meta-scriptChromeo On New Album 'Head Over Heels' And Doing It Analog |


Photo: Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy


Chromeo On New Album 'Head Over Heels' And Doing It Analog

The funky dance music duo shares the importance of going back to their musical roots on their latest album

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2018 - 11:22 pm

Electro-funk duo Chromeo have been making people dance since they released their debut studio album in 2004, featuring their breakout single "Needy Girl." Since then, they've created plenty of hits and have brought their funky beats to stages around the world. This year, they have been back at it since the June release of their fifth album Head Over Heels.

David "Dave 1" Macklovitch and Patrick "P-Thugg" Gemayel of Chromeo sat down with the Recording Academy to talk a little more about their new album and how it was important for them to go back to their classic analog sound while bringing new artists into their studio.

"We use sequencers too, but it's analog the way we do it, you know. That’s our craft," Dave 1 shares. "The Chromeo way is to do it all analog."

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Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction on stage at Lollapalooza 2003.
Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction at Lollapalooza 2003.

Photo: J. Shearer/WireImage/GettyImages


'Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza' Recounts How An Alt Rock Fest Laid The Blueprint For Bonnaroo & More

A new three-part documentary on Paramount+ traces the origin of Lollapalooza from its early days as a traveling alt-rock showcase initially conceived as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction, to the three-day Chicago-based festival that exists today.

GRAMMYs/May 22, 2024 - 09:27 pm

Few music festivals have had the cultural impact of Lollapalooza. 

Conceived in 1991 as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction by lead singer Perry Farrell, the festival quickly became a traveling showcase for alt-rock and counterculture. Its eclectic lineups, which also included punk, metal, and hip-hop acts, helped define a generation's musical tastes. 

A new, three-episode documentary, "Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza," takes an in-depth look at the festival's journey over three decades. From its early days of bringing together alt acts including Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Pearl Jam, and the Beastie Boys, Lollapalooza has evolved into what it is today: a three-day festival based in Chicago's Grant Park since 2005. The festival remains an enduring celebration of alternative music.

"Lolla" explores how Lollapalooza defied expectations by both embracing and helping shape the emerging youth culture of the '90s — a rebellious, introspective shift from the flashy excess of the '80s. The docuseries highlights the festival's influence through a trove of archival footage and exclusive interviews with Lollapalooza co-founders, show promoters, bookers, MTV hosts. Of course, "Lolla" features a who's who of '90s-era rockers — including Farrell himself, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Donita Sparks from L7, Ice-T

To watch "Lolla" is to open a time capsule for alternative culture, one where the stage becomes a symbol of generational change. Read on for five takeaways from the documentary, which is now streaming on Paramount+. 

The Reading Festival Served As Inspiration

For their farewell tour, Jane's Addiction decided to emulate the UK Reading Festival's approach to curating live music and alternative acts in a multi-day, open-air forum (where bands like the Buzzcocks and Pixies played to crowds of 40,000). 

Jane's Addiction had been scheduled to play the 1990 Reading Festival, but Farrell partied too much the night before after a club gig and lost his voice, and the band had to cancel. Drummer Stephen Perkins and future Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger decided to check out the event anyway, which planted the seed for the future tour. 

"Reading was a cornucopia of artists, and scenes, and curation, and it was such a vibe," recalled Geiger in an interview scene from the doc. "I remember saying, 'Perry, we have to do it.'"

Farrell was game after missing his chance to see Reading first-hand. So Lollapalooza co-founders Geiger, Don Muller and Ted Gardner, who was also Jane's Addiction band manager, got to work emulating the Reading model. In addition to live music, Farrell wanted something "completely subversive" with booths to engage festival goers with everything from henna tattoos and art galleries, to nonprofit and political organizations like Greenpeace, PETA, the Surfrider Foundation, and even voter registration for the Rock The Vote campaign. The result was art and activism combined with commerce.

