Interview: M83: An Unexpected Awakening

M83: An Unexpected Awakening

Returning after the huge album ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’, M83’s Anthony Gonzalez isn’t letting expectations get in the way.

M83’s Anthony Gonzalez gained far greater success than he’d ever anticipated on 2011’s ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ and its hit single ‘Midnight City’. Telly soundtracks, constant airplay, sold out shows worldwide - it was all very new for the Frenchman. Five years later, he’s returning with a new LP, ‘Junk’, one that deals with the grand amount of change in his life and career in the past five years.

“I felt very free. I thought: what do I have to lose now? I had a massive success on the last album, I did a soundtrack for a Hollywood film, and now I can do whatever I want. I don’t think I need to prove myself any more, almost fifteen years into my career, and it feels really good to be free again,” Gonzalez explains from a Paris apartment, after spending Christmas with friends and family in his home country.

Moving to Los Angeles at the turn of the decade changed a lot of things for him, not least producing that sixth LP and the soundtrack to 2013’s ‘Oblivion’. He speaks of the new record offering a backlash against the slick, American sound explored on his recent material. “In the last year I’ve been really missing home a lot, especially around the time of the attacks in Paris. I felt so far away from my family and my friends, and I felt useless. I was in the studio in LA just making music, and I wasn’t close enough to the people I love. That was a strange feeling, bringing lots of sadness, and I think you can feel that in the album. As a result, I started to think about singing in French on a couple of the songs. I was missing home and I needed to get closer to my roots.”

‘Do It, Try It’

“There’s always some kind of concept behind my albums, and I grew sick of it.”

Subverting peoples’ expectations of a post-’Midnight City’ M83 is something Gonzalez emphasises as a driving force in the creation of LP7, with an insistence that he wasn’t going to repeat himself creatively. “I feel like a lot of people are expecting me to release ‘Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming’ #2, but there’s no way I’m going to do that. I’m not interested. I’ve done it. I wanted to explore new things and this collection of songs works together because I hope the fans are still going to find ‘my sound’ in the songs; it’s not completely gone, just there in a different form.”

Clearly growing restless at the sudden nature of his success - which he calls “a mistake” - and his new life in LA, ‘Junk’ shows M83 at his most reactive. “There’s always some kind of concept behind my albums, and I grew sick of it,” he explains. “The main criticism that I always hear is that ‘M83 is this pretentious band. It’s too big and too bright’ and as proud of my albums that I am, I can’t help but hear these things and react to them.”

“At this point, I’m too far into my career to start changing what I do because of what people have said. Of course I care about the criticism, the press, and the reaction of the fans, but I can’t let other people lead my process. It’s like giving away your baby.” Putting it bluntly as can be, Gonzalez says, “With this album, I just wanted to say fuck off.”

M83’s new album ‘Junk’ is out 8th April.

Taken from the March 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe to DIY below.

M83 will play Open’er (29th June - 2nd July), Bilbao BBK Live (7th-9th July) and Latitude (14th-17th July), where DIY is an official media partner. Tickets are on sale now. Visit diymag.com/presents for more information.

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