Parisian electro-swing pioneers Caravan Palace have a great live reputation and you can see them in the north for one night only when they visit the Ritz, Manchester, 12 Dec. Guitarist Charles Delaport talks to Big Issue North about their blue beginnings and more.
Do you think swing music is ripe for revival?
Yes, it is, for some years now. I think people like the sound of this music, which is very retro, and like to hear and see that music being played live. But of course we also like to inject a lot of electronic music and other influences into our own music.
Where did your interest in swing begin and how did the Caravan Palace sound evolve?
Our interest in swing began the first time we heard Django Reinhardt. We fell in love with the sound of his guitar, his melodies, his technique, etc. We decided to play that kind of music with Arnaud on the guitar, Hugo on the violin, and me on the upright bass, playing in bars, private parties, etc. One day, I was contacted by a production company who asked us to do the score for some old porn movies from the 1920s or 1930s they were planning to re-issue. They wanted something that would sound retro and modern at the same time. We tried to mix our jazz/swing influences with a hip-hop electro beat, and it worked fine. For some reason the movie was never released or broadcasted, but we kept on making this mix of jazz and electronic – that’s how Caravan Palace started.
Your live shows get a brilliant response. How much of that is down to the dancehall roots of swing music?
I think it reminds people of the good times. Swing music was a way of partying and dancing in the 1930s. It was music for clubs, like today with electronic music.
Which country seems to respond most positively to your music?
To be honest, we don’t really feel the difference between one country or another. Maybe that’s because we sing in English, I don’t know… Everywhere we go we have a good time and a positive response. We feel lucky for that.
What can we expect from your forthcoming album?
You can expect some powerful and very different tracks. We keep the same kind of sound, mixing old and new, but in a more modern way, I think. Electronic music changes all the time, and our tastes do too, so we want and need to evolve all the time.
Are you using any retro recording techniques or methods to add authenticity to the sound?
Yes, we are. We don’t really like our instruments to have a very clear and clean sound. By using many different techniques like equalising, filtering, or using a worn-out microphone ect, we make them sound dirtier, like we’re using old samples. This is especially the case with the guitar, the piano and of course Zoe’s voice, which we like to pitch and chop and have fun with.
Antonia Charles worth