It's been slightly heated around here lately, so we were thinking of ways to step back, breathe, and recenter our juju. Luckily, we found the new video for "Once Upon A Time," the first single from Air's forthcoming album Pocket Symphony (…). And we also found Nicolas and JB for a little tête á tête á tête regarding their music, burgeoning acting careers and traditional Japanese instruments which you can read after le jump
When did you guys start working on this album?
NG: It’s hard to say because we did it in the same time as Charlotte Gainsbourg (5:55). Because Charlotte was shooting some movies, she had to leave early, so for the time she wasn’t there we were working on our albums.
Did you find it hard to go from Charlotte to Air?
Yeah it was hard because we were very happy with Charlotte and we always wanted her to do something with Air and after such a project we had to finish ours just after we finished hers.
I think it’ll be interesting because Charlotte’s album comes out the same month as your album. It will be interesting comparing part 1 and part 2.
You guys are so much a part of her album. Not to say it’s not her album but it’s very much—the feeling it’s about—
—It’s very Air, not lyrically, not intellectually, but the sound of it is really Air.
Even on this new album you’re working with Nigel [Godrich] and Neil Hannon and Jarvis Cocker as well, so it’s like one person.
We even did a song with Charlotte on our album, but it’s not on our album. It’s a bonus track.
I know you guys used some Eastern instrumentation on this album.
NG: When we did Talkie Walkie, the last track was called "Alone In Kyoto" and we really liked that type of music, and we thought it would be great to push it a little bit more.
JB: I’m very happy we insisted on this style of music and we did some tracks from the new album—having Japanese instruments is a way to make it more deep.
NG: I found a Japanese teacher in Paris, and so I did it the very traditional way. I was going to her every Wednesday and then I decided to make my own instruments. So we choose the root and I made them with the measurements of my fingers.
What do you mean the measurements of your fingers?
NG: Because you use the ivory nail, so it is exactly the same size of your fingers—so they don’t fall off.
And the instrument is called what, again?
NG: The shamisen.
And your instructor taught you how to play this and you had lessons every Wednesday?
NG: Yeah for one year.
With all the Ed Banger stuff and TTC and Daft Punk’s side projects, it feels like Paris has a lot of energy right now. All the stuff you guys were involved in several years ago, it feels like it is next generation of that. Do you notice that?
NG: Oh yeah we go to the nightclubs every weekend, we have drinks with them, so yeah for me it is.
Are there any other side projects you’re working on?
We did a lot of work last year, we worked on Marie Antoinette.
But you guys weren’t in the movie…
Yes we are, we were in three scenes.
There is the one where you can see us smoking, we are seen with the management, and then Tahiti 80 plays the watching scene, and then when she talks with her lover, I chat with a girl. We are in more than you think!
Oh I gotta check that out again. The other bands were so obvious—they had the little pants on and it was like, Oh there’s Phoenix and that’s like in Marie Antoinette’s country palace. Where are you guys from originally—not Paris, right?
Was it weird to be back in that area and have it shut down?
JB: No it was magic!
NG: Yes! It was amazing, we had champagne glasses from like 200 years, my soup dish was like 300 years old!
And they had Milena Cananero doing costumes!
NG: Oh yeah she is a genius. She is so beautiful. I told her, I said—She is so beautiful. She is very classy.
So you guys were wearing original costumes right?
Yeah she was picking costumes for us and every detail was checked back to her.
And there were hundreds of people on set! Did you eat lots of macaroons?
Was that the first movie you guys have done?
As a cameo, yes.
Are there movies where you have been leads?
No no no.
Oh I thought you meant, Oh that is our first cameo but…
It can be so boring.
I know, it’s a lot of waiting.
Yeah. That’s what I do not understand, it is hard not to lose my time. It is like okay I will give you months of my life for this money!
So do you know who you’ll be touring with when the album comes out?
The Visitors. They are some friends of ours.
When you guys were in town a few years back didn’t you have Sebastian Tellier on a tour?
Yeah. He’s still around in Paris.
But he’s not going to be on tour with you guys?
No. He likes to trash the room sometimes, so we don’t do it anymore. He almost died on the last tour so—
JB: He has a lot of power, a lot of drinking power.