Since it\’s relatively small origins, electronic based music has expanded into a family of many different genres and influence across many forms of music. As artists expand their creative direction, fans are exposed to completely different worlds of sound and experiences. Recently, Porter Robinson has spoken about his creative constraints in the creation of dance floor orientated traditional electronic music, and how he would like to take his sound beyond it\’s structure and allow himself to explore music creation with a more artistically free approach. The culmination of this directional transition has lead to Worlds, Porter Robinson\’s current tour, which has been one of the most talked about shows since it\’s kick off. As an artist develops a passion for bringing music into a new creative direction they align themselves with artists of a similar mindset. That approach has lead to Robinson being joined by Lemaitre, a band that is is committed to an innovative approach to music creation.
Prior to the debut of Worlds on Friday at Chicago\’s Aragon Ballroom, I was given the opportunity to speak with Lemaitre about what drives their original sound, the appeal of increased exposure, and how they were able to fit into the evolving world of music gone digital.
John C: As a band originating from Norway, can you describe the music scene and are there any contrast you notice as you tour in the United States?
Lemaitre: I would say that older music in Norway tends to be fairly traditional because it is a smaller country. Now for the first time, with our generation, there are a lot more Norwegian exports in music, like Lindstrom, Cashmere Cat, Kygo and a lot more. A lot of music is coming out of Norway, and it is people of our age group doing electronic music, since many of them have been working with computers since they were kids. Most of these electronic artists are now taking that music outside of Norway and working from outside of Norway.
John C: Has the localized scene in Norway witnessed growth even as these artists are finding popularity in other countries, such as the United States?
Lemaitre: Yes, definitely. The music has been big in Norway, especially now, but in Norway we are seeing a lot of growth in genres from all around the world as well.
John C: You originate from Norway, but your band is named after Georges Lemaître, a Belgian scientist of French Descent. What was the inspiration behind that?
Lemaitre: It was kind of arbitrary, but at the same time, it was a pretty cool name and we both really like science. We both thought it would be cool, but its not really a theme or a topic that is recurring in our songs, it was just a chosen name. We actually found out later that it means ‘master’ as well, which is cool, but we didn’t know that at the time.
John C: That’s an interesting thing to find out after the fact. Let’s transition towards your music. It seems that most media outlets that discuss your band have trouble defining it’s by genre. I would describe your music as somewhere between the pop-electronic sound of groups like Justice and the alternative rock appeal of bands like Phoenix. How would you describe your music?
Lemaitre: They are definitely major influences and we are also influence by older disco funk. The artists that influence us sampled it, like Justice and Daft Punk, so we tried to re create those sounds completely ourselves, in kind of our own way, I think. It is music we grew up on and wanted to make, but we take a little bit from almost everywhere. The French house influence is definitely there, but we also take a bit from hip hop, jazz, old R&B, and punk fusion. When we started out, we wanted to make music like Justice and Daft Punk. I mean not exactly like them, but they were our idols.
John C: Let’s expand on that. You specifically mention French House when discussing your influences with Daft Punk and Justice. French House, however, is traditionally based on disco sampling and you mentioned that you make all of your own samples. What lead you in the direction of avoiding the sampling approach and choosing to utilize your own sound creation?
Lemaitre: Well actually it was just because of necessity. We went that way because we wanted to do this French and Deep House, but we didn’t know how to go about clearing samples. We didn’t want to have the music not allowed on iTunes and Spotify and stuff like that, so we just figured we had to make these samples. It actually lead to it being quite fun, because you find samples that you wanted to use, but then you recreated them and it ended up being in your own way.
John C: That’s an interesting reason for avoiding the sampling. Do you think it has impacted the direction of your sound than if you were to take a more traditional sample based approach?
Lemaitre: I guess so. It’s very different because we cant make the exact sound we want to copy, it will never be 100% right and it will always sound different if you made it yourself than if you sampled form a record. You also have more freedom writing from scratch because you can write each part exactly as you want them instead of just having something written in a specific way and being bound to using it.
John C: I can definitely see that. Now your music, characteristically, can be classified as pop-leaning or appealing to a pop audience. Yet in saying that, it doesn’t fall into the downfalls seen with most pop music, which can be formulaic and predictable. How do you find a way to craft your music in a way that maintains this appeal while remaining innovative?
Lemaitre: We really try to stay far away from clichés. If we here something where we are very close to something we have heard before or it feels too cliché, we will try to rework it and make it different. If its production or the way it is played, we will try to keep it different. Cliches can be kind of subjective, to be honest, it depends on what cliché, because it can be cool to call back an older cliché today, and sometimes you can take something that would be considered a cliché, add a new form to it and do something really cool with it. What we try to do is have songs that we write that can take more interesting turns than if we were to just copy other songs.
John C: Sure, and it would seem taking that approach has been very successful for you. Not only is your music unique, but so was the growth of your fan base. It is almost representative of the new world of music distribution these days. These days, social media, online distribution methods, and the like, seem to dominate the music world now. . You have received views in the millions on Youtube and Soundcloud, won multiple top designations from social media outlets like Reddit, and have received the top spot multiple times on Hype Machine’s blog aggregation. How do you think this approach has shaped you as an artist?
