Gallic duo AIR are about to take French music to new heights. Move over Daft Punk.
Words: Jim Byers
14 THE “ST 6— 19 Feb 1998
The List: ('an you remember the last dream you had'.’
Nicolas (iodin: ‘l was dreaming I was in a band called .-\ir and I had a lot of success . . .'
'l'llli SllliliR \\'li|(}ll'l‘ of hype surrounding Air‘s debut album .llmm Safari looks set to propel it into your home and onto the shell. currently reseryed l‘or .\lassiye Attack. l’ortishead. Bjork. 'l‘he Verye and Radiohead. It is without doubt. a record that no selli- respecting. music-loy'ing household should be without.
In the last two months alone. :\ir old l’rench producers Jean-Benoit l)unckel and Nicolas (lodin haye been intery'iewed oyer 150 times. l)unckel (small. thin. neat hair) is especially sensitiy‘e to the pressure. 'Sometimes. we are always talking about ourselyes.’ he
rel‘lects as he conducts the second of today’s three interrogations in a restaurant just ol‘l‘ l.a Bastille. ‘Sometimes. we are thinking that we are important. but we are not. The most important thing is the music.”
(iodin (tall. thin. shaggy hair) agrees: '\\'e want to do some music again. because we t‘eel most happy when we play inusic. We know that the album is not a bad album. but we know that it is not the most different in the world. We intist make better work. because you know. we are not some geniuses. We are afraid to haye no more inspiration. so we want to work yery quick to make more innsic.’
And what strange music it is too A a cui‘iotis but compelling mix ol‘ old and new; a fascinating blend of modern. dow'ntempo electronic beats and retro lirench pop mUsic.
sprinkled with subtle traces ol classical music.
lilm soundtracks. folk music and easy listening. .'\n unpalatable recipe on paper perhaps. but a magical least for the ears. Imagine Serge (iainsbourg. lil.() and St litienne crossed with Stereolab. Brian lino and The ('arpentcrs and you‘re only hallway there. ‘\\'e were playing ping pong with ideas] laughs l)unckel enigmatically.
[sing a small country liouse in Versailles as a makeshift (iodin and l)unckel recorded .llmm Sula/‘1' oy'er l'our months last
year. ttsing their own basic equipment and without an engineer. liach sound and each instrument was played Iiye. without the use ol samples or ctmipu[er-generated el’l‘ects.
‘lt‘s y'ery' pretentious I know.‘ says l)unckel apologetically. ‘but the album is like a little sunshine. We haye tried to do something that giy'es people positiy'e \ibrations and not sadness. .\'ow atlztys. lil‘e has [to sense. You work all day for a big company and you hay e no time to take care ol'your children or your apartment.
(iodin and l)unckel lirst met at school. .'\s teenagers. they formed an indie rock band called ()range. It was yery loud. a typical rock band.’ blttshes l)unckel. The band lasted three years before they went their separate ways. (iodin to study architecture. l)unckel to train as a maths and physics teacher. Years later. while l)unckel was supplementing his income playing piano in bars. they met again and decided to re- form their partnership. this time as .-\ir.
'l'hree 12in singles. ‘.\lodular .\li.\'. (‘itstlttny‘tt 7U. itlttl 'l.c‘ Snlc‘ll l'isl l’l'c‘s DC \ltll‘. followed in as many years. each one gaining respect on the l'K's underground dance scene.