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dOP – The interview


dOP is one of France’s premier live electronic music acts known as much for their mad hatter performances as for their eclectic, genre-tripping songs. Just like the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s classic, Alice in Wonderland, who exclaims “Tea Time!” arbitrarily, asks unanswerable riddles, and recites poetry, dOP’s gigs generate buzz because they will be the most debauched, crazy time you will have all year long. Their songs (they hate calling them ‘tracks’) have been released on a variety of top labels like Circus Company, Milnormodern, Eklo and Orac – a string of 12-inches and EPs pushed them into the public eye in 2008. From American beat poet Charles Bukowski (‘The Genius of the Crowd’) to collaborating with musicians from Mali, dOP’s palette is as varied as the menu of a roadside eatery in Bandra. On the eve of their second visit to India, the trio of Clement Zemstov, Damien Vandesande and Daniel xxx (vocalist Jonathan “JoJo” Illel was missing in action due to a project in London) talked about many things close to their heart, including telling us that in 2012 dOP will officially go on a break as the band members explore other projects.

Clubbing culture aside, Berlin is a magnet for musicians and electronic music artists from across the world. Artists from Detroit to Darwin migrate to the city in the hope of creating music in a more relaxed vibe where the focus is often on being creative than raking in the cash. It’s hardly surprising then that dOP are part of the wave of artists who have made Berlin home. Zemstov said that the quality of life in Berlin is way better than Paris, which is stressful and the standard of living extremely high. “We have a studio in the same building as that of Club Renate in the Freidrichshain area of East Berlin,” said Zemstov. Renate, like several Berlin nightspots, is located in an abandoned two-storey building that is famed for its mental theme-parties that vary every weekend. “East Berlin reminds us of home in many ways and that keeps us here,” said Vandesande.

What most people don’t see at dOP’s exciting live shows or hear on their music releases is the decades-long bond that the members have worked hard towards maintaining. Growing up in the same neighbourhood of Paris since school, Zemstov recalled their first gig as teenagers. “We were about 12 or 13. It was Music Day and we performed at a restaurant close to where we lived. Our friends and relative were all there and the gig was totally shit. We froze on stage. There was no mood, no vibe, nothing!” Since then, dOP has flitted between various genres going from jazz to rock n roll, reggae and hip hop.[text_post]

[text_post hdr="Studio time vs Live"]“We are essentially song-makers – we have an ear for song,” said Vandesande. Organic instruments like flutes, horns and percussions infuse dOP’s music with a lot of soul that a lot of electronic music sorely lacks. dOP famously claimed in an interview with Resident Advisor in 2008 that they have “five plug-ins on Pro Tools, the ones you get for free when you purchase the software.” Three years on, not much has changed. Zemstov said the band still prefers using instruments over plug-ins. They compare the process of composing a song to cooking French food. “Sometimes you visit the market, you don’t always get all the ingredients you want. There might be fresh fruit, some herbs, you have some spices at home. You mix it all up to the best of your ability and it’s the tastiest thing you’ve tasted,” said Vandesande. dOP enjoy their time in the studio as much as they do performing to audiences across the world. “As musicians, you constantly evolve in your sound and that holds true for your live act as well. There are always elements you are looking to tweak for better effect,” said Zemstov.


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