As many superstar DJ’s enter into the debate on pre-recorded sets, the growing fear of losing all live elements from an EDM concert become more apparent. Fans are often left feeling unsure as to whether they are witnessing a live performance or just a mix CD syncronized with a pretty light show. One group, however, eliminates all doubts: Dirtyphonics.
The four frenchmen who are Dirtyphonics, not only prove their live performance worthy of praise - commanding two MPC’s, four CDJ’s and two mixers - they give EDM concerts a completely new concept. When I chatted with one of their members, Charly, he explained to me exactly how they do it, but equally important: why they do it.
INTO THE AM: Charly, I have to say, thank you for taking with us!
Charly: Absolutely man!
ITAM: You’re currently in Colorado, have you guys enjoyed the new passed laws there?
Charly: No not yet, we’ve been pretty busy
ITAM: I know there have been cases of people having funny things are their riders (including pot for example) and I wanted to know what the weirdest thing on your rider for Dirtyphonics is?
Charly: Well one thing we do is we actually require a dog to be back stage. Any kind big or small, just needs to be present backstage so we can play before and after the show.
ITAM: I love dogs too… but still… why dogs?
Charly: Well aside from being dog lovers, we kinda wanted to have something funny on our rider. It’s pretty hysterical to see promoters try to get a dog into the club. What has happened a lot is we’ll end up with a stuffed animal dog. I can’t tell you how many we have, it is kinda crazy. I’ve actually been thinking: once we get a good amount, we could start a charity in which we can give the stuffed animals to kids.
ITAM: So I know you must get this question a ton, but how do you guys play the live shows? And why do you do it?
Charly: Well, we all used to be into punk rock and metal bands and we all played together when we were teenagers in Paris. We have always wanted to stick together musically and this has just clicked for us. As you may know, in terms of the live gigs, we take our tracks and divide them up structurally and then we all control different elements of the track.
For example, Julien may take care of the drums on a songs while I’m working with the bassline and prepping another song with Pitchin. People have asked me why we do it and the biggest reason I always come up with is the concept of the unexpected. I’m not trying to bash on other people, but it if you are going to play a pre-recorded set or mix and have very similar sets every night, it’s not only going to become boring for your audience, but you - as an artist - will lose your mind.
There is something that is just amazing about the unexpected when we perform. We have NO way of knowing when we are gonna fuck up, so we just go all out. Like last week in San Jose, Pitchin’s elbow hit the Cue button making the sound go crazy, repeating like a click almost. But we went with it and turned it into a lead that changed the course of our set. It’s those mistakes or at least the inevitable chance of those mistakes happening that make it worth while for us.
ITAM: Having very much a band mentality, do you guys ever change up places and say you jump on the mpc’s?
Charly: We have never done it live for a concert. We’ve thought about it for sure. I mean if you were to come to a sound check you could see us doing different things that you wouldn’t normally see. And also, when we get to the studio, often times we will just spend some time messing around in almost a jam format. It is something we love to do and often times it results in an idea for a new song.
ITAM: It is interesting that you bring up your experiences in producing, because my next question has to do with working with Dim Mak and your experiences there. Someone was telling me about you guys skateboarding?
Charly: Yea! We love skateboarding and it was a pretty funny experience with our first time at the Dim Mak headquaters in LA. We were on tour with Steve Aoki and during our date in LA, we noticed skateboards in the office. So they let us use them and we skated around the city all day - it was awesome!
In terms of working for Dim Mak, it has been a really great experience. There is such a vibe of ‘do your thing’ rather than a record label that may try to push you into one direction as an artist. Our creative freedom with Dim Mak is very important to us.
ITAM: One thing I notice when comparing the pre-digital music age to today, is some of the more ‘b-sided’ tracks on albums allowed for more creativity from the musician. But now the landscape has changed in terms of getting one song at a time. What are your thoughts in terms on the future of music sales in the industry?
Charly: I’m not going to say its like a path of doom or glory. It is, however, changing. So sure, you may not have quite the same relationship with the artist now as you did when you were buying your vinyl, your tapes, or your cd’s. But what you do get is the opportunity to be noticed and to put yourself out there. You get the chance as a listener to discover new artists you may not otherwise get a chance to find. The music industry is always changing and certain elements are good and some you may not like, but it changes in a way that you can’t say that as a whole it is good or bad.
ITAM: Coming back to Dim Mak, Steve Aoki had that nasty spill last week. Have you guys had any battle scars on the road?
Charly: You have no idea. Always beaten and battered. I broke some ribs last year stage diving and finished the show and kept the tour going. Before the concert, sure we can all be in a ton of pain. But with some adrenaline and a little bit of alcohol, we are always ready to rock. But, of course, after the show we are all in a lot pain.
ITAM: Being the tough, gnarly dudes you guys seem to be, I have a situation for you: the four men of Ditryphonics are forced into a gladiator battle to the death. Four men entering, one man leaving. Who stands?
Charly: All four of us man! We stick together as a crew and always will.
ITAM: Ya, but there are like tigers and whatnot that eat you if you don’t fight. Not to mention Caesar would be pissed.
Charly: Whatever man, we’d ride the tigers!
ITAM: Most important question: crepes vs. pancakes:
Charly: Crepes of course! With Nuttella!
ITAM: So if I run into you guys in LA and we decided to grub French style, what dish would it be?
Charly: Raclette for sure. I’ll make you some once you get out to LA. It’s the greatest.
ITAM: So before I let you go, I know of a dog that definitely would be interested in going to the UKF gig Saturday night. Can you help us out?
Charly: Is he a party dog?
ITAM: He definitely looks like he’s game to party.
Charly: I’ll be sure to get him on the guestlist.
Although I couldn’t coerce my friend to bring their dog, I was able to provide a stuffed animal dog for Charly's charity. After a couple laughs backstage, Pitchin and Charly got on at Hammerstein Ballroom around 2 am. Having witnessed amazing sets from Borgore and Chase of Chase & Status, I did not know how they would stack up. But, sure enough, they blew the place down.
The energy was redlined all throughout Dirtyphonic's set without a moment for the crowd to catch their breath. My personal highlight was when they layered Flux Pavillion’s unreleased track “Blow the Roof Off the Place” and their remix of Datsik’s “Deviance”. But after plenty of stage diving and champagne spraying, we were told we had to go home. Although I reluctantly had to leave, I couldn’t help but feel utterly satisfied with my weekend adventures. Until next time, my ears will keep ringing.
In other news, big shoutout to the newest member of the ITAM crew Marika Soltys for taking the amazing pictures!