La Chansons Interview
Kiss. Suspicious Minds. Billie Jean. Rock Lobster. West End Girls. Blue Monday. Into The Groove. Fastlove. Toxic. Genie In A Bottle. Bad Romance. All stone masterpieces lining the halls of the Guggenheim of pop art. But what the hell makes a great pop record? A tortured soul? A killer groove? A revolutionary pioneer burning new ground? Disco lemonade beneath a global mirrorball or just a nuclear smile, a misfit in hot pants and a perfect pirouette? In my never-ending search to drink from the cup of pop immortality I land the Matplane in Atlanta, Georgia at the home of a duo who might be able to help me in my quest, one of the best pop bands to emerge from this new century, the sparklin' La Chansons...
Bonjour Greg & Carson!! For readers new to the glorious pop bliss of La Chansons can you give us a little background on how the band started and its manifesto?
La Chansons was born when we (Greg and Carson) started dating in 2004. Greg had just split up with his band in Athens, Georgia, graduated from U.G.A. and moved back to Atlanta. Carson was in art school in Atlanta, feeling unmotivated by the boring assignments and pretentious art school attitude.
We both wanted an exciting new project and were taking notice of a lot of guy / girl bands like the Rosebuds, Mates of State, and I Am The World Trade Center. We decided to give it a try. It started with songs like Art Project that Greg wrote and sang by himself, and Carson made low-fi videos for. At first Carson was too shy to sing or share her lyrics with Greg, but as the relationship grew, the artistic partnership and freedom did too. Now Greg writes the music and Carson writes the lyrics and sings.
All we ever really wanted to do was create something beautiful that lots of people could relate to. When people listen to our music we want them to feel warm. We hope our songs make you want to dance and smile.
Can you tell about us the new album – King and Queen of the Dancefloor – a mix of classic La Chansons tunes given a 'Cinderella makeover' and new heartbreaker disco gems?
King and Queen of the Dance Floor is our first full-length studio album released on a label. Since 2005 we have been releasing our home-made, bedroom recordings ourselves, like Love Love Love All Day and lots of other little EPs. King and Queen of the Dance Floor is our shiniest, sparkliest, album yet. Some of our older songs were selected for a studio makeover, and we included some new ones to compliment them. Even though we've been putting our music out there for a few years now, this album feels like our big debut. We're satisfied with every second of it.
The title King and Queen of the Dance Floor comes from how we feel when we hit the dance floor. Neither one of us ever went to school dances when we were younger since we were both pretty introverted. When we met each other, it was like we unlocked this hidden part of each of us that loved to dance.
We noticed when we would go to parties together, it would be early in the evening, but the DJ or band would start playing some awesome jams that we really wanted to dance to. We would be like, "Who cares that the dance floor is empty and no one's dancing yet?"
We would get out there and just start moving, and it was magnetic. Our moves brought everyone else out to the floor and started the party. We would feel like the King and Queen of the Dance Floor.
Apart from La Chansons themselves, who would you nominate as King and Queen of the Dancefloor and why do they deserve the crown?
We would crown Kylie Minogue queen of our dance floor, and our king would be George Michael. We admire their skills, style, great songs, and longevity.
You've a love for '80s iconography from Jane Fonda's aerobic videos (with associated leg warmer / leotard combos) to mirror wayfarers, VCRs, roller skates, headbands and flying V guitars – do you think we live in better or worse times and what '80s style icon should we most celebrate?
We like living right now so we can look back on our favorite 80's styles and appreciate them as art. Although we would love to go back in time and raid a mall in the 80's!
Greg's 80's style and personal icon has always been Andre Agassi. He admires how real and honest Agassi has been about his past. From childhood Greg has shared Agassi's passion for mullets, jean shorts, and tennis wear.
Carson's 80's style icon is undoubtedly Jane Fonda. As a child she remembers gazing at her mom's VHS copy of the original Jane Fonda Workout. Fonda was (and still is) sexy, strong, smart, and never afraid to show it. Plus, workout wear has never been as hot as it was in the 80's!
I love the optimistic, sincere, romantic lyrics; the desire to sprinkle some magic dust onto the everyday - from the lovers tying their skates together on Sparklin' to the shaky first date of Wonton Soup – what do La Chansons rate as 'magic' in everyday life and how do you chase the clouds away?
Almost all of our lyrics come from time we spend together and the fun things that happen when we do. It seems like magic happens every time we hang out together.
When Greg needs to "chase the clouds away" he loves red wine, podcasts, and baths.
When Carson needs a pick-me-up she wanders through stores in search of a bargain, or just looks at all the pretty colors.
You gained a lot of praise for your amazing version of Marcy Playground's Sex & Candy on the Buffetlibre covers compilation – why that particular tune and were there are any others in contention?
We wanted to select a song that sounded nothing like our music, something we could totally transform. When we were thinking of something nostalgic, Sex and Candy came to mind. It was popular when both of us were teenagers. It was taboo, catchy, and dark. The sound kind of summed up that angsty 90's teenager feel that we could both relate to, and both had memories of.
Carson, you were an Art Student and are heavily involved in the band's videos and artwork – what is your definition of good / bad art and which artists inspire you?
