“Ah, shit happens.” Shorter, sunnier, and less hirsute, de Rosnay is the talkative half of Justice. His English is better than Augés (which hopefully goes some way to explaining that awkward silence) and his outlook is far more optimistic. Although they failed to sweep up at the Grammys, he thinks itts better being small in a huge playground, than big in a small playground. You know what I mean??
I know exactly what he means. Their debut, >, was beaten to Best Electronic/Dance Album by the Chemical Brotherss return to form We Are The Night, and its hit single 'D.A.N.C.E' lost out on the best video award to the Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash. But hold on. Best Dance RecordinggJustin Timberlake? Surely that one must have stung. I think itts cooll, de Rosnay counters. For us dance music is not just electronic music, itts all the music you can dance to. Even though we had little chance of winning because they are so big, we felt better to be against Justin Timberlake and Rihanna than, I donnt know, MSTRKRFT or Simian Mobile Disco..
Look away now, music snobssJustice think of themselves as a pop band. Despite being hailed as Daft Punkks bastard sons, Paris label Ed Bangerrs most successful export and the archetype for the whole maximal genre, all they ever wanted was to be like The Buggles: When we started this band, we were obsessed with Age of Plastic,, explains de Rosnay. And sure enough, one listen to the retro-futuristss first album from 1980, where punk and prog meets pop on songs like Video Killed The Radio Starr, reveals more about Justice than any comparison to their contemporaries. In 2003, it inspired them to set up an eighties studioo with samplers and synthesizers and record a version of Simianns Never Be Alonee for a college radio remix competition.
Grooves? Songs? Melody? All this from the men behind the grindhouse masterwork >? Forget about distortion, and listenn, says de Rosnay before singing the hook to one of the album's filthy funkers, Let There Be Lightt. When hees done, this misty-eyed scribe has to agree that, yes; it is almost like an Italian love songg. For Xavier, this subversion of electronic music, this introduction of pop to the genre by stealth, is mirrored in the bandds hair-and-leather image: Sweet guys who look toughh. Although hees interrupted by Augg, who replaces toughh with like fagss, they both agree on the defining Justice sound: "Pop music that looks like violence".
While this attitude has earned Justice a place in the mainstream with ‘Friendss and D.A.N.C.EE, it has put the duo slightly out of step with seriouss dance music. Last year, the mix they submitted for consideration as Fabriclive 37 was rejected. De Rosnay dismisses rumours that Fabric were disappointed with disco and synth pop that he admits went beyond the limit of cheesinesss because they were expecting a genre-defining maximal mix, but the official story is just as telling. Fabric compilations must clear a maximum of 24 tracks in 70-75 minutes, and Justicees proposal ran through as many tracks in just over half the allotted time, mixed with the same verse-chorus-next track approach as the block party pioneers who invented turntablism. De Rosnay comments: Itts funny that a club which is supposed to have a knowledge of dance music would slam us on our knowledge. They were a bit like 'Wow, are you making fun of us??’. Although they arennt bitter ((It was a bit like a casting mistake,, is the diplomatic answer) Justice arennt planning to do another compilation, and one listen to what is now their Xmas Mix proves that the loss is all ours.
Justicees relaxed attitude to DJing extends to their club dates, too. Amidst pushing their stadium-friendly live show to North America, the pair admits that they find it easier, and even more enjoyable, to roll up to clubs and spin. "When you DJ you have so many options", de Rosnay laughs. "If something isn't working, you know, you have 'Smack My Bitch Up'. If we already played our 'Smack My Bitch Up', like 'We Are Your Friends' or 'D.A.N.C.E', then we don't have so many options!" Still, they do manage to bring the same anything-goes attitude to their live show, which is far from the typical run-through-the-album-in-an-hour affair. Last year, a set in support of the Chemical Brothers at Londonns Koko included winks to the headliners ((Hey Boy Hey Girll) and local heroes Klaxons ((From Atlantis To Interzonee)) they've even been known to mash in Metallica's 'Master of Puppets'.
Justice illustrate how they feel about the Metallica comparisons with a story about a journalist who turned up with copies of >And Justice for All and Master of Puppets, and a half-baked theory about the bandds name and cross icon ((Itts fun, but no,, they responded), but anyone who sees their roadies offloading into Madison Square Garden on their forthcoming US tour could be forgiven for being confused. Okay, so they've downgraded from the MSG stadium to the theatre, but come on the stacks of Marshall amps? The glowing cross, which does look a lot like one of these? Surely all this flirtation with metal imagery is helping them break into rock-obsessed America?
"Success is relative. People say, 'You are successful - for a dance band, from France, from Pariss. It's enough to tour cities and have fun, but not to fill stadiums. We sell more records in America than in the UK, but it's ten times bigger." Besides, any in-roads they may have made into the States aren't down to their rock star pose but, bizarrely, Kanye West. When they beat him to Best Video at the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards, he threw a much-publicised fit which de Rosnay calls one of the greatest accidents of our Justice short historyy. Even now, West seems to be competing with themmpoaching SO ME, the very art director whose acceptance speech he interrupted at the EMAs, for his Good Lifee video, and performing with Justicees all-time heroes Daft Punk at the Grammys.
Spats like these or weirdo turns like Justicees Kaufman-esque appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show are still minor blips on the mainstream pop radar, surely, but you do get the sense that each step is turning into a legacy of sorts. In person, though, Augg and de Rosnay donnt seem too bothered about everyone watching their every move. Instead with a Gallic shrug, they bid their farewells and retire to their hotel room, another interview over, another step onwards and upwards. Next stop: North America.