So it’s been four years since your previous album ‘White Women’. How’s life been for Chromeo since then?
“Good, but we were impatient to do the new record – so we spent the last two years working on this one [‘Head Over Heels’].”
Where does your new album ‘Head Over Heels’ take your sound from the last record?
“I guess you could say that it’s still right in the middle of the venn diagram between art and chart. It’s still the Chromeo funk sound. Obviously we had radio success on the last record in North America. We’re aware of that, but it’s not like we’re trying to make a more underground record – but we also don’t make any crazy effort to make commercial songs. I think we just try to evolve, challenge and polish ourselves as we go along to do something more ornate. We have a lot more collaborations on this one is more of a polyphony with more different voices on there. It’s our fifth album so we wanted to make it a love letter to all of the subgenres of funk that have influenced us when we were teenagers.”
Album No.5 – that’s like ‘institution’ territory…
“Yeah, that’s why it felt like time to involve more people and have more of an inclusive approach.”
What do you look for in a collaborator?
“Sometimes it’s our heroes – like Jesse Johnson from Morris Day And The Time plays on ‘Must’ve Been’. Pino Palladino, the famous bassist who plays with D’Angelo and those guys, he plays bass on half the album. Raphael Saadiq is one of our idols and he’s on every song. Sometimes it’s people who are contemporaries like DRAM and The Dream. Well, maybe not contemporaries but people who we listen to from now. That’s our way to anchor Chromeo into the present day conversation. Sometimes it’s people that we know are going to be huge and have the early vision. Like, we had Solange on the last two albums and that shit blew up.
You called it?
“The funk called it! I don’t have any say in these things. Then on this record we have Amber Mark and Stefflon Don. She’s huge here but is still new in North America. She’s incredible, and she’s on a Chromeo song. We don’t adapt our songs for the features – they come into Chromeo World. They fit into our universe.”
Working with someone from The Time – I guess that’s as close as you can get to Prince right?
“Yeah man, it’s awesome.”
Are you going to get them on stage and recreate that competitive chemistry from ‘Purple Rain’?
“I don’t know, man. You never know. We are playing First Avenue in Minneapolis next month and that’s the only place where we would ever do a live album. It’s gotta be there.”
Make a movie. Purify yourself in the water of Lake Minnetonka.
“I know, man! I know.”
Who would be your dream collaborators? Preferably still alive…
“Honestly man, I have a lot on this album – but I’d say The Internet. I also want Chromeo to produce and entire Jamiroquai album. To us in the US he’s a little more exotic, but I discovered funk through him. I wasn’t alive in the ’70s and ’80s, so we had him. I want to bring acid jazz back from the early ’90s. His last shit was hot but I want to do the whole next thing.”
Lyrically, what are you dealing with on this record?
“The same shit. The misadventures of a love-struck schmuck.”
Chromeo songs have always dealt with sex and sexuality, but never in a particularly predatory way. What’s it like to have been doing that, in light of recent events in the news and the #MeToo movement?
“Thank you. We’re the butt of the joke and we’re OK with it. It’s never in a kind of predatory way like ‘yo girl, come here’. The Chromeo protagonist is heroic, shy and bashful. Our songs aren’t even necessarily heteronormative – it doesn’t have to be a boy or a girl. We just try to write about diverse situations that make people cry and laugh and that people can relate to.”
So did the current climate alter your approach to music in any way?
“Like you said, we’ve got five albums. It’s the same as the back catalogue. The only thing we changed in line with the current climate is the album cover. It’s our legs this time. Instead of having the women’s legs on the keyboards, we just shaved our own legs.”
We’re not using or fragmenting women’s bodies in our artwork anymore. These are our legs. We’re the subject and the object, the artist and the muse. We’re…Head Over Heels. pic.twitter.com/ptWeQeYqku
— FUNKLORDZ (@Chromeo) November 9, 2017
How are you guys planning to step up your already epic live show for the upcoming tour?
“We couldn’t bring our current stage production over to the UK for this trip, but we will when we’re back in November. It’s bananas. We took a fucking bank loan for that shit, dude. We had to remortgage our houses. If people are still into us after five albums over ten years, then our way to give back is to provide them with the greatest show we can. We’re still humble and forever the underdogs.”
Chromeo release ‘Head Over Heels’ on June 15.