Slam Dunkin' Electrofunkin'
Souls & Sounds caught up with Patrick Gemayel (P-Thugg) of electrofunk duo CHROMEO to talk about their new release, classic hip hop, record collecting and more!
In 2004, Chromeo's David Macklovitch (Dave 1-left) and Patrick Gemayel
(P-Thugg-right), took the world by storm with their electro funk rhythms reminiscent of old school 80's funk meets new wave.
If you can imagine Roger Troutman (Zapp) shaking hands with Hall & Oates, then adding the influence of early 90's hip hop to the mix, you have the ingredients for this Canadian duo's vibe.
P. and Dave released their first album, She's Out Of Control (2004) to rave reviews among dance music fanatics worldwide but it was their second album, Fancy Footwork (2007) that catapulted their success sparking the club circuit favorites, "Momma's Boy" and "Bonafide Lovin'".
With odes to their classic influences and yet still keeping their sound fresh and new, Chromeo continues to remain a favorite among electrofunk heads and electronica music fans alike.
The duo is now working on their third album and have just recently released the first single, "Night By Night" showcasing the beats, talkbox and grooves that fans have come to know and love.
We caught up with Patrick Gemayel to find out what's new in the world of Chromeo.
S&S/J&R: Hey Patrick it’s Raina and James/Souls & Sounds in Sacramento, California.
P.: Hey! What’s up?
S&S/R: We’re good! Where are you right now exactly?
P: In Montreal, Canada.
S&S/R: Is it freezing cold over there and snowing yet?
P: Freezing cold….there’s 2 feet of snow outside!
S&S/J: Hey tell me something. What does one wear to a “phone interview”?
P: What does one wear to a phone interview?? (laughs)….Uhh…right now I’m barefoot…
S&S/R: So am I! James isn’t, he’s got flip flops on.
P: Yeah? And I have my scarf on…you, know my comfy thing…
S&S/R: Nice…we’d like to catch up on what’s new with you and Dave. How did you guys meet first of all? And when did you decide to get Chromeo together?
S&S/J: Yeah, I was just telling Raina, you guys are like the electronic Hall & Oates.
S&S/R: I would say so! I agree.
P: (laughs)….Well, we’d met in high school and I’d started a band with a drummer there. Me and Dave became friends and started jamming together. This was like 17 years ago. We started Chromeo in 2001.
S&S/R: What kind of music influenced you? I know Dave sort of grew up with a lot of rock and soft-rock stuff from the 70s/80s.
P: I never really lived “the 80’s“. I’m from Lebanon, I was born in the Middle East. When I came here I was 8 years old in the late 80s. So my first albums ever in my life as a kid were Michael Jackson’s Bad and L.L. Cool J’s Bigger & Deffer. That was my introduction to North American music. I got off the boat and got into hip hop right away. It was either Michael Jackson or EPMD or De La Soul. L.L. Cool J, Black Sheep. So I was really into hip hop until like ‘92 or ‘93. When the game started changing a lot, it was becoming more about smoking weed…there was no more dancing, there was no more good times. It was all about nodding your head in the club and not moving and smoking weed. This was the point that I changed. It became really different from what I knew and that’s the point where I starting discovering instruments. I started playing guitar, I discovered other music like Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix. Around 13 years old I picked up my first instrument.
S&S/R: When did you start using the talkbox?
P: That started a bit later on. I started to collect records because I started discovering other music that I missed not growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. I didn’t grow up with parents who listened to Paul Simon at home, you know? Slowly but surely I discovered funk and I was like “yo, this is insane!” I could hear all the samples that I was listening to in De La Soul and EPMD as a kid. I was discovering that all these funk songs were sampled and looped on those. I was like “ Wow, this is Roger Trautman?!” just incredible. I got really heavy into funk at around like 15 years old and that’s exactly when I met Dave. We were both discovering funk. He was coming from the exact opposite background. He was coming from rock ‘n’ roll and soft-rock, heavy Led Zeppelin fan…and he kind of discovered hip hop at around ‘92/‘93 when the Beastie Boys made it really available for everybody to cross the bridge between rock and hip hop. That’s when hip hop became really big. Snoop blew up., Cypress Hill blew up and a lot of skater kids where into that. That’s exactly when Dave discovered hip hop. He got really into Cypress Hill, Beastie Boys, Black Moon and all those mid-90’s groups.
