Fresh off a festival-filled summer, Chromeo’s P-Thugg (Patrick Gemayel) took some time to talk with jambands.com about how the duo first met, its diverse musical influences, and the ‘80s revival that currently seems to be sweeping the scene. Chromeo’s fresh DJ-KiCKS compilation was released this month, and the Canadian electro-funk pair is also working on some finishing touches for an upcoming full-length.
How did you guys meet and begin playing music together?
We met in high school. We were about 15, and we were all in the same high school, and I had started a band with a drummer. We were missing other musicians so we looked around the school, and Dave [Macklovitch] (aka Dave 1) was there playing guitar. He sat in with us, we started the band and we became best friends, we stuck together all these years.
What kind of music did you guys play back in high school?
It was like funk, but more ‘70s organic funk. Not like drum machines—typical funk, bass guitar.
You describe yourselves as “The only successful Arab-Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture.” That’s a pretty unique statement; you guys are kind of a diverse combination. Can you tell me a little bit about your musical background and some of your main influences?
We are actually really different as far as musical background goes. I grew up in the Middle East in Lebanon, so until about age 8, I didn’t know about North American music. My family is Arab and Italian, so I grew up with Arabic music in Lebanon and Italian music, a bit of French music, but I didn’t know Michael Jackson. So I was kind of brought up like that until 8. Then I moved to Canada, and the first thing I did was get into Michael Jackson—I got into hip-hop at an early age. I kind of grew up with hip-hop until age 13 when I discovered funk, reggae and rock. I was really into hip-hop—that was kind of my thing. And then all of the sudden, you’re in high school, you see other kids in recess, we had a little hangout in school, and there were times to put on different music. From like noon to 1 p.m. it was hip-hop, and then it was rock—I just got opened up to reggae, Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin and I eventually started playing guitar.
So that experience exposed you to more new music without you really trying?
Yea, exactly. And I feel like it was the complete opposite for Dave. Because right around when I was 13, I started picking up the guitar and a year or two went by. Now I’m 15, and Dave is just getting into hip-hop, because he was born in Canada, exposed to different music, and was into rock and roll—Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix—he kind of grew up with it. He made the switch over to hip-hop in the early ‘90s right when I stopped listening to it. The Beastie Boys brought him in from rock to hip-hop, and for me, it was the complete opposite. I got into Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley and that’s how I picked up my first instrument.
So you guys were kind of like backwards?
Yea, backwards—but when we met we were both getting really into funk and both heavily collecting records. At that age, at 15, we were going to used record stores, just to look at the covers, just buying all kinds of funk records. We would just look at the covers and love it, you know? We’d look at the cover and see like five dudes from the ‘70s, and be like, “Ah, this is amazing.”
Let’s talk about the new album, DJ-KiCKS, when did you guys start working on it?
It’s a compilation—we have one cover on there from The Eagles, but the album is a regular _DJ-KiCKS_—it’s a compilation of songs that we like. I don’t know why people think it’s a remix album. Maybe because we edited the songs, but it’s not a remix, we just changed the songs a little bit.