By Noémie Attia
The electro-lyrical duo Polo & Pan has introduced a new tropical air to French touch, made up of exotic children guitars and luscious rhymes and rhythms. Their first LP, Caravelle (as in the exploring sailing ship), was released last year, introducing the mega hit Canopée that you can hear in every good indie coffee shop.
Beyond making a very nice soundtrack for your coffee sipping moments, Polo & Pan’s music is the fruit of eclectic influences, beginning by their home, the great hexagon. “Bands like Air, Daft Punk, rocked us since we were young. We don’t have any pretention to claim we are the new French touch generation, but we are French and we love France and we honour it the best we can. French is our mother tongue: we both agree that it is sometimes hard to master but it can be very beautiful.”
The lyrics of Caravelle, resonate as poetically to francophone ears as to English-speaking ones. “We use voice a lot like a musical instrument, like in Cœur d’Artichaut, with the vocoder. So it’s not important if people don’t understand what we say.” One instantly feels the joyful aura of these tunes, homages to their “blessed childhood” and to exotic musical gems. “We have traveled a lot and there are themes that are dear to our hearts, like travel, love of course, light, sun… rather positive stuff. We always grow up with the idea that you have to suffer to be beautiful, that pain generates ‘talented’ creation, but it’s not true at all.”
And talent there is, as Polo & Pan draw their sounds from classical music as well as from 70s French variété, all magically combined in sweet electro beats. The delicious Zoom Zoom, with its Brazilian singing and bossa nova guitar line also illustrates their fascination for musical cultures of every corner of this world. “We have this little challenge: each time we travel to a country we try to bring back a musical instrument from that country. We take it and we create keyboards and then we play—we create a lot of our instruments.”
Half of the duo, Pan, co-created a “musical time machine” called radiooooo.com, where you can rediscover forgotten tunes from anywhere in the world, dreaming of and learning about a faraway culture. “Inspiration also comes from the idea of a culture you make up. So sometimes it is very subjective, but it’s the idea of fantasy too, the idea of giving your interpretation of a place where you haven’t necessarily been.” We could even forgive the low-key exoticism in the name of their oniric naïveté.
Our neoliberal hell could definitely use some positivity sparkles, which these Frenchies are willing to offer—who would’ve thought, coming from the very country that invented the concept of ennui and excels in despising their neighbours? Polo & Pan are fond of diverse crowds and are refreshingly friendly. “We love wandering in the crowd before our shows, to see, to feel ‘who we’re dealing with.’ And it inspires us a lot because in the end our show is to see people. They come to see us but we come to see them, and they are very important in our way of making a show, an event, a concert.”
Proudly French while honouring all cultures, poetic but always happy, excellent musicians and eternal kids (Pan stands for Peter of course), Polo & Pan incarnate an electronic, dreamy, endless summer.
Polo & Pan perform on December 12 at the Imperial.