Air: Enjoying a 20-year career and still hip
Two decades after their arrival on the scene, the electronica music duo from Versailles known as Air pulled off their big comeback last summer. This included a new tour and a compilation album plainly entitled “TwentyYears”. Now, read our ABC of Air’s career.
A for Ambiances
Unlike some other big French names in regional electronica music (Daft Punk, Justice etc.), Air never sought to make people dance. “This is soothing music. That was its primary function right from the beginning,” recalls Jean-Benoît Dunckel. “We wanted to create a harmonious space of imagination and dreams, an ideal world free of social, physical, physiological tensions. Simply that.” The kind of music better suited to listening to more at the beginning or the end of the night.
F for Femme d’Argent
Along with “Sexy Boy”, “La femme d’argent” is probably one of Air’s most famous tracks. Though not necessarily Jean-Benoit Dunckel’s own favorite, he acknowledges that this hit from 1998 is still very popular with fans. “’La femme d’argent’ is probably the track that works the best in concert. In fact, we always play it at the end. People are expecting it because it swells to a great buildup. It reaches a climax and lingers on it, which suddenly dissolves at the end of the track.”
M for Modernity
The striking impression on listening to this 20-year-old discography is that the duo’s earliest tracks have not aged a bit. A lasting life span Jean-Benoît Dunckel attributes to the band’s choice of compositions since its beginnings. “In terms of rhythms or beats, we didn’t want to include elements that would date our music. However, even if our music doesn’t grow old, we do!”
S for Selection
With nine albums under their belts, it’s not hard to imagine that the selection process for this compilation was far from easy for the duo. “People’s favorite songs are not necessarily ours,” says Nicolas Godin. “We listened to the opinions of others, trying to achieve the progression of a traditional album. In other words, a balance between calmer, vocal or instrumental tracks.” Mission accomplished: this compilation can be listened to from beginning to end with no false notes.
T for The End
Among the band’s fans, the release of this compilation has revived expectations surrounding a new album. It could be a long wait, if one believes Nicolas Godin. “To be honest, we haven’t really thought about it. Music needs new artists who produce great tracks regularly. You shouldn’t make a record if you don’t feel it. On the other hand, if we got hold of something cool, then we’d go record it in the studio. That’s what the public needs. Not necessarily that Air makes records until 2040.”
Le Grand Journal – 17/06/2016 – Flab Prod
Les Inrocks – 28/06/2016 – Stéphane Deschamps
|From Versailles… to conquering the world
A look back on the regional roots of one of the brightest stars on the Paris Region scene.
Much has been written about the French Touch, this movement born in the ‘90s –purveyors of a sort of French distinctiveness in the explosion of electro music at the turn of the century. The big names were Daft Punk, Alex Gopher, Phoenix… Versailles lay at its epicenter; a royal, beautifully soporific town, become the spearhead of a musical movement that conquered the world like wildfire.
Among these bands mostly into producing dance music, the Air duo was more focused on relaxing ambiances and timeless sounds. The band’s founder, Nicolas Godin, already close in the early ‘90s to Alex Gopher, Thomas Bangalter (Daft Punk), or the future Phoenix (Thomas Mars and Laurent Brancowitz), decided to embark on music production after studying architecture. His longtime friend, Jean-Benoît Dunckel – a fellow student, with Alex Gopher, at the Jules Ferry lycée in Versailles in the ‘80s – joined him on the journey.
Air was born. In 1998, after the smash hit second album (Moon Safari), recorded in Saint-Nom-La-Brétèche (78) near Versailles, Air embarked on an unwaveringly successful international career. But the duo never forgot their roots in the Paris region. There have been some famous concerts including one at the Zenith in Paris in 2004, the establishment of their studio in the heart of the Belleville district in Paris, and a performance last spring at We Love Green Festival. Air and the Paris Region enjoy a lasting romance!