The story in all the press about Digitalism is that you formed after playing a party together. Do you still play many parties now that you’re touring act?
Yeah of course! We come from a DJ background, and before the current tour, actually the last 1.5 years we’ve only done DJ-sets. It’s great to switch back and forth between both things. At the minute we’re touring the live show though, so that means gigs nearly every night. But there’s always a party afterwards.
You seem to have an interesting relationship with Japan, what with your releases usually going there first and the Japan-only release. Does Japan hold some special significance for Digitalism?
We’ve had a great following in Japan pretty much from the beginning. People are really loyal there. In a way it’s totally different to Europe and you get that “Lost In Translation” vibe. Since we’ve been over for the first time to play Fujirock in 2006 we fell in love with the people and the food and came back many times… With the “Moshi Moshi EP” in 2008 (which was a collection of remixes plus two new tracks) we wanted to thank everyone for the huge support. This year, after what happened in March, we felt like we had to do something special again because for us it felt really close, so we made a special edition album cover which resembles the Japanese flag.
The name Digitalism: is it connected to the digital philosophy of the same name? Is that something you guys are into?
Not really. When we came up with the name we didn’t really look up anything about it. Apparently there’s a philosophy and also an art form with that name. Back when we started making music together, we had to choose something that we could write onto our first CD-Rs that we’d drop in our DJ sets. As we were working digitally only, with a computer, and were huge fans of a 12” series called “Africanism” early 2000s, we just went for Digitalism. It sounded great to us.
What should people know about I Love You Dude? What brought it into being, and what would you like it to do for people, if anything?
“I Love You Dude” is probably a reflection of our last few years, where we’ve been touring a lot around the globe, saw many different places and met tons of people. It’s more down to earth than the first album and it’s about friendships and relationships. And it’s something you can listen to best while you’re moving. We got quite inspired by all the travelling we’d done.
We kind of went back to square one when we started working on it: We started doing DJ-sets again, and we made tools and quick ideas that we could drop to test them out. After a while we had a couple of favourites, which we then turned into full songs. All the tracks on “I Love You, Dude” are basically the 20th remix of an original idea, that’s how we always work.
I read that you use specific movies as inspiration for your music. Were there any films that were inspirations for I Love You Dude?
We got inspired to make “Just Gazin” after we’d watched “The Wickerman” (the original movie with Christopher Lee from the 70s). The whole soundtrack on there is pretty folky and there’s this bit where Brit Eklund (or a double) is singing in the hotel room…
Apart from that it’s usually the other way round: We come up with music in our studio and afterwards have all these pictures in our head. It’s like we’re making music for a virtual movie that doesn’t exist, and we don’t know the script. When we listen to the songs then we come up with their titles, according to those images. We love soundtracks, and probably make the OST for our lives by making our music.
What’s the story behind the album name?
It actually comes from a short trip to Australia end of last year. We were on a forced break from the album writing process, because we don’t like producing on the road, and we were still not finished with the record. We had a great time there, in the sun, thinking about a few things regarding the album, and this phrase kind of got stuck in our heads. We like doing unexpected and daft things, and we don’t want to maintain a certain cliché about us, so just by gut-decision we decided to name the album “I Love You, Dude”: It was something completely out of any context, and it’s done a great job so far as a pretty controversial album title. It’s not meant seriously, you know. Context-free.
Do you feel like the electronic music scene has changed much since your first album was released, and if so, how?
It has definitely changed. When we started, there was this thing that the media called “Nu Rave”, which basically meant mixed crowds, consisting of indie kids, techno heads and others, all together. It’s not like that anymore, the scenes have split up again into minimal, indie rock, techno, disco and all that, and there’s new stuff like Dubstep, which got really big now, merging different things like Hiphop, Metal and electronic music. Things always go in cycles, and genres disappear back into niches while others grow massively big.
The biggest thing that happened though in the past years was the explosion of electronic music in the US. It’s only recently got generally accepted as “music”, and now it’s everywhere, in pop, hiphop, the charts, whatever. There’s new parties and festivals popping up everywhere and people are going crazy. A few years ago, the US would “import” DJs and acts from Europe, and now it’s the other way round: Big names like Skrillex, Diplo, Steve Aoki, Harvard Bass… they come over to Europe! It’s “export” time.
What about you guys? How has Digitalism changed from the first album to this one?
We haven’t really changed that much, apart from having gained a lot of experience on the road. We still produce the same DIY way, even though we were able to afford more and better gear, and our signature sound is in everything we do: Riff-heavy cinematic sonics.
The biggest change is probably that over the years we kind of turned from DJs and producers into a sort of 2-man electronic band, due to all the heavy touring and experiences with playing live. When we started Digitalism, we didn’t know anything about festivals, playing a gig, production and all that. And we opened up to experimenting with things a bit more, like features, letting other artists remix our songs etc.
I noticed that many of your songs have been used in video games, TV shows and commercials. Are these projects things you seek out, or do people come to you guys asking to use your songs?
It’s those people approaching us. We make our music, and if they want it on their game or movie, they come and ask us. We had two unique collaborations in the past though: One was a song that we made especially for a car commercial, and just recently we reinterpreted the title theme of a video game because we were huge fans. But there also, we got asked.
You guys are great about getting other talented people to work on your tracks (Julian Casablancas, Dillon Francis, Catherina Siegmund). Could you talk a little bit about how some of these collaborations happen?
We contacted Julian via email when we had a first demo of “Forrest Gump” ready and we though it could be something for him. During the works on “I Love You Dude”, we wanted to see what other people come up with idea-wise, so we sent a few sketches out to friend and other bands. We got put in touch with Julian via his tour manager, and surprisingly he was into the idea of doing something about the song. He ran a bit out of time back then cause he was in a heavy touring and promo phase for his solo album, so he sent some stuff over but had to stop working on it, and he didn’t know what we would do with it. Eventually we incorporated some of it into the song and gladfully he approved the final result. This one wasn’t like we all sat down and started writing a song, it was a bit of email ping pong.
The only real feature we’ve ever done so far is on “Just Gazin” with Catharina, who is from our city, and we heard about her via some friends, so we asked her to do some vocals on the track. She’s got an amazing voice, a bit like Mama Cass Elliot. Sweet but rough too.
You know, these days you can really contact everyone you want, because artists are much more in touch with each other and with their fans than before. And they’re more open, too.
You’re about to embark on a pretty huge tour, but this definitely isn’t your first time around the circuit. Are there any places you’re particularly looking forward to visiting on the tour?
The whole US tour that we’re doing at the minute is fun and each city has its own charme… Hard to pick one. But of course, New York was nice, we just played it a few days ago, with all the pre-Christmas stuff going on there.
What are your plans after the tour is over?
We’ll have some time off around Christmas and then go back to the studio. We’ve just finished some remixes that are gonna be out early next year, and we want to do more stuff – after all these tours this year we miss our studio! But there’s more touring next year, for sure.