What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
Chris: When we formed Monitors our inspiration was to create loud, electronic pop music. The group was borne out of friendship. I met Emil through mutual friends, and initially we just went to clubs and bars in Paris and enjoyed other people’s music. That was how our band was formed. Then, when we realised that we were both musicians, we started to work together.
Emil: I used to play in a few bands, but when they broke up I started to produce my own music in my home-studio. Then, when I discovered that Chris was a good singer, we decided to write a song. It was just for fun, for our friends, something to sing at the parties. In the beginning we used to meet after work, but then it turned into a serious thing for us. I can’t really explain how it happened.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Emil: We released the EP in a great place called l’Espace B, in the north of Paris. We played a gig there the same night and decided to set up the stage in the middle of the room, with the audience surrounding us. With this configuration there was no separation between the audience and the band. It was intense and beautiful.
Chris: The songs on the EP are some of the heaviest we have in our repertoire. We have more varied , pop-esque songs, but we were conscious of making a strong impact with our first release. Lyrically and musically it’s an extremely aggressive record.
Which would you consider to be your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise ?
Emil: I always love to discover new artists in many different genres of music. I like the sounds of the electronic/techno clubs as much as the big rock/gig arena. I loved the last album by Acid Arab, the last works of our friends from 2PanHeads, who are a French electronic duo and the crazy sound of new Irish bands like Girl Band and Fountaines DC. And when we formed, our major influences where bands like LCD Soundsystem, Soulwax, MGMT, Depeche Mode, etc. …
Chris: One of the major influences for me, musically, is ‘XTRMTR’ by Primal Scream. It is an extremely important record for me because it’s the only album I bought on the day it was released. Up until then I had been focused on music from the 1970’s (Bowie, CAN, Joy Division) but ‘XTRMTR’ provided me with an exciting, contemporary example of what was possible with punk and electronic styles. When we first started writing I was really impressed that Emil could emulate sounds that were close to the power of ‘XTRMTR’. That was when I started to take the band really seriously.
I take lots of ideas from literature as well. Most of our songs are informed by the books I’m reading at the time. I like to draw from as many sources as possible when we’re writing new material. One of our first songs, ‘Auto-da-fe’, was inspired by ‘Memoirs of Hadrian’ by Marguerite Yourcenar.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
Chris: We are heavily influenced by dance music, but the problem with that genre is the lyrics. The text never matches the power of the sound, they’re often repetitive, vague or uninspired. That’s why hip-hop is such a powerful style because it juxtaposes dynamic sounds with potent lyrics. What we are trying to do is have every aspect of the song (lyrics, bass, drums) as strong and dynamic as possible. I want the vocals/lyrics to sound like percussion, to punctuate the music, and make it register in the mind.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books...
Emil: There are too many,… but if I really had to chose then ‘Abbey Road’ by The Beatles because I can listen to it on loop and never get bored. Actually I even hear new things every time I listen to it. Concerning the movies, ‘Phantom of The Paradise’ by Brian De Palma because it’s a masterpiece, and an album too. Then, ‘Le Diable au Corps’ (‘The Devil in the Flesh’) by Raymond Radiguet because to me it’s one of the most sensual books ever written.
Chris: I would take ‘Le petit prince’ (‘the little prince’) by Antoine de Saint-Exupery because I think it’s the most beautiful book ever written, ‘The Kid’ by Charlie Chaplin because it’s funny and poignant, and ‘ABBA Gold: Greatest Hits’, so that I can have a boogie on the beach!
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Emil: I really like both of them. The studio is all about how to transpose our feelings as sincerely as we can on the record. I’m obsessed by this process and I believe it’s the hardest thing to do. Live is all about energy and the feeling between the audience and the band.
Chris: Definitely the studio! I love playing live, and we’ve had some excellent experiences travelling around France and playing shows, but albums are the most important thing to me. This is the thing that will last. A record is a perfect document that can travel to the most obscure locations and connect with a wide variety of people and backgrounds. And it’s something I can give to my mother.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
Emil: I remember a gig for ‘Fête de La Musique’ in Paris ( a popular, national party in France dedicated to music, with many gigs in every city). This year, for us it was in a park and there were many families that we didn’t expect. During the show, the parents somehow lost control of their children and they all went on stage. Like 20 of them ! But it actually turned out to be a very cool thing because they danced well. Even when Chris jumped on the ground and they all climbed on him. There are some pictures as proof on our social network sites.
Chris: One of the best audiences we’ve ever played to! Also, once I met Thom Yorke at Euston station in London and he told me to ”fuck off” because I was asking him too many questions.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
Emil: Maybe ‘Clocks‘ because that’s the one I have the impression that we really managed to do a successful fusion between techno, house and pop. I also love the epic singing at the end.
Chris: ‘Encore’ because to me it’s the most mature, complete song we’ve ever written.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
Emil & Chris: We have many new songs for a second EP or an album,… We’ll see. And some cool gigs :
06/03 at HMS Victory in Bordeaux
20/03 at Le Truskel in Paris
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
What, ultimately, would you like to achieve with Monitors?
Emil & Chris: We want to connect with as many people as possible. We want to travel, meet more musicians, experiment with styles, and produce as much work as possible. We want to play in Europe and Asia, the USA, South Africa, Japan,… Actually there aren’t many places where we don’t want to go.
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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