LE GALAXIE…

…Le Galaxie, Ire­land’s No. 1 dance act, are back with their long-awaited third al­bum, Plea­sure. They talk about fran­tic stu­dio en­ergy, a sum­mer of fes­ti­val head­lin­ers, re­peal­ing the 8th, and tak­ing on for­mer Fight Like Apes singer May Kay as their new­est

Hot Press - - Hot Press / 4205 / Contents - In­ter­view Peter McGo­ran

The dance he­roes talk about their long-awaited third al­bum, Plea­sure, their sum­mer fes­ti­val head­lin­ers, re­peal­ing the Eighth, and tak­ing on May Kay as their new­est mem­ber.

“See it’s like they’ve changed the game now with this one, as op­posed to al­ways try­ing to beat their own high score,” says May Kay, hands flail­ing out­wards as she talks. “They’re do­ing ev­ery­thing dif­fer­ent.”

“Pulled the plug out of the old ma­chine,” says Michel Pope, the pick­ing up the vibe, de­lighted at May’s sim­ile. “Get­ting rid it of it. In­stalling a new one, you know?”I do, in fact. But if you’re a lit­tle bit lost, have a lis­ten to Le Galaxie’s third al­bum then come back for the rest of the in­ter­view.

Over cof­fees and Cokes in the empty up­stairs area of Hon­est To Good­ness café in cen­tral Dublin, the band’s long-es­tab­lished front­man and their new­est mem­ber are all hand ges­tures and caf­feine as they ex­plain how they landed on a di­a­mond mine for Plea­sure.

“The fo­cus has shifted,” May con­tin­ues. “And I think that’s pretty im­pres­sive! Nor­mally the fo­cus shifts on the sec­ond al­bum. But it’s just kind of where they…where we are at now.” She paused and thinks. “Where they are… with me…as well.”

For those didn’t al­ready know, MayKay has risen from the ashes of Fight Like Apes dis­band­ment and has of­fi­cially joined Le Galaxie as a full-time mem­ber. It’d been a long time com­ing; she’d al­ready given her vo­cals to ‘Car­men’, one of the stand­out tracks from Le Galaxie’s pre­vi­ous al­bum, and her voice is un­de­ni­ably a ready coun­ter­part to Michael Pope’s. Ev­i­dently though, it’s still dif­fi­cult to get those pos­ses­sive pro­nouns right.

“They’ve slagged me about since day one!” she

ex­claims. Michael isn’t dis­agree­ing. “If I ask some­thing sim­ple like ‘Are we still do­ing that thing on Fri­day’, they’ll be like ‘Weeeee?’ Sorry? Who’s this ‘Weeeee’?”

You’re in the of­fi­cial Le Galaxie What­sapp group though, right?

“Yes yes of course,” says Michael.

“BUT I’M NOT CON­VINCED!” she protests. “I’m still con­vinced there’s a secret of­fi­cial one that they’re not let­ting me in on!!”

“There’s no secret What­sapp,” says Michael, a wry grin form­ing under his bristling red beard.

May shakes her head. “Not con­vinced.”

I’m not ei­ther. I’m not even sure how we ar­rived on the sub­ject. And as the two mem­bers laugh amongst them­selves for a minute, I have ab­so­lutely no idea what my next ques­tion was.

“Sorry, sorry,” May gig­gles. “We got com­pletely rail­roaded there. Where were we?”

WHERE IN­DEED

….The al­bum! Yes, that was it.

As Michael ex­plains, it wasn’t long af­ter sup­port­ing Faith­less in Kil­main­haim ap­prox­i­mately two years ago that plans were laid out for their third LP. They be­gan in the sum­mer of 2016, and pieces fell into place quite con­ve­niently af­ter they re­cruited Swedish pro­ducer Jo­han Blende to help them out – a move that seemed nat­u­ral, con­sid­er­ing his stun­ning remix of ‘Hu­man­ise’ from their last al­bum.

“We just thought that remix was awe­some,” beams Michael, “al­most bet­ter than the ac­tual song it­self. And it kind of got us think­ing that if he’d been there from the start, we might’ve got­ten rid of a lot of our bad habits. “See we were tired of pro­duc­ing our own mu­sic and I think we needed some ob­jec­tiv­ity, ‘cause we get into a bit of tun­nel vi­sion and nar­cis­sism some­times. You be­come very de­fen­sive of things you’ve writ­ten, so you need some­one out­side, with a tougher edge.” “It was amazing,” adds May. “Ob­vi­ously with any pro­ducer it should be a good re­la­tion­ship, but Jo­han was hands-on in the right away. The lads would have some­thing re­ally, re­ally beau­ti­ful that they’d writ­ten, some­thing that, to my ears, would sound com­plete, and then Jo­han would say get out, leave me alone for a cou­ple of hours to work on it.

“So we’d come back-”

“With wine.”

“Yes, with wine. We’d come back and Jo­han would’ve de­con­structed and re­con­structed the track and changed it in ways I can’t even ex­plain.”

“He’d take Mary’s vo­cal and sep­a­rate it and pitch it up and down and we were like –what have you done there?? We all have a fairly good sense of pro­duc­tion but even we were amazed by it all. He brought this real mod­ern pic­turesque to the al­bum.”

NEW GAME

This all fit­ted in nicely with that ‘Le Galaxie-es­que’ sim­ile of chang­ing the game rather than beat­ing the high score. Whereas the 14-song be­he­moth of Le Club had been recorded and pro­duced by the band them­selves and was geared com­pletely to the live per­for­mance, the slim­mer, leaner Plea­sure was very much a stu­dio ef­fort.

