From the Funky Mofo archive: The first thing that comes to mind when listening to Sex In Dallas “Around The War” are notes from “Just Can’t Get Enough” (by Depeche Mode for those of you who don’t know). The album crumbles under well pumped beats and electronic rhythms, the vocals taste of the Hexagon, meaning here they are hummed voluptuously. If the picture seems blurry then address it to Adrien and Jean-Marc, two guys who freak out patching their laptop and their 4-track recorder and getting their female friends to sing, Mohini filling that role, and the lot being orchestrated from the other side of the Rhine.
Funky Mofo did just that during a phone call prior to their parisian gig at the Pulp.
Céline : Just for information I will ask you where are you from, how did you meet and what decided you to go to Berlin?
Adrien : I am Franco-Canadian so that will explain the fact I am bilingual, Jean-Marc is of Romanian origin and Mohini is Parisian (her father travelled in India in the 1970s and brought back names for his children).
In fact we all met in Paris because we were living there. Mohini and I have known each other for a long time, Jean-Marc vaguely tried to pull her and wanted her to sing on his compositions…
Céline : A trick that works every time!
Adrien : Yeah, it works pretty well…
Jean-Marc : …And then Adrien, smelling out a good deal, embarked in the story and we started making music together.
Céline : This is a lovely story!
Jean-Marc : It was rather funny and this anecdote is hilarious to tell, I don’t know whether it is very credible but in any case it is all true.
Adrien : Also it reveals the whole pathos of the band : girls in Jean-Marc, exclusion for me…
Céline : And what about Mohini?
Jean-Marc : Mohini was completely drunk when it all started!
Adrien : Alcohol pathos in Mohini!
Céline : Let’s talk about the album, there are some good stuff, some really good stuff and some average stuff. What we found in it were some influence coming from 80s British music, such as Soft Cell, Human League, Depeche Mode and more recently Aphex Twin…
Jean-Marc : Sounds accurate but these are music we listen to, they are not influences, more like references. Our most direct influences would be musicians like Moroder…
Céline : To whom you’ve dedicated a song…
Adrien : It’s not the most “morodorian” song on the album but it’s eventually better that way. John Carpenter is an influence, we have a very cinematographic universe, we love cinema. When we met each other a year ago Jean-Marc was composing some soundtrack-like compositions, Mohini and I were working on individual projects, some film edits for stuff we were doing at the time, we had a very pictural, very visual imaginary vision. People will hear this in our music, Techno and House are 80s music, we are very inspired by New Wave music as well as 80s variety and Pop.
Jean-Marc : The references you mentioned earlier are on the whole rather flattering but I’m not entirely happy about hearing there are some average stuff on my album! Only joking! For curiosity’s sake though, what in your opinion did you find “average” on “Around The War”?
Céline : Bearing in mind that it is a new album and my opinion is based on first impression, it feels to me that whenever you find brilliant musical ideas, they come very spontaneous, it feels the process was as quick as thinking about it and put it down on tape almost straight away. Other tracks give the impression they have been more worked, in a studious way in their structure or their construction. That there is more intellect behind them.
Adrien : I don’t think we have a very intellectual approach in the sense that we make spontaneous music, however the three of us have certain intellectual aspects as individuals, it is true that we ingest a lot of books, a lot of films, food for thought in fact. Our encounter is the product of this exchange, this discovery of the other in order to produce sounds, music that we like.
Mohini : An example of track that made you say that?
Céline : Tracks like “Crazy Dogs” (a very graphic, very visual track that will ravish horror films fans out there), a very good way to start an album, “Clerk Work” (electronic lullaby on the life of a salesman) which closes the album on a deliciously cynical note and which evokes Shorts Cuts by Robert Altman and of course “Everybody Deserves To Be Fucked”!
“Around The War”…a wink and a nod to Daft Punk?
Adrien : Yes, a friendly wink, we like what they do a lot, Jean-Marc is fan of their first album, I of the second. But they are not artists that influenced us, for one they are too contemporary for that and we don’t come from the same background, we don’t share the same experiences and above all we are not of the same generation. This track is rather a way to say that times have changed. They were making tracks in a hedonistic time, in an economical reprise background. I was 10 years old when the Berlin fell, 20 when the World Trade Centre burned down. We could not make that sort of music today, at least not ours. It’s an amused nod. It has got nothing to do with the globalisation question or similar issues, it’s more of a protest. There isn’t any message in the song, it is simply a story.
Céline : You’re playing in London very soon (17 July) at Bugged Out…
Adrien : We’ve played in London recently, at Madame Jojo. We would very much like to produce our second album there. Some releases are planned, on Rough Trade next September, on the Kitsuné label. For now we are touring almost everywhere.
Jean-Marc : We just released a maxi when we started touring, the London audience was very welcoming, very warm, they were visibly happy to be there, happy we were there, they were dancing and came to talk to us after the show, it was very light, no pressure, very nice.
Céline : Do you like playing live?
Adrien : No, not a lot, but we love playing in London. The atmosphere is magnificent, the people in a festive mood. There is an enormous gap between composing and performing. Especially with electronic music. Rock musicians already are in live configuration, it is another step for them, from writing to recording, from the studio to rehearsing and then performing.
Céline : But performing live also brings an evolution in the musicality of the tracks…
Adrien : Yes, of course, we’ve come to realise that playing live enables us to try out extended versions and then to come on a lot stronger, to play a lot more techno or even to explore a pop vibe, it works both ways. Especially due to the fact that we don’t perform through a “heavy” configuration, it’s very basic. We have a laptop, a midi…
Céline : You use FruityLoops which is very easy to handle. Is that what you’re looking for, to make it easy on yourselves?
Jean-Marc : Yes. We are not “nerds”, nor we are technicians. We appreciate making a light and spontaneous music. FruityLoops was then an obvious choice because of its accessibility, its ergonomic handiness, it corresponds well to what we do and what we want to transcribe.
Our phone conversation ended around Berlin where the three Sex In Dallas partners in crime have moved, “We composed everything in Berlin, we were already largely settled there and it is a highly charged place, musically speaking obviously, the electronic scene and the clubs are massive.” There, they rub shoulders with a multitude of ex-pats musicians (Chicks On Speed, Dat Politics) who work to re-awaken the city to a golden age it previously witnessed in the 80s, with the likes of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and other Nick Cave who went there to record some of the most visceral and impossible to miss albums in the History of Rock. The only difference being that the wall that divided the city is no longer, what remains is an ever bubbling creativity and a schizophrenic-like atmosphere of the former divide. Their German location might only be temporary, it suits the music of Sex In Dallas and their first musical postcard “Around The War”. The band is not opposed to collaborations (as Andrew Weatherall or Trevor Jackson can testify) even if it means a stay on the other side of the Channel where they already have a serious fanbase amongst their British counterparts.
If you can’t wait to see them live then take a trip to Berlin where they serve electro “On The Rocks” and the natives are multicultural!