French connection: Xavier Boyer and the rest of French indie pop group Tahiti 80 perform this Friday at Green Sun in Makati City in a concert presented by Terno Recordings.
Toti Dalmacion says the Tahiti 80 sound is ‘like everything good in the ’60s, ’70s, ‘80s and ’90s mixed in a blender with some fat grooves, sick beats and electronic sounds thrown in for some good measure.’
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These are the lyrical themes lead singer Xavier Boyer explored in the latest Tahiti 80 album, “Ballroom.” Sonically, the album bears no resemblance to other landmark records of love and loss (such as Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks,” Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ “The Boatman’s Call,” or Beck’s “Sea Change”) but the sentiments are there — nakedly but with taste and restraint.
“Not in a syrupy, clichéd way,” says Toti Dalmacion of Terno Recordings, which is bringing the French indie pop band to play for the second time in Manila. The guys from Tahiti 80 will perform this Friday at Green Sun.
“All these things you find out about when you reach a certain age,” adds Xavier.
The band was formed in Rouen in the mid-’90s and is currently based in Paris, releasing six albums so far. According to the band bio, singer-guitarist Boyer and bassist Pedre Resende formed the pop combo as students at the University of Rouen, sharing an affinity for indie music, new wave and Sixties pop. Taking their name from a souvenir T-shirt given to Boyer’s father in 1980, the duo recruited guitarist Mederic Gontier, and with the addition of drummer Sylvain Marchand a year later, the lineup was complete. The foursome released a self-produced and self-financed EP titled “20 Minutes” (Bobby Records 1996).
The band-members found common ground in their love of French cinema (François Truffaut, Éric Rohmer), American literature (Charles Bukowski, Jonathan Franzen), and records: everything from Big Star to “Combat Rock,” from the Zombies to “Marquee Moon.”
Xavier characterizes the French indie pop scene as pretty diverse. He says, “Bands are singing in French or English. There are some bands into World Music and a lot are into instrumentals, too. It’s quite different from the UK or the States. Different culture, different dynamics.” The guys’ favorite club in Paris is La Maroquinerie. Billy Bragg, Brett Anderson, Noah and the Whale have played here.
“How has the Tahiti 80 sound evolved through the years?” says Boyer. “I think we stuck pretty much to the same formula: write pop music for today. Everyone’s involved in the production; Pedro is the sound engineer; I’m like the ‘provider.’ I write most of the songs with the help of Mederic.”
When Xavier and company were writing their latest album, they were listening to a lot of synth pop, “McCartney 2,” a Mac DeMarco album, a bit of everything really.
“A few years ago, we boarded a plane to Bangkok and this woman sat up next to us and started to talk. I wrote everything down, and it became Gate 33. I might have changed a few words for rhyming purposes but this is exactly what she told us. I guess she was on medication or something!”
What Toti Dalmacion, who first heard the band in ’98 or ’99 via the debut album “Puzzle,” likes about Tahiti 80 is the guys’ ability to write catchy tunes — be it simple or complex.
“Love the groove on almost every record they’ve put out,” he says. “They have excellent taste in music, too. So they have a strong foundation and appreciation for good music through the years, which gets applied to their body of work.”
What makes Tahiti 80 different from the other bands exploring the same vibe or sound is the consistency in songwriting. “They have a knack for lovely melodies and hooks, which easily attract you to their songs. The songs are well-crafted, and — unlike other bands that have a similar vibe — it’s not like a one-two song affair and the rest are fillers.”
While influential bands such as the Stone Roses or Happy Mondays thrived in a specific type of musical atmosphere (where diversity, creativity and song-craftsmanship were king), the guys of Tahiti 80 have to grapple with a different paradigm altogether (where Justin, Miley, and 1D hold court).
“It’s all going too fast,” explains Xavier. “You spend a year working on songs, and then you have 15 days to make your mark. It’s not healthy, I think. You get a lot of bad music with heavy marketing. Not enough good stuff coming through.”
Tahiti 80 has the chops and good ears to make a lasting mark, though.
Toti says the band sound is “like everything good in the ’60s, ’70s, ‘80s and ’90s mixed in a blender with some fat grooves, sick beats and electronic sounds thrown in for some good measure.” His favorite Tahiti 80 record is “Fosbury.”
Filipino fans will have a chance to hear Tahiti Moon’s classic cuts and current raves as Xavier and gang perform at Green Sun on Friday.
“Loved the people, loved the crowd,” concludes Xavier. “But it was really an in-and-out experience. I would love to go record-hunting. The Philippines was famous in the ’60s and ’70s for local pressings.”
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Terno Recordings presents Tahiti Moon in concert on March 13, Friday, at Green Sun, 2285 Pasong Tamo Ext., Makati, with Up Dharma Down and Yolanda Moon as opening acts. Tickets are priced at P2,500 and are available at Artwork TriNoma, Glorietta, Alabang Town Center, and at the gate on the night itself. Doors open at 7 p.m. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ternorecordings.com.