Lolla Was Born From The Death Of Jane's Addiction

Although Jane's Addiction had a big buzz with their third album, Ritual de lo Habitual, the band was on the edge of  dissolution. "We really couldn't stand each other," admitted Farrell. Ready for his next act, Farrell saw the opportunity to end on a high note with Jane's Addiction. "The best work we did, we left on the stage at Lolla," he said in the doc. 

In the early '90s, alternative acts were not selling out massive venues. Organizers were on edge, hoping fans would buy tickets and show up to not one, but 28 U.S. tour dates featuring the seven-act lineup for the first-ever Lollapalooza.

What nobody expected was the watershed success. The first show saw fans sweat it out to see their favorite acts in Phoenix, on a day with temperatures well over 100 degrees. Nine Inch Nails' equipment melted in the heat, leading the band to destroy their failing gear before walking off the stage. 

Despite initial hiccups, the tour wasn't hindered. Lollapalooza's first year sold out in a majority of venues holding 15-18,000 people, driven largely by word-of-mouth and favorable coverage by MTV.  

"I think everybody knew and ultimately felt, 'wow, I'm sort of lucky to be here — I'm part of something,'" recalled Geiger in the doc. "It was bigger than anything these artists or fans had seen at that time."

Lollapalooza '92 further mixed genres on the main stage — like gangsta rap (Ice Cube), grunge (Pearl Jam) and shoegaze (Lush) — while greatly expanding the line-up on a side stage upon which Farrell and Perkins introduced their new band Porno For Pyros, alongside many other acts. Lollapalooza's model was born. 

Early Years Embraced Racial Inclusivity, But Lagged Gender-Wise

Right from the start, Lollapalooza organizers mixed up the bill beyond white artists that traditionally headlined rock concerts long before and after Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock and Monterey Pop. Part of why Lollapalooza thrived is the inclusion of bands like Ice-T's Body Count, Fishbone, and Living Colour — favorite headliners during the early tours.

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello credited Living Colour with helping build "the alternative arc" and opening doors for Rage. "Without Living Colour, Rage Against The Machine doesn't get a record deal. Ever," Morello said. 

A big moment came near the end of the '91 tour when Ice-T and Farrell squared off to cover Sly and the Family Stone's "Don't Call Me ******, Whitey" in which they tersely trade verses, then end up tangoing across the stage. It was a provocative performance that grabbed headlines and the audience's attention months after the high profile police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. In '92, Soundgarden showed solidarity with Body Count by performing their controversial track "Cop Killer" with their guitarist Ernie C onstage in Miami. 

While Lolla embraced racial diversity, the early line-ups were male-dominated. Lone female act Siouxsie and the Banshees were a favorite in '91 and later Lollapalooza main stage artists, like Sonic Youth, Babes In Toyland, Lush, and the Breeders — which had more if not all female members — were outnumbered by their male counterparts.

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Donita Sparks noted that L7 got booked in '94 only after they fired off a bluntly worded fax to the organizers. "We got the offer," Sparks said, "but we had to push the issue. And we had to fight for it. 'Cause that's how much we wanted to be on Lollapalooza, and more importantly, that's how much we felt we deserved to be on Lollapalooza.

Female artists would eventually receive their Lolla dues, with Billie Eilish, Lorde, HAIM, Miley Cyrus and Karol G performing as festival headliners, and artists like Lady Gaga starting out as side stage artists before exploding in popularity and returning to headline the fest a few short years later. 

It Became A Victim Of Its Own Success

Lollapalooza from years '91 to '93 were the purest in terms of alt-rock acts, but as the event drew a wider range of talent and demand, it began to suffer a bit of an identity crisis. After all, it's hard to be a beacon for the underground scene once that culture is above ground.

By Lolla '94, attendance set records and alt-rock had hit the mainstream while grunge peaked and critics bemoaned its growing conventional status. Former second stage booker John Rubeli revealed that Nirvana turned down a $6 million offer to headline the '94 tour because of frontman Kurt Cobain's fear of selling out. Cobain's suicide a few short weeks later changed the scene. 

