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Made in France: Justice in Montreal

by Archives October 23, 2007

Four years may not be a long time, but in the world of electronic music it’s an eternity. “If we were a rock band, I think you could say it’s brief,” said Xavier de Rosnay, in a thick Parisian accent. De Rosnay and Gaspard Augé form the French electro duo Justice.
“We were really anxious we would disappear when we released our album. This is what happens to most of the electronic bands, you have big hype when you are just putting out EPs and when you give your album to people are switching to other bands. We’re really happy we didn’t disappear,” said de Rosnay in an interview Friday at the Metropolis before they played.
Instead of disappearing, Justice got bigger. Their debut album, “+”, came out July 11 and caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic. In France the album has sold over 75,000 copies and remains in the top 40. The album is characterized by fat, heavy beats, pop melodies, flashes of noise and draws influences from disco, hip-hop and heavy metal.
De Rosnay and Augé don’t look like they make electronic music. Augé in a leather jacket, his t-shirt featuring a metal band looks more like he should be in, well, a metal band, but it’s this crossover, this blurring of the lines that has led to their popularity.
While the band has been together for four years they’ve only been playing live for a few months. Before that all the band’s shows were DJ sets.
“We just started to tour since April, like a proper tour,” said de Rosnay. “For the two past years we’ve been playing on Fridays or Saturdays and going back to France every week. And since we started to play live shows at Coachella we’re making a real tour. And it’s good because this is how we learn how to make our live show.”
“We need to learn without any real preparation. The set up is a bit too big for us to take home so we can never rehearse. So the only moment we can try some thing is when we play. It makes everything fun but also a bit dangerous.”
The show now consists of a mixture of live synthesizers and pre-recorded samples. “We built a bigger machine it has things like a synthesizer and a sequencer. But this machine is also used by the light guy for the things we have on stage like the cross,” said de Rosnay of the set-up.
In addition to being the title of their first album, a large lit up cross is front and center during their live shows. De Rosnay is cryptic when he talks about it. “It’s not an idea that came from [anywhere in perticular], we didn’t choose it. We were chosen by the cross and we have to deal with it.” When asked to elaborate, he refuses with a long, drawn out “no”.
Success has come almost by accident to Justice. While both de Rosnay and Augé played in bands in high-school, de Rosnay said they were not “proper bands. They were like three guitarists, one bassist and no drummer.” Instead of studying music, they both initially studied graphic design. It was here they were introduced by a mutual friend and began to make remixes.
Their second remix was a song called “We Are Your Friends”. They entered the song in a remix competition, put on by a Parisian radio station. The song caught the ear of Daft Punk manager, Pedro Winter, who signed them to his label Ed Banger. The song also became the bands first hit.
“So far it’s crazy,” said de Rosnay in between puffs of a cigarette. “The cool thing about it is that it makes us realize that production or skills are not important. The main idea was just fun.”

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