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Interview :  P-Thugg of Chromeo

    We recently caught up with P-Thugg, one-half of the funk duo Chromeo, who pay homage to the sounds of the ‘80s and whose popularity has skyrocketed over the past few years.  Since Chromeo will be gracing us with their well-dressed, ever impressive presence in concert next week at the Midland, we wanted to learn more about the quieter of the pair, P-Thugg.

u:move:  To start at the beginning, what was it like moving from Lebanon to Canada when you were only eight years old?  What major differences did you notice? 

P Thugg: I was pretty much in a fog when we moved there. I had no idea what American music was.  I had no idea who even Michael Jackson was.  I grew up with the local music back home and my dad’s music; then when we came to America and I was like “Wow where did all of this music come from?”  My first two albums ever were Michael Jackson’s Bad and LL Cool J’s Bigger and Deffer.  I discovered hip-hop and started hanging out with that crowd in school, listening to Big Daddy Kane, Kwame and others.

Something else funny I remember was being shocked at the taste of concentrated orange juice.  Fresh orange juice didn’t exist back then here, and where I came from you had natural orange juice or you didn’t have orange juice at all.  I remember drinking orange juice concentrate for the first time and thinking “What the hell are these people drinking!” (laughs)

u:move:  That’s hilarious, the things we remember, huh?  And how did you come to meet Dave One?

P Thugg: It was in high school, I was playing guitar in a band, but then Dave joined the band.  I had been playing only for like a year and Dave had been playing for six so he was better than me and I kind of got demoted to bass. (laughs)

u:move:  Seems like it all worked out pretty well in the end.

P Thugg: Yah, we always played together after that. Other band members would come and go, but the two of us stuck together.  With Dave, we have always had this unspoken chemistry. I remember the first time I brought Dave over to my parents’ house when we were younger.  My grandmother cracked up and said “These guys are hilarious. What the hell is going on? This tall 6 foot Jewish kid and this short, stalky Lebanese one.” (Laughs) My grandmother used to call us Laurel and Hardy.

u:move:  Ya, your chemistry seems amazing, I bet that helps in many aspects.  So you guys are just about to wrap up your tour next month.  Take us through a typical day on tour for you.

P Thugg: Well, you wake up at 3am and get on the bus.  Then you sleep on the bus until noon and wake up in a different city.  We load in and get ready on set. Then we head back to the hotel for couple and chill.  After dinner we come back for the show.  And then it starts all over again.  And on and on and on.

u:move:  So kinda like the movie Groundhog Day, but as rockstars!

P Thugg: Yup (laughs)

u:move:  We are all pumped here in KC for your show next week.  I keep seeing everyone posting videos and tracks and I love listening to them.  I’ve really noticed how much you guys have grown in such a short time.  Has the way you create music changed since “She’s in Control”?

P Thugg: The way we create music is basically is the same, but as we’ve grown we now take extra steps to make sure we keep going and improve musically on each album.  We want to bring new sounds, new tricks, and new instruments as we continue to make music.  We always are asking “How can we make this different this time around.” We try this and that until we find what works.  We definitely want to keep evolving.

u:move:  Your videos are always filled with humor and seem to work well with the song.  Can you explain your thought process behind making them?

P Thugg: The videos we do are kind of like an homage to our idols and to the artists we look up to.  Music is also important to us visually and something that we take great pride in.  We want to make sure they are consistent, whatever is included in showing our faces – whether it be posters, flyers, album covers, etc.  We don’t just want it to be stick songs together on an album, we want it to be a whole vibe, a complete package.  The artwork matches, the videos match, the music and everything.  We think of albums as bodies of work instead of just a means to an end.

I think it’s because that’s how we’re used to seeing music. When you buy a record you have the vinyl sleeve in hand your hand while it’s playing. You look it over, you look at the credits, you see which musician plays on which song and it’s kind of like part of our deal. That’s what we go for.

u:move:  Like many, I love your videos, but I must confess, the one I watch the most is “No Can Do” at Daryl Hall’s house.  Something about the chemistry and everything is just addictive.  What was it like to be in your idols house with that kind of access?

P Thugg:  It was an absolutely insane experience.  I have watched the video a million times but it still feels unreal.  Obviously it was really special but I still can’t believe it happened.  To their credit, we were super nervous, we are playing with these legendary musicians, guys that wrote massive hits and they showed us so much respect.  We’re now doing some stuff they’ve never heard and that is more where music is today and they embrace that.  But to sit down and play with them was a once in a lifetime experience.

u:move You probably know that recently Holy Ghost did a track titled “Some Children” with Michael McDonald, are there any classic vocalist that you would like to collaborate with?

P Thugg:  With us I think it would have to be a natural collaboration.  We do most of the vocals but aren’t opposed to doing something if it came about organically.  With money you can get anyone, but that’s not what we’re about.  The music quality and the energy for us is our priority.

u:move:  Anyone besides Hall & Oates that you guys look to for inspiration or just enjoy listening to?

P Thugg:  Well we’re big funkheads so anything from Parliament Funkadelic to Midnight Star and stuff like that.  All that classic funk stuff influences us and the sounds we produce. 

u:move:  What’s the craziest place inspiration for one of your songs has ever struck you?

P Thugg:  You know I actually came up with the basics of “Night by Night” one night when I was extremely sick.  I felt horrible and was sitting in the bath feeling awful one night and then I just started tapping it out.

u:move:  Wow, hard to imagine that a banger like that came from illness.  How many different instruments can you play and do you create music using all of them?

P Thugg:  I started out learning the keyboards, then guitar, bass, little bit of drums and the talkbox.  Anything you would give me I could learn fast.  Like if you gave me a harmonica I could pick it up pretty quickly.  I just enjoy music and it comes out many ways.

u:move:  So now that you’re nearing the end of the “Business Casual” tour, what’s next?

P Thugg:  Well, we’ve got a few random shows here and there and then we’re heading back into the studio in December or January.

u:move:  Well, thanks for your time today P-Thugg and if I could just ask you one last question.  Who would win in a battle between a Yamaha DX100 FM or Peter Frampton’s guitar?

P Thugg: (laughs) Yamaha DX100 FM. See you guys next week!

Don’t miss Chromeo at the Midland October 20!  Openers are Mayer Hawthorne and Breakbot.  Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or at the Midland Box Office.

Interview by Brooke Northern

Reader Discussion

Great interview. P Thugg is awesome!

good stuff… can’t wait for the show next week. i <3 chromeo!!!!

Haha he would say the Yamaha smile nice

Jockin my style!  Lets do a show guys

Had never seen the youtube videos with them and Darryll Hall. That shit is the shit!

Just got my tickets!!!!!!!

Wanna be yourself and no one else - Alright
And you wanna go out, wanna scream & shout - Tonight!!

Fantastic interview! Can’t wait for the show!

These guys are hilarious.
Breakbot rocks too!

Score. Didn’t even know they were coming. good interview too.

Hey, I just read an article about the making of Chromeo’s third CD “Business Casual”. They recorded it in a studio called MetroSonic in Brooklyn, NY. It was really interesting and filled a bunch of insight on the gear P-Thugg and Dave 1 used. If you would like to read the article for yourself, check it out here.

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