French/British duo POSTAAL talk to Wonderland about their creative process, their debut EP “AA1” and share with us an exclusive playlist.
“Writing pop records requires a lot discipline but we need it to have a gospel soul” say French/British duo POSTAAL. Taking opposing elements from their native music scenes of London and Paris, POSTAAL started writing and creating together after an impromptu meeting at a friend’s studio. Their musical chemistry was clear from the start, with Dennis working on lyrics and Hervé in charge of the beats. Doing every part of the creative process together, they form the perfect partnership.
Taking inspiration from both sides of the English Channel, POSTAAL match piano melodies and energetic basslines with synth-layering, creating a mellow, electronic gospel sound that proves that a contrast of genres can result the most perfect fusion of sounds. With their debut EP “AA1” out now, featuring tracks “City Lies” (featuring Jelani Blackman) and “Burnin”, POSTAAL are forging their own path and making tracks that stick in your mind.
POSTAAL have made a mix that will get you ready for the weekend. Light techno, house beats and grime elements make up the tracks that POSTAAL have selected for us. Featuring Opal, Frank Ocean with Sigur Ros and Project Pablo, POSTAAL have made an eclectic mix of tracks ready to captivate you.
How did you choose the name POSTAAL?
Hervé: Well, we don’t really know when or why this name came to us. Maybe the word is subconscious, because it is always a long journey for myself or Dennis to see our friends or family. Dennis is not really from London, he is actually from Bournemouth, on the south coast of England. I’m from the suburbs, not really from Paris. It was probably a way of connecting our minds and our music together in Paris.
How has being from two different cities (London and Paris) affected your sound? What elements from each of the cities’ music scenes do you bring into your work?
Hervé: Yes, I guess it’s all about the language difference and the music scenes. At the beginning, we talked together in the studio and the discussions were really simple, very straight to the point. Back then I couldn’t speak English very well and Den couldn’t speak French, so we talked to each other through the music and basic expressions. The Paris music scene with it’s delicate French touches, to us, matched with the more English pop electronic scenes. The combining of these genres has happened before, but in more of a ‘feature on tracks’ kind of way, not as an actual band. The UK, especially London, has always had amazing music and game changing movements that have affected music around the world.
There are so many elements of different genres in your sound – what genre do you feel you best fit into?
Dennis: Not sure we really do fit in anywhere specific, our main focus has always been on writing the best songs we can and getting the most exciting sounds possible out of limited resources. We enjoy hearing how people categorise our music and its part of the fun letting other people decide!
You started working together through an impromptu studio session in August 2014 – how did this come about?
Dennis: A mutual friend Tristan Salvati introduced us. He’s my girlfriend’s brother’s best friend and we we’d met a few times and he kept suggesting I came to his studio which was in a cave in Courcelles. One night he rode past me on a skateboard and shouted “come to the studio tomorrow!” I did, I met Hervé there and we all stayed up drinking big bottles of Grolsch and making music. The rest is history.
Everyone’s creative process is different – how do you write your music and do you ever disagree on elements of your tracks?
Hervé: We do everything together, Den is more the singer/lyricist, I’m more the producer/composer but we never do anything alone. Our process is really simple. Basically when I start a beat, then Dennis starts writing, and if he’s got an idea then I start a new beat. We didn’t choose for it to happen this way, it’s just natural, it gives us a ‘brainstorm’ moment every day.
Can you tell us about your work with electro-rock duo The Shoes?
Dennis: The Shoes are two of my closest friends and have been for years. I had never really sung lead vocals before, but the guys in The Shoes and a legend called Pierre le Ny, who runs their label, convinced me I needed to sing more. We met one night in the studio with Joe Flory (Amateur Best) and at about 4am in the morning we wrote a song called ‘Give it away’ which everyone seemed to love and it ended up lead single from their 2nd album “Chemicals”. I ended up singing it live on a French TV show called “Le Grand Journal” with the mother of dragons, Emily Clarke, in the audience and spent the next summer touring with them performing several tracks at all their festival shows.
What was the starting point your new EP AA1?
Hervé: The first track was “Taking My Freedom”, but I’d like to say it was “City Lies” because that was the track that once Jelani Blackman’s verse had been added, we said “ok! We have the Ep”. From the start we wanted our music to feature a kind of electro gospel vibe, and the tracks “Freedom” and “Burnin” helped us to progress that sound. When Dennis left England and came to Paris, he was upset and shocked by all the poverty that you can see here but not as much in London. I also discovered parts of England with him and we realised that we really wanted to talk about the combination of two cities. The final process was that our mixer, Kevin Espich, made sure the mix was homogeneous and fit with the production styles from both cities.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your track “City Lies”?
Dennis: I guess the inspiration is Paris. When I first moved here I was pretty taken back by how much poverty there was and how many people that were living on the streets. I lived in London for quite a while and obviously there are problems there but this was something else. Apparently they are way more lenient towards people sleeping rough in Paris and don’t move them to shelters as much as they do in London. With a huge unemployment problem and an increasing migrant crisis, if you open your eyes to it, Paris is a pretty clear representation of how fucked things are in the world right now. France however is a country that show’s far more dignity towards people in need and puts the UK to shame in certain aspects.
You’re playing several festivals over the summer – which are you particularly looking forward to and what can we expect from your show?
Dennis: We are definitely Looking forward to heading back to the UK for Secret Garden Party as we plan to spend the weekend and really get involved. We’re also going to Austria, Germany, Norway and Lithuania for the first time which is really exciting for us. We’ve built our own light show with guy from China called Bruce so expect that and something a bit more upbeat than you might have heard so far!