Air is a French music duo from Versailles, consisting of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel.[1] Their critically acclaimed debut album, Moon Safari, including the track "Sexy Boy", was an international success in 1998. Its follow-up, The Virgin Suicides, was the score to Sofia Coppola's first movie of the same name. The band has since released the albums 10 000 Hz Legend, Talkie Walkie, Pocket Symphony, Love 2, Le voyage dans la lune and Music for Museum. The band is influenced by a wide variety of musical styles and artists.

Air performing in London in 2010
Air performing in London in 2010
Background information
OriginVersailles, Île-de-France, France
Years active1995–present
Members[dead link]

History edit

Formation edit

Nicolas Godin studied architecture at the École nationale supérieure d'architecture de Versailles, and Jean-Benoît Dunckel studied mathematics, before forming a band in 1995.[2] Before founding Air, Dunckel and Godin played together in the band Orange[1] with others such as Alex Gopher, Xavier Jamaux and Jean de Reydellet. The former two subsequently contributed to remixes of tracks recorded by Air.

Initially Godin worked alone, recording a demo with members of Funkadelic as his backing band before releasing his first entirely solo effort, "Modular Mix", which featured production by Étienne de Crécy.[3][4][5]

Career edit

After making several remixes for other acts in the first half of the 1990s, Air recorded its first EP, Premiers Symptômes, in 1995. The band released its first album, Moon Safari, in 1998.[6] Its first single, "Sexy Boy", was heavily played on alternative radio stations. The album received universal acclaim and became an international success. In 1999, Air composed the score The Virgin Suicides to Sofia Coppola's debut film of the same name; in 2012, Air wrote its second score to Georges Méliès' Le Voyage Dans La Lune. In the 2000s, Dunckel and Godin released four studio albums, including 10 000 Hz Legend (2001), Talkie Walkie (2004), Pocket Symphony (2007), and Love 2 (2009).

Other work edit

Air has often collaborated with Coppola. Air drummer and former Redd Kross member Brian Reitzell put together the soundtrack to 2003's Lost in Translation, including one original contribution by Air titled "Alone in Kyoto". The soundtrack for Coppola's October 2006 film Marie Antoinette featured a track by Air ("Il Secondo Giorno"). Air wrote and played the music of the album 5:55 by Anglo-French actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, which was released in August 2006. Air has recorded a DJ mix album, Late Night Tales: Air, for Azuli Records' Late Night Tales series. The release was initially scheduled for October 2005, but was delayed several times. It finally was released, complete with a new sleeve design, in September 2006. Darkel, a solo album by Dunckel, was released that same year.

City Reading (Tre Storie Western) (2003) started as an idea for a collaboration with contemporary Italian writer Alessandro Baricco, known for his unusual characterizations and lyrical, poetic style. Baricco contacted Air in summer 2002 with the idea to marry narration of texts from his book City with live original musical accompaniment. The performance premiered live in November 2002 at Rome's Teatro Valle and was deemed such a success that both parties resolved to make a full studio recording.

Influences and musical style edit

Air is associated with a variety of musical styles: electronica,[7][8] space pop,[9][10] dream pop,[11][12] progressive rock,[13][9] downtempo,[14] chillout,[9] trip hop,[citation needed] ambient,[15] electronic pop[9] and space rock.[16] Dunckel grew up listening to both classical and electronic music, especially Kraftwerk,[17] and also the 1960s and 1970s music of Serge Gainsbourg.[18] He later took an interest in what he called the "English dark rock" of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Joy Division, while being a fan of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.[17] Brian Eno and Cluster were two of the electronic acts who inspired him the most.[19] He cites among his favorite artists: Maurice Ravel for classical music, François de Roubaix for music soundtracks and Siouxsie and the Banshees for pop music.[20] Dunckel shared with Godin a special liking for the music of Michel Legrand, Philip Glass and Grace Jones. During his childhood, Godin was fascinated by the Beatles before later discovering the soul of Sly and the Family Stone,[21] and film soundtracks like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Ennio Morricone.[18] The duo were influenced by progressive rock pioneers Pink Floyd.[21][22]

Air uses many of its studio instruments (including Moog synthesizers, the Korg MS-20, Wurlitzers and vocoders) on stage, where their ability to improvise is more clearly highlighted. The band performs the well-known tracks from the albums live as extended or altered versions. Air often collaborates (both in the studio and live) with artists like Beth Hirsch (Moon Safari), Françoise Hardy ("Jeanne"), Jean-Jacques Perrey ("Cosmic Bird"), Gordon Tracks ("Playground Love" and "Easy Going Woman" – Gordon Tracks is a pseudonym of the French singer Thomas Mars from Phoenix), Beck (10 000 Hz Legend)[23] and Jean-Michel Jarre ("Close Your Eyes" from Jarre's Electronica 1: The Time Machine). They also invited Dave Palmer on their 2004 tour and drummer Earl Harvin, Vincent Taurelle and Steve Jones on their 2007 tour.

