Justice Returns to America
ABOVE: XAVIER DE ROSNAY (LEFT) AND GASPARD AUGÉ (RIGHT). PHOTO BY PAUL HEARTFIELD.
French electro-rock duo Jus†ice returns to the US at long last—their US tour begins tonight with a concert at Terminal 5 in New York. Comprised of Xavier de Rosnay and Gaspard Augé, the award-winning pair hasn’t performed stateside in over two years. Jus†ice manned turntables at The Creators Project in October, but apart from this isolated set, fans across the country have been waiting patiently to listen live. The tour, which is in support of their sophomore studio LP Audio, Video, Disco, isn’t extensive—just two New York dates, followed by eight other cities and Vancouver—but we’ll take what we can get.
Before traveling to Berlin a few weeks ago, Augé was gracious enough to Skype with Interview. We were supposed to talk, but he was bashful about his thick accent, so we typed to each other instead. No sweat. Our conversation covered everything from what the guys aren’t allowed to do onstage or onboard the bus, to a hilarious ritual they repeat before launching into their routine.
NELL ALK: How does it feel to be returning to tour the US for the first time in two years?
GASPARD AUGÉ: Our best memories from the first tour [for debut LP †] in 2008 are in the US, so we are definitely excited to come back. It feels great because everything—aside from the shows—is more exciting for us froggies in the US. It’s such a big country, it presents a broad variety of landscapes, people and situations that don’t exist anywhere else, which is great when you’re touring.
AUGÉ: French people.
ALK: “Everything aside from the shows”?
AUGÉ: It’s still like a childhood dream to be in the US. We grew up watching [American] movies, TV series and listening to American music, so the US cities are still a fantasy to us.
ALK: Which films and shows were your favorites?
AUGÉ: Silver Spoons was one. Our manager, Pedro Winter [AKA Busy P], thought the show was about his life when he was a kid. After Hours is a great movie to fantasize about New York.
ALK: What’s your favorite thing about New York?
AUGÉ: It’s funny because the paradox is that New York is one of the most European cities in the US, but it’s a distorted, gigantic melted version of Europe. It’s not human sized like European cities.
ALK: What do you mean by “human sized”?
AUGÉ: Human scaled. It’s over the top and this is what we love about it.
ALK: Where do you like to go when you’re in New York?
AUGÉ: Katz’s Deli. Lit lounge. We never have much time to explore, so we only go to the same places over and over.
ALK: What can fans anticipate at your Terminal 5 shows tonight and tomorrow?
AUGÉ: To spend a good time in our company, hopefully.
ALK: Fair enough. So tell me a bit about the new record and the writing process.
AUGÉ: Same as the first: epic romantic pop music. It was the same writing process, too—we wrote everything with a piano, a bass and a guitar, but, instead of replacing every note by a micro sample, as on †, we just recorded the instruments. We are not crazy good instrumentalists, but we’re good enough to write music. We just have clear ideas, but we don’t have special technical skills and we don’t want to be too obsessed with “technicity,” because it is often the enemy of style. We want to keep it magical.
ALK: You’ve said you wanted this album to be “dry.” What does that mean exactly?
AUGÉ: Dry means an understated production—the least effects possible. Ideally something that would sound like a rehearsal with a lot of details, but with an apparent simplicity in the sound, as opposed to most electronic music, which generally sounds really clean.
ALK: Gotcha. Any entertaining anecdotes from the road or onstage?
AUGÉ: We are forbidden to drink onstage because we’re standing on a grid of LEDs. If we put just one drop of liquid on it, the fuse will blow, so it’s healthier by default. And it’s forbidden to go number two on our tour bus.
AUGÉ: Very important ones. The other rules are more flexible. There are fun things happening everyday and hopefully it will keep on adding up everyday to the end.
ALK: What’s your favorite way to let loose? Are illegal substances allowed…?
AUGÉ: We aren’t too much into illegal substances, to be honest, and the problem is that most of them don’t really make you feel particularly loosened up.
ALK: That makes sense. Could you share a silly tour fact?
AUGÉ: We have a lucky charm tour manager. He’s bald and short, so we touch his skull before going onstage.
ALK: What’s the best thing about performing live before a great big audience?
AUGÉ: Touching his skull.
AUGÉ: Well, it’s a bit weird to be in front of large audiences, because we only see the very first rows and we spend half of the show in darkness. When we’re doing our solo shows, people are coming to see us, and in festivals we have to [attract] the people that are just passing by. It’s a different challenge. So far it’s been great in both conditions.
ALK: So, how does it feel to be a world famous rock star?
AUGÉ: I don’t know. I’ll let you know when I feel like one.
ALK: What do you feel like presently?
AUGÉ: Like I’m gonna miss my bus to Berlin.
JUSTICE ARE PLAYING TONIGHT, MARCH 16TH AND TOMORROW AT TERMINAL 5 IN NEW YORK. TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT JUSTICE VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.