In '95, the festival returned with more indie bands on the mainstage, but some were eclipsed by bigger artists like Coolio, who drew a bigger crowd to the parking lot side stage. Increased popularity drove commercial sponsorship, and the event became more expensive. Ticket sales dropped. Then in '96, Farrell quit his involvement with the festival for a year in protest over the booking of Metallica, whose aggressive music and audience he felt were out of step with his vision.

"I felt disrespected," Farrell said. "I'm not putting this thing together to make the most money. I'm putting this thing together to make the most joy."

Upon his return in 1997, Farrell's inclusion of electronic acts like the Orbital and the Prodigy were, to some ears, ahead of the curve. The festival then went on a six-year hiatus. 

Lollapalooza returned on shaky legs for its 2003 tour, which included Audioslave, Incubus, the Donnas, and the reunion of Jane's Addiction. But it was truly reborn in 2005 as a three-day event in Chicago through concert promoters C3 Presents (who co-executive produced the "Lolla" doc).  Admittedly, some of the 21st century headliners like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Journey, and Paul McCartney would never have fit the '90s festival bill. 

Times have changed and, today, the festival has embraced its conventional success while retaining its original genre-spanning reach with the Killers, Melanie Martinez, Skrillex, and Tyler, the Creator included on this summer's lineup.

Lolla Was A Model For Coachella, Bonnaroo, And Beyond

Prior to the arrival of Lollapalooza, rock festivals were usually single weekend events that took place in a fixed location, like Woodstock in '69, Steve Wozniak's US Festival in '82 and '83, and European festivals like Reading. "I just think it's the first American, truly eclectic concert series since Woodstock," said Ice-T. "And even Woodstock wasn't as eclectic because Woodstock was pretty much all rock."

Lollapalooza's successful tour format inspired other popular tours and live events, especially in the mid-'90s. During the festival's break during the late '90s and early 00's, niche festivals like Ozzfest, Vans Warped Tour, and Lilith Fair stole the show. These festivals not only continued Lollapalooza's legacy by bringing diverse genres to cities across the country, but transformed the live music scene into a cultural phenomenon. 

While epic, genre-spanning weekend festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo have been raging since the early aughts, Lollapalooza first proved that a seemingly radical idea could grow and thrive. Incorporating a mix of rock, hip-hop, electronic, and alternative acts, inclusivity and mobility became a festival blueprint. Today, Lollapalooza is tapping into international audiences and local music scenes with versions of the festival in Argentina, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, and even Mumbai. 

Lollapalooza's success proves that the media and music industry often don't realize the size and passion of certain scenes and subcultures until they're brought together in the right setting. By uniting diverse musical acts and their fans, Lollapalooza highlights eclectic talent but also shows just how much people crave that representation and diversity.

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YOASOBI kneel in a pose for a portrait

Photo: Kato Shumpei


From Tokyo To Coachella: YOASOBI's Journey To Validate J-Pop And Vocaloid As Art Forms

YOASOBI, blending J-pop and Vocaloid with narrative-driven songs, is capturing a global audience through their performances at major festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza, marking a significant moment for Japanese music on the international stage.

GRAMMYs/Apr 9, 2024 - 04:37 pm

For decades, Japanese music has been one of the hardest to access as a foreigner. Even with the popularization of cultural exports like anime and the emergence of streaming platforms, it is still considered a niche, and fans often have to dig deep in order to find albums, translations, or any kind of content at all.

"There weren’t many opportunities for Japanese music to go out into the world until now," says YOASOBI’s producer and songwriter, Ayase, over a Sunday morning Zoom from Tokyo. "If we were to break into the mainstream, I think there’s a lot more work to do. Being a part of Coachella is one of them."

The duo, composed of Ayase, 30, and vocalist Ikura, 23, is gearing up for their first performance at the mighty Californian festival next weekend, plus two sold out headline shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In August, they are set to play at Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL. 

"Performing at festivals like Coachella was one of our goals when we put our live team together, so I believe that it will be a place for us to grow further,” says Ikura, who lived in Chicago as a kid and considers these opportunities a "full circle" moment.

