M83 have announced new album ‘Fantasy’ and shared its first single ‘Oceans Niagara’. Check it out below along with our interview with frontman Anthony Gonzalez.
The Paris-via-Los Angeles project’s ninth album is due out on March 17 via their own Other Suns label. This marks their first record since 2019’s ‘DSVII’ – a video-game inspired sequel to 2007’s ‘Digital Shades Vol. 1’.
Gonzalez dove deep into an ‘80s-inspired wonderland for the backdrop of ‘Fantasy’, as showcased by first single ‘Oceans Niagara’. A bombastic, widescreen synth-pop smash, it recalls early M83 album ‘Before The Dawn Heals Us’ and signals a return to his roots.
The track’s official video also sees Gonzalez teaming up with his brother and filmmaker Yann on an M83 music video for the first time, introducing a grotesque, monster-like figure with deformed facial features that Gonzalez said will become an integral part of the ‘Fantasy’ universe and adorns its album artwork.
“Nowadays we have to show our face, to take selfies and show ‘our true self’,” Gonzalez told NME. “I wanted to create this monster with sad eyes and an ugly face, far away from regular life. Everyday life bores me to death, you know? I want to keep dreaming, I want to keep having fantasies about worlds that I don’t know and creatures I don’t understand, and that’s the story behind this record.”
Gonzalez spent the entirety of 2021 in the studio with longtime bandmate Joe Berry and producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Paramore, Wolf Alice), taking the time to ensure that the new material landed in the right spirit.
“I wanted to come back with an album that had a band feel,” Gonzalez explained. “The idea was to make music in a room with musicians and jam around and see what happened.”
He continued: “We gathered in a room every day, and we just created music. At the end, we had enough material to turn all these jams into an album. I really wanted to create an album that plays well live and translates well on stage. It was about going back to my roots, which is more shoegaze-y, guitar-like, ‘80s sound.”
Gonzalez described ‘Fantasy’ as “a gift to myself,” and discussed the pressures on young artists to sell themselves and constantly create. He also explained how the overwhelming success of 2011 album ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’ and its hit single ‘Midnight City’ made him shy away from the commercial side of music.
“I made an album without the pressure of selling records,” he said of his ninth LP. “I feel extremely lucky to be in my position where I can make records like this. It won’t talk to the audience that likes albums like ‘Hurry up, We’re Dreaming’ or songs like ‘Midnight City’, but it gives me pleasure in what I’m doing. It’s very important to stay away from the pressure of commercial needs.”
For Gonzalez, the latest era of M83 and the creation of ‘Fantasy’ is one that sees his ambitions and his world getting smaller, allowing himself to shun traditional ideas of success and the pressures of modernity to create music more true to himself and with a singular vision.
“This is how the world is going,” he told NME. “Everybody wants to make more money, be more successful, have more followers. The more I see that in the world, the less I want to be successful. If I could live in a cave with just a few musical instruments, a few books and a DVD player, I would be very happy. I don’t like to show myself.”
He added: “It’s obviously nice to have success – I’m not gonna deny it – but I’m not the kind of artist who is going to be live every day on social media and trying to show my personal life. Actually, I find it quite depressing and it shows a lot of sadness to me.
“It’s important for me to stay grounded and to not try to achieve too much in the way that I did with ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’. It was almost too much for me, you know? Maybe I didn’t deserve it, and maybe I’m just a small indie artist that wants to make small indie albums.”
While proving ‘escapist’, ‘Fantasy’ is also said to be the artist’s most personal album yet. How do those two seemingly oppositional states marry up?
“It’s personal because I live in a bubble where I just watch old films, listen to old music, read old books,” he replied. “I think I really struggle with the modern world, to be honest, and I have a tendency to reject everything that’s modern. There are so many great things about new art forms, and new new bands, new directors, but somehow I’m always attracted to older things, older pictures.
“It’s something that could be a trap for a lot of people, but for me, it’s a way to protect myself from this abundance of music and movies and art that we get every day. I’ve created this shield against modern things. Like Netflix, for instance.”
Summing up his current outlook, Gonzalez said: “I don’t want to talk about money in music. I don’t want to talk about my life. I just want to talk about forgotten worlds and dreams and magic potions, and try to keep my teenage years alive.”
He added: “As I get older, I don’t have this rage to succeed. When you’re 20 and you start your career, you want to conquer the world. This time, I just want the world to forget about me.”
‘Fantasy’ will be released on March 17 via Other Suns. Pre-order it here and see its tracklist and artwork below.
1. ‘Water Deep’
2. ‘Oceans Niagara’
4. ‘Us And The Rest’
5 . Earth To Sea
6. ‘Radar, Far, Gone’
10. ‘Sunny Boy’
11. ‘Kool Nuit’
12. ‘Sunny Boy Part 2’
13. ‘Dismemberment Bureau’
M83 is set to tour the album in the United States later this year, with European headline and festival dates following in the summer. See the full list of gigs below and visit here for tickets and more information.
10 – Phoenix, AZ – Van Buren
11 – Albuquerque, NM – Revel
13 – San Antonio, TX – Aztec
14 – Austin, TX – Stubbs
15 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall
16 – Dallas, TX – House Of Blues
18 – Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works
19 – Atlanta, GA – Eastern
21 – Philadelphia, PA – Franklin Music Hall
22 – Washington, DC – The Anthem
23 – Boston, MA – Roadrunner
25 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
26 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
28 – Montreal, QC – MTELUS
29 – Toronto, ON – History
30 – Detroit, MI – Royal Oak Music Theatre
2 – Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre
3 – Minneapolis, MN – Palace Theatre
5 – Denver, CO – Mission Ballroom
6 – Salt Lake City, UT – Ogden Twilight
8 – Portland, OR – Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
9 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom
10 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
11 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
13 – Pasadena, CA – Just Like Heaven Festival
14 – Pasa Robles, CA – Paso Robles Winery
16 – San Francisco, CA – Fox Theatre
17 – San Francisco, CA – Fox Theatre
20 – Guadalajara, MX – Corona Capital GDL
7 – Latvia, Sigulda Castle
8 – Lithuania, Lukiskes Prison
10 – Finland, Helsinki Sideways Festival
24 – Czech Republic, Metronome Festival
7 – France, Beauregard Festival
12 – Slovakia, Grape Festival
13 – Hungary, Sziget Festival