CP Interview: Anthony Gonzalez of M83

by Clubplanet
12.01.2008

M83, the electronic music vehicle for French savant Anthony Gonzalez, has reeled fans in with dreamy, neural invocations of romance and innocence. With the recent release of M83's fifth album, Saturday=Youth, Gonzalez takes a decidedly nostalgic look at optimistic 80's art-pop, careening from Kate Bush-inspired guest vocals to authentic synthesizers of the era. Clubplanet sat down with Gonzalez on the eve of the hard copy release and discussed his too-good-to-be-true adolescence and why New York is his favorite city to tour.


Cover of Saturday=YouthClubplanet: You’ve always been fixated on the 80s, but this album has a definitive youth culture vibe to it. What prompted the new-wave nostalgia?
Anthony Gonzalez: I was born in 1980, but I was a bit too young to appreciate the music the first time around. I rediscovered the music when I was thirteen or fourteen, so it was with me when I was a teenager. I love so many things about 80s music,

CP: A lot of critics have drawn comparisons between Saturday=Youth and the soundtracks to John Hughes’ films. Was Hughes a direct inspiration?
Anthony Gonzalez: I walk around a lot, looking for inspiration, but I can’t say that John Hughes was on my mind as I was writing the music. I’m always drawing from a group of concepts and emotions so the album will have a cohesive identity, but was I thinking of The Breakfast Club during the creative process? No. But I’m glad that others might think of it as they listen to the album.

CP: But is that redhead on the cover a nod to Molly Ringwald?
Anthony Gonzalez:
Oh yeah! [Laughs]. Is it so obvious that maybe it seems unlikely? Yes, [the model] was supposed to look like Molly Ringwald.

CP: Kim & Jessie has all the makings of a true high school romance. Is it based on a personal experience or an idealized state of mind?
Anthony Gonzalez: It’s both. It’s a simple story of kids hanging out together. I’ve felt that way when I was younger about lots of my friends. It's a very emotional, up-beat song.

CP: It’s also, to our recollection, your first pop song.
Anthony Gonzalez: It’s certainly the shiniest song I’ve ever made so far. It’s so bright and sunny and catchy compared to the rest of my songs. So yeah, I guess it is my first pop song.

CP: Was your own teenage experience as romantic as the tracks in Saturday = Youth ?
Anthony Gonzalez:
Oh yeah! [Laughs]. Is it so obvious that maybe it seems unlikely? Yes, being a teenager, for me, was a wonderful experience. I have a lot of good memories about it. I learned so many things, had so many love stories—but they were all very short. I really figured out who I was and what I wanted to do when I was a teenager. It was the best period of my life so far.

CP: Consider yourself lucky.
Anthony Gonzalez: Yeah, I know lots of people don’t feel like that. 

CP: You manage to invoke a very specific music genre without sounding derivative. What’s your secret?
Anthony Gonzalez: We only use instruments coming from the 80s. Aside from the recording, we didn’t use any computers at all. But at the same time, I intend to stay true to my own vision of an album. I don't confuse inspiration with mimicking.

CP: We noticed that one of your songs is featured in a Pontiac commercial, and the song's title is "Don't Save Us From the Flames." How involved are in the decision to license your own songs for commercials and movies?
Anthony Gonzalez:
It always depends on the project, and I always make sure that I agree with the representation of the song. I have the final say.

CP: You’re kicking off a national tour right now. What city are you most excited about visiting?
Anthony Gonzalez: I love playing New York because it’s such a wonderful city. New Yorkers are very responsive audience members. They never just stand there and stare at you while you play.

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