

The album also includes the vocal-less single "Waters of Nazareth" from the group's self-titled EP, which made numerous best-of lists last year. The new version begins with a serrated sputtering of electronic noise; when a 4/4 kick-drum beat comes in, the noise becomes a simple, brutish melody. It mutates as the beats fragment, like chips of wood from the blade of a buzz saw, and is replaced by a churchy organ riff on the bridge; then the two melody lines combine, skidding back into pure modulating noise again at the end.

As with the best garage rock or heavy metal — as well as '80s electro, the synthesizer-heavy urban dance style Justice frequently echoes — there is beauty in the relentless primitivism.

As for the cross-icon title, Mr. Augé said it was inspired, in part, because "it was a potent pop symbol in the '90s, with people like Madonna and George Michael using it." Of course it's also a common heavy-metal motif, a connection also suggested by Justice's crudely gothic black-and-silver cover art (not to mention those awe-inspiring Marshall stacks, which, it should be noted, are merely stage props).

Both members of Justice have worked as graphic designers, and visual presentation is an important part of Ed Banger's aesthetic. So is a sense of playfulness, whether it's the shameless potty mouth of Uffie, a female American rapper of sorts best known for the campy gangsta track "Pop the Glock," or the way DJ Mehdi mixes old-school hip-hop and electro with bits of hair-metal guitar. (Both acts appear on the recent compilation "Ed Rec Vol. 2," released in America via Vice.)

"I've never worked with a group that's so fully formed," said Adam Shore, the general manager of Vice Records, referring to the Ed Banger crew. "They've got the music, the art, the aesthetic, the amazing videos, and they're kind of a traveling party."

Ed Banger's multimedia sensibility, not to mention its sound, has a clear antecedent. The label is run by Pedro Winter, who, in addition to making music as Busy P, has for many years managed Daft Punk, the duo of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. Like Justice, Daft Punk played Coachella, in 2006; its set was a spectacle of lights and video with the duo, in the guise of robots, triggering electronics atop a sort of neon pyramid.

Daft Punk is not directly involved in Ed Banger, but you can hear its influence on the label. And Mr. Bangalter's superlative remix of DJ Mehdi's "Signature" turns a teasing snippet into what might be the most ecstatic dance track you'll hear this year. The duo's influence persists elsewhere too.

"Daft Punk were my heroes when they released the `Homework' album," said Thomas Turner of the young Austin synth-rock band Ghostland Observatory. "That really influenced my view on music."

Mr. Bangalter, who spoke from Los Angeles last month during a break from tour rehearsals, is amused that, at 32, he is considered an elder statesman to a new generation of electronic musicians. And unlike the scene veterans who reject the rockist attitude of Justice and its peers, Mr. Bangalter appreciates the music on its own terms.

"Most of these people were like 6 or 7 years old" during electronica's first wave, he said. "It's not really their history. So they are starting from scratch maybe. From more of a blank slate."

Or as Justice's Mr. Augé put it, "We just don't care about respecting the rules."