In this series of blogs, I will document a selection of albums that were pivotal in shaping my musical journey. I will focus on what made these albums special to me, as opposed to what makes them special in music, cultural or any other terms. Of course, every album I discuss can be considered as recommended listening, however, please keep in mind that whilst these albums are special to me, that doesn't mean they're particularly special and/or unique in their own right (although in most cases, I would argue that they are!).
Album: Fancy Footwork
Label: Turbo / Last Gang
Chromeo – executive producer, instruments, production, recording, vocals
Coralie Bailleuil – image manipulation
Adrien Blanchat – image manipulation
Jean-Charles de Castelbajac – shoes
Coco – additional female vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Simon Davey – mastering
Charlotte Delarue – art direction
Sébastien Gerbi – mixing assistance
Adrian "A-Dogg" Harpham – percussion, rototoms (track 3)
Craig Hodgson – saxophone (track 11)
Kevin Kocher – management
Roxane Lagache – model
Farah Malick – additional female vocals (track 5)
Santiago Marotto – art direction
Mart One – percussion (track 2)
Samy Osta – recording (tracks 4, 6, 8, 9)
Ozzie – additional female vocals (track 3)
Harry Peccinotti – photography
Jérémie Rozan – art direction
Oliver Sasse – project coordinator for Turbo Recordings
Greg Smith – recording (tracks 1–3, 5, 7, 10, 11)
Tiga – executive producer
Melisa Young – additional vocals (track 9)
Philippe Zdar – mixing
The year was 2009, I was in my mid twenties and attempting to be an adult; working a 9-5 I only sort of enjoyed, had a baby on the way, etc. I wasn't finding much, if any time for music, but I had enough going on in life that this wasn't too much of a problem.
One day, I hear a song on an advert and the sass and synth-hook on the counter melody between the vocals was wild! It felt fresh out of the Pariament/Funkadelic playbook, yet modern. I instantly jumped on Google to find out what it was. The song in question was the title track from Chromeo's second album Fancy Footwork. After a quick bit of YouTube listening, I ordered the CD and thus began a new era in my musical journey.
Fun! I mean, serious fun. Fun that embodies sass and unabashed attitude that's both deserved and tongue in cheek at the same time. These two childhood friends from Montreal really know how to take themselves seriously, without taking themselves seriously (if that makes sense).
Their production value and arrangements are simply superb and hark back to a bygone era of late 1970s through mid-1980s music production. Their grooves, chord progressions, synth hooks and wailing guitar are expertly pieced to together in a way that says they mean business.
However, their song lyrics are cheeky, sassy, funny and in many ways embody the intelligent wit of nerdy, humorous teens who never quite fit in with the cool crowd at high school.
This duality of absolute top-draw music creation coupled with zero pretentiousness and self deprecating humour could not be more up my street. I've never liked to take myself too seriously and often get put off by musicians who do take themselves too seriously (and there are way too many overly-serious musicians in my opinion).
Overall, they gave me huge confidence that I wasn't alone in my tastes and the things I liked to hear in music. Moreover they gave me the confidence that "old" musical styles that I liked had a place in the 21st Century and that I could contribute to that, in my own way.
Aside from their fantastic musical game, their style, branding and all-round social network approach was so forward thinking in the mid 2000s. They embraced all facets of Internet development, utilising new platforms and always engaging with new audiences. I've had several conversations with them over Twitter, which is testament to their fan-engagement (as they're pretty big now!).
It was clear when listening to their arrangements that they were very well versed and schooled in the world of synthesis and drum machines. Unlike many artists, they are very open to discussing their methods and techniques too. There are lots of videos online in which they detail the synths and drum machines they use and they're always really encouraging of aspiring musicians not to chase expensive vintage synths but to just use whatever they have at their disposal.
Their music and online presence massively inspired me to find time in my hectic 20s to make music, taking old song ideas and reworking them in a Chromeo-esque way. Most of these never saw the light of day (they weren't great!), however Chromeo's tight production, funk, tonal-palette, sass and cheekiness has stayed with me and you'll hear Chromeo-esque flourishes and similar attitudes all over my music (especially the funkier stuff).
Furthermore, I take enormous inspiration from them with regards to my online presence. Both in terms of trying to maintain a consistent brand image, but also in reaching out and always engaging with everyone who takes the time to talk to me or comment on my work.
To this day, I follow their output closely, have all of their releases, have seen them live, and still turn to them for ideas and inspiration on all fronts.
As they've grown and become evermore popular, they've become evermore independent, setting up their own studio and label. Their new label is called Juliet Records and everything they've put out so far, has absolutely slapped! They've even released an EP with Anomalie, who is another artist I'll be featuring in the future on this blog series.