A Different Kind of EDM - Parisian Electro Swing

June 27, 2013 -

Brett Blackman

If you saw The Great Gatsby (2013) you probably think that The Charleston, Lindy Hop, and Swing should never be mixed with any sort of electronic music…like ever. Caravan Palace is here to show you otherwise.

Hailing from The City of Light, the Parisian septet samples big band instruments and riffs to cook up a sound that can only be described as what would happen if Django Reinhardt, Lionel Hampton, and Daft Punk all got together over a bottle of absinth and some turn tables. On top of bouncy club beats, the band layers hints of gypsy jazz, trap synths, and vocals—care of the stylish Zoé Colotis—that sound like they are straight off a Victor Gramophone. Even more impressive, however, is that the group does the majority of its sampling live.

Stylistically the electronic world is divided; on the one hand you have DJs and producers like Daft Punk, Fat Boy Slim, and Skrillex; and on the other you find electronic bands like Passion Pit, Depeche Mode, and Phoenix, bands that often feature a DJ or pre recorded samples but also utilize live instrumentation. Of this latter school of electronic music, perhaps one of the biggest gambles can be trying to turn a studio album, especially one that relies on heavy sampling, into a live performance. Among the numerous things that can go wrong is giving the appearance that you are just playing along with your own record — one of the many failures of groups like Owl City.

Before heading over to the 9:30 club, Caravan Palace’s Washington D.C. stop, (the friendly people over at Grand Blanc were kind enough to send over some press passes), I popped in their newest studio album Panic (2012). I knew that Caravan Palace was primarily an instrumental performance, and while I could see some of their tracks such as "Drammaphone" working well live, I have to admit that I was a little worried about how some of their more electronic songs like "Clash" or the title track "Panic" would fair on the stage.

And how! Needless to say there were no issues. With Arnaud Vial on guitar, Hugues Payen on violin and vocals, Camille Chapelière on clarinet, Charles Delaporte on double bass and synths, and Antoine Toustou on electronics and trombone, the shear velocity of their musical presence out-weighed any noticeable separation between the live instrumentation and the pre-recorded segments. While it took one or two songs to warm up the audience, by the time the band jumped into "Beatphone," the dance floor was alive with a mix of booty shaking, old school swing dance, and everything in between. While it was clear that most of the DC audience had never heard of Caravan Palace going in, walking out they were all anyone could talk about.

Be sure to catch Caravan Palace tonight at Irving Plaza in NYC!

You can see the rest of their North American tour on their website or Facebook.


Photos by Caravan Palace

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