For me, good art has got to have beauty, whether it's an obvious beauty or an unconventional one. I need my art, be it visual or musical, to be something I can live with and be proud of. Good art is art that you never get tired of. It has to be timeless and survive through fads and trends.
My favorite painter ever is Wayne Thiebaud. Looking at his colorful, delicious paintings always makes me want to paint and do my best work.
You both grew up lovin' alternative bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana and Greg was in a Punk band which may surprise people listening to La Chansons - do you think some of these influences made it subliminally into the music?
Yeah, we're sure they probably work their way into our songs somehow. We like the juxtaposition of pop melodies with heavier sounds, and a lot of those alternative 90's bands did that - like in Aneurysm by Nirvana or Today by Smashing Pumpkins. Those are the types of songs we grew up learning to play guitar to.
When Greg was in an all guy punk band, he was the one who secretly listened to pop music and incorporated pop style melodies into their songs. And Carson used to be made fun of for liking Nirvana and the Spice Girls at the same time. It's just us liking what we like, and not discriminating because of genre.
In the great tradition of The Monkees, Jackson 5 and Flight of the Conchords, you've created your own show – can you tell us the basic premise for the show and how ideally you'd like it to develop?
A9: We love to laugh and watch TV together. After an exhausting day, we always have to watch one of our favorite shows, like Flight of the Conchords, to wind down. Our little show is done on a budget of $0 and it's as low-fi as it gets. We like to include a little humor and some nostalgic cheesiness in our music, and play it up in our videos. The show starts out in our normal everyday life as husband and wife, playing out a situation that may have inspired a song, and then goes into the music video for the song.
We would love to take our videos further. Right now our only pieces of equipment are a hand-held mini DV camera, and our laptops. We are the only cast and crew. There's nowhere to go but up!
If you were to take our readers for a night out in your hometown of Atlanta where would you take them and what would you do?
We would begin with a dinner of burgers, fries, and local brews and wines at Muss & Turners, a casual, gourmet deli that tends to play new wave and indie faves. We'd end the evening at Sparkles skating rink, skating to Top 40 style hits in 20-year-old rental skates, surrounded by neon lights.
In recent years the “Hotlanta” sound has been the 'Dirty South' R'n'B of Ludacris, OutKast and Lil Jon – What's the local music scene really like and is there a burgeoning pop resistance?
We love southern style rap! The music scene here in Altanta is a tough one, though. There are a lot of indie bands, but not very many electro-pop acts like us. We live a little "outside the perimeter" of Atlanta, so we aren't as influenced by what's going on in the city. We've been able to choose our influences by what we like, not by what's popular in Atlanta.
There's not a big history of pop music in Atlanta, but we'd like to change that! We think things are moving in the right direction since our label, Stickfigure Records, a traditionally indie label has embraced us.
There's a strong health & fitness / sports vibe to La Chansons' imagery – As it's New Year and we've all 'over indulged' over Xmas can you give our readers any health / sport / sport fashion tips?
Our minds are always on the beach, so we are already trying to get fit for our yearly summer beach trip! After the holidays it motivates us to take it up a notch!
Right now, Greg likes to work out on the elliptical machine while blasting the XM channel Area.
Carson works out to DVD's in our living room - from Jane Fonda, to Denise Austin, to FitTV, to Physique 57.
If you could borrow Marty McFly's Delorean for a night and go back in time – where would you go and why?
We'd go back to the 80's, go shopping, pile up all our purchases in the Delorean, and bring them back home!
Greg would buy all the Agassi collection tennis shirts, shorts, and high tops, an original Def Leppard Pyromania concert tee, an original Skid Row tee, and some B.C. Rich guitars.
Carson would go to the mall and stock up on the hottest 80's clothes, shoes, and accessories, and a lot of 80's formal wear.
When the world 'hearts' La Chansons and the recording royalties pile-up do you have any dream extravagances in mind – stage sets, biopics, costumes, theme parks, merchandise?
Oh yeah! We dream big.
Greg dreams of a beach house with a full Logic studio, an 80's Camero, a large collection of muscle tee's, a huge mullet, and an enormous wine cellar with an endless supply of wine.
Carson dreams of sparkly costumes, dancers for our live shows, and big hairdo's. A "Carson Keller" Barbie doll and fashion line have been lifelong dreams too.
Finally, do La Chansons have any plans to visit Europe in 2010? Us Brits in particular love our pop music glorious, whipsmart and full of heart and soul – you'll fit right in!
We would LOVE to visit Europe! We have a feeling we would feel right at home with the music there. We will visit as soon as we can!
Hurry! Pop needs you, hell we need you!! We need that bewitchin' voodoo which can't be captured in anything but the sound, the feeling, the hopes and dreams of that sweet bird of youth still singing in our hearts. Folks, if, like me, you'd like to snuggle up inside the heavenly rainbow world of pop on a more permanent basis, La Chansons kindly offer Workout Love – one of the best pop songs of the past few years – as a free taster (below) in anticipation of their album King and Queen of the Dance Floor out January 26th. Drink deep comrades. Sparklin'? It's positively blindin'. Warning: May Prove Addictive!
FREE DOWNLOAD: La Chansons Workout Love mp3
La Chansons' MySpace and Website.