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Favorite ThisFrench Government Interview

Published: March 9, 2011
By: Summer Li

French Government

French Government has a personal agenda: to revamp disco music and revive the classic French house sound. In a time where political establishments have become dreary and corrupt, there is a haven from this despair—in music. With brighter harmonies and funkier basslines, the Parisian duo sets themselves apart from the dark and indistinguishable electro house cluster that has taken root in the scene. Grégoire Charpe-Civatte and Mickael Karassimeonov are rising stars in this French brigade. Who will follow?
The collaboration is so named after a chance meeting between the two Frenchmen, straight out of a fairytale. During his studies in 2007, Grégoire was the president of an independent political organization in France. Each Wednesday, he invited a minister, secretary of state, political party chairman, or big CEO to speak with students. Little did the other members know that Grégoire was also a DJ. “One day after organizing a symposium at the French Parliament, I talked to Mickael, who was, at the time, on my board and responsible for communications. We were chatting after this big event and asking each other, ‘So, what do you do apart from this?’
He said, ‘Music.’ 
 ‘What? Piano?’
‘No actually… I produce electronic music.’
‘Really? Me too.’
‘So, what are we doing tomorrow?’”
The very next day, Grégoire headed to Mickael’s place to begin the very project they are known for today. After a year of producing within their own confines, the pair was ready to build a more serious and public relationship with their music. But first: a name. There was such a stark contrast between their daytime political discussions and their nocturnal musical ventures. “In the same day, we literally went from a meeting with the former political minister to a very underground party with many producers. We wanted the name to reflect the political stuff. We wanted to make fun of it,” Grégoire explains. “It’s truly amazing how these smaller musical ventures ultimately became the more dominant aspect of their daily lives. 
Back home at work, Grégoire and Mickael compose their tracks using Sequence, a simple, computer-based sequencer. Generally, one of the producers will have an initial idea, then send the work-in-progress to the other, and the two will finish the track together. “Mickael will start a bassline and then send it to me. I’ll then add on the melodies,” Grégoire says. The piano was Grégoire’s musical background. When he first began mixing, he dabbled in mashups, but he hadn’t begun to compose his own music, yet. Mickael, on the other hand, was a guitarist and had already been composing original material for two years. Even though both have come a long way since these beginnings, they continue to learn every day. “There are a lot of genres in electronic music. Every genre is a different way of composing.”
Currently, Grégoire and Mickael are busy working on an album that will be released either later this year or early 2012. They have already produced a few tracks, but need 11 total for the full album. “It’s a long-term process,” Grégoire says. “Our album will be a journey and it will cover a whole range of electronic music styles. We will have deep house, tech-house, and progressive house.” The duo hopes to complete the album by November, but there’s no rush. “We already have a lot of proposals to just release a digital album. But this is kind of pointless for us. There is no audience for that. We want to have something big. Not necessarily something that will be a hit, but something we can really proud of, something that we know we promoted the right way.” And just as Grégoire discussed the recent successes of French Government in between bites of his avocado burger (and none of the fries), he excused himself to pick up an urgent phone call. Mickael was calling to inform him that “someone famous” had just requested the duo produce a remix for one of his tracks. But French Government will only remix a track if they have a crush on the original. 

Don Diablo ft Dragonette - Animale (French Government Remix)

As major labels scurry to claim French Government’s new album, the pair is taking their time and focusing on promotion. “I feel like if we keep repeating the club scene, if we keep touring the way we do and develop our profile, and keep our album warm and ready, we will have the best proposals in late 2011. We’ll be able to sign with whomever we want then.” The new studio album will contain only unreleased tracks. “We are pretty prolific so there is no problem in releasing stuff that has never been released yet. We don’t want to disappoint people when they are waiting for new songs.... Deadmau5 does that sometimes. Three songs out of four tracks on his album have already been released.”
Outside of their productions, French Government also has humanitarian concerns. Grégoire is the founder of an electronic music organization called Syndicat du Bruit (Syndicate of Noise) that enlists and assists fresh DJs who are serious about expanding their musical careers professionally. One of the pet projects of Syndicat du Bruit—one often ignored or overlooked by those in the club community—is hearing safety. Here are three simple bits of advice from the professional: (1) load up on vitamin C, (2) sleep well the night before a gig, and (3) wear ear plugs at all times. Grégoire instructs DJs to never to take them off, especially if they are still in the club (except maybe when they are actually spinning).
And while the funk prevails, the last thing Grégoire and Mickael want is to be recognized for a single bassline or sound that will alone characterize their career. Every track captures its audience with an unexpected style. It’s not enough to simply follow one trend or even several at once. French Government creates their own of which each production is an exploration in variations and of possibilities.

French Government - Balkanize Me (Original Mix)