S&S./R: One of the best era’s of hip hop right there which ended in about 94/95.
P: Yeah….so we have a really different past, but we had a common point that was funk. Our first main love.
S&S/R: You know, I first discovered you guys on Live From Daryl’s House and that episode introduced me to the show and you guys. How was that?
P: It was incredible to us because he has been an inspiration for us for a really long time. We’re really heavy into funk, soul and 70s/early-80s black music. Whenever we listened to Hall & Oates ,we hear that they had the same references as we do, they just did it at a different period. Daryl Hall invented blue-eyed soul. He’s from Philly. He grew up with The Temptations, Smokey Robinson…and we really feel close to that. We have a soft spot for Hall & Oates. People even started to compare us to them saying we’re the new Hall & Oates.
S&S/R: Now I hear that you guys are possibly doing some stuff with Daryl on his new solo album?
P: I can’t really talk about anything yet, but there’s gonna be stuff to see. And uhh…yeah, that’s it. (laughs)
S&S/J&R: Ahhhh!!! Ok, ok….(laughs)
S&S/R: It must’ve been something for you guys when Fancy Footwork hit! We have the album right in front of us actually.
S&S/J: We like the fact that you put it out on vinyl.
P: Oh thanks! Great, that’s our roots. We collect vinyls. I have like 5,000 records at home. We’re real nerds man…we collect records, everything that’s on the record we’ll read it. Who produced it, who played…
S&S/J: We do the same! That’s what we do for our radio show and if they’re scratched or skipped we let them play. That’s why we call ourselves organic DJ’s. They don’t do that anymore, but we still do.
S&S/R: We have quiet a collection too. James sometimes picks records by the cover itself believe it or not.
S&S/J: …by artwork.
P: Yeah, yeah, of course! Us too (laughs). Like I have just a row of records that I don’t even like and I just like the covers.
S&S/R: We have a ton of those.
S&S/J: And I’ll play something from somebody I’d never even heard of, but I’ll just go by a song title and just get blown away sometimes. Like wow, they just gave anybody a record back in the day! (laughs)
S&S/R: I’ve heard the new Chromeo single, “Night By Night” and saw the video. Awesome. What direction will you guys be going with this new album?
P: "Nigh By Night" is almost a perfect example of what it's gonna be like. You’ll hear the Chromeo sound. I think we’re putting more emphasis on vocal arrangements, string arrangements, just general musical arrangements a bit more than we had. It’s gonna be more ballads and more songs like “Momma’s Boy”.
S&S/R: Nice! Do you guys have a name for the album yet? Or release date?
P: Not yet. We’re aiming to have it out this summer, so hopefully we can keep our word.
S&S/J: You know your keyboard with the legs, are those real?
P: Well they weren’t real on the cover, but after the album came out we had them built for the shows.
S&S/R: What kind of keyboard do you use?
P: All vintage. I don’t have a keyboard that’s less than 15 years old. Not a single one.
S&S/R: You know, ever time you guys do a show in California, I’ve missed you for some reason or the other. Any California shows planned soon?
P: We’re actually playing L.A. on New Years. I’m not sure where it is but you can check out our Myspace for the venue.
S&S/J: Everyone’s got a gig horror story. What was the worst gig you’ve ever done?
P: Uhh, we just did it in Mexico! The whole trip was fun but the show itself was a disaster. I got there, the keyboards got burnt out, had to delay the show, went on stage and the monitors weren’t working , there was no sound, Dave’s amp blew up. It was just a complete mess.
S&S/R: Oh my God!! And when was that?
P: It was just 2 days ago, in Mexico.
S&S/J: Blame it on the Chupacabra! Sounds like you guys had a Gremlin in the equipment fan…
S&S/R: Well you guys are awesome and definitely an inspiration. After I saw Daryl’s House I became a complete fan of Chromeo and have been spreading the word like crazy.
P: Thank you, thank you.
S&S/J: I dig it too and I just hit my 40’s man. I’m glad to see some good styles coming back that were missed along time ago. I appreciate it.
P: We felt the same way. We were like, hey, we need something we can listen to…so let’s do it ourselves.
S&S/J&R: Exactly. Well we hope to catch up with you next time you’re in California. Thanks for taking time out.
P: Cool, my pleasure. Thanks!