Housse de Racket, the collaboration of Pierre Leroux and Victor Le Masne, hails from Paris but has a reputation that spreads across the globe. With the release of their second album Alesia on the Kitsune label, the duo has been making waves across the blogosphere and in our iTunes libraries. Buttressed by pop sensibilities, their sound accommodates a variety of influences including funk, electro, nu-disco, and indie rock. We were lucky enough to get a chance to ask them some questions, check out what they had to say, as well as a few fantastic free tracks, below!
Upside Sounds: How did Housse de Racket get started? What’s the story behind the name?
Housse de Racket: We met each other when we were just teenagers. That was at the peak of the Grunge era. Ten years later, during the House music era, we started Housse de Racket.
We started to work at home with a little 4 tracks recorder. It was House Music in a way – music literally made at Home. Finally House declined into “Housse”. The “racket” is our wall of sound.
Housse de Racket: We mostly know Jean-Benoit Dunckel from when we used to play in his side project called Darkel. Victor played with Air on a soundtrack. They’re, of course, pionneers in the French music landscape. The lesson we took from them is that low tempo tracks are always necessary. Plus, it was no longer shameful to be French in the music business.
US: You guys obviously have a rather French sound, influenced by a lot of French culture and movies. If you had to teach a crash course in French Culture, what items would you put on the syllabus and why?
Housse de Racket: French movies of the 70′s were a huge influence on our work. Like New Wave or Bossa Nova, this “Nouvelle Vague” was totally modern and inspiring.
We were really into architecture, science-fiction & technology during the writing of [Alesia]. We realized our interests were very close to the early 80′s new wave French scene, they used to call themselves “les jeunes gens modernes”. Roughly translated, this means “Pick from the past to build the future”.
We also do love the French composers of the early 20th century like Ravel and Debussy. Romantic and powerful.
US: What kind of influence does American music have on what you guys do? Do you listen to a lot of non-French music? Who are some of your favorites?
Housse de Racket: American culture is everywhere, you can’t avoid it. We mostly based our music education on both American and English bands.
Pierre’s first “guitar shock” was discovering Jimi Hendrix chord progressions. Victor’s first musical emotion was Nirvana and then we ended up meeting each other because of a Pearl Jam t-shirt.
Today, we’re really into Bob Dylan, Talking Heads or Fleetwood Mac. We’re also super-impressed by MGMT & The Strokes.
US: I’ve read that you guys are big fans of older black musicians like Prince, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson. What about these guys do you think appeals to you, and what kind of resonances does it have within your music today?
Housse de Racket: We love the fact that both Stevie Wonder and Prince were as amazing as songwriters as they are as producers. They used the technology of their own time and sounded like nobody else, writing hit singles with evolved jazz chords. To us, that was really an achievement.
Michael Jackson was a total concept : music, dance, videos. He had a global vision for everything. We were born in the 80′s so obviously he was huge when we were kids. His collaborations with Quincy Jones were beyond perfection. We were lucky enough to meet him last summer in Montreux Jazz Festival: it was hugely emotional!
Our music doesn’t sound like any of those masters, but it resonates in our sound today in the form of the body language than you can express while listening to our tracks.
US: About a month ago you guys released your second album, Alesia. Where did the inspiration for that Futuristic pop sound come from?
Housse de Racket: Everything but other music. We were curious (and still are) about everything and we tried to create our own bubble.
With Zdar, who produced the record with us, we spoke about life, art, architecture, painting, surrealism, etc – It was really a great experience!
US: How do you guys respond to comparisons to Phoenix? I imagine it must be slightly frustrating.
Housse de Racket: Obviously Phoenix showed us the way and they’re a bit like our older brothers. Of course we’re flattered, but we have to go beyond and follow our own path. Still, this not a bad group to be compared to!
US: I remember reading somewhere you guys once played 200 shows in a year. Do you plan to keep this intensive tour schedule up? What are your live show generally like?
Housse de Racket: We’re working on it, but the tour is going to be step by step. Our live shows are quite epic and powerful, we’re looking to give the audience the chills and goose bumps. The stage is where we feel free, even if it is hard work.
US: Kitsune is perhaps, along with Ed Banger, one of the biggest underground-ish labels out there right now. What’s your experience been working with them? Have you been hanging out with a lot of the other artists that are on the label?
Housse de Racket: Of course, we’re very happy to work with Kitsuné. They got a international vision for their work, as for us. There aren’t that many artists on the Kitsune roster, so we’re kind of proud. It’s like a small family. We played inTokyothree weeks ago for a Kitsuné night and it was amazing! We do really like one of their bands called Logo, great guys playing good & crazy music.
US: What’s next for Housse de Racket in terms of concert plans, albums, or just general news about the group?
Housse de Racket: Touring touring touring. We’re now inFranceandEurope, a bit ofAsiatoo. We plan to come to theUSbefore 2012. We never played there so we’re really excited about it !
US: Last question: if you had to summarize your philosophical approach to music in one sentence, what would you say?
A big thanks to Housse de Racket for taking time out to talk to us! Make sure to stay up to date with the guys byfollowing them on facebook and soundcloud. Also, go out and grab Alesia, available here.