A key component in the skyrocketing success of the boiling-hot Brothers From Different Mothers imprint, the Lyon-based duo of The Pilotwings has rapidly matured into one of the most enthralling and refreshing house acts out there – fusing ingenuous synth-pop’esque delicacies, trippy video-game soundtracks and harsher jungle-y rhythms with an ever inspired sense of amusement and flippancy.
In the wake of their latest instalment on Macadam Mambo and ahead of a lot new ventures on BFDM, Guillaume and Louis laid down a kaleidoscopic mix lacing unhinged synth blast-offs, easternmost melodic tropes and ’80s oddball groovers. We took the chance to find out more about their boundless scope of influences, BFDM debuts and had an in-depth talk about their studio voodoo.
Interviewed by Baptiste Girou
"We used to organise parties in the countryside, buy shitty sound-systems and just pretend to be some Dutch DJs from Qlimax."
Where and when did you guys first meet?
We’ve known each other like forever, our parents used to see each other at birthday parties, NYE… etc. We traded tapes and CDs although we were still kids. So yeah, there’s no real first meeting, just the childhood in general.
How did it all start with the music thing?
We always found a way to share our favourite stuff in a way or another. We used to organise parties in the countryside, buy shitty sound-systems and just pretend to be some Dutch DJs from Qlimax. Then we started buying records in high-school and the passion grew on us.
Tell us about your first steps in production?
Joachim Garraud’s forum, haha! We were making crap beats on Garageband in high-school. After landing in Lyon, we moved to Ableton and eventually bought some gear. Whilst getting familiar with these we explored a lot of genres and styles. We just wanted to try a bit of everything and have fun: Hardstyle, Drum & Bass, Garage House, Harsh Techno…
"Our parents used to make some quality playlists in the '90s, converging on the electronic albums of Bowie (Earthling), Björk (Debut), Radiohead, Faithless... And a lot of techno / dance compilations."
What are your musical backgrounds? Were your parents avid collectors and listeners?
We were lucky enough to be immersed in good music since our early days. Our parents used to make some quality playlists in the ’90s, converging on the electronic albums of Bowie (Earthling), Björk (Debut), Radiohead, Faithless… And a lot of techno / dance compilations, some really exciting cuts. During our teenage years, we were more into trance music, it had a decisive impact.
How did you come up with that name? Is it a reference to the Super Nintendo game?
We are from the Pilotwings 64 school – and yeah the name refers to that game and its great B-grade funk soundtrack. We decided to adopt that name after a few cancelled games. Later on, Guillaume offered me a Nintendo 64 with the game. I never play it though, it’s too difficult…
"In terms of what we listen to and play, it has to be fun or else it rapidly bores us."
Can you tell us more about the genesis of Brothers From Different Mothers? It seems to be more of a family than anything. How did you get to meet Judaah?
We met Judaah through our exes at the time. We were trying to find our feet in terms of production and we just had terrible experiences with other labels. Judaah was organising parties and was strongly considering to start up a label.
This was a crucial meeting: we learnt a lot from one another – we’ve always been sincere with the demos we shared. Judaah introduced us to the other guys he was willing to sign, and today we can say it’s a true family – one that walks the streets of Lyon with a can of 8.6 in one hand and Zouk Records in the other.
The label has a refreshing stance towards the music world in general, seemingly not taking things very seriously (track names, artwork…) but still dispensing some of the finest quality house and techno available right now. Is humour a key element in BFDM’s working order?
Thanks! We have a lot of hindsight when it comes to the so-called electronic music scene. To be honest we’re quite annoying and demanding music-wise, haha! In terms of what we listen to and play, it has to be fun or else it rapidly bores us. It’s something that’s progressively vanished in music in general: make something that sounds as much fun as it sounds good. People are taking themselves too seriously at the moment.
"The tracks from the first EP were recorded very spontaneously. For instance, 'Cours-La-Ville' was recorded in one take."
In another interview, Judaah mentioned the making of Agorespace and how you sent him weak 4/4 demos until it finally clicked. How did you get to this result?
Yeah, the first demos were crap… haha! Let’s say that we had a huge block, we just resigned to make uninspired, monotonous house. Finally, Judaah unblocked us, even deflowered us. After this, we let ourselves go. The tracks from the first EP were recorded very spontaneously. For instance, ‘Cours-La-Ville’ was recorded in one take.
Your sound is a fine balance between naïve house, massive ’90s jungle breaks and epic video game soundtracks. What kind of stuff are you mainly listening to?
Well, in itself quite a lot of the genres you’re mentioning! Actually we don’t really listen to club music too much unless it’s really ridiculous or brutal stuff. Italian balearic house, Breakcore, old-school Rave records, Trance or hardline Happy Hardcore. The biggest part of our record collection comes from the ’80s – mostly Italo, Japanese Synth Pop, Russian stuff and miscellaneous LPs. At the moment, we buy quite a lot of Zouk. And always a good lot of video-game soundtracks filled with love and marimba.
"We've got quite a few exotic percussions to give our tracks a slightly more 'human' aspect. And we always keep a mic within easy reach to make some ridiculous lyrics!"
Which records have you been rinsing as of late?
- Tunnel Vision – Vol.3
- Spectral Display – Spectral Display
- Anna Domino – Anna Domino
- Voiron – Voironizer
- Suzo Saiz – Odisea
Lyon is a bundle of hot stuff at the moment. What’s not to miss in terms of places to dance, labels, record stores… etc.?
Yeah, the city is exploding. Of course, in terms of labels there’s all our friends who are already well-known in the scene: Macadam Mambo, CLFT… But there’s plenty of cool new ones like Groovedge, Palma…
As for the shops, it’s always between Chez Emile and Groovedge, the strongholds! There’s also LYL Radio – the media that gathers us all. It’s always a mess there because of the traffic but it sure is a real delight to do our show there! Big up Simon and Lucas!
Regarding the clubs, it’s quite the through of the wave as we speak – the Boxboys is under construction, some places have closed… But it’ll get going again soon, I’m sure the Autumn is going to be bonkers.
What’s your studio setup currently comprised of?
We still have the 707, the Juno-6 and the Korg M1 which are our staple gear. Recently, we were lent some ’80s Russian synths: Polivoks, EM-25 (which are great surprises) but also a DX-7 and a 727. We’re having some great fun with these! We’ve got quite a few exotic percussions to give our tracks a slightly more ‘human’ aspect. And we always keep a mic within easy reach to make some ridiculous lyrics!
"The 707 is our trademark. We started with it and still use it as much today."
Is there a piece of gear you’d never get rid of?
The 707 is our trademark. We started with it and still use it as much today. This machine is the perfect combination of sound to make Disco, House, Zouk and harsher stuff… Our exact kind of stuff! It’s a killer machine, we never grow tired of it. We start feeling the same about the Korg M1, we always return to it.
What’s lined up for you next?
We’re currently finishing a LP for BFDM which will be out in September. It’ll be split between two records and very eclectic: House of course, but also New Wave, Ambient and a few other things which we keep secret for now.
There’s also two remixes coming out soon: One for Alphonse, a new artist signed to Emotional Especial and a funny Afro-inflected cover for Gerd on local imprint Sharivari. It’s even more fun to do something with Gerd, as we used to listen to ‘Arkest’s Blaze’ when we were kids. These shall drop very shortly.
We’re also preparing a Pilotwings live show, which will hit the road by the end of the Summer at Baléapop.
- Read the review of The Pilotwings ‘Molitor 71’ released on Brothers From Different Mothers (2016).