Originally published in The Music Network #871 (February 6, 2012)
“This is the first time in ten years that I feel like something is going on,” states Anthony Gonzalez down the phone. Although his last album, 2008’s Saturdays=Youth, certainly made an impact in select circles across the globe, his sixth studio album, the lush, expansive double set Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming has propelled M83 to a level of hype usually reserved for up-and-coming major label artists, not a French electronic/shoegaze project that has been steadily releasing albums since 2001.
“It’s so unexpected for me,” Gonzalez continues. “When you work on an album for one year and you are in the studio all the time, you are scared about the reaction of people, so for this one it was amazing to see the response. It was just very good. But I couldn’t tell why this album. A track like Midnight City really helps; apparently this is the track people really like. Everything that happens to me right now is unexpected.”
The success of Midnight City might be unexpected to Gonzalez but the track, with its visceral rush, undeniable hook and forward- propelling melody (plus that amazing sax outro), was always going to captivate both fans of Gonzalez’ widescreen music, and those who were introduced to the artist via the ubiquitous song. Pitchfork listed the song as the best track of 2011, with Triple J listeners voting it in at #5 in the Hottest 100. Despite these accolades, Gonzalez still isn’t sure the reaction to what may prove to be his magnum opus was a wholly positive one.
“A great review on Pitchfork definitely helps the album sell,” he admits. “I had some really good reviews, and Pitchfork was one, but I have also had some mild ones, so it’s not everybody that loves it.”
Despite his modest reservations, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is a triumph in every sense of the word, acting as a rare example of a double album which is more than a mere ego boost, or a result of a lack of self-editing skills. Still, in these days of declining record sales and dimishing attention spans, it’s a risky climate to unleash such an epic record. When asked why, Gonzalez counters the only possible way. “Why not?” he asks. “Everybody is doing single albums and I always dreamed about making a double album. No matter what people say about the music industry these days, for me it was just the right moment. I had a lot of songs and obviously a lot of things to say on this album. It was a goal of mine for a long time and it was just the perfect timing for me.”
The timing also co-incided with a move to California, a state Gonzalez has called home for almost two years, and of which he still speaks of with excited, wide-eyed tones. The sense of wonder and romance inherent in his music is clearly on display when talking about his adopted home. Not since The Beach Boys has a more flattering love letter been written about the state.
“My move to California was definitely a huge influence on the sound of this album. I was doing short road trips to different places within California, and that was also a big influence. I was discovering a new country, a new city and new artists, it was just amazing and something I will remember all my life. I was just very proud to be part of it.”
Not surprising, California was a huge cultural shock for the French native, who hails from Antibes, a small resort town in South-Eastern France. However, due to his fixation with the state, it wasn’t completely unfamiliar terrain.
“It’s culturally very different [to France] but for me, it was almost like a dream,” he gushes. “I have always been inspired by movies and soundtracks, and this is the city where everything starts, where all that is made. So, it has something almost spiritual to me, and I can feel the vibe of great composers, and great movies being made in Hollywood. That makes it very special to me.”