The French have proved time and time again that they have a knack for crafting groovy melodies. There’s Daft Punk, Phoenix, Justice and, of course, Breakbot who may just be the most funky of them all. The project was started by Thibaut Berland who picked up adorers with his 2012 debut By Your Side which included Baby I’m Yours - a track that has become a staple of post-2000 electro-funk.
Four years laters Berland has returned with a second album but the project has grown. Irfane Khan-Acito who featured on a number of songs on the debut has come on as a full time collaborator with Thibaut and Irfane working on Still Waters in the same room together. The result is another effortless slice of electro-funk conjuring images of summer while still delivering a groove that would have any producer from the ‘70s salivating.
We spoke to Breakbot just a day before the release of Still Waters - a record they have been sitting on since they finished back in June. They chatted us through the things that have changed on album number two and what to expect from their developing live show which they’re due to launch in two weeks.
What can you tell me about the new album. How does it differ from the first album?
Thibaut: The first one was a solo project. It was my own and I had feature artists, people that I had singing on my tracks. But this one was my collaborative record as I got in the studio with Irfane and made songs together.
Did you two both write the songs together in the same room?
T: On the first record I would write the instrumentals and he would write the vocals on the track. This record it was more a studio thing where we would be in the same room and start making things together.
It’s been four years in between albums which feels like a really long time. Does it feel like that for you guys?
T: Yeah it does feel like a very long time actually. We finished the record last July, so it’s been like seven months already. You have to work with the labels. When you finish the record it’s not necessarily the time that you release it. But we took our time to make sure we were happy about the songs. We are really happy because the label gave us the opportunity just to do what we wanted to do.
Have you had the opportunity to play any shows in between finishing the album and now?
Irfane: We haven’t been doing any live shows. We’re currently finishing the setup for the whole live show. It’s an actual live show. There’s a music part and it’s much liver than it was in the past. There are a few musicians and lots of the things are played now whereas in the past live it was more of a DJ show with some live components. Now it’s the other way round. We also want the lights to reflect the music so it takes a little time to put together. We’re happy to start touring in two weeks.
Is it scary or exciting for you guys? Obviously if it is live there are more things that can go wrong but there are also greater rewards to reap.
I: It’s exactly that. It’s exciting as it is daunting. It’s always scary to start a new show but you also know that your first shows are trials and things just get better. The aim is to be prepared to make modifications along the way so we can make a better show. We want to be satisfied with what we do and try to give our best and be able to adapt and make it even better along the way.
Do you think these new songs lend themselves better to be played live than the old ones?
I: I think that it really depends on the song to be honest. It’s even more surprising on some of the older songs to have real live instrumentation because they have a newer approach to them. Well, maybe not newer, but a different approach. They sound more live. Whereas on the new album it’s just a real reflection of what the songs are. It’s interesting. There’s no set rule. Each song sounds its own way and we try to reflect the album but also take some freedom and liberty in our interpretation. We also try to reflect the DJ aspect too so a lot of the songs are intertwined.
Are there are any plans to tour Australia?
T: With the live show I think it’s going to be complicated for now but we’re going to try and tour as DJs soon.
I: We would love to be back down there, it’s always very cool. If we can avoid the winter and come back during your summer that would be ideal. I think that our music reflects our love of sunshine, beaches, palm trees. It’s always a pleasure when you can travel, discover new places and just be wearing a t-shirt and sandles.
How did you find touring the last record? It can often be really fun at the start and then quite exhausting towards the end.
T: To be honest we’ve been pretty lucky with that. The fact we’ve been touring so long doesn’t mean that we are touring everyday. We have been able to rest between the shows. We’ve been travelling a lot but we’ve never had a crazy schedule. Of course sometimes it’s tiring and of course sometimes you miss home but in a way it’s for the best because you’re doing what you love and you’re sharing your music with the people around the world who have come to see you because they love your music.
I: Just the thought of that makes you feel better.
T: Sometimes of course you feel the jet lag.
I: Yeah you’re exhausted.
T: We can never complain about that though because we’re really lucky to do what we do. Many people would love to have what we have.
Are you guys able to write new music on the road?
T: You can start ideas but for me I can not really work on tour. I would rather be at home and have my own speakers and my own gear. I’m not comfortable with that. But when you tour a lot sometimes you have ideas so it’s good to have a MIDI keyboard and a laptop and have some beats around.
Some people have trouble listening to their albums back. Have you listened much to the new album since you finished it?
T: Well because we are working on the live show we had to work on the songs and hear them a lot. But we haven’t listened to the record much, it’s not like when we go home we put the record on and see how much better it could be. We took so much time because we wanted to see if we were ok with it and we are ok with it. It is how it is, it could always be better and you could always work more on it but that’s not the point. We wanted to release songs we were happy about.
- Interview conducted by the interns' Sam Murphy for Cool Accidents