Slove is playful. It’s sexy and suggestive. It teases you. Even leads you on sometimes. It’s highly addictive too. Like that girlfriend of yours you spent all night with, and still want more. Slove. Slow + Love as we find out when we speak with Léo Hellden and Julien Barthe, the two men behind what is arguably one of the strongest efforts to come out of Paris this year.
A lot has been made about the recent revival the French music scene is going through, especially so in the indie/electro/house scene. Where do you feel you fit into this, given that, although very French is some ways, your overall sound seem to lean more towards the other side of the Atlantic…
Julien: I think our melody and sounds come from the UK’s & beats and sequence scene, but also from “savor faire” old school house and a very french touch for sampling …
One of the things I like the most about Le Danse is the drums. They’re rhythmic, come in at the right moment and always provide just the right amount of tempo to a song’s backbone. I particularly think they hit the right spot on Carte Postale. Who does the drumming?
Julien: I mostly take care of the drums, mixing real drum samples with techno drums.
Who does what in the band? How do you go about composing a track?
Julien: Positions aren’t fixed. Sometimes Léo suggest a melody and I’ll respond or vice versa.
Carte Postale is probably the most fun-loving yet sexy track I’ve heard in some time. Somehow, I imagine 30-something bored housewives wearing headbands all working out a sweat to the song. The vocals couldn’t be any simpler, yet they seem laced with ‘insider’ references. Who is singing? What’s with the number counting? And, most importantly, what’s with the “Si tu as un plan cheval, let me know”? I assume it is telling that the counting stops at 69…
Léo: The singer is Anne-Laure from Appaloosa. We contacted her after hearing “the day“. For us it’s a perfect pop song. I’m not sure about what she meant with the lyrics. I’m just happy that I was around when she recorded it. When she’s recording she puts herself in a state, an out of body experience, and I don’t think that neither me nor Julien expected that style but were both amazed. It was intended as a demo but we basically didn’t touch the song after her recording to not fuck up the presence of the performance.
Anne-Laure Keib: This song, I was back from a trip to Camargue, South of France. I took this trip after someone dear to me, died. He was someone very destructive. I arrived in the most lovely place, near Les Saintes Maries de la Mer, owned by a British woman, and it was 8 hours of horse backriding, everyday, for three weeks, and it was amazing. One of the happiest moments of my life actually. When I came back, Leo and Julien asked me to write a song and sing for them. They were into the stuff I have been doing for my band, Appaloosa. I was in front of the mic and started to count. I guess this counting is about when you go through borderline or painful experiences, and find a stability and peace of mind, with doing something you really love doing, something very positive for your well being. The “si tu as un plan cheval, let me know”, I guess, is a bit ironic, not sexual, but more like “let’s make shit happen.”
Can you talk to us about the various different people involved in the making of the album?
Julien: An the beginning, Léo & me started pop songs which tilted towards dance music and we suggested them to singers we knew…
You have several projects you’re working on at the same time. Can you tell us a little more about them?
Léo: Tristesse Contemporaine is a project with Mike (also on Slove) and Narumi, a Japanease keyboardist and vintage clothes shop owner. We just completed our first album, produced by Pilooski. As for Aswefall, which I do together with Clement, our second album came out last year. We’re working on new songs now and hoping it doesn’t take five years until the next one.
Julien: I’m always running Plaisir de France, remixing many French pop personal hits.
What is both you guys’ background? Have you always worked in the music industry? What were you doing before Slove?
Julien: I studied graphic design and used to play bass and guitars in an indie pop band until 1993, then discovered DJing in 1995. I started to produce singles as Plaisir de France on Pro Zak Tax record in 2000.
Léo: I started in 1997 as a guitarist with Swedish singer Jay Jay Johanson and worked with him for about five years. Since then, I’ve worked on different projects and moved gradually into composition and production. I worked for some time antiquarian booksellers first in Stockholm and later in Paris. Right now I’m not doing it anymore but wouldn’t mind doing so again at some point.
I’m just happy that I was around when she recorded it. When she’s recording she puts herself in a state, an out of body experience, and I don’t think that neither me nor Julien expected that style but were both amazed.
Can you tell us a little about the atmosphere in the studio whilst recording? Where was the LP recorded? How long did it take? Did you develop any routines/habits (good or bad) whilst recording?
L. We share a studio in Paris and spend much time there talking and making music. The Slove album took about two years and an intense six months of finalizing.
Who are you listening to at the moment? What’s the last album you bought? Were you listening to anything in particular whilst recording the album?
Julien: At the moment I’m listening to indie pop, lots of edits and electronic dance music. The last album I bought is the soundtrack for “My Little Princess” by Bertrand Burgalat and Mogwai. During the album’s recording sessions, I was listening to a lot of house revival from Mark E , Eddie C, Noze, as well as edits and remixes from Joakim, Pilooski, Superpitcher, Inflagranti, Cosmo vitelli, Get a room and Datassette.
When and how did you guys meet?
Léo: First time we know of is at Sonar in 2005. We were playing in the same party, Julien with Sweetlight and me with Aswefall. Some years later we met again in Julien’s studio. I was renting the studio next door on a short term basis to finish the second Aswefall album. We ended up sharing Julien’s studio and started making music together.
What’s in store for you until the end of the year?
Slove’s debut album is out now on Pschent.