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Formed in 2019, YOASOBI found overnight success with their debut single "Yoru ni Kakeru," a bright-sounding but harrowing tale that topped Billboard’s Japan Hot 100 chart for six non-consecutive weeks. They continued to rise further, recording five EPs (three in Japanese, two in English), the opening theme to Netflix’s anime series "Beastars," 2021’s "Kaibutsu," and their magnum opus so far: "Idol."

Released in 2023, "Idol" became a massive hit, placing No.1 at Billboard's Japan Hot 100 chart for 22 weeks and counting — an all-time record break. It was also the nineteenth best-selling song of 2023 worldwide, according to the IFPI. With these accolades, it’s easy to understand why the duo is fully booked, but what makes their music so enticing to global audiences? 

Listening to YOASOBI is like entering a rabbit hole. First, you get hypnotized by the glistening synths, bursting like fireworks, and the rock riffs taking melodies to full-speed. Then, you discover their adage is "novel into music," and all songs are based on fictional stories written by various authors. There’s also the animated music videos, each with a different style, giving their sounds another layer for interpretation. And finally, there are Ayase’s and Ikura’s (under the name Lilas Ikuta) own solo careers — treasure troves ready to be unearthed.

"I don't know, to be honest," says Ayase when asked about their growing popularity. "I guess the fact that a lot of Japanese [exports] have been prevalent around the world had to do with it. But also, maybe it's because people are experiencing this combination of music with storytelling that is interesting to them." Ikura agrees, adding that YOASOBI allows fans to "enjoy this bigger world that we are part of in a more three-dimensional way."

The experience is similar to how they create their music: mining, collecting, mixing, and transforming different threads into a new fabric. From fictional stories, Ayase transmutes his feelings into beats on his laptop with Logic Pro, then inputs melodies and lyrics through Vocaloid softwares like Hatsune Miku. Ikura listens to the Vocaloid demos, and then adds her own feelings and flair into the interpretations. For English-language tracks, they work with translator Konnie Aoki, who is "very mindful of phonetic sounds," and Ikura listens to the Japanese versions up until it’s time to record, so that she can have "the right emotions set."

It’s such a natural process for them that Ayase is surprised to know that there are still people who don’t consider Vocaloid as "real" music. “Those people probably don’t know what music is,” he says with a laugh. “Do they think that instrumental music, where there's no human singing, isn’t real music? There’s really great Vocaloid music out there, and it’s basically [voices] created through synthesizing softwares. It's very different from AI, which is auto-generated music. Vocaloid is humans creating music using these softwares. That's the only difference from a human singing a song.”

To Ikura, who maintains her burgeoning solo career in tandem with YOASOBI’s busy schedule, Vocaloid allowed her to broaden her talents. "It is my first time singing songs that somebody else wrote, so it was an opportunity to challenge myself with things that I wouldn't necessarily write, or sing in a tone or voice that I wouldn't come up with myself." She says that these experiences influence her solo works all the time, in a "synergy" that allows her to "have more colors to work with in my palette."

"I started producing music through Vocaloids,” adds Ayase. “And it truly broadened my ideas and imagination when it comes to creating music. It allows creators to come up with melodies that a human singer may not come up with. It's a fascinating culture. The possibility I feel is infinite, and it really makes the impossible possible, in a way.”

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Endless possibilities are also a big allure in AI technologies, but Ayase doesn’t see this as a threat. With the right boundaries, it’s just a tool — like Vocaloid, Logic Pro, and the internet — that can be used positively. "However, as a creator myself, I really hope that creative works come out of the imagination and ideas of the human mind. In that sense, [AI] may not be 100% a positive thing for us," he shares.

But that’s something for the future. Now, YOASOBI is focusing on their very real, very tangible events ahead. "Finally, we have this opportunity where people around the world are discovering our music. So, performing at festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, or doing our solo shows, I think it's important that we communicate with the audiences and maximize this opportunity as much as possible," says Ikura.