AIR as an acronym edit

The band has given conflicting information about whether AIR is an acronym. In a clip aired in 2022, Godin told the BBC, “AIR is a acronym. I don't know if you have the same word in English, but it's, uh, ‘amour, imagination, and rêve’.” Dunckel apparently said the same thing, as the interview cuts to a separately filmed portion where Dunckel says “...which means ‘love, imagination, and dreaming’.”[24]

However, in a 1998 interview for Australian magazine Rave, Godin reportedly denied the claim, saying "No. Someone made that up, but it was a really nice thing to do. I wish I could have that idea."[7]

Discography edit

Soundtrack albums:


Collaborative albums:

Mix and remix albums:

Compilation albums:

Awards edit

Air won the award for Best Music Video at the 2011 Byron Bay International Film Festival for the video to "So Light Is Her Footfall".

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. p. 12. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  2. ^ "Air: Twenty Years review – Fantastique? Absolument. Rêveur? Oui" Archived 16 June 2022 at the Wayback Machine. Irish Times, Tony Clayton-Lea eJun 8, 2016
  3. ^ Lesieur, Jennifer: "AIR de A à Z". Étudiant, L', 2002
  4. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 12. ISBN 1-84195-017-3
  5. ^ James, Martin (2003). French Connections: from discotheque to discovery. London: Sanctuary Press. ISBN 1-86074-449-4.
  6. ^ Chris Nickson (March 1998). "Space is the Place | CMJ New Music Monthly". CMJ New Music. CMJ Network, Inc.: 16–. ISSN 1074-6978.
  7. ^ a b Parkhill, Chad (18 March 2008). "Air". Rave Magazine. Brisbane Street Press. Archived from the original on 11 February 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2017.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ Bush, John. "Air". Archived from the original on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d "The Virgin Suicides-Pitchfork". Archived from the original on 16 June 2022. Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  10. ^ Aaron, Charles. "Air, 'Moon Safari' – 100 Best Albums of the Nineties". Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Air to Release Album Inspired by Silent French Film From 1902 – Pitchfork". 21 November 2011. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  12. ^ Murray, Robin (16 April 2010). "Dream Pop". Clash. Archived from the original on 16 June 2022. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  13. ^ Jones, Chris. "BBC – Music – Review of Air – Talkie Walkie". Archived from the original on 16 June 2022. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Bent: The Everlasting Blink". PopMatters. 19 October 2003. Archived from the original on 30 June 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  15. ^ "Air With Alessandro Baricco — City Reading: The Western Story – Chart Attack". 25 March 2003. Archived from the original on 16 June 2022. Retrieved 23 October 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  16. ^ Bevan, Wendy (31 January 2012). "Air". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  17. ^ a b Brinn, David (23 September 2008). "A breath of Fresh Air". Jerusalem Post. Archived from the original on 16 June 2022. Retrieved 23 December 2008. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, classical but also a lot of electronic music like Kraftwerk, then all the English dark rock like Joy Division, Siouxsie And The Banshees, and of course I was a big fan of David Bowie Iggy Pop and Lou Reed
  18. ^ a b perry, kevin (9 January 2012). "Air interview". GQ. Retrieved 25 January 2024.
  19. ^ Richard, Benoit (11 April 2016). "5+5 = Jean-Benoît Dunckel [interview]". Ben. Archived from the original on 16 June 2022. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  20. ^ Dufresne, Charles (27 May 2010). "Vous avez interviewé Air". Retrieved 23 December 2010.
  21. ^ a b Matthew Perpetua (12 October 2009). "Air Interview". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 4 November 2011. Retrieved 2 December 2011.
  22. ^ Sam Pryor (1 November 2009). "AIR: Studio Symmetry". Electronic Musician. Archived from the original on 24 February 2010. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  23. ^ "Air: 10,000 Hz Legend | Album Reviews | Pitchfork". 28 May 2001. Archived from the original on 19 November 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2015.
  24. ^ "The Story of 1998". Top of the Pops. 21 May 2022. (Video on YouTube).

External links edit