Welcome back Lounger,
Enter your login details below
      Lost your Password?
Become a Lounger.
It's free. It's easy. It's a community. Get involved!

Fill out your details for instant activation as a Lifelounge community member

This gives you access to post in all forums, comment throught the entire site, get all Lifelounge Newsletters and all the updates on our unique promotions, events and initiatives.

Step 1 of 2
Confirm Password:


Interview with Phoenix

03 DEC 2010 | Posted By: TheVine

Interview with Phoenix

France wasn’t well known for its guitar bands before Phoenix. And Phoenix wasn’t a real global force until its fourth album, last year’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, went nuclear. Propelled by the singles and leadoff tracks ‘1901’ and ‘Lisztomania’, the album dominated year-end lists, snagged an unlikely Grammy for Best Alternative Album, and went gold in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Once mining a much spacier sound, Phoenix has spent recent years honing a breezy, nuanced take on guitar-pop that’s euphoric and melancholic in equal measure.

Locked in for this summer’s Good Vibrations, the Parisian quartet is just starting work on a follow-up record. With a palpable accent and a mobile phone that kept dropping its signal, guitarist Christian Mazzalai patiently discussed writing on the road, remixes and cover songs, playing festivals, and adapting Wolfgang’s centrepiece ‘Love Like a Sunset’ for the score of Sofia Coppola’s (partner of Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars) new film Somewhere.

Doug Wallen: Was it strange to win a Grammy?
Christian Mazzalai: Yeah, it’s like a surrealistic experience. We really felt like outsiders, and to win this Grammy was something that’s still very mysterious. Very unexpected.

DW: Did you go to the ceremony and everything?
CM: Yeah, that was a fantastic experience. We were in the heart of America, with its best and its worst. It was fun to be inside of it. We were like exotic animals.

DW: Did you notice an uptick in attention or sales after that?
CM: Not at all, because when we did our record, we did it without any label. We created our own label [Loyauté, which translates to “loyalty”].

DW: Have you started work on a follow-up to Wolfgang?
CM: We’re doing it right now. We’re beginning to write songs.

DW: Do you get time to write while you’re on the road, or do you have to stop everything to do it?
CM: We could but we don’t, because we tried and we write very bad songs when we’re on the road. So we don’t. We prefer to be more down-to-earth when we write songs.

DW: How collaborative is the songwriting? Does everyone get an equal say?
CM: Yes. We four are at exactly the same level. Every one of us individually, we are average, but we begin to be good when we are the four of us. But me alone, I am very bad actually.

DW: There was a whole record of remixes for Wolfgang, as well as 17 just for the song ‘Fences’. What do you guys generally want or expect in a remix?
CM: On our third record [It’s Never Been Like That], we did almost no remixes. We were bored with them, so we stopped. Then on the last one, we had this idea to give all of our tracks off the album away for free. And everyone could do exactly what they want with it. Just the idea of giving away everything for free, we loved. It’s more the concept, the idea. It’s like a gift. For example, we gave away ‘1901’ in very high quality for free, but we didn’t ask for an exchange, like an email address or something for a marketing plan. We like this romantic idea of giving everything away without anything in return.

DW: With remixes, is it weird hearing something that was once so close to you be reworked by someone else?
CM: Yeah. It’s always strange, even to just hear your song in the street or in a mall or on the radio. So when people take possession of it, it’s strange, but I like the idea. Because we don’t control our song anymore, and we’re not stuck with them. We are more free. It’s a good feeling, actually. They don’t belong to us anymore. That’s what I like about it.

DW: And your song ‘Love Like a Sunset’ has become the score to Sofia Coppola’s new film…
CM: Yes, in a way. We took lots of elements of it to do the soundtrack.

DW: So it’s different then, the version in the movie?
CM: There are elements which are the same and different. We did a very minimalistic soundtrack, almost Japanese in a way. Very, very light. ‘Less is more’ was the idea. So it’s elements that fitted with the movie. The movie is very simple and minimal. We had to do music like that.

DW: Why did you use a pre-existing song instead of starting from scratch?
CM: Because Sofia wanted that song. (Laughs) That’s the very simple reason. That’s what I like about soundtracking: you are not the master. The master is the director. So you have to please the director, and that’s a good feeling.

DW: I heard the Bob Dylan cover Phoenix did, which is really beautiful. Do you do any other covers?
CM: Uh … just one. We cover sometimes a song by a French guy called Johnny Hallyday from the ’60s. It’s in French. It’s called ‘La Fille Aux Cheveux Clairs’: ‘The Girl with the Bright Hair’ [link]. [Strictly speaking this isn't true. When we saw Phoenix earlier this year in Melbourne they performed the Air song 'Playground Love'. Yes, we know Phoenix were Air's backing band. Still. - Ed]

DW: Just finally, you’re coming to Australia to play a festival, so I was wondering if you do anything to bolster your sound when playing bigger spaces?
CM: In the last month, we’ve been playing very big places in the U.S. We’ve done everything: we’ve played in very small bars, in clubs, in theatres, and in arenas. So every night is different. It’s very hard to deliver something unique when you play arenas. We try to avoid the big clichés when you have lots of people, so we worked to do something different, in terms of the show. We tried to maintain dignity, artistic dignity, but with a power, with a force. We worked a lot on that, so I hope we achieved something. But I don’t know. You will see. That was our main target: to do something very different. Or at least, to try.

Phoenix will play Good Vibrations Festival in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast in February next year.

Words by Doug Wallen. More at thevine.com.au.
Mad Decent Creative Director Paul Devro
Interview with Warpaint's Theresa Wayman
Interview with Danny Brown
Helmet's Page Hamilton
DJ Falcon
Freddie Gibbs
Top fives with Flight Facilities
Comments on this Post
There are "1" comment(s) on "Interview with Phoenix"

Respect Jamie
Awesome group. Love their music.
Jamie  -  3 years ago
Reply  |  Report

Want to talk it out?

If you’re already a Lifelounge member, simply login. Or you can connect via Facebook. If you want to stay anonymous (chicken!) just fill in this form for a once-off comment.

To sign-up to Lifelounge click here.
Your Name:
Your Email:

Link Image YouTube

Featured Today on Lifelounge
Stereosonic 2014 is epic
Stereosonic 2014 is epic

Posted in Music - 22 hours ago

Falls Festival Line-Up Announced
Falls Festival Line-Up Announced

Posted in Music - a month ago

REBEL8 Australia Tour 2014
REBEL8 Australia Tour 2014

Posted in Art and Design - a month ago

Daily Instagram Goodness
Also by TheVine
Interview with Justice
Interview with Justice

Posted in Music - 2 years ago

Interview with Steel Panther
Interview with Steel Panther

Posted in Music - 3 years ago

Interview with Digitalism
Interview with Digitalism

Posted in Music - 3 years ago

Hello! I hope you're doing very well :) I stumbled...
Mariana Morale
A reality that has it's own reason de etre ,it's o...
My favorite longest song is: "Mirror of Souls" by ...
Kelly Hor
Food is what we love and a new recipe must try. Th...

1 link
That's not Sally, that's Patty. http://peanuts.wik...
Hi guys Just having a look around to make some mat...
German stormtroopers of the PostP-opera; a boomera...
Martin Werne
Vincent Chase is the only Aquaman...
Mike Whitne
Lucas Grogan paints and stitches conversations
Lucas Grogan paints and stitches conversations