Housse de Racket at Les Ardentes

With their feisty concoction of electro, rock and French touch, Parisian tag team Housse de Racket fired up the crowd at Les Ardentes at the weekend, playing the best tunes from 2008’s debut  album ‘Forty Love’ and its 2011 follow-up ‘Alesia’, released on the very cool Kitsuné label. We had a little chinwag with the former Phoenix and Air members Victor le Masne and Pierre Leroux a few hours before they went on stage, and brushed up on all the latest goss including their amazing Coachella experience and plans for album number three. 

Belgian duo Soldout recently remixed one of your songs – what’s the story behind that?

We’ve known them for a few years, actually – we’ve been quite close since our first album, Forty Love. We have quite a few friends in Belgium, actually. We launched a remix contest for our new single ‘Aquarium’ to be released on 16th July. Oxford had already won when Soldout suddenly sent us theirs out of the blue, and we felt very honoured!

How’s the festival season going for you? Are you playing a lot of gigs?

We are doing quite a lot of festivals, yesterday we were in Grenoble and played in front of 25,000 people. That was cool. Next week we play in Switzerland, then Francofolies, then festivals in Sweden and Estonia, …we’re getting to see quite a lot of Europe, it’s great! And in the Spring we did some big festivals in the U.S., SXSW, Coachella, …

Let’s talk about the legendary Coachella. Is it as amazing as everyone says?

Coachella is really something. Probably our favourite festival of them all. Each year we looked at the line-up and dreamed about playing there one day. This year our American agent suddenly said to us: Well guys, I have an offer for Coachella. We couldn’t believe it. We were in Hamburg, Germany, at the time, doing our soundcheck, and we were just over the moon. And it was horrible because we weren’t allowed to tell anyone yet because it’s Coachella and they have to announce the artists first. That was in September and then we had to wait till January to scream out to the world ‘We’re playing at Coachella!!’ It’s an incredible festival, really. And it also marked the end of our U.S. tour, an end with fireworks.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned at a festival?

Everything has to be amplified. The movements, the communication with people, …We like to play in small venues actually, to be close to the audience. Our goal is to create a sense of community, of togetherness, and the bigger the crowd the harder it is. But it’s a big challenge to create that kind of atmosphere in a big venue or at a big festival. We don’t know if we always achieve it, but we try!

So you prefer to play in small clubs rather than festivals?

We’re more used to playing in clubs with fewer than 1,000 people. But we love playing at festivals, too, we just had a look and there’s already loads of people here, it’s great. It’s just a completely different experience. When you play in a club, you see many different faces, but if you play in front of a huge crowd it’s just one big mass, like playing in front of one huge giant of a person!

Which festival that takes the best care of its artists?

Les Ardentes. No question. Yeah, don’t even have to think about it. Definitely Les Ardentes (laughter).

Any crunchy festival anecdotes?

Loads, but we never remember them! And you know, what happens on tour, stays on tour! If you want to find out, you’ll have to come on tour with us!

You said you’ll work on your third album soon, do you also write songs on the road?

We like to do one thing after the other, so we prefer to finish something before starting something new. But travelling and meeting loads of new people, that also nurtures and inspires you.

What are you doing after the festival?

Tomorrow we go home to Paris because Pierre is moving into a new apartment. He needs to pack his boxes.

And what are your plans for after the festival season?

We unpack Pierre’s boxes! No seriously: We will start thinking about our third album. We’ll also work on a video for our new single ‘Aquarium’. And we’ll probably tour until November, maybe even to Australia.

Have you come across any exciting bands during the festival season?

Hmmm not really. But we saw Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre at Coachella. That was crazy. They’re not exactly newcomers, but it was something that really impressed us. It’s hard to discover new bands at festivals, because we’re always busy.

And in general? What are your groups of 2012?

Hmmm…that’s really difficult. We started out by listening to 50’s rock and now we are slowly moving our way up, but we’ve barely arrived in the 80’s…(laughter)

The next edition of The Word is going to be dedicated to the colour pink – what’s pink music for you?

Hot Chip! And this group that I actually don’t know very well…My Bloody Valentine, their album cover is really pink. The last Phoenix record also…and the pink panther! And Pink, the singer! ‘I’m still a rockstar, naa naaa, …’ (singing).  Oh, and our sound engineer’s second name is Rose, actually. But it’s a guy, Simon Rose!

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