Mr Oizo Humanising Music

Quentin Dupieux is trying to inject soul into his music with his brand of "various electronics mixed with spirit."
Text byDavid Hellqvist

As Mr. Oizo prepares to release third album Lambs Anger, some people might still argue that the term ‘one-hit-wonder’ was coined with him and Flat Eric in mind after their irritatingly infectious track swept through Europe like a sonic plague in 1999. The song, accompanied by a yellow head-banging dog, was part of a Levi’s ad, but it soon landed the Number One spot in six different single charts that spring.

Ten years later and Mr. Oizo – or Quentin Dupieux to his mother – deserves praise for his new album, which is full of electro stompers and without annoying canines. But in the words of LL Cool J: Don’t call it a comeback. Paris-born Dupieux has kept busy and, except for releasing music on the Ed Banger imprint, has also dabbled in filmmaking; in 2007 he wrote and directed Steak, his first feature film, for which he produced the soundtrack as well.

Laurent Garnier’s F.Com label put out Mr. Oizo’s first albums, but he recently changed to Ed Banger. “It was a natural process. I was considered a bit of a weirdo at F.Com and I had been friends with Pedro [Winter, Ed Banger’s owner] for years, since his days with Daft Punk”, he says. But Oizo isn’t keen on being connected with the French Sound. “I’m not part of a movement”, he says firmly. “Musically, I can relate to Justice and SebastiAn, but not Daft Punk – their music is too intellectual”.

It’s been four years since his last album Moustache (Half a Scissor) and Mr. Oizo must have saved just about all his ideas for the 17-track long Lambs Anger. “Yeah, it just came out. I wasn’t thinking about it, it was totally unconscious“. His favourite track is Pourriture 2 because of its successful guitar riff that he pulled off on the computer. Dupieux says he struggled to make music on his laptop a few years ago, but now he couldn’t go back: “I’m in control now. Analogue is cool but it’s too slow”.

But Mr. Oizo is in no hurry. He’s more concerned with the soul of his music, which he describes as “various electronics mixed with spirit”. It’s less about technology. “I hope you’ll feel my presence, I’m trying to humanise music and to be myself”. That can be difficult, especially after the worldwide success of Flat Beat, but Dupieux maintains a positive perspective. “After my hit I had to fight not to fall into a trap musically. It was tough, but I’m glad it happened because now I don’t have to worry about having a Number One single anymore. I can record a chainsaw if I want to now!”

But his MySpace features a short clip where Mr. Oizo, with cut-in clips from an old movie, appears to slice Flat Eric’s eye with a knife. Is that Oizo dealing with old (yellow) ghosts? “No, it’s a reference to an old movie, a nod to an artistic movement”. The film clip comes from Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel’s surrealist flick Le Chien Andalou, and Dupieux is enacting the scene where a woman’s eye is sliced, but “I only cut small eggs, not Flat Eric”, he laughs.

So the circle is closed; films and music are equally important. He left Steak longing for the privacy of his studio, but now a new film project beckons. He hopes to start filming Reality in September, and then we can start waiting for a new album. But he won’t do the soundtrack himself: “It’s too close for me, better to get someone else to do that, maybe Philip Glass”.

Mr Oizo's album Lamb's Anger out now.

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