Paradis are a Paris based production duo composed of Simon Mény and Pierre Rousseau. Discovered by Tim Sweeney and the first release on the Beats in Space record label, Paradis might be one of the most ambitious projects to come out of France in recent years. With a new album in the works for Barclay’s offshoot imprint Riviera, we decided to catch up with Simon and Pierre to discover more about their musical background, new album and sophisticated yet romantic approach to creating music videos.
You’ve recorded a very smooth and eclectic mix for us. Can you tell us more about it?
Sure! So we just wanted to present a warm selection of winter songs and tracks that have been following us for a while, something you can listen to at home with friends or loved ones.
This mix is almost the perfect sound track to a lazy Sunday afternoon at home. Are these tracks you use to listen to on a regular basis?
That’s exactly what we were going for! Yeah, most of the stuff in here are some of our strongest influences, some soul, some techno, and some more experimental music, like the Sun Ra piece or the latest releases from Tasty Morsels.
How and where did you two first meet?
We met at a common friend’s party here in Paris; he introduced us and suggested that we should make music together, since we weren’t really getting anywhere on our own. We gave it a shot the next day and it worked out pretty well!
Where are you currently based and what have you been up to recently?
Still based in Paris, and this year after years of working in Simon’s apartment we set up our own studio. It’s a secret cave on the north side of the city; we’ve been finishing our first album there.
What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up?
Hmm, not sure, what was that crazy dream again?
Do you have a traditional musical background or have you learnt music as autodidacts?
Yes, we were both musically trained in our youth but we’ve forgotten so much. It’s seems to be more about instincts and experiments these days really, which feels better to be honest.
What triggered you to start producing music together?
Well, we had a lot of common references but also quite different views on music, which started an interesting conversation, and good conversation is always a great start!
Your music is kind of a unique blend of French chanson and deep house crossed with a touch of new wave. How would you describe your sound? Does Paradis have a sound?
Honestly, we don’t really know at this point, but your description seems pretty accurate! For the French side of things, using our own language just seems like the most natural way of writing and expressing the lyrics. We can’t really tell if there’s a Paradis sound but there’s definitely something pretty abstract that links all the music we like, when it’s sweet, but with an underlying sadness perhaps.
You sampled a song by Areski and Brigitte Fontaine on ‘Garde Le Pour Toi‘, you also released a cover of Alain Souchon’s ‘La Ballade de Jim‘ on your first single. Do you feel nostalgic of the ’70s to 80’s sound?
Not really, it’s more the idea of timelessness that we find very romantic. Whatever the genre or the era, whenever we listen to a piece of music, the question we ask ourselves if any, is always: are we moved? For instance, the lyrics to Alain Souchon’s « La Ballade De Jim » seemed to resonate with us in a very intimate and natural way.
If there were one French song you’d recommend to our readers, what would it be?
At the moment, that would be “Y’A Pas De Doute, Il Faut Que Je M’En Aille” by Véronique Sanson. It’s from her album “Hollywood” which came out in 1977. Alain Chamfort wrote most of the songs and Ray Parker Jr. plays the guitar, sounds great!
You’ve remained quite scarce in the studio. How do you spend your time in between recording sessions?
Yes, it’s true we haven’t put out many songs, but we’re pretty much always in the studio! It’s just that we’re very, very slow …
The textures of your songs are sleek and finely polished; we can only imagine how perfectionist you must be in the studio. How much time do you generally spend on a track?
Hah, that really depends! We’re adding the final touches to our first album at the moment, some of the songs took more than two years to make, but this is mainly because we always end up changing stuff. There was a nice film about Soulwax that came out a few years ago, and in one of the interviews some guy said that when he’d call the Soulwax guys up and ask how their album was going, they kept answering: “two more weeks!”, and this went on for months and months. That sums up our process fairly well.
You recently switched labels from Tim Sweeney’s Beats In Space to Barclay’s offshoot Riviera. Did signing to a major change anything in the way you produce or record your music?
Not really, the switch mainly has to do with having a strong support here in France since the music is in French and that we’re based here. It’s cool to work with people close to home. On the other hand, we do hope we can make new plans with Tim in the future!
Your music videos involve a sophisticated approach to cinematography. What part does it play in your work? Is there any particular place you draw your inspiration from?
Cinema, photography and images in general are definitely instrumental in our creative process, as much as the music itself at times, so we’re happy that you’ve felt this in the videos!
As for places we draw inspiration from, well, Paris is a very present inspiration for us, it’s our home, most of our friends are here, our loved ones also. The city is very graphic and intense.
It was exciting to make the latest one for “Sur Une Chanson En Français” here with Daniel Brereton. He came over from London for a few days, and walking around our neighborhood he really captured what makes it special, sometimes noticing things that maybe we don’t see as much anymore, out of habit perhaps.
Do you have any work in progress?
Sure, so our first album is almost finished, hopefully that’ll be out during the spring with only new songs.
In the meantime we’re releasing an EP with Barclay entitled “Couleurs Primaires”, which features the three first singles from the album and two extended remixes from Superpitcher and Tim Goldsworthy. It’s a sort of introduction to the sounds of the album.
Also, this week on Thursday we’re kick-starting a new residency at Le Monseigneur, which is a new club here in Paris, we’ve invited over Max Graef from Berlin, Ghost Culture from London and Flavien Berger from Brussels, hopefully we’ll have lots of fun, so if you’re reading this and you’re in Paris on December 11th, come along, it’s free!
1. Maxence Cyrin – Acid Eiffel
2. Sun Ra – Paradise
3. Wojciech Kilar – Love Remembered
4. DJ Cam – Underground Vibes
5. Earl Klugh – Living Inside Your Love
6. Doctor Oetker – Earliest Bowlful
7. Der Zyklus – Die Dämmerung Von Nanotech
8. Soul Capsule – Lady Science (NYC Sunrise)
9. Herr Koreander – Regenbogenblick
10. MFSB – Morning Tears
11. Todd Rundgren – There Are No Words
12. Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – Ooo Baby Baby
13. Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together
14. Aretha Franklin – Day Dreaming
15. Column – Aerolove
16. Jane Birkin – Jane Dans La Nuit
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