Lemaitre: It was really the only way to distribute music that made sense to us. We used things like Reddit to find our music suggested by other people and we realized we wanted our music to be available everywhere it could be: soundcloud, youtube, facebook. We wanted to make it not too hard to find us.
John C: Speaking of Reddit, I am a Reddit user myself and I too find a lot of music suggestions through the site. The audience on Reddit can be very critical of music, how did receiving a top designation from their electronic polls feel as a member?
Lemaitre: To be honest, I wasn’t really on Reddit, prior to working on music. So it wasn’t a transition per se. But at the same time, it is so cool to see our name being mentioned on sites like Reddit, especially when you get into production subreddits and to have people interested in asking you how you made things. It’s a huge compliment to us.
John C: Going back towards the earlier days of Lemaitre, you were known for releasing your music for free. That can be seen as a twist to the traditional methodology used in the industry. Do you think this approach was a positive effect towards the growth of your fan base?
Lemaitre: Yes. First of all, if you are a band starting off, you don’t make much money selling records. To us, you mine as well go free. Even as a music fan, if I don’t have easy access to music I would rather not listen to it. To be honest, I don’t like every song you hear as you are on the internet. So if it is easily accessible I will give it a listen, but if that is hard to do, I will just give up and try what is more accessible. I don’t think you can start off today just selling your music. You need to get publicity. You to have something you show first before you can ask people for their money.
John C: I definitely understand. It seems that is a concept that the actual industry side of music has been hesitant to adopt, but I think your band has been a prime example of that strategy being successful.
Lemaitre: Now that we are with labels, we can’t necessarily keep giving away tracks for free, but we still try to do it where we can. However, beyond that we still make sure are music is accessible. We want to see our music on spotify, we want to see it on Soundcloud, or wherever. It needs to be able to be listened to everywhere and that seems to work for people, because a lot of people use spotify and soundcloud, so even though we don’t give away the songs for free now, it is really important to us that it remains easy to be listened. We still have all of the original tracks before the labels out there and available for free. We would rather have people listen to our music than have to pay for it and maybe not listen to it.
John: Since you have signed with Astralwerks, a label that has signed many of today’s largest dance music acts, including Deadmau5, Eric Prydz, and Fatboy Slim, and notable alt-electronic bands like Parade of Lights and Hot Chip, how has your exposure to the scene that comes with such a large label influenced your music?
Lemaitre: One of the reasons we signed with Astralwerks was their legacy. A lot of the musicians they support were our inspiration to even start working on music. They have Eric, Chemical Brothers, Fat Boy Slim, all of these artists that we grew up with and inspire us. When they started doing things with deadmau5 and Porter, it was right up our alley. Their legacy and the people they work with now, it was no decision whether we wanted to sign with them as they seem like a fit for what we wanted in music.
John C: You mentioned Porter Robinson. You are currently on traveling with the Porter Robinson’s Worlds tour. Considering Porter’s outspoken directional change beyond the world of 4 on the 4, it would seem his genre expansion and decision to explore new sounds and a more unique creative approach to song creation is a good working fit for your band. How has working with Porter Robinson on such a large show been?
Lemaitre: It has been really good; we have a lot of common fans. Parts of the crowds might be a little bit more dance-y than what we used to have at our shows where we played alone. However it is still really up our alley. It is cool to just be a part of it, it has a great line up with Giraffage and Porter. It has been amazing, and we feel privileged to be a part of it. We loved house stuff before Worlds, but Worlds has been a new gathering of fans for us, from Worlds, which may lead to some of them liking our music. It has been a really good match.
John C: As this tour wraps up, will you be heading back to Norway, and what can your fans expect from you guys?
Lemaitre: We actually have a house in LA now, so we will be returning there after the tour. So we will be back there for about 5 months of working on our first album. So that is hopefully what is up next. We have been working on a lot of tracks in progress, but it will be our first full length, and hopefully out next year. Getting back to the studio for the 4-5 months will really be inspiring. I can’t say what happens beyond that next year, beyond the album, but we will see.
John C: I look forward to hearing it. When artists who have typically released music with an EP based catalog and then they transition towards a full length album, it is interesting to see who they connect their music to that new platform. As for your current tour, will this stop be your first time in Chicago?
Lemaitre: Yeah, we are looking forward to playing here in Chicago and everything we heard about this venue is that it will be amazing. So there is definitely a lot of anticipation for this show.
John C: Well I am happy to hear that and to have you welcomed to Chicago. The venue can be great for live acts and I can’t wait to hear how it goes. In addition, I want to thank you for taking this interview and sharing some of your thoughts with our readers, it is greatly appreciated.
Lemaitre: Thank you too man, its been great.
I would like to extend an additional thank you to Lemaitre for taking the time to chat with me and their management team for providing us with the opportunity.