“We wanted a re­ally tight stu­dio record,” says Michael. “None of the songs had been played be­fore. We flipped it, did the stu­dio work, rather than go­ing out and au­di­tion­ing them live.”

Did that change the cre­ative process?

“Def­i­nitely. I mean a lot of the songs on Le Club were writ­ten separately, as in the ideas were fil­tered into the stu­dio by us at dif­fer­ent times, but this one was writ­ten by all of us. Any ideas were com­ing there and then and we were able to start ma­nip­u­lat­ing and edit­ing right away.”

“But it’s not as if that ‘four-to-the-floor’ el­e­ment is miss­ing,” adds May. “That’s an un­con­scious thing with Le Galaxie any­way. It’s part of the trade. So when you’re sit­ting writ­ing in the stu­dio you bring all that al­ready, but

"One thing I re­ally love about Le Galaxie is that they were very vo­cal about the mar­riage ref­er­en­dum, now they’re very vo­cal about Re­peal the 8th"

also you’re phys­i­cally calm and you’re think­ing about the jour­ney of the song, rather than how it’ll play out live.”

SEN­SORY DE­PRI­VA­TION

That much is ap­par­ent. Songs like ‘Day Of

The Child’, ‘L.I.E.S’ and ‘Demi Moore’ seem hard­wired to fill ev­ery nook and cranny of your head­phones as much as they’re made to be club-ready bangers. Were there spe­cific things they were go­ing into the stu­dio, lyri­cally or stylis­ti­cally, that in­flu­enced the writ­ing?

“I just keep think­ing of the makeshift booth that we have in our stu­dio,” says Michael. “I’d spend hours and hours work­ing in there with Dave – who’s kind of like our en­gi­neer in the band – and he’d sit there and have no prob­lem with my crazy rep­e­ti­tion. He’d lis­ten to the same thing over and over again and he’d know ex­actly how to edit.

“But to an­swer your ques­tion, a lot of the lyrics came to me while I in­cu­bated in that booth. It was sort of like a sen­sory de­pri­va­tion cham­ber in there. You’re just free-as­so­ci­at­ing and let­ting your mind wonder and writ­ing and singing about what­ever you want, try­ing not come close to mad­ness.”

Free-as­so­ci­at­ing lyrics – with winks to big ‘80s synth bands and nods to ob­scure pop cul­ture ref­er­ences – are part of Le Galaxie’s hall­marks (as is stay­ing on just about on the right side of mad­ness).

Michael’s co-singer, who’s been nod­ding fer­vently as speaks, picks up: “For me, my ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore Le Galaxie was that we were afraid of space in our songs, so we’d have lyrics squished on top of lyrics – no wonder we split up! – but with the lads it’s all above the minute when they’re in that vo­cal booth. There’s that fran­tic en­ergy there, and it ad­dresses love and lust with­out over­stress­ing it in the lyrics and in a very pure way. You just know that’s all gonna come across live.”

VANTASTIC NEWS THEN?

It cer­tainly seems so. And for any­one who’s look­ing for­ward to see­ing Le Galaxie live, they’re at the likes of Van­tast­vi­val, Indiepen­dence, Sea Ses­sions and a hand­ful of other fes­ti­vals this sum­mer. They’ll also be head­lin­ing a few of them, which is a re­mark­able tes­ta­ment to a band that’s worked their way up for over a decade.

“It’s al­ways felt spe­cial do­ing the fes­ti­val cir­cuit,” says Michael. “Even from our first fes­ti­val, we knew some­thing was go­ing right by the way the crowd was re­act­ing. And God, I mean ev­ery year fes­ti­val sea­son comes around and it of­fers some­thing new. It’s great to be able to head­line and play as late as you can and re­ally know you’ve earned it, but none of us in the band have egos to bruise ei­ther – we all know that you can some­times get your best au­di­ence at three or four in the af­ter­noon. We’re ab­so­lutely OK with that.”

RE­PEAL SEA­SON

Just be­fore that all gets un­der­way, though, there’s a gen­er­a­tion-defin­ing vote tak­ing place in Ire­land next month. And de­spite hav­ing a con­sid­er­ably high pro­file, Le Galaxie have been un­abashed in their views about is­sues like re­peal the 8th.

“I’m not get­ting on my soap box here,” says Michael. “If you’re a band and you have noth­ing to say about these is­sues, or you do have some­thing to say but don’t want to – that’s your choice. But for us, I think it’s a waste to have a plat­form like Twit­ter, where we have nine or ten thou­sand peo­ple fol­low­ing us, and not do some­thing with it. I mean there’s a big mo­ment is com­ing up in May and I think we’d be remise not to use our an­gle.”

May con­tin­ues. “It’s like Mick says, when you hear a re­ally shitty voice, you just feel com­pelled to at least bal­ance it with some­thing just de­cent. I mean the one thing I re­ally love about Le Galaxie is that they were very vo­cal about the mar­riage ref­er­en­dum, now they’re very vo­cal about Re­peal the 8th. And I ac­tu­ally do think it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple like that to share their voice, so that – whether its gay rights or re­peal­ing – it show­ing that it’s not a gay vs straight, man vs woman is­sue, it’s a hu­man rights is­sue. As far as I’m con­cerned, we can’t shout men down who are work­ing hard to be al­lies in this, be­cause we all have a vote and it’s equally im­por­tant that all of us use it.”

Plea­sure is out now via Red River.

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