June 14th, 2013
This article was originally published in DJ Mag’s May Issue.
Dirtyphonics, a bass quartet from France, are correctly known to be one of the highest energy acts around, period. Appreciated for their drum and bass efforts early on, the group has continued their legacy by making high quality bass heavy bangers in pretty much every tempo there is. Bpm is not a boundary to these four. Charly, Thomas, Pho and Pitchin have been testing extremities when it comes to genre, and their newest full-length effort is a monument to creating new rules. Currently touring North America on the Irreverence Tour, Charly took the time to chat with us about all things Dirtyphonics.
You guys are pretty well known for your high-energy live shows. Can you give me a bit of a breakdown on what the roles are when you’re on stage together vs. your roles in the studio? I can imagine at times four is a crowd in the studio – a lot of strong opinions anyways.
In the studio, there are no predefined roles. We have a bunch of instruments, synths, machines, and obviously computers. This gives us the ability to all play together at the same time and find ideas. We usually first sit down all together to decide what kind of music we want to write and when we all agree on something we start playing with instruments and lay ideas down. As you say there are a lot of strong opinions and we spend a lot of time laughing, fighting then laughing again. When we’re all bouncing in the studio, we know we have a Dirtyphonics track.
On stage, Pitchin and myself play on four decks, what you could call a DJ set as it’s a continuous flow of music. The difference is that when we play our tracks we only have the beat section on the decks and Julien and Thomas on the MPCs play all the basses, melodies, FXs etc. On top of this, they play a bunch of teases going from Snoop Dogg to Metallica, Prodigy etc. We all play together at the same time, which keeps it really interesting for us and the crowd—there’s always something happening.
Do you find you’re at a disadvantage if you’re missing members during a live show? As much as I can imagine four being a crowd in the studio, you guys really kill it on stage together.
We all have to be on stage to play live or it can’t happen. It would be like playing in a rock band and playing without your drummer.
How do you find your sound has evolved from your Audio Porn days? What were you guys up to before Shimon signed you? Also, I can’t help but notice you’ve gone with Dim Mak for the new album. What was the motivation behind that?
Our sound kept the same energy and drive, but it’s now more organic. We’re also using more vocals and we went from track writing to songwriting. We keep pushing the boundaries and trying new things all the time. Before Shimon signed us, all we wanted was to make music and share it with the world. Things haven’t changed; we have the same drive and passion.
Going with Dim Mak for the album was a natural move. We met Steve Aoki on the road last year when touring with him on the Deadmeat tour. We already had put a couple things out with Dim Mak and when we told him we were writing our debut album he jumped on it and said he wanted it for his label. We have a strong connection with the whole Dim Mak family and we are free to do whatever we want, which was really important for us. It’s a great relationship and they truly understand our music and our dynamic.
There’s a lot of diversity on the new album. I read something you said, which I thought was a pretty awesome, “Tempo is a tool, not a boundary.” Would you say that was kind of your motto in the creative process for Irreverence?
Definitely. We used to play in metal bands when we were teenagers. We then got into hip-hop, house music, techno then drum and bass. We’ve been writing all genres of music at different tempos our whole life, so it just felt natural for us to keep doing so and not lock ourselves in one specific genre. From day one, we’ve played with drum and bass, dubstep, electro etc. So when we started writing new material for Irreverence it was obvious for us to create music that goes all over the bass music spectrum. This is what we’re all about, this is Dirtyphonics.
There’s some pretty good collaborations on Irreverence. Seems like Foreign Beggars are really making their rounds, not that I’m complaining. Typically, how do you choose an artist to collaborate with? Is it something all four of you discuss before? Anyone you have your sights on for the future?
All the collabs we have on the album are people we met on the road, friends. We wouldn’t make music with people we don’t like the vibe of. There are lots of people we’d like to make music with in the future. Some things are already started, but it’s too early to talk about those yet.
I can imagine touring is pretty exhausting, but you guys seem to make the most of it. What’s the secret? Are you able to choose a favorite touring moment of all time?
The secret is simple: passion. When you love what you do you feed off of this energy. We’ve met so many amazing people, we get so much love from the fans that we just can’t get enough. When you’re able to play music on stage with your best friends and make crowds go nuts and put a smile on their faces, then sleeping can wait. We’ll rest when we’re dead. Choosing a favorite moment is impossible as every show, city, country is different. We have awesome memories from lots of places and times and it’s the whole lot of it that makes the Dirtyphonics history something we will never forget.
My favorite thing to ask any artist (because I get to learn about awesome music.) Who are you guys listening to right now? Any genres welcome, not just electronic.
The new Metallica EP, 2 Chainz, Chopin, Calyx & Teebee…
So I read in another interview if you could choose one celebrity to grow morbidly obese it would be Justin Bieber. I have to ask, have you seen the news of his DJ residency in Ibiza? Care to weigh in? Would you be horrified if he played your tracks?
We haven’t heard of this before you mentioned it. That would actually be fun to see Bieber playing some Dirtyphonics. Exposing our music to his fans can’t be a bad thing. Let’s get Bieber’s fans DIRTY!!
Your touring schedule is probably a little crazy right now. Summer festival season is just around the corner. Any dates you can tell us about or that you’re looking forward to?
There are so many … EDC Vegas, Orion Fest, Camp Bisco, Shambhala, Audioriver in Poland, Ibiza…And obviously the Irreverence Tour we’re doing right now that will lead us right into festival season …
Basically just to wrap up, what’s the next goal for Dirtyphonics?
Continuing packing venues with our album tour, writing a bunch of new music and exploring new territories, developing our merch/fashion line and keeping surprising everyone including ourselves for as long as we can.
And we can’t wait for the surprises! Definitely one of the most versatile things about Dirtyphonics is the ability to move seamlessly between genres. As a result, their stage show is truly one of the best I’ve seen. The guys are able to keep any crowd rocking, and the Irreverence Tour offers something for everyone predisposed to BASS. As of right now Dirtyphonics will be hitting Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton, so be sure to watch for dates at a venue near you.
Photos By Jason ‘Ohdogyo’ Fenmore
Words by K Lea