Cassius’ Phillippe Zdar talks The Rapture, producing and Cassius Records

The French aren’t shy about their love for dance music and neither are we, so in our quest for all things French we tracked down one of their all time great acts, mega star DJ duo – Cassius.
Pedestrian.TV had a chat with Phillppe Zdar, one half of the French duo about his popularity spurt post producing Phoenix’ super popular album, hanging with Aussie kids Cut Copy and the Bumblebeez, what to expect from The Rapture’s soon to be released album, being approached by American Idol and what it’s like fronting his very own record label, Cassius Records.

How is things in the Cassius Camp, you’ve recently started Cassius Records can you tell us why you chose to start up your own record label? It came very naturally, we became free with all our music. We did Youth, Speed, Trouble, Cigarettes initially for fun, then we decided to master it and put it out because it sounded so good. We try some things just to see if it’s working and go from now.

Are you looking to sign your own artists with the label? Have you signed anyone yet with the label? We don’t want to do it too much but perhaps we will. No we haven’t we might though.

Did you make video for Youth, Speed, Trouble, Cigarettes? I couldn’t find an official one on the net just a mash up remix from ‘Gummo’? We didn’t do a video, we received this video but we didn’t do it. I don’t know who did it. It’s unofficial we didn’t have anything to do with it. Youth, Speed, Trouble, Cigarette’s is a good club track but doing a video is time consuming and money consuming so we didn’t want to do one. We didn’t really have the time to do it either.

You still DJ around Paris in venues like the ‘Paris Social Club’ and have a fair bit to do with DJ Busy P has he given you any advice about setting up ‘Cassius Records’ considering he had a lot to do with getting Ed Banger Records up and going? Yes he has actually. When you see everyone else doing their own label and doing what they want and being able to control everything and put stuff out when you want makes you want to do the same. It’s really something that has been missing for all those years for Cassius and now it’s great feeling to do it again. You can put out the music when you want and how you want.

What is it about France and dance music? Can you define what it is about France that leads to such amazing dance music? Oh I don’t know, but for me the main difference is that a few bands like Justice don’t stay underground they came out and hit number one and get talked about so much. While in other countries like Germany it’s more underground. It never hits the radio it never goes in the charts. That is the biggest difference and that’s why people think there is a lot of dance music comes out of France.

Over Cassius’ career what have you guys done that has made you so successful? We never tried too hard, we just did the most genuine music for us.

Can you tell us a bit about your relationship with Australian dance music acts, Cut Copy and Bumblebeez? There is something about Australian music that I love. It’s genuine, I don’t know why maybe it’s because the country is so far. The people seem to stay very true and very genuine. Because I’m from a country where everyone goes around saying ‘they’ve seen this and seen everything’ and these guys are like kids in a record store. They give me a good energy. The thing about Cut Copy and the Bunblebeez is that they are both very complementive to the music, which is something I love. I love when you meet a band and they want to learn. It’s really refreshing and they are very talented and are doing very good things. Honestly they are very good and are doing really good music. It’s a great experience to be in the studio with them, because a lot of people don’t have that any more.

Have you been working on any production projects with anyone after your work with Phoenix? I have a lot of things going on since Phoenix, and a lot of offers. It’s a bit crazy but I’ve said no to most of them because I’m trying to focus on Cassius and bringing out the new Cassius CD track. Perhaps some things with The Rapture though, they sent me some of their stuff and I really liked it. I think its really great so perhaps I will work more on that. I worked with an Irish band called Two Door Cinema club I did the mixing.

Can you tell us more about the Rapture? They came to us saying that they loved our work and wanting to make some new music and if we would be able to help them. So I said yes to helping but I needed to know how could I help. Mainly because music producing is so time consuming and you have to stay focused for a long time with a band that isn’t yours. You have to be really sure if you accept it as your job. I don’t want it to be my job I want it to be a passion. Something where I can help add to tracks and make them better. So if I can help the Rapture find someone or help them put out a record I will because I think their songs are great. I’ve received a lot of propositions but it’s the key time for me at the moment and I have to make sure I make the good choices.

So what’s the new Rapture music sounding like? I think it’s a very good direction. All the songs are stronger…well the seven or eight they sent me. There’s still a lot of what I loved about the first album on these new tracks and also a lot of new futuristic stuff, so it’s really interesting.

Is Cassius going to put out a new album in 2010 on your new label? Yes. I think we should do an album because I have a good feeling about it. I have never produced our own work like I have been doing with The Rapture. So this time I’m doing not only the music but also the producing. We looked back at the album and tried to see what went through what went wrong and what went right. And this album is something good because it’s less going into millions of dollars business it’s more focused and more natural. It’s very genuine. So we’re definitely going to do an album and get it out as soon as we can and put it out on the album.

What is it that you’ve done that makes you so successful? I think one thing we never really sold out. We never tried to be anything we weren’t. We didn’t try too hard and did the most genuine music to us. I really don’t know. There are some songs I really love like the †Sound of Violence’ and I’m sure a lot of other people love it too. When I play it in clubs everybody goes crazy, so it reminds people what we started off like. For now I think, when you try to be too big or you when you lose your background people, or the people who follow you from the start then you don’t stay successful.

You’ve said you’ve had a lot of requests since producing Phoenix, what would be the strangest one? Oh I can’t tell you the strangest request because it’s so rude, but some big seniors of French pop music have contacted me. A lot of the requests are coming from England, America and heaps of other foreign countries. Everybody is big into digital and producing at the moment, but we are very old school and in the studio and we do it analogically. When you do Phoenix who are a pop rock modern band it doesn’t mean we want to do really horrible stuff for television shows like American Idol. I hate it you know. The acceptance is great but those kinds of things annoy me a bit.

You can check out Cassius at the following dates…

Perth – Origin festival 31-Dec-09
Sydney – Field Day 1-Jan-10
Melbourne – Betterdays 1-Jan-10
Mornington Peninsular – Solar 3-Jan-10