A mutual friend brought Benoit – Benoit Simone – and Sergio – Sergio Giorgini – together at a party in early 2008 but it was more than 12 months before their first release arrived, a delightfully innovative and charming slice of romantic techno-pop entitled ‘What I’ve Lost’ on Bruno Pronsato and Ninca Leece’s Berlin imprint The Song Says. Benoit & Sergio’s laidback arrival was the perfect introduction to their unique world.
Still, today, the boys have few releases (and no albums) to their name – and yet their reputation is huge. ‘What I’ve Lost’ has led to spine-tingling finds across key labels including Spectral Sound, DFA, Visionquest and Hot Creations, but the spacing between them is highly significant. Benoit & Sergio’s focus has most definitely been on quality rather than quantity. The sheer quirk-soul originality of 2011 lament ‘Walk & Talk’ (taken from Visionquest EP ‘Where The Freaks Have No Name’) has led easily to slap-bass (or bass-slapped) New Wave on ‘A Bridge So Far’ (2013, Hot Creations) and chirpy Mariah Carey samples crossed with New Jersey (garage) swing for ‘Adjustments’ (2013, Culprit). Fayre for the dancefloor like nothing else....
In between shrewd productions and equally compelling remixes (of Friendly Fires, Metronomy and Matthew Dear – literally just those artists), have come wired, similarly expansive DJ performances everywhere from Mexico to Russia, via London, Berlin, New York and Ibiza – the complete clubland sweep. Benoit & Sergio’s creative advance has been a force of pure nature. Next up is new Culprit EP ‘That’s The Party Talking’ – and Sergio is calling in to tell us more....
Describe Benoit & Sergio’s philosophy to us:
Benoit & Sergio’s philosophy is the same philosophy we’ve always had. We really rather proud of our releases even if they are infrequent; we feel like we need to be able to live with ourselves when we’re making records...feel good about stuff. There’s a real ‘overload, overkill’ thing going on with the music scene right now and a lot of the releases are like ‘whatever’.... We can’t put a timetable on things; we work when it feels right.
It obviously felt right with ‘That’s The Party Talking’?
This is our second EP on Culprit - both releases have followed shows for Andrei [Oyska, part of Culprit’s founding collective Droog]. ‘Adjustments’ came about after we played ‘Shake Shake’ at Space in Ibiza; Andrei loved it and immediately wanted to sign it. The new EP followed a Culprit party in Zurich. Andrei heard us playing ‘Ibiza Bass’ [one of the new EP’s three tracks] which took the roof off the venue and was like ‘please let me put this out!’ Andrei’s a good friend, and he’s really great to work with. One thing we’ve realised is that it’s the quality of people you work with in this industry that moves you along; they are your supporters. They help provide the energy and encourage the ideas.
You’ve certainly been allowed to experiment here....
Yes, there are a few different styles here... low-end house, electro-funk, disco. We need to be able to make the records we want to make. Actually, a major house label in London wants to license the track ‘You Might Say’ as a B-side for something else, but we haven’t yet found the right A-side. We’ve shelved a track because we want to work on it some more. We’ll see where we go.
Tell us about Zurich by the way?
We loooove the vibe in Zurich, it’s super hot. Honestly, it’s one of the best cities we’ve ever played. The people, the clubs, the energy, it’s all amazing. When we played there for Culprit last month it was a super fun night. The energy was unbelievable, it was electric....
Has the dynamic between you and Benoit changed over the past few years?
Our philosophy is the same but the dynamic between us has changed and that’s because life has changed for us. We’ve had so many different configurations of where we each live...me in Berlin, him in the States, then moves to other places, then back again. The touring life throws curveballs at you all the time too. You have to always adapt...you learn that. It’s hard to stop touring so you need adaptable routines. An athlete can’t stop running marathons or playing basketball, they need to keep in shape, and it’s the same for us…we need to keep playing. We’ve therefore learnt to make music in hotel rooms, and podcasts on flights. You can’t have the luxury of time always...
How do you assess the electronic scene today?
That’s a deceptively simple question, because what is that scene? Is it EDM? Is it the underground? EDM is such a vast enterprise today; it’s almost foreign to me. That said, I’ve seen Skrillex a few times and it’s amazing how he rocks a crowd. We’ve got no problem with that...if you’re rocking a crowd, you’re rocking a crowd. In terms of our scene and peers, it seems to be the case that the music is getting darker and more jacked. There are more low-key moments, more tropical moments, which is cool. There are so many musical currents though now....
What else have you got lined up?
We’ve got some more touring and another EP, ‘Miami House Party’, which will be a big focus – it’s a really special track for us, it has some major personality. Benoit has been talking about ‘heroic bass-lines’ if that helps describe it!
And where are you at with your illusive debut album? – remember, you first told us about it in 2011!
The intention for the album is still there but we don’t want it to be rushed or clipped. The ideas and materials are all there, and the tracks written. We really like the material, none of it sounds dated. Now it’s about carving and shaping...we’re getting there. Our latest big studio blitz was back in May in New York; we were with some friends and wrote five tracks in five days but then the summer took over. The album is being realised more and more now but these things are a lot of work. If it were a film, we’d be on post-production now but there’s so much work still to do.
What’s been the biggest surprise for you over the past year?
The last few years have been one big surprise. We never expected to be doing this in the first place, it’s an amazing gift. We were in Washington DC initially, in a small apartment, and since then we’ve ridden an amazing wave and we’re just so grateful. This year? Playing Tokyo [the duo played Womb last month] is always fantastic – we never expected we’d be playing so far away across the other side of the world like that.
Finally, anything you particularly want for Christmas?
I can only speak for myself but I’d like Saint Nick to bring me three new fat hooks! That’d be a great gift, three absolutely massive hooks that rock everyone. I’m looking forward to Christmas, I’m going to spend some time with my mom in Iowa and then I’ve got gigs in London, Paris and Mexico, for BPM. It should be a lot of fun.
Words: Ben Lovett
Benoit & Sergio ‘That’s The Party Talking’ is out now on Culprit