Moderne Man Talk Debut Album, Ernest Hemingway, and Wes Anderson Flicks
Tue, 09 Aug 2011 07:14:56
Who said dance music couldn't be smart?
Los Angeles duo Moderne Man infuses intrigue and intelligence into their infectious electro pop. The songs on their self-titled debut album [available 9/6/11] bounce with an airy electronic elegance, clever lyrics, and unforgettable hooks. They nod to Depeche Mode with just the right dose of European panache and American cunning. Plus, the group possesses a style all their own. Get ready because Moderne Man are ushering in the future for the clubs and beyond.
Josh Ballard of Moderne Man spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview about the album, why he likes Ernest Hemingway, Wes Anderson movies, and so much more.
Did you have one vision for Moderne Man from start to finish or did it come together song by song in the studio?
It was a side project that I started last summer in my apartment just to write songs outside of my other band, Until June. I thought, "Maybe, I'll release a song or two". Then, I started showing my brother the songs I was writing, and he loved them. He was the guitar player in my previous band, and we decided to form Moderne Man. It grew some legs, and we made the full record.
Did you always know where you would go sonically or did it take some experimentation?
We never actually decided where it was going to go. We had a little bit of success in Europe with our other band, and we were exposed to some of the dance clubs and different things like that. I experienced a little bit of this four-on-the-floor euphoria vibe. It's catching on now in the States, but I was really fascinated by dance music in Europe. Even though we're not outright dance, our beats are a little faster than your typical 118 BPM thing. I was fascinated with some of the sounds. The idea was to write something with no agenda of being cool. We just wanted to write catchy, fun songs.
What are the stories behind "Dangerous" and "Erase Me"?
"Erase Me" flips things. Other songwriters like to write about how their hearts got broken, but they rarely write about how they've actually screwed people over in relationships. It looks at me saying, "I've been damaged in relationships, but I've damaged people as well". That was the idea behind that. "Dangerous" was a story about a friend of mine whose husband left her for someone else. It's about not blaming yourself. The songs are very opposite.
Do you aim to tell stories with the songs?
I think the greatest lyricists can tell a story and take you some place. It's a little hazy in some areas but that's the idea. I think dance and pop music lyrics generally have a bad rap. They're talking about hitting the club and having sex with chicks here and there, drinking handles, and so on. I thought it would be cool to bring a thought-provoking idea to pop music. That's the idea.
What encourages that visual side?
I'm a big reader. Classic American novels are my favorite. I'm not huge into the British novels or anything like that. I have a rough time getting behind those. I love Ernest Hemmingway because he's so visual, but he doesn't dance around and use a bunch of ridiculous adjectives. I like the visuals that he paints. He's very direct. I really like Bob Dylan and Ben Folds too.
Which artists shaped you?
I grew up in a home where we listened to The Beach Boys and a lot of Christian music, because that's my family. In high school, I really explored and experienced rock n' roll. Right now, it's changed so much. I'm a huge Mew fan though. They're probably my favorite that's come out in the last ten years. I listen to their music quite often Foster the People is a really huge band right now, but I appreciate what those guys are doing.
If you were to compare your album to a movie or a combination of movies what would you compare it to?
That's good! I've never gotten a question like this before. It'd probably be a Wes Anderson film. I'd go with Darjeeling Limited or maybe The Life Aquatic because it's got this somber sad overtone and some of the songs have that. I'd also compare it to Lost in Translation. They both have that similar undertone, but one is more slick and polished.
Have you heard Moderne Man yet?