And it’s not just YOASOBI getting all the attention: according to data and research company Luminate, J-pop in general is on the rise. "I’m very proud, as a Japanese person, for that situation. For us, it’s really about taking it one step at a time," says Ayase. “Our ultimate wish is to have our music or reach as many people around the world as possible, and so we will continue to work hard every day."

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David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel from Chromeo
Patrick Gemayel and David Macklovitch of Chromeo

Photo: Alexander Gay


Chromeo On Their New Album 'Adult Contemporary,' Taking Risks And 30 Years Of Friendship

"We're in a little bit of our Steely Dan double-breasted suits era," Chromeo's David Macklovitch says of their sophisticated new album. Ahead of 'Adult Contemporary,' Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel spoke about developing sophisticated dance music.

GRAMMYs/Feb 15, 2024 - 07:27 pm

Dave 1 and P-Thugg —  the dapper duo best known for their modern funk project, Chromeo — have been friends their entire adult lives. The bond that has deepened over the past 30 years shines on their latest venture, Adult Contemporary.

Out Feb. 16, Adult Contemporary explores  maturity through the lens of relationships — including their own. The duo wrote, produced, performed, and arranged every song on the album, which blends funky beats with cheeky lyrics.

But before they became Dave 1 and P-Thugg, David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel were a couple of skaters in Montreal making hip-hop in the '90s. In the decades since, they've garnered GRAMMY nominations for their album Head Over Heels and worked with A-list artists like D.R.A.M., Toro y Moi, and French Montana, while traveling the world. 

As Chromeo, the duo's subtle yet efficacious humor — as well as their history of collectively riding the highs and lows life throws at them, as only close friends could — is reflected throughout their discography. Adult Contemporary is no exception: On the glitzy disco tune, "BTS," Macklovitch proudly sings, "Sometimes rest can be better than sex."

"The challenge for us is taking music that's made for the dance floor, but trying to infuse some sophistication and intelligence in it," Macklovitch reflects. "There was a lot of sophistication in the arrangements on this album. We're in a little bit of our Steely Dan double-breasted suits era."

Their evolution from teenage friends to synth icons reflects a journey enriched by lasting camaraderie and musical innovation. 

"The music is as hungry and as raw as the first album, with, of course, the added value of everything we've learned in the last 20 years," Gemayel continues.

Read on to discover what the duo shared with on their enduring partnership, navigating the music scene, and their vibrant approach to life and art.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

*Why did you title this album Adult Contemporary?*

Macklovitch: This one is called Adult Contemporary because of two things. It's very lyrically cohesive. All the songs in general talk about mature relationships and different facets of mature relationships. From commitments to codependency to insomnia to ambiguousness to breakups with "Personal Effects," and so on. 

Also, it's been 20 years since we put out our first album. So we're definitely in the adult period of our career. And also we really find the phrase "Adult Contemporary" hilarious 'cause it's a nod to the worst genre of music, but also, maybe the best, or the funniest one. We always felt it could have been the title of a men's magazine, or an erotic magazine in the seventies 'cause of "adult." 

And so that play of like adult contemporary, aka really mushy, and kind of sappy… but also adult contemporary, like edgy and adults only. We thought it was a very Chromeo kind of contrast. It works on many levels. 

Also, our favorite Hall And Oates song is "Adult Education." There’s always a nod.

Given you guys have been "adults" in terms of age for a while now, what makes this album more adult compared to others?

Gemayel: I don't know if it's an adult album. The subjects on this album are mature and adult, but the music goes back to our first two records. 

We get asked about [longevity] a lot. How do you keep your career going for so long? How do you keep the friendship going so long? How do you keep a duo going for so long? We're at a stage where these subjects are now in our repertoire and our vocabulary, but our hunger and our desire to keep making music is still the same as day one. 

Macklovitch: We went back to the raw feel of the Fancy Footwork era. Also, our last two albums were more collaborative. This is one where P. and I did basically everything. We had other people play on the record, but we wrote and produced everything ourselves. But then we were able to inject a lot of the experience that we've acquired along the way. 

