He’s been around for a longtime, and yet he’s only just gone 30. Anthony Gonzalez, the man behind M83, has seen it all – touring with The Killers across America, collaborating with over 100 acts and even moving to LA. But now Who’s Jack have finally caught up with him for a little chat about his new album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, and everything else in-between.
WJ: Mr. Gonzalez, you’ve been around a decade and parted ways with your band mate in the process. Tell me about that journey.
Well, the first album came out in 2001! So in those ten years, there’s been a lot of musical transition I’d say. I think change is normal; I’m not that same kid. I feel like my music is evolving the same time as I evolve as a human being. I’m 30 years old now – I have more experience and I hope I’m more mature now too!
WJ: The boy has become a man. I want to dive right in. Tell me about the track Midnight City – how did you come up with that amazing sound?
Yeah, that’s my voice actually. I was just high and trying to experiment with my vocals in the studio. Just having fun, you know? Sometimes, like for Midnight City, you feel stupid doing it, but sometimes it also works so you keep going. People think it’s a synth sound, which it isn’t.
WJ: After Saturdays = Youth was such a critical hit, did you feel any pressure having to come up with its successor?
Not really. I wasn’t really proud of Saturdays. I felt like I could have done so much better. It was almost like I was waiting for my next move to come along, without going for it myself. I guess I wanted to take revenge on Saturdays with this album. For the new one I wanted to make it really special and I wanted to take my time to craft it, to make it my own.
WJ: Are you happy with this one then, I hope?
Oh yeah, I’m super happy with this one.
WJ: Have you seen the movie Drive that came out this year?
No! I haven’t seen anything. I’ve been really busy.
WJ: I think you’ll love it – because your new album should have been its soundtrack. Your new album fits this sort of movie down to the ground.
I’d love to do soundtracks for movies. This is one of the main reasons I moved to Los Angeles, actually – to be closer to the movies. I don’t want to sound pretentious, but I think my music goes well with pictures. I feel it would be natural for me to try a soundtrack one day.
WJ: When you were writing the new album, did you have a movie or narrative in mind?
I try to compose my music like I would write a script, specifically with a story. This is probably because I’m obsessed with movies, their soundtracks… And yeah, I watch a lot, a lot, of movies.
WJ: Like what?
Oh, loads. Science fiction. Comedies.
WJ: Favourite director?
Terrence Malick. He’s probably my favourite. The Thin Red Line, Tree of Life. I love almost all of his films. He’s a genius.
WJ: You should write a song in homage of him!
Haha, I haven’t yet. But that’s actually a good idea. I’ll have to think about it.
WJ: So you’ve called the new album ‘retrospective of myself’. What does that mean?
Haha, it would be terrible to call it that. So pretentious! I guess what I meant is that I just listened to myself whilst making it; I didn’t trust anyone but myself during the whole writing process. Except, of course, all my lovely collaborators. I didn’t wait for my label to give me ideas. I always knew what I wanted to do and felt confident I could do it. All the musicians and the producers I worked with, though, were so helpful and definitely this album wouldn’t have been as good without them. I guess I had a really precise idea when I wrote this album and there was never any way I would have changed my mind. I wanted to stay in control of things.
WJ: Tell me about this central idea. Sounds intriguing…
The idea was to do something conceptual, and also ambitious. It had to be very big, and emotional.
WJ: You chose to call the album Hurry Up We’re Dreaming. Quite an interesting, almost contradictory title, I’d say.
I feel like this album is very dreamy but also incredibly urgent. It’s me saying, ‘let’s take our time to dream whilst we can, now, because life is moving so fast.’ Dreaming is so beautiful that we should take time to appreciate it.
WJ: Speaking of dreams – who is your dream collaborator?
Tough question, but I think it has to be Brian Eno. I’m such a huge fan and he’s one of the few musicians who has a real identity. A real personal vision.
WJ: Frenchman in LA. Tell me immediately.
It was tough for the first few months, but now it so natural. I love everything about the city and the people.
WJ: What was your move to LA like? What are the differences from France?
It was so different. The countries are like polar opposites. The culture is opposite. But it was also so inspiring. I entered this fantastic world where I didn’t know what to expect. All of a sudden I had these amazing landscapes in front of me – which I could touch and experience. It was honestly an amazing dream – I was taking loads of road trips to the desert, the ocean and up in the mountains. All by myself, to record, with a computer and some keyboards. I tried to make as much music on the road as possible.
AWJ: h – that brings me back to Drive and Americana in general. This does sound like a road trip album, with America as a backdrop.
Yeah, drive off into Nevada listening to my album ….
WJ: So, driving off into the sunset is one of your hobbies. Tell me some more.
So, the question is what do I do most of time?! I love going to museums, playing video games, smoking weed… Playing soccer.
WJ: Not much soccer in LA though…
Oh, man, I have a team in LA. I play a lot.
WJ: Is that Robbie Williams’s team?
No, I’m not in his team but I’ve played against him at his house! He has his own pitch. It was really fun, but five minutes before the end of the game I took on a couple of guys, beat them, but then fell onto the post and cracked my head open. It hurt. I had to go to the hospital. It was funny though!
WJ: Thank you.
Thank you too.
Words: David Whelan