- Wed, 2011-12-07 15:20
Anthony Gonzalez, better known as M83, released Hurry Up We’re Dreaming earlier this year, his sixth album in a decade. Another clutch of dreamy, ‘80s-referencing, shoegazing synthpop, it has proved his most successful album to date, scoring highly in many best-of-2011 lists.
I Like Music sat down with Gonzalez to chat about playing live, the new album, nostalgia, and youth.
“I Like Music because…it’s the best way I’ve found to reconnect with my past.” Anthony Gonzalez, M83
ILM: How are things going? Are you enjoying your time in London?
Anthony: Yeah. Everything is going very well. More than well. I’m excited about touring, about my album, about being in London but about leaving tomorrow as well, to go back home.
ILM: How long have you been here?
Anthony: Just since yesterday. That’s the bad side about being a musician; you don’t get to see places for long.
ILM: How was last night?
Anthony: Honestly, I don’t know… I feel like London was really tough for us. The crowd seemed not into it. They were very quiet. You know, when you don’t have positive reactions from the crowd it’s always difficult to get into it. So it was a bit rough, but we had a lot of fun.
ILM: Why do you think that was?
Anthony: Honestly, I think it’s London.
ILM: People often say it’s a tough crowd.
Anthony: It’s a tough one! And that’s the same thing in Paris and other big cities. People have seen everything. And I’m the same person when I go to a concert: I can really enjoy it without being so expressive. So I definitely understand it. It’s not a problem, but when you’re on stage and you feel like you’re struggling to keep everyone happy, it’s difficult.
ILM: When it does go well, what is it that you enjoy most about playing your music live?
Anthony: Playing live is always a challenge for me. I’m more like a studio artist, I would say. It was almost impossible to play live ten years ago when I started. I was too shy. I didn’t feel confident enough to perform in front of a crowd of actual people. But now, since the last album we’ve toured for almost one year and a half, and I learned to like it and to enjoy myself on the road. Now I miss it almost, when I’m working on an album in my studio I can’t wait to go back on the road and to play music in front of an audience. So it’s like a love and hate thing. Sometimes I feel like I just want to quit everything, go back home and start working on a new album and sometimes I feel like I’m doing the most amazing job on the planet. I don’t know, I feel alive – I know it’s clichéd to say it – but I really feel alive on the road. I meet tons of amazing people every night and travel and see different places. I feel like I’m useful.
ILM: When you’re writing and recording in the studio are you conscious of how your music will translate on stage?
Anthony: When I actually create them I don’t even think about live shows. I don’t want to. And that’s a problem! When it gets to it I’m like “oh my god, it’s going to be hard!” My albums are overproduced and have tons of layers in each track. We have to try different stuff for the live show to recreate the sound of the album. We have to find ways, but it’s fun to experiment. It’s a totally different process, and I like that about being a musician. My life is almost never the same. I’m in the studio, then I’m on the road, then I’m working on a soundtrack…
ILM: How are you feeling about Hurry Up We’re Dreaming now that it’s been out for a little while?
Anthony: Honestly, I don’t even realise what’s going on right now! I feel like I’ve been waiting for this for ten years and it’s finally paying off. I can see my labels and my managers are super-happy, so I feel like something is going on, but this is the first time that I have had this feeling really. It started so little and step-by-step we’ve tried to grow up. I like that about my career. I’ll never change the way we work on stuff. The adventure and making of this album is something I’ll never forget. I met and worked with amazing people. I moved one year and a half ago to LA just by myself. I wanted to get away from my family and friends and just do something for myself. I wanted to be in danger, kind of. I’m not saying that moving to LA is the biggest thing ever, but for me it was. I feel like it was needed and that I made the right choice. It was an amazing journey, and now hearing people’s comments about the album can be really rewarding and satisfying.
ILM: When you look back on your past records, can you see how each one has taken you to the next?
Anthony: There’s an evolution. My music is growing up at the same pace as I am as a human being. I’m more experimental now. I think I’m maybe more confident, and more mature, but maybe it’s time for me to be more mature. I’m thirty years old now...
ILM: You’ve said in past interviews that with each new record you want to propose something new to the listener. What might that proposition be in the case of Hurry Up We’re Dreaming?
Anthony: I don’t know really what I was wanting to do with this album. I was always dreaming about making an ambitious album, something that I would be proud of, and I just felt ready to do that. It’s hard for me to talk about this album. It’s still very fresh in my mind. The idea, when I started to work on it, was to not have any regrets. I listened to the mixed album on Saturday, the mastered version when there’s nothing I could do to change it, and I felt proud of myself. I cried. I’m proud of the people who’ve worked on it and this amazing journey. You know how music sometimes helps you to uncover memories of your childhood? That’s what this album did for me. When I heard it for the first time I started to remember tons of memories from my past. It was a weird feeling. Very nostalgic and melancholic, but a happy feeling. Maybe I was too stoned...!
ILM: One of the beautiful things about music is the fact it is so subjective and open to interpretation. Have you heard any interpretations of your music that have surprised you?
Anthony: Yeah, of course. Everyday when I’m done with my shows and I go and meet the crowd, people are saying such nice things about me. I can’t tell you how strange and proud I feel. This is exactly why I wanted to make music. So...finally I feel like I might be doing something good. When I was working on this album and all the other albums there were some moments when I’d feel super happy, and some when I’d cry listening to the music. I feel emotional during the making of any album and the fact that these people feel the same way while listening to it... is exactly what I want it to be.
ILM: You’ve said before that when you’re song-writing you’re often writing a soundtrack to an imaginary film. Is visual imagery a typical starting-point for a song?
Anthony: Not necessarily, but most of the time it’s visual. That’s probably because since I was a kid I’ve been watching a lot of movies and listening to a lot of film soundtracks. And when I’m thinking about my childhood, my past, I have these images…like everyone. I don’t know… My brother is a movie director. He’s four years older than me. Maybe because I was worshipping him so much when we were spending time together... When we were kids he was introducing me to the best movies. Maybe this is what makes my music so cinematic. I was born and bred with films in my head.
ILM: Looking back seems to be a constant source of inspiration for you. What is about looking back that captivates you, perhaps more so, than looking forward?
Anthony: I don’t know. I feel safe when I’m looking back. I feel like I had the best childhood ever; the best parents, the best family. Thinking about it makes me happy, while thinking about getting old doesn’t make me happy! But it’s probably going to change one day. I keep writing about my teenage years, my childhood, my past. Maybe the next album will be about the present.
ILM: Have you had any ideas about your next project?
Anthony: I don’t know what I wanna do. I really wanna focus on the tour right now. But, I just wanna make a movie soundtrack. I feel like one day I’m gonna stop making albums and focus on making soundtracks. I don’t wanna tour til I can’t move, or look ridiculous on stage! In the meantime I just wanna experiment with so many things. I would love to do a classical album, a hip hop album, a dance album. Although I feel like I’m probably too lazy for that...we’ll see though. I like to take my time on projects. I love music, but I love tons of other stuff, and I’m not this kind of guy who is working 14 hours a day. Some guys need to work, I don’t need to do that.
ILM: What have you been inspired by lately?
Anthony: I haven’t had time to go to the movies recently. The last book I read was okay, a bit geeky and nerdy: Ready Player One, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it? It’s for nerds, it’s not very good! For music, I really fell in love with the I Break Horses album. I keep listening to that and I don’t seem to get bored of it...