Contrary to internet biographies, Benoit and Sergio did not meet at an after party in Berlin, but rather in Washington D.C. The uncertainty of their origins is fitting to the whimsical meets dramatic nature of their musical production, a collaboration between Frenchman Benoit, and American Benjamin (aka Sergio). After a two year hiatus, the duo are back with the EP, “You Eat, You Want” ahead of their upcoming album. A standout is “The Way You Get,” which starts with a sunrise house groove and ends with a vocal sample about freaks being backed by a gospel choir. It’s just crazy enough that it works. Listen to the track below and check the interview with Benoit & Sergio below.
Can you tell me more about your meeting at an after party in Berlin?
Sergio: We have to correct the record. There are two internet narratives. One is that we met in Berlin, but we actually met in D.C. It was through a mutual friend. I don’t even know if she knew about dance music, but she was like “hey I know this guy from Paris who is really into synthesizers,” and she just had this vague notion that we may hit it off. She was kind of this middle man.
Benoit: That’s pretty much what happened, this common friend brought him to a party one day, and we got into the studio and started jamming. The first track we finished was “What I’ve Lost.”
Since you’re on two different continents, how do you work, in the studio, or sending files back and forth?
S: We’ve done both, we’ve been doing a little too much file sending at the moment. We also did two months in a studio in D.C., and that’s what we prefer to do. We also have the hotel room situation, but we try to avoid that one.
How do you decide who does what in the studio?
B: We alternate. Benjamin (Sergio) obviously does the vocals and the songwriting, but otherwise we do kind of everything. In the studio it’s very natural, we sort of jam on different instruments.
S: Whatever is working, if someone comes up with the bass line or the synth line, we just put it in because it works.
B: We’re working on an album and we’re starting to tour again in September.
Can you talk about the album?
S: It’s a bit more conceptual than the EP. It took us a bit to find the sound, this sort of melancholic dance style, with a sense of nostalgia, and a little bit of a deep aspect.
B: There’s more of a sensitivity in the vocals and the sound.
S: There’s a lot of slower tempos on the record, there’s a tenderness and vulnerability. It’s not this club stomping album, it’s way more gentle.
B: It’s a mix, we basically both had ideas that we collected through the years. “What I Lost” also fit that vibe, even “Let Me Count The Ways,” more of a fragile vocal with a dance beat. It’s kind of more personal.
S: When we got into the studio a couple of months ago, we wanted to push what was always the natural expression for us, which is more melodic and somber. If this was going to be an album, it had to be what we were feeling. That’s not to say we don’t like making big pumping dance jams. This Culprit EP is that vibe.
Have you discussed how the live show will be since the album is not so club oriented?
S: For me it’s more about the music right now and then figuring out the live show.
B: You can put more live elements, and it can still be danceable.
S: Right. We don’t want to be three dudes playing guitar.
“The Way You Get” from the EP starts quite euphoric and then this dirty vocal comes on. It seems to really capture your style.
S: When we make club dance tracks we still want it to be melodic and bouncy. Freaks is such a good word, it has such a rich legacy in dance music and we really wanted to use it a lot.
B: We were just on this cheeky vibe, in the studio rolling on the floor, having a lot of fun.
S: It comes from a time of utter freedom in the studio, and we just wanted to capture that vibe. The vocal take is so over the top, but then when we play it people go wild, so we thought let’s just pursue this more.
What makes a good party?
S: I feel one of the things is low ceilings. Really low ceilings, everyone’s kind of chilling. I don’t even think you need good sound for a party. You also need some kind of a heat, it helps it get sweaty and kind of claustrophobic.
B: Anticipation. But it also doesn’t. Like I remember when we arrived to Miami once and everyone was expecting a good party, but nope. Sometimes it doesn’t work.
Any good parties in D.C.?
S: Yeah, there are great parties in D.C.
B: There used to be a club called the Warehouse.
S: It’s pretty small, but D.C.’s got a great scene.
B: But if you want heat, you go to Miami.
What inspires you?
B: I’m getting deep on nature, which is classic, but whatever. I’m getting way to deep on the cosmos.
S: Like you’re studying it? Benoit, are you looking up at the sky at night?
B: Yeah, with my hammock. I’m trying to go back to the 14th century with my telescope and do it all over again.
S: I’m getting really deep on swimming. There’s a real effortless freedom in the pool these days.
B: The next EP is going to be Cosmic Goldfish.
If you didn’t do music, what would you do?
B: I would probably be an engineer, my dream is to make a synthesizer. I’ve made some hardware, like programming chips. There is a bit of a prototype that we use for one of the songs on the album.
S: I would be doing something with academics, that’s what I was doing before I met up with Benoit. I would be doing something with teaching, literature that sort of thing.
What are you reading at the moment?
S: It’s called A Buyers’ Market by Anthony Powell. Wow it’s like virtuoso. It’s from 1952 and it’s very good.
Is there a track that you think has stood the test of time?
S: For me, a track that I’ve listened to in so many situations and all of them are always positive is “Discreet Music” by Brian Eno, that is very important to my life. And “Vienna Concert” by Keith Jarrett. Those are both profound to me.
B: “Just Like A Baby” by Sly and The Family Stone. It’s chill, so it’s not going to be for party.
S: I was driving with my mom and we were listening to Keith Jarrett. She thought it was very hopeful, and I though it was super sad. We are trying to maybe have that same vibe, sad and happy at the same time. I think it’s maybe why I’m listening so much to Keith Jarrett, to try and get that vibe in a way.
“You Eat, You Want” is out now on Culprit LA. Grab a copy HERE.