Exclusive: Chromeo, Classically Styled and Full of Funk
The self-proclaimed only successful Arab + Jewish partnership in history, is also probably the only band that’s ever consisted of an accountant and French Literature professor. Chromeo, consisting of David ‘Dave 1’ Macklovitch and Patrick ‘P-Thugg’ Gemayel, are known for their catchy 80s funk inspired music, but they are also designers, culture collaborators, and art enthusiasts. Their performances are always bombastic and full of energy, and this weekend’s headlining set at CRSSD Fest in San Diego was no different. Their signature Helmut Newton inspired leg stands stood in front of an amazing chromed out stage. Dave 1’s continuous jumping on stage with a huge genuine smile plastered onto his face gave off such infectious energy that everyone in the crowd was jumping along with him. He even joined P-Thugg for a few simple ‘NSYNC reminiscent choreographed eight counts with their backs facing the audience. The pair is exciting to watch and even more fascinating to talk to and learn more about. We spoke to them on their thoughts on a variety of topics, from Kanye to ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’.
D: He’s the greatest artist of our generation. I think we’re influenced by him the same way everyone else is influenced by him. It’s kind of hard not to be. I mean, he’s sort of a trail blazer…
P: A very important cultural vector.
D: He trail blazed the hybrid direction that rap lives in now. He started the “fashionization” of streetwear, and provides endless entertainment during his interviews. You know you can always tell if someone’s an idiot if they’re like, “Oh I don’t like Kanye, he’s an asshole.” You know on Curb Your Enthusiasm and the people that go, “Oh, I don’t like that guy he’s a jerk,” you know the people that actually think that Larry David is not right all the time? Then you know that they’re probably Republicans or something. Same deal with Kanye. The people that are like, “Oh my god, that guy is such an arrogant jerk,” then you know they’re morons and you don’t need to talk to them. They probably don’t like anything good. Those are people wearing Sketchers and…
P: If you’re wearing Sketchers, you’re in my good book.
D: Okay, those are probably the people wearing Coach bags…
P: …and Michael Kors.
D: And thinking Obama sucks. Those people are just evil, they’re evil people.
ON HOW THEY USE THEIR INFLUENCE:
D: It’s like the Kanye influence, he’s had such a positive influence on our entire generation of hip hop fans, where he’s educated them to so many things outside of music, and now again with Paul McCartney… he keeps going, and we try to do the same thing. We did it with Hall & Oates, we did it with that kind of 80s music, which is now totally mainstream. That kind of funk we did 10 years ago. No one wanted to touch that and we didn’t think that was fair, so we went in with that. And same with Helmut Newton… he died in 2004, our first album came out that year. He wasn’t considered art until very recently, people thought he was pornography and they thought he was vulgar. We just have these unsung heroes that we try to bring into the current dialogue.
D: We’re not big fans of fashion, we like style.
P: Personal style.
D: We like design, but fashion has become so much about celebrity culture and obviously, marketing. It’s an industry, and that’s not what fascinates us, what fascinates us are more references, mood boards, weirdo creative types like Ray and Raf and Eddie, and what their inspirations are. Not so much who’s sitting in the front row and who goes to what show. That’s not really our thing.
ON HIS CHAMPION SWEATSHIRT UNIFORM:
P: It’s just the classic typical, wearing down, that boxy New York shit. Like every day wear. Gold chains on top, and dope sneakers. That’s all you need.
ON THEIR COLLECTION FOR SURFACE TO AIR
D: Surface to Air have been our art directors for the last 3 albums and obviously they do clothing too, so it was only right that we do a little capsule with them. So we did two uniforms that fit both of our individual styles. P had his crazy African tiger prints, I had my leather pants and leather jacket. It went well. It sold out, just really random sizes left now. Like quadruple x small leather pants, what are you going to do with those? It came out last September during NYFW, it was a cool thing to do and we’ll do more.
ON FOCUSING ON MUSIC AS THEIR MAIN CAREER:
D: I was the last one to come around– P was in since the beginning of the band. But I was still doing my PhD at Columbia and teaching at Barnard and stuff and I came around on the last record. I just felt like the band was at a good place and it’s what makes both of us happy. We’re not only doing music, we’re doing fashion collabs, we’re doing photography with all of our album art– the stage design we worked with this French contemporary artist to do this French chrome set. It’s more architectural than anything else. So you know, hopefully without sounding pretentious, we just end up weaving all of our other interests into Chromeo.
Chromeo photographed for Milk Made by Eric Rippin