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01st Nov 2018

Chromeo’s Dave 1 explains why artists like J. Cole, Logic and Russ “offend” him

Will Lavin

“The weirder an artist is the better”

If you’re unfamiliar with Chromeo then I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you that you’ve been missing out on feeding your soul with some of the funkiest music its heard in quite some time.

Originating from Montreal, Canada, the electro-funk duo, made up of David “Dave 1” Macklovitch and Patrick “P-Thugg” Gemayel, draw influence for much of their musical output from Hip Hop, synth-pop, blue-eyed soul, dance, rock, disco, funk, and more.

And just like the music he makes, Dave 1 prefers to listen to “weird” music over the more conventional type.

“I like my shit to be weird and slightly disturbing,” he admits, talking to me about his musical preferences during a press trip to London to promote new Chromeo album Head Over Heels.

“With Chromeo we cultivate ambiguity,” he continues. “That’s so important to us, like, ‘Yo, are they fucking serious? Look at this guy with the beard and the gold teeth and this other dork with the leather jacket. What’s their deal?’ I want that. I’m aware of it. I cultivate it.

“So when P and I started Chromeo we wanted to be characters because we were already such a weird duo. Our idea was to be cartoon characters. We wanted people to be able to dress like us on Halloween.”

Moving on to a conversation about our favourite rappers and what it is about them that we like, Dave, who if you didn’t know is the brother of famous DJ/producer A-Trak, brings up a few personal favourites and those that helped inspire the sound and image of Chromeo.

“My favourite rapper is Prodigy,” he begins. “But there’s also Ghost[face Killah], Cam[‘ron] – I came up on Cam’ron’s Confessions of Fire, SDE, “Losing Weight” – and I love Future too.

“So to me rappers that are very middle-of-the-road, like [J.] Cole, they can rap but there’s no weirdness to what they do so they offend me more. Logic and Russ, they’re not for me either.”

Asking him what he means when he says they offend him, he continues:

“I’m not trying to diss anybody when I say that but to me rappers that are kinda just straightforward bother me. Like, who was I listening to in the car the other day? Oh, Nick Grant. He’s capable. Like he’s a rapping ass rapper but it offends me because of how normal it is. He’s got a song about his dad, he’s got a song about the struggle, he’s got bars and battle rap.”

Interrupting himself, he says, “Maybe I shouldn’t say it offends me but it doesn’t wake me up.”

Going on to explain that he in no way, shape or form thinks Nick Grant isn’t a good artist – “he’s incredible, make sure you make that clear” – he’s just being honest about his own personal tastes.

“It feeds other people but it’s not for me,” says Dave. “I recognise the power of these artists, especially now as people aren’t always going to want somebody who’s covered in ice, they’re not gonna want somebody who’s on xan, they’re not gonna want someone who’s got pink dreads. They need someone to relate to on a human level.

“Rap music is the biggest genre in the world and so it’s got to reflect the diversity of the experiences of people growing up listening to it. So yeah, of course they’re important.

“But for me, I’m a Moroccan jewish French kid from Canada. My relation to funk music, American music, British music, was different. Those artists were superheroes to me. They were like G.I. Joes. They were cartoon characters. Ghostface with the eagle on his arm. Rick James with the leather fucking pants. Prince… they were larger than life.”

Chromeo play London’s Printworks November 1st.