On the eve of their recent Dublin gig, Justice spoke to Paul Fennessy about fame, fascism and rumoured collaborations.
Justice’s Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay are no ordinary musicians. In fact they are not really musicians at all, or so they claim: “we always say we are not musicians by nature,” de Rosnay explains.
“Basically, we do the same job as musicians that we used to do as graphic designers; it’s not really a matter of skills or songwriting. For the type of music we do, the job is to have ideas and to translate your ideas whether it’s through music or images.”
Their by now legendary appearance, or non-appearance as it were, on the Jimmy Kimmel show, highlighted this keen interest in creating a distinct visual element to complement their music. Instead of electing to grace the stage themselves, the duo hired a series of celebrity impersonators to perform to the infectious sound of D.A.N.C.E. De Rosnay describes how the idea epitomised the duo’s quirky sensibilities.
“It was two or three weeks of work to make it this way. We always like the idea of using media exposure to do things that should never happen on TV. We like to use the media when we can add a small twist on it and do something that is a bit weird or disturbing or just really bad, because that’s always funny.”
Although, they describe the result as ‘corny’, the performance undoubtedly added to their burgeoning popularity among American music fans, a market normally averse to European dance acts. Therefore, given that their fame has now skyrocketed, do they ever have to pinch themselves upon realising the scale of their success?
“As long as we’re free and we have the means of trying out experiences and to translate our ideas into anything, whether it’s documentaries or music or art or whatever, we’re happy with that,” De Rosnay professes. “To be overly rich is just bullshit, because when you die you don’t bring it to your grave. We are playing gigs with Justice for €200 which is already a lot when you consider that we are just paid to play music and we’d do it for free because it’s just cool.”
Despite this dismissive disavowal of fame and fortune, the group admit to being helpless when confronted with some of negative ramifications which are intrinsic to life in the public eye. During the summer, the release of the video for their single, ‘Stress’, was met with a wave of controversy.
The said video depicts a group of youths randomly attacking innocent bystanders while wearing jackets that bear Justice’s signature cross logo. Unsurprisingly, the band were subjected to strong levels of tabloid scrutiny in the aftermath of its release.
However, De Rosnay defends the video and affirms that since the consternation has dissipated, people are finally beginning to view it with an open mind.
“For two or three months, people were just talking about the social issues. They were asking whether Justice is a Fascist band which was bullshit. Now people are starting to think again about this video and (they’re) starting to say that maybe it was a good video, because it was good directing or good acting and good editing.”
He pauses, before adding: “we can talk about the social issues for hours, but this won’t change anything. We don’t talk about politics with Justice”.
Conversely though, their elevated status also has its perks. Justice have remixed songs by some of the most renowned acts on the planet, including Britney Spears and Fatboy Slim.
The demand for their services has become so strong lately, that they have forced themselves to take a temporary hiatus from remixing. They have also been linked with producing several high profile acts, most notably The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“We don’t really give a shit about making a new sound or inventing a new genre”
“The reason why this became a rumour was a bit ridiculous. It was a picture of Anthony Kiedis wearing a Justice t-shirt. We thought it was really ridiculous and fun at the same time. But yeah that would be a good idea because this is typically the kind of artist that we would like to do. We would also like to produce some rap or R ‘n’ B artist. We are open to a lot of things, whether they are famous bands or new bands, we don’t have any preferences.”
Yet regardless of their prominent position in the musical field, they insist on taking a modest view of their work. They proclaim that they simply seek to entertain people, determinedly neglecting to take heed of the hype surrounding them.
“We don’t make electronic music to make a revolution of the music or the way of approaching music. We make electronic music because it’s the easiest way we’ve figured out to provide emotions like happiness or sadness, pain, pleasure or energy. The first aim of the music is just to provide these emotions. We don’t really give a shit about making a new sound or inventing a new genre.”
In this sense, the group are more reminiscent of their heroes, the Beatles and the Beach Boys, as opposed to the numerous obscure and pretentious electro acts which critics all too readily align them with. Tellingly, when asked why they have enjoyed almost unprecedented levels of success for an electronic act, they reply: “Maybe it’s because we are not into electronic music particularly.”