After 30 years of friendship, what has it been like to become adults alongside one another?

Macklovitch: We were at each other's eighteenth birthdays. We were at each other's thirtieth birthdays. We went through so many pivotal moments of life together. I remember when I applied to grad schools, and P's the one who drove me to the different post offices in New York City to drop off my applications. 

We went to the GRAMMYs together. We went to the JUNOS in Canada together. Most of the countries we've been to, we visited them together for the first time. 

Gemayel: Yeah pivotal moments. Every record we do is a pivotal moment. Us meeting is a pivotal moment. That's what keeps us together, going strong, and still wanting to release records. 

There's something new every day. Every day there's a pivotal moment. Yes, of course, I remember the day Dave moved out of Montreal to go to Columbia. I helped him move, and we did the road trip together. Or the time we got arrested in the car going to Florida. There's a lot. But for me, it's a continuation. It's an accumulation of pivotal moments. 

It's not measured by the birthday parties or the album releases. Every day offers that same experience of "I'm glad you're my best friend."

Macklovitch: That’s a great way to say it. Another thing about the adult theme of the album is that there's been this fixation on youth for the last five or six years. There are all these really funny viral TikToks of Gen Z kids being ageist on purpose, which I find hilarious. 

But everybody agrees. Youth is dumb. 

Your youth was miserable. My youth was miserable. Youth is dumb. Youth is the worst time. What was happening culturally in the last few years is that you had all these like adult corporations or business interests or cultural movements fixating on kids. And it's absurd. It's supposed to be the other way around. 

When you were a kid, you were looking up to people. You're looking up to your older brothers, your older brother's friends. You were looking up to an older skater, or you're looking up to Nas, or you're looking up to a rock band. These are your north stars. These are your guiding lights, and it shouldn't be the other way around. 

Who was the best moment of the GRAMMYs? Tracy Chapman, and, by the way, the Gen Z kids will be the first ones to say that. "Oh, my God! Iconic" Tracy Chapman. Joni Mitchell. Annie Lennox. They stole the show. 

Kids need OGs to look up to. Look at Miley Cyrus. She's 31. She's at the top of her game. She's had the best song of her career: "Flowers" is the only song I really love of hers. That one transcends, and it goes into this universal, timeless category.

Gemayel: Killer Mike is our age, and he was out and proud. "Don't tell me I'm too old."

Macklovitch: This is the Zeitgeist, my friends.

Why did you veer away from making everything yourselves for the last two albums? And then what brought you back?

Macklovitch: Every album we make is a reaction to the previous album. It's almost like having a conversation with your own body of work. When we did White Women, we had never collaborated with anybody, and we wanted to expand the sound, expand the circle, and try other features. It was super exciting, and that did really well. 

Then we went into Head Over Heels. Truth be told, We had a really nice album budget. So we were like, "Let's go, Rolls Royce. Let's get all these big [people]." 

We moved to LA to make it. We did this expensive Los Angeles album. We had heard so much about the LA session writer/producer world. We were curious because we're just two little dorks from Montreal by way of New York. 

We've done everything by ourselves our whole life. We wanna know how the sausage is made. So we went and saw that, and It was cool. We learned so much. We made great friendships, and we were able to fulfill our dreams like having The-Dream on a song. 

But then, once that's done, and then the pandemic starts and P and I are together, we're like, "You know what? Let's go back to the essence." We don't wanna be with anybody in a room. Not because they're gonna give us Covid. We gotta go back to quality time. The two of us. 

Gemayel: Like Dave said, every album is a reaction to our previous album. But it's a reaction to our full career. We're filling the gaps. And that's again, longevity. "How do you keep this exciting?" You always look back and be like, "We did this. We did this. We did that." We don't rest on our laurels. We still have something to prove. How do we complete this narrative of the Chromeo career that we hope is gonna last until we're in the hospital making beats in a bed?

What was it like taking the experience you had in L.A. with Head Over Heels back to the more internal process of making Adult Contemporary?

