DAT Politics is "the weirdest band Poplife ever brought to Miami." Or at least that's what fellow electronic musician Otto Von Schirach said about his current houseguests. Now a duo, French dance party veterans Claude Pailliot and Gaëtan Collet were only in Miami for one day in 2007 for that memorable show. They're back again this week for Wynwood's III Points Music Festival. When we sat down with them at Gramps Bar, where they'll be performing tonight, they'd already spent their day at the beach. Collet said, "We're kind of discovering Miami."
And once the sun sets today, Miami will rediscover DAT Politics. They'll be taking the stage alongside Juan MacLean, Dino Felipe, Molly Nilsson, and Whorish Boorish before heading out for a few more gigs in the US, UK, and Australia. We spoke to them about the evolution of their sound, what's going on in Berlin, and returning to their original label Tigerbeat6.
New Times: You live in Berlin now. Berlin's changed a lot in recent years. Can you tell me how that's affected you guys?
Pailliot: It's like any big city: It's good it's cool, it's fun. There's a lot of things to do, so of course now it's more expensive, and the clubs are not always cool like it was before. But I think there's a lot of things to do. I think there's a good balance between this new hipster thing, let's say, and the old Berliner scene. They try to keep things cool and cheap, but cheap in a good way. It's not overpriced, and the spirit of the night, especially in music, the clubs, are still very cool.
Did you leave France to Berlin because it was more affordable?
Collet: No, it was more like to get in touch with some artists and musicians that we liked. We weren't living in Paris, we were living in Lille, which is a small town. We were kind of fed up there, always meeting the same people. It's very different in Berlin, because there's always big waves of people coming and going out. It was easier to meet new friends.
Do you play there a lot?
Collet: It's funny, because before we didn't like to play there often in our own city. As so not to get people bored about us. But in Berlin, there are so many different spaces and so many different kinds of venues, so you're always playing in front of different people.
You were making electronic music in the late '90s in Lille. What was that like?
Collet: It was pretty hard actually. (laughs) There wasn't any scene at the time. Even in France in general, our music was weird for most people. That's why we released all our music on (Chicks on Speed) label, and that's why we toured the world, and didn't play in our country. But now there is a change, of course, electronic music became more popular everywhere.
How do you feel about the rise of electronic music, and the direction it's going in?
Pailliot: Of course, it's nice that there's a lot more people compared to the '80s. Of course, you still have a kind of format, let's say an extreme thing, even in Berlin, people are still coming for techno, minimal techno, probably like 80% of the people, and the other 20% are looking for stranger things. I think it's the same everywhere. I think it's good. You can see that compared to ten years ago in the audience, that there's a bigger range of people: older, younger, club kids, industry people, experimental people. The mix is good.
You're on a different label for this album?
Collet: Yeah, we changed the label last year. We had a record on Sub Rosa, a label from Belgum. But we have a new EP coming out on Tigerbeat6 in November. Which is going back to our roots.
Pailliot: They released the first album we did more than ten years ago. But we were kind of like always switching. It's funny that the new EP is out on Tigerbeat6, because we remember the old times. And we have a collaboration with Soft Pink Truth, which is the project of Drew Daniel from Matmos, we all did collaborate with Tigerbeat6 and Chicks on Speed album ten years ago. So it's like old times.
You're happy about the change?
Collet: Yeah, I think it's cool. It's really funny to see that you're always part of a family.
Pailliot: Now we are kind of the old generation of this electronica sound. When we started like over ten years ago, there were all these people like us, like Matmos, Kid 606, Otto, there were were a couple of people doing this kind of weird dance music, a little abstract. Of course now, a lot of people are doing this, using the same kind of sound, but not in the same way. It's funny to see we're connected together. Of course, some people disappeared along the way.
How has your music evolved?
Pailliot: I think it's more accessible. I think it was always a mix. When we started, it was more of a harsh sound and a bit abstract, but with dance patterns and beats. After a couple of years, we put lyrics in the process. Now it's more song oriented.
Collet: The structure is different. Maybe before, we were going anywhere, but now we're more structured. I think now, people are more used to the sound. So I don't think it's weird for the audience anymore.
Pailliot: I think it's still a weird mix of pop songs and abstractions. It could be weirder. We have a ton on tracks, and we always have to, 'OK, let's try to focus on on direction,' kind of, because, of course, you can go crazy. We already did eight albums, so, we can always do something a bit different. But right now, we like to focus on this idea of shorter tracks and pop songs.
Do you think you evolved in that way because of trends in music, or because you got older and thought this was a better way to express what you were trying to say?
Collet: I think at the beginning, we didn't think too much about what we were doing, but after a while, we just knew what we liked better. So then it was easier to not go everywhere, but start to concentrate on songs.
Pailliot: It's because of the live shows we play. You record the track in the studio, and then you play it live, and we were noticing that when you play abstract stuff in front a big audience... For us it was more fun to see what you have. So now we try to focus on this connection between live shows, the album, the audience.
Collet: It's not easy to play live when it's too difficult for the audience. It's more fun to have a reaction. We keep more abstract stuff in the songs. It's not like too spread out, only in some parts.
That's what we wanted to hear back in those days. And now music has become a lot tighter, or pop music is more the thing people want to hear.
DAT Politics with Juan MacLean, Dino Felipe, Molly Nilsson, and Whorish Boorish as part of III Points. 9 p.m., October 4, Gramps Bar, 176 NW 24th St., Miami. Visit grampsbar.com.