Interview with Chromeo’s P-Thugg

by Anna Denejkina

Chromeo: Getting the parties started

Written for The Music Network 

Originally published on December 22, 2010


Releasing their third studio album Business Casual earlier this year, Montreal-based duo Chromeo is returning to the scorching Australian summer for a run of festivals and shows supporting N.E.R.D.

“We’ve done at least two or three New Year’s and summer festivals in Australia, we’re pretty excited” comments P-Thugg (real name Patrick Gemayel) on their forthcoming trip. “There’s lots of dancing, lots of sing-a-longs” he continues, before describing that for him the festival experience still holds its peculiarities in the response and attention gained from fans.

“Festivals are weird and fun at the same time.” He said. “When you’re there, the front row is full of your fans and as you look back it’s people who don’t know you and they either walk right past you or they stay and listen and that’s what’s really cool about [playing] a festival.”

Only a few days before embarking on their European tour in support of Business Casual, P-Thugg explained the different approach taken on this release as compared to their prior albums; 2004’s She’s In Control and their sophomore release Fancy Footwork.

“We tried to make this album more musical without being too serious or without taking ourselves too seriously. Just keeping the fun aspect of what we do and we tried to keep it a challenge, adding more musicality.”

A collaboration that began in high school, P-Thugg and his other, musical half, Dave 1 (real name David Macklovitch) bring forth and inspire different tastes and influences over their own music, and it is this mix that has made their band one that many have struggled in affixing to a particular genre.

“It’s even harder for us to place ourselves in a box,” explained P-Thugg of his personal opinion on their music. “The basic is funk – funk and ballads – and we try to complement it with our own take on ’80s music, ’80s funk… In a sense its’ a big mash.”

“It’s always been a trend since hip hop existed, to mix everything together. I mean, you had guys like Afrika Bambaataa in the earlier 80’s who had the same concepts; it’s just a different take on it. It renews itself every five or ten years and this is the new mix of hip hop. It’s how we choose to work.”

With regard to the creative approach of Chromeo, P-Thugg explained that each song is advanced differently and that his personal drive and influence behind composing is inspired greatly by music rather than day-to-day life and its sway.

“It’s never as literal as, “oh, something happened to me, I’m going to write about it”, it’s never that literal.” He continued. “It has to go with the spirit of what we do; it has to blend into a song. There are so many parameters to think about when you’re writing lyrics or a song… It starts with the music; it’s about picking out the hook, the vibe and the subjects of the music that we like.”

P-Thugg further explained that their retro aesthetic not only “goes with the music” but that their videos are there to, at times; take off the serious nature to their songs.

“We always try to give another direction to the songs with the video.” He said. “The last video we had was ‘Don’t Turn The Lights On’, and the song was a bit serious to us, maybe too much, so we decided to make it a quirky, weird video, just to make up for the serious side in the song.”

After a quick comment on the crucial effect that the internet has had on the success of Chromeo, which P-Thugg dubbed as their “own little world” where they “try to rule as kings”, he spoke of the musical evolution of the band.

“We try to make it a bit more interesting for us and for the fans. He said. “We don’t want it to be the same thing over and over again. So you do have to find a balance, it’s just a balance of how much musicality you want to get in and still keep it fun for everybody.”

Furthermore, P-Thugg underlined that to him, keeping stability and not taking oneself too seriously is an important factor, because, as he put it “that’s when you end up falling off”.