Gemayel: It's great. It's amazing. We're collecting tools as we go in our career. Music, vocabulary, tricks. Expand our vocabulary all the time. We started collecting records, figuring out how songs are made, what funk music is, how to dissect it, how to study it. We just keep collecting stuff along the way. 

Macklovitch: I think it helped the lyrical consistency of the album, too. When you write with other people there are five people in a room that have to sign off on every lyric. So I think when I was bringing lyrics to P on this album, we were really editing them together. 

A lot of our songs could get too cringy. It could get too Weird Al Yankovic. You really have to ride the line. It's much harder to do that than to write sad boy music. So P and I go through the lyrics, and we parse the lyrics together, and we take out the stuff that looks like it's too overthought.

I think working with other people and having that high standard in rooms with like five or six people with strong opinions — It helped our dynamic as well. 

The one guest artist on the album is La Roux who sang on "Replacements." What is it like to work with her? Also, I heard an instance where it sounds like you interpolated the vocal melody from her song "I’m Not Your Toy," into "I Don’t Need A New Girl." How did working with her influence the album beyond her vocal feature?

Macklovitch: It's great to work with her. She's super opinionated. She's a very thorough perfectionist. We've had a 15-year friendship with her. 

Last year she came out at Coachella, and we did a funk version of "Bulletproof." But then people liked it so much that we had to release it. 

We make the collaboration really organic and multi-faceted. So when you say that you hear her in other bits of the album, it's really cool. I didn't even have "I'm Not Your Toy" in mind, but it's real when the listener hears it. Not necessarily when the author thinks about it. 

So the fact that you hear it makes it valid. Doesn't matter if we thought about it or not. Cause who knows? Who knows what’s within my subconscious? Maybe it was there somewhere.

It’s like the tree falling in the woods philosophical exercise. It becomes real when someone else acknowledges it. 

Macklovitch: Music is a listener-oriented discipline. When we play live, people ask us, "Yo, you must be so excited." We always answer we're excited, but we're only excited if the crowd’s having a good time. It's really about you guys.

When P and I play a show we're like two chefs. The restaurant is packed. The stakes are high. There are a couple of Bon Appétit journalists in the room. We're stressed. We want to give you the best meal that we can give you. 

So you're asking us if we're excited. Do you go into the kitchen and be like, "Hey, chef! Are you excited?" They’ll be like "Can't talk. Busy." That's how we play a show. It's about you. It's not about us, and if you've had a great time at the show, then we can kick back after the show. We did our job.

Two strong themes from this album are gratitude and contentment. How did the gratitude and the contentment that you feel around your friendship fuel this album?

Gemayel: It's a little bit like I said before. We find pivotal moments every day. Whether you’re closing a show, doing accounting, thinking about the stage setup and how we can afford it. Or thinking about new ideas for songs, demos, patch sounds, melodies. Every moment that you get to work towards a goal is a great moment for me. 

It's in the continuum. I think that not resting on your laurels is the Chromeo motto. Never do that. So how you stay focused is you enjoy every little bit of annoying and fun moments of your career. 

Macklovitch: There are a lot of tribulations that we go through that allow us to always stay humble and never take things for granted. It always keeps us hungry. 

We always wanted to have a GRAMMY nomination. We got a GRAMMY nomination, but it's like for the nerdiest category — Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical — which actually suits us so well. But, of course, we're against Beck. Of course we didn't win the GRAMMY. So now we gotta get another one. 

Or we'll play a show that's like this triumphant show and we feel amazing. We're on the high. Then we gotta go do a corporate DJ set. You're lucky when you have those, but it might be like the Christmas lunch party for some company somewhere, and it's super awkward. 

For every success, there's always a really funny episode that grounds us. That keeps us hungry all the time.

Gemayel: The way our music is made gives you an insight into how we survive for that long. You put humor into everything. So I sometimes prefer the bad moments because we just end up laughing and making a thing out of it. You just gotta roll with the punches. That's what having a good partner is all about.

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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