Select Magazine

Select Interview

Air sit drinking coffee in the stone basement of their Parisian HQ. The multi-instrumentalist duo - Jean-Benoit Dunckel (slight, quietly-spoken) and Nicolas Godin (laconic, fashion unconscious) - have just spent two hours signing every page of music they've ever written, on account of a new publishing deal. That's 1200 signatues each.

"Escape is the principle of art," says Nicolas, visibly bored by his mammoth signing session. "Even if it's not very good, the real world never looks like it does in your dreams. Our music is made to build a personal world, to create what life can bring you."

It sounds like nonsense, but one listen to Air's mellifluous music and the reality of their distinct audio realm becomes apparent. If bands like Tortoise are Post-Rock, Air are Post-House. Poetic, down-tempo and emotional, they draw on sources like Serge Gainsbourg's Fench pop and European film soundtracks.

Nicolas explains their ability to send shivers down the spine as a result of a romantic tradition of melancholy and nostalgia that goes back to Debussy. "It's humoristic," he adds, "but it's never a joke."

Growing up in nearby Versailles, the pair formed a college band called Orange with fellow house luminary Alex Gopher. When nothing happened, JB taought maths and Nicolas worked as an architect. But when the Parisian Source label released 'Modular' in 1995, they joined Daft Punk and former school mate Etienne de Crecy in earning a crust making Anglo-Saxon producers look like jerks. Their wilfully organic approach extended to recording the LP on an eight-track mixer and only sampling themselves playing old instruments.

Though live performances and DJing are mooted, Air must first find a new hermitage, having given up their rural studio. Their 'Moon Safari' album, featuring assistance from Moog pioneer Jean Jacques Perrey and Grand Royal designer Moke Mills, is released in '98.

Preparing to head home - they live in the same street in Montmartre as Daft Punk - Jean Benoit offers a final observation. "I think somewhere that there is maybe a paradise," he says, "and I'm sure music is there."