Parlez-vous Francais? Pardon our French, we don’t speak it either. But we sure did get our dancing jig on when Art Vs Science sung those words on their single of the same name. The trio – consisting Jim Finn, Dan Mac, and Dan W. – has been making their rounds in the land of down under as well as internationally, going from performing at dingy clubc to sold out concerts in the span of just three years. Shunning the digital in favour of live instruments, the band is a rarity in dance. That isn’t the only thing they eschew for something else though, the band takes absurdity over seriousness. JUICE caught up with Jim and Dan Mac before their appearance at Heineken Green Room…
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I heard that you guys had an epiphany to form the band during a Daft Punk concert. Tell us more.
Jim We all went to see Daft Punk play in 2007 when they came down to Australia and it was just amazing to watch the way they connected with the crowd and how they brought the big beats just made the crowd go wild. We’ve been playing in a rock band before that but after seeing that, we really thought dance music was the way we should be going in and it would be a lot more fun than what we were doing and we started playing dance music after that.
Imagine the opposite happened, who would turn you guys off from doing music after watching their performance?
Dan I don’t think anyone could ever do that. Every band we see would make us want to do music. So if we see like a really good band who are better than us, it would make us want to do even better, and if we see a really bad band, it would make us want to do better as well because we would see it and say ‘oh, we can do better than that’. I don’t think we would see anyone who would turn us off from doing music.
I just have to ask you, Art Vs. Science, who will win?
Jim Haha, I think there will ever be a winner. It’s like good and evil where there’s an eternal struggle for power back and forth. Maybe art will get the upper-hand and then science will knock you down and be in front a little bit. I’m personally more of a scientific guy. I really like all sort of things about physics and the natural world. I think Dan Mac has more of the artistic side and Dan W. has a little bit of both.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the band’s name came about?
Jim Well, we’ve heard people say the phrase ‘art versus science’. And I think when we started out making music, we were really paying attention to the different ways of writing and how the initial artistic ideas which we don’t quite know where it came from, that just pops into your head and you just start playing it. The scientific side comes from the structure of the songs, sort of like putting it together in a way that would work for the crowd and work for us. So I think just because we’ve always been aware of the artistic and the scientific side of our music, we decided to stick with that phrase.
In this age, dance music without digital aid is a rarity. Why is it necessary for you to have live instruments instead of using computers like other dance acts?
Jim Everything that we play is live. We use four keyboards, a microphone and live drums so we don’t need samples, backing tracks or anything like that. Honestly, it’s just a more natural way to create music as a live band because you have much more freedom in your performance to change what you would play that night or if something malfunctions or doesn’t go according to plan you can change it and make it different each night. It also depend on the crowd, you could add a section to the song if it’s going really well or shorten it if you need to get to the next song. And also I think watching a band play live is a much more natural and exciting thing than to know that something is coming from a backing track somewhere.
Your videos, for example Parlez Vouz Francais, are very silly. Is there a conscious effort to be a little out there as a band?
Jim We don’t want to be a band that take ourselves very seriously. You see a lot of bands out there who are trying to be cool but because they try to be cool, they don’t really look cool. There are also a people who are really serious or looking straight at the camera, well, we don’t like that idea. That’s not what we’re about. I think we’re about having fun and creating silly things where people will laugh out and enjoy. So we use the videos to represent that side of us and we have directors to work with who have that same sort of idea.
Are these kinds of videos meant to make an impact and distance yourselves from everyone else, or rather from the norm?
Jim I think so. I think we stood out in that way a bit. There are a lot of serious bands out there so we didn’t want to be like every other band, we wanted to stand out and have our own personality. So I think the videos are a really good way to sort of get your personality across to show what we are as a band and as individuals as well in the band.
How do you juggle making something fun yet musically respectable?
Jim When we write the songs or come up with the initial idea of the song, it is usually something that would excite us. We don’t want to make it too simple because that is actually what that would make it interesting. So as long as we’re doing something that we think sounds cool and interesting, hopefully that’s musically respectable. Lots of people might say that we just dump party tunes into our music. I mean, some of our songs are simple but others are much more complex. It is quite hard to define between sort of fun party songs and respectable music. I think as long as we’re happy with the music that we’re making, it should work.
Speaking of which, is music today too safe and boring?
Jim I think there’s always going to be music that is safe and boring. A lot of pop music are boring and I don’t really listen to pop music on radio stations. But bands that come out and do something different would push the boundaries a little bit and make people question what it is that they are doing and that’s where the excitement comes from. The same old tired and happy nice melodies or pop beats doesn’t really appeal to me. So if a band comes up with a sound that’s really unique and new, fresh sound then it really makes it enjoyable to me.
Art vs. Science has been described as dance punk, rock-rave, electrock. What do you guys see yourself as?
Dan I would say heavy-dance-rock. I think I would just say all of them – dance, rock, retro, punk.
Recommend us some of the most exciting dance acts today (‘sides you guys of course).
Dan There is a band called Leftfield. They are sort of an English dance act, they’re really cool. We’re big fans of a few other bands, I think the Midnight Juggernauts is probably my favorite dance act. I don’t really know about new stuff only know about the old stuff.
Art Vs Science, in three words.
Jim Energetic, unpredictable and fun! J
Art Vs Science rocked da house at Heineken Green Room @ KL Live last Wednesday 5 October. Choose your major at artvsscience.net.