As part of my involvement with the Hyeres festival I got to interview a new (well, not so new, but new to those of us who didn’t know them before) band called The Shoes. They’re a French band with a very electronic sound and they’re coming up strong. They performed at the festival last year and they did a dj set this year. Their new video Time to Dance features Hollywood A-lister Jake Gylenhaal as a hipster slashing serial killer. I loooooove the video, some may find it a bit on the dark side but I say check it out anyway, and make a point to remember these guys and check out the rest of their music. check the interview below.
You’re playing at Hyéres this year and you also played last year. What does the association mean to you? Is it important to associate yourselves with the fashion world?
We love the fashion world and the human size of the festival. The mood is just so great. We really enjoyed being there last year so we are more than happy to come back play at la Villa Noailles.
You’ve had quite a journey so far and you have collaborated with some of the more edgier and interesting names in music. How has all of that influenced how you approach your music?
It’s always really creative and interesting : we learn a lot about ourselves, and we have the chance to produce only for artist we like. Benjamin and i are not good for the same things, so depending on the project, it’s more him, more me or more us. Anyway, it’s always surprising. Concerning remixes, it’s different. We learned that we are more talented remixing a track we don’t especially love, because it’s challenging, it means creating something we love from something we don’t like. It’s exciting.
Nowadays the internet, social media, youtube etc play a big part and are often used as the main tools to build a brand/band and get musicians out there, has this been a reality for you? How has it impacted your come-up?
It’s been a reality for The Shoes, yes. Well, we are from the myspace generation : we were in several bands, we did a lot of different stuff, and one day we wanted to do something different, so we created a fake band account on myspace, with the first fake band name that came in mind and put some new tracks on. 3 months later, we were signed on Green United Music. It was in 2008. Now it’s 2012, we are about to play the Olympia in 2 months, which is the most famous venue in Paris, and it’s gonna be quite ironic and funny to see our band name in huge red neon letters as we still have this first fake band name that came in mind…
You’ve also done a lot of production for other artists, is this something you are going to continue with or are you focusing mainly on your own work going forward?
Both ! We are always producing for other bands at the same time, it’s more healthy because if we were only working together all the time on our stuff, i think we’d kill each other !
How did your collaboration with Jake Gyllenhaal come about?
Daniel Wolfe directed the video for Stay The Same, and we loved it. We wanted to work with him again, and he really likes our music. So we talked about doing a new video for Time to Dance, and he was really into it. Daniel is working a lot with actors, in Stay the Same it was with Johnny Harris (This is england), this time it was with Jake Gyllenhaal.
Would it be fair to see it as symbolic of a full-on cross-over to mainstream fame?
No, we don’t think so. We’ve never been more indie ! It’s about a famous British director doing a video for an indie French band with a mainstream A-listed American actor, and about this same actor who likes our music, playing a psychopath serial hipster killer in our video, because it’s far away from roles he usually plays.
And how has his presence in your video affected your popularity as a band?
Everybody was talking about it, about him and then about us. But we won’t play at le Stade De France like David Guetta because of that.
A lot of bands that are viewed as underground in the early stages of their careers often adjust their sound as they get popular, has your sound changed as you’ve grown? if it has, how has it changed? If not, then how do you stay true to it?
In the beginning our music was more electronical, but also because we just threw out few tracks one day on myspace, and producing electro music at this time was a good way to become famous and produce for others. We have always been a pop rock band. So as we get popular, we also get closer to what we are really : a pop-rock band. We are just becoming what we trully are.
The imagery used in some of your videos is pretty dark, and all the way to gruesomely violent in your video for Time to Dance, what’s the deal? What is the narrative behind the Time to Dance video?
Ha ! This is Daniel Wolfe style ! We let him free to decide about his imagery because it’s his job. We won’t give him advice because we don’t ask for his opinion on our music productions.
We adore what he did the two times we worked together.
There’s an opulent and somewhat camp disco sound that comes across in your music, amongst other influences, and it has also been described as dark electro pop. Are these intentional influences? If they are, where do these influences come from for you? If not, what are your influences?
We have this common interest for pop music since forever, and separately we can say we are influenced by almost everything musical. Benjamin in more into French music, French rock, some folk music. I like hip hop, rap and electro music. We were in many bands, we had that drum & bass band when we were young, we then had a French rock band, we did some electro music too, we produced instrumental and classical music for Woodkid recently. So many things.
What is on your playlists currently?
You’re gonna laugh but i have a lot of my music label’s artists in my iPod, because some are friends too. Anyway the music is always good : Woodkid, Part Company, Rocky…
How important is image to you?
As important as music. Nowdays a great single has to come up with a great video.
What is the next step for The Shoes?
Holidays ! And maybe a new ep, or album, and many new collaborations