By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
“I’ve never seen a party so insane in my life,” says Aoki, of the Echoplex night. “It was the best L.A. party I’ve ever seen — and I’ve been to a lot of parties. It was so raw. The energy was so real. It just felt like before then there was this sort of vacancy. It was like everybody had been waiting for it, and finally it came. And it was quality, forward-thinking music too. It hit you right in the chest.”
De Rosnay has a theory, one he shares while sitting at a white table in a big white studio where the duo is getting ready to begin the photo shoot. In France, he explains, there is a great rivalry between Paris and Marseille. It’s a competitive streak based on regionalism and pride, and permeates the interactions between the citizenry of each city.
“In France,” he explains, taking a sip of coffee, “Paris and Marseille are in different parts of the country, Paris in the north and Marseille in the south, and they hate each other. I don’t know if it’s like that with New York and Los Angeles” — uh, yep — “but maybe since New York has had success with [NYC record label/remixers] the DFA and that sound, maybe Los Angeles has adopted the music of Paris as part of the competition.”
“It’s interesting,” offers Vice Records’ Adam Shore, on the phone from New York. “Because L.A. has more wide-open spaces than we do. The rave thing established itself in L.A. in a way that it did not in the East. And the promoters who grew out of that created Coachella, which always gives a gigantic stage to these artists.
“But, yes, where L.A. has embraced these dance artists in a way that’s maybe greater than these other cities have, it hadn’t started creating its own talent until just recently. Now you’ve got L.A. Riots, and Guns n’ Bombs and the I Heart Comix crew. You’ve got a pretty exciting thing going on, and there does kind of seem to be this hedonistic party DJ vibe happening with a bunch of crews here. It’s a little early, but I think that L.A. is really going to run with it in the next year. There’s just a lot of kids doing a lot of creative things.” (The curious may want to attend this weekend’s Neighborhood Music Festival, featuring music representing a wide swath of the L.A. dance scene.)
“If you listen to the stuff that’s exploding,” adds Aoki, “it’s all got this punk energy to it. You go to the shows and people are stage diving, fucking singing along and having fun, all sweaty and dancing hard — being kids. I remember when I was doing that when I was 15. There’s a ‘This is our shit’ vibe to it.”
The punk philosophy that Aoki describes is evident at Justice’s photo shoot, which is just gearing up. Despite the fact that they’re being shot this afternoon for the cover of Urb, the two remain bed-headed, unshaven, foggy-eyed and a little bit crusty. You’d think that at some point a stylist would enter to save the day, or at least clean the Frenchmen up a little bit. They’re budding stars, after all, and they’ve flown all this way.
But this ambivalence to their appearance is a cornerstone of Justice’s aesthetic, says de Rosnay. Their general disregard for the process of hit-making moves from their attitude to their style — even if they are unapologetically making pop music. Were it up to them, he explains, Justice would go the Daft Punk route and be invisible, or don some robot helmets. But they already draw many comparisons to their fellow Parisian producers (the two duos share a manager, Ed Banger kingpin Busy P), so disappearing or creating a shtick is of little interest. Sure, they could wear matching track suits, or become cross-dressers, or wax their eyebrows and retool their image. They could decline photo shoots, be difficult with journalists and turn into prima donnas. Instead, says de Rosnay, they’ve decided to go a different route: to be themselves, warts and all.
“We want to be like your neighbors,” he explains, “only cooler.”