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Tahiti 80 brightens up pop – RFI Musique

The Tahiti 80 group.

© Cedric Boulanger

The French group Tahiti 80 took advantage of the confinements to refine their 9th album, Here With You. A melancholy and dancing disc, which pursues the tireless pop quest of Tahiti 80 on the side of California. Explanations with Xavier Boyer, author and singer.

RFI Musique: Where was Tahiti 80 at the time of the appearance of Covid 19?
Xavier Boyer: We had just completed two tours in France and Asia, for the album The Sunsh!ne Beat Vol.1 and for our acoustic anthology Fear Of An Acoustic Planet. The concerts were therefore officially over for us in December 2019. We had started our first sessions for the next album in Rambouillet (in the Paris region, editor’s note) in the house of Adrien, the keyboard of the group. It was more comfortable and less formal than a rehearsal room.

During the first confinement, what was your state of mind?
I had just had a little girl, while our album was in the making. The confinement has necessarily changed our plans. We thought we would work at a more sustained pace, because we already had concert dates planned for 2020. The group quickly got into gear. We live in different cities. So it was nothing new for us to be distant from each other. We also used to work with a producer in the United States, Andy Chase. Adrien was in Rambouillet, Pedro and Médéric were in Rouen, the director of the album, Julien in Rennes, Raphaël in Paris and I in Montpellier. Pat Jones, for the mix, was in Los Angeles.

Confinement and distance have they modified the creation of this 9th album?
We all said we were going to get back to work. So we would have something to do and we thought it wouldn’t last long. We were all lucky to have an internet connection and check-in facilities. I took the opportunity to improve my technique on sound recording. For Raphaël, in an apartment in Paris, it was more complicated to record the drums.
The big difference is that there was no longer this rapid consultation, everyone in the same room. Positive things came out of it: we could each go after ideas without interference. Many proposals would not necessarily have emerged if we had been in the same room. There were ups and downs, certain moments of weariness or doubts. The good side: we were completely focused on this album, the bad: we were a little head in the handlebars, without too much hindsight.

It’s not an album of confinement, calm, dark or intimate…
We wanted a party album, not locked up or cloistered… Rather almost a post-Covid outlet. For the first time, we had established a “mood board”: everyone had selected 4 or 5 photos to illustrate the moods of our music. For example, I had chosen a rave photo from the 90s, a moment of communion without mobile phones. We also imagined ourselves as Sly Stone in Woodstock. We wanted to go further in the dance side of our songs with harmonic complexity.

The band once found themselves in the studio…
Yes, and things were going very quickly, because we had already experimented or created things each at home. In September 2020, we found ourselves in Rouen, while a clip was shot by Brazilian director Gabriel Rolim, but on a green screen. We did not move. We were planning to release a single in December, the album was ready before the summer of 2021. But in the end everything was delayed. Our last concert is in December 2019, the next one will be April 1, 2022, that’s a long time. Too long !

How were the texts written?
I wrote them during confinement. I realized that not everything could come from me. Tours, travels, encounters… nourish my texts. There, nothing much happened to me, paternity aside. The title UFO perhaps sees the child as a UFO… So I found sources of inspiration in books, series or films, around me. A lot of lyrics are a monologue, a closed door, like Telling Myself Where Hot. There was a balance to be found between happy music and melancholic lyrics, like house music or Motown.

This album bathes in a Californian atmosphere… Was Andy Chase still involved?
A fantasy California. We still love the Beach Boys. But late 70s/early 80s disco — before it became more digital — probably influenced us. There is certainly this color in the disc, in the arrangements of guitars and keyboards. The titles are of very different styles: rock, slow, drum’n’bass, 70s soul… We try to renew ourselves, always in our pop obsession. The distance made it possible to spend sometimes a month on a single title. There’s a record that I love from the Californian Turtles, The Battle of the Bands, released in 1968, on which they take themselves for a different group with each title. Andy was asked to give his opinion on the lyrics and music, as he knows the band well. It was less present than on previous albums. If we manage to surprise him with a song, we know we’re on the right track.

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Tahiti 80 Here With You (Human Sounds/Idol) 2022


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