French electroswing band Caravan Palace kicked off their European Summer Tour in Switzerland this month. The tour will run until August 26, finishing with a two-night finale in France.

After two years of hard work writing and recording, the band released their second album, “Panic”, in early March.  “Panic” is a lively album mixing together jazz, electropop and swing.

Caravan Palace first formed back in 2005 when guitarist Arnaud Vital, violinist Hugues Payen and double bass player Charles Delaporte met while creating a soundtrack for a silent pornographic film production company. Here they discovered their shared passion for electronic music.

The trio was soon would soon sought out by producer Loic Barrouk, who brought in electronics and trombone player DJ Antoine and lead singer Colotis Zoe to round out the group. Caravan Palace was now complete and made their live debut in 2007 at the Django Reinhardt Jazz Festival.

Their single “Dirty Side” has already been released and is available for download. The band is looking for their new album to be just as well received as their first self-titled album, which was released in 2008 and sold over 150,000 copies.

Now with their new tour underway and four shows under their belt, the quintet is gearing up for May 12 when they perform live at the Free Fest Troja in Prague.

Blast Magazine reached out to Caravan Palace’s Hugues Payen to talk about their tour and the upbeat and vibrant second album.

BLAST: What makes “Panic” different from your first album?

HUGHES PAYEN: For this album, we tried to find other ways to make our music. A lot of “electroswing” artists appeared this last four years, and we had [a] mind to show new aspects of that genre, experiment with things. Swing is not a monolithic kind of music, it offers a wide variety of tempo and moods, and we had to explore each one of them to extend our “playing field!”

BLAST Why choose the name “Panic”?:

HP: [If] you put us in a room with about 15 synths; you have . . . “Panic!” C
oncerning that name, it is also the title of a song in the album. A single word everyone can understand, worldwide, and a fabulous starting point for developing a whole universe. And it may refer to our unconscious fear towards the “second album syndrome”!

BLAST Your trademark is “electroswing.” How would you describe your sound to those who are not familiar with your music?:

HP: Basically, electroswing consists [of] mixing together swing music (from [the 1930s] to 50s) and modern electronic music. It results in a strange feeling of time traveling. When we began in 2005, there weren’t [many] artists to refer to, except G-Swing’s “Swing for Modern Clubbing”, Nicolas Repac’s “Swing Swing”, or “Get a Move On” from Mr Scruff. In Austria, another artist was working on the same material, Parov Stelar. And today, you can go and dance in electroswing parties in almost every big city in the world! It is an international network we are glad to be a part of!

BLAST: What is your single “Dirty Side” about?

HP: It is above all a wink to the jazz standard “On the Sunny Side of the Street”! In fact, we do not have a “literary” approach to the text. We expect it to swing, not to promote an idea, or not even to tell a story! Historically, swing is about love, jealousy, dance, singing, [and] not much [else]. Our singer, who writes the lyrics, is sometimes a little bit disappointed about that, but we ask her to be [as] concise [as] she can.

BLAST: How has the response to your new album been from your fans?

HP: We are aware that “Panic” is not the “easy” album some expected, but the real fans surely listened to it several times, and we are sure that they then discovered what the point of it is [and] what it has to offer. We are convinced that our fans prefer to enjoy a new album [rather] than something they already heard. Now is the time to play it, for music is never more accessible than on stage!!

BLAST: What is your creative process when writing your music? Do you all work together or is it individual?

HP: Both of it! We are four co-composers. Every song was born in one of our personal computers. Then, it is sent to the other members, and if everyone agrees, we keep on working on it. It’s quite a long process, because everyone has to “validate” the littlest detail! That’s why it is almost impossible for us to compose on tour for now!

BLAST: You recently kicked off your summer European tour. What is the best part about touring together?

HP: To make common memories! For better or for worse, we’re stuck in a bus, traveling together to unknown destinations, where we all meet, work and have fun with strangers, and we like it! For that tour, the technical team has changed, and we welcomed a new musician, Paul Marie, a talented vibraphonist and percussionist. It’s a great way to get to know each other, and sometimes, it’s surprising!

BLAST: Are there any venues you are especially looking forward to?

HP: In France, we’ll play at Jazz in Marciac, and Les Francofolies de La Rochelle, two important but very different festivals, where we already played and have especially good memories! Our European tour will surely be full of discoveries and surprises!

BLAST: What is the best part of being able to perform live and tour?

HP: Maybe to let the people hear our music “alive”, with real instruments and real bodies