Friday, March 21, 2008

a didactic statement from Justice interview. march 18th, 2008

We had the chance to chat with Justice, the self-professed "uncool" Parisian electro duo, about their brand new video DVNO, and how it's already turning heads and being whispered about in awards circles. The video for DVNO pays tribute to 1970s and 1980s TV station identifications using the song's lyrics to narrate the video.

Plus, the guys school us on the correct lyrics to the song which we promptly updated on!

There's already a lot of buzz this early in 2008 about DVNO being a "video of the year" contender [if nominated for an MTV VMA, it'd be the band's third nomination!] - when you saw the finished video did you think to yourselves "wow, this is a total award winner. This is really good"?

Xavier: Yeah, well, this is the very first time we feel we have an actual 'completed' product. We really love the previous videos too but with this one is a 'proper' video. It always happens that way though. The two previous videos were truly made by accident. They were videos that we had only a week to make, with like $25. We really like those videos but we feel they're more homemade. Maybe that's why people like them. Those two videos achieved much more than what we could expect. And then sometimes you go and make a video that you really like and are proud of, like DVNO, you feel like "yeah, this is cool, it's a great video and looks like a professional video"...and you never know, then people might not care about it. It's so cool that people like it! We're happy to hear that.

How did the original concept for the video come about? Did you just leave it to So Me (who did your other videos) or did you have an idea of what you wanted to do?

Xavier: It was me and Gaspard with So Me, we thought of the concept together. But I mean it's been the same process with all of our videos. We just think about the initial ideas and then the job afterwards is to put together a team that will work on the video. We always prefer to keep So Me on the team so that he can direct everybody. You know, we really we can't sit in the edit rooms and supervise these things. So we trust So Me to do it on our behalf. For all the videos it's not like So Me directed them 100%. He always finds good people to team up with. That makes the video look different every time. If the team's always identical from video to video it starts to get repetitive and look the same.

How did So Me connect with Machine Molle (the motion graphics company responsible for the animation)?

Xavier: We were looking for people that could render 3D effects. At first we wanted to get the video done in the U.S. because we came up with the concept for the video just by watching American TV and seeing the TV and station idents. We thought, we'll ask American people who are actually making these kind of TV idents to do the video, so that we'll already have the best tools to recreate them. But then it got really complicated and expensive to do the video in the U.S. We happened to meet Machine Molle in Paris - it turns out we're practically neighbours - and they happened to be really good at this kind of stuff. We're really proud of the work they did!

There's a bit of confusion as to who officially directed the video - I've seen references to Jonas & Francois, So Me, Yorgo Tloupas, Machine Molle...can you confirm which one it is?

Xavier: Well Jonas & Francois did D.A.N.C.E. with So Me and this one (DVNO) is Machine Molle with So Me. Yorgo Tloupas is the guy that introduced us to Machine Molle. He's a big graphic designer in Europe. At first we wanted him to team up with So Me because he's really good at logos and stuff, and he's the guy who led us to Machine Molle. Finally the timing and everything worked out and we were connected with Machine Molle and So Me. But we give props to Yorgo for connecting everybody!

Are all of the logos in the video meant to imitate existing and recognizable logos from the past?

Xavier: Yeah, there are some in there! Not every logo though. We put some obvious references in there just to get people to identify them and see what we're trying to achieve. There are five or six that are really famous references to TV idents, like HBO, NBC, Stephen J. Cannell, 20th Century Fox...and all the rest are either original or have small references motion-wise or type-wise to existing logos.

In some parts of the video the sound fades in and out with the words. Was this intentional or is it a glitch?

Xavier: Yeah, it's intentional! It's because we're really big fans of the Jackson 5 video "Can You Feel It?" [watch the video] I think it was made in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It's the Jackson brothers, including Michael, that are creating the world from nothing and so the whole video is the song and the sound design is like ten times louder than the song. So any time they're moving while creating the earth, like throwing sparkles, the sound muffles and the effects, like explosions, are louder for ten seconds. At times you don't even really hear the song anymore! We wanted the sound design and the images to take over the space and go over the song. We don't like half made items. We prefer that if you start to do something, to exaggerate it. This way you'll notice and remember it. If it's too subtle it'll be easily missed or not noticed.

Justice is known for having limited press photos and a bit of a mysterious 'image', but you guys actually appear in your video this time around. Whose idea was it to fade into the video during the piano interlude at the end?

Xavier: Well we really wanted to do the Stephen J. Cannell reference [at the end of any Stephen J. Cannell Production typing you'd see him typing and then throwing a sheet of paper from his typewriter that morphs into his logo on a black screen]! We don't try to be mysterious at all or hide ourselves. When we have to do photoshoots or make an appearance, we do it! But we do it only when it's relevant and sometimes if we have to not appear, especially for TV, TV is such a dangerous thing. To appear everywhere is a dangerous thing. We try to pick and choose if it's relevant. I don't mean that Jimmy Kimmel isn't cool or relevant...but the idea we had for that particular performance didn't require us to appear on stage. Especially because it's playback. We didn't want to come on stage to pretend that we do play music. So we thought, let's do the most obvious playback ever - we won't even GO on stage. We absolutely don't try to have this 'mystique'.

Can you talk a bit about the meaning behind the song? Gaspard has a quote that "In every suburb of the world, in every city, there's always a nightclub called El Divino...clubs where you have to wear like a white shirt to get in." There's a debate as to what the song's trying to say, especially now that people can see the actual lyrics in the video.

[Gaspard laughing hard]

Xavier: It's cool but I love the idea of people trying to give the song their own interpretation. I don't want to spoil this pleasure, so let's just leave it as it is. We've read some really cool and misread interpretations of the lyrics. I mean, the lyrics are a bit of nonsense.

Gaspard: It's basically the story of a guy who wants to enter a club and he's got all sorts of notions of how cool it must be inside but he's stuck at the front door...

Xavier: It doesn't make a lot of sense - the lyrics aren't random, but we did write the song really quickly. As Gaspard says, it's really this guy having the misconception that he's cool when he's really not cool at all. This is kind of the case with us, you know! We try hard to be cool but we're not. This is a bit the story of everyone that's not cool but wishes they were. We don't try to be cool but we're not as it is...and this song could happen to us!

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