Mysterious Spanish-French musician Anthony Gonzalez is the genius behind M83’s lush, atmospheric indie pop. Gonzalez’ double-disc 2011 album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, modeled after the Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was named by many music critics to be one of the best albums of 2011; his single “Midnight City” (which includes a saxophone solo by Fitz and the Tantrums’ James King) peaked at an enviable number five on the Billboard alternative charts.
Throughout all this popularity and his breakthrough into mainstream radio and across genres, Gonzalez has maintained an elusive aura punctuated with interesting explanations into his bohemian creative process.
At M83’s performance at the Red Bull Sound Space at KROQ, Gonzalez talked with Nicole Alvarez about how a childhood spent in beautiful south of France inspired his music, how his family has been a huge part of his art, and whether he prefers In-N-Out hamburgers over Fatburger.
Gonzalez divulges that Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is an homage to his childhood and his teenage years. “I feel like I had the best childhood ever thanks to my parents and this album is for them. And my brother was like my best friend as well, and for me, the only way I found to reconnect with my past is to write about this period of my life and to talk about it in my music,” he explains. “And music is my only way to reconnect with my past. I just had the best time as a kid and I just wanted to write about this.”
As for his music, which spills over with influences such as the Cocteau Twins, Brian Eno, and My Bloody Valentine, Gonzalez is not afraid to confess that the music he makes is “just a reflection” of all his influences.
” I didn’t invent anything. My music is not new. It’s just a mix of all the music I like. I’ve always loved very emotional music. I listened to a lot of classical stuff; a lot of music from the ’80s, from the ’70s,” the singer-songwriter explains. “So I think it’s a mix of all of that.
“Yeah, since I’m 17-years-old I’m trying to craft my sound as much as possible. It’s wonderful to work with amazing artists. I have the possibility to work with tons of mixers and producers on my album so I feel very lucky.”
“I was very young,” says Gonzalez when asked what music first resonated powerfully with him. The musician paints a picture of idyllic days in the south of France “surrounded by amazing landscapes and making music” and how he is a “big family guy” who lunches with his grandparents on both sides of the family.
Gonzalez has since left the south of France, moved to Los Angeles two years ago, and loves In-N-Out.
“The first musical shock for was this TV show where this French electronic artist called Jean Michel Jarre played on this Sunday afternoon,” continues Gonzalez. “I was seven or eight; I was very young. I see this artist performing on a Sunday afternoon on a TV show surrounded by amazing vintage synthesizers and the music sounded like it was coming from the future. It was my first shock in music. And since then I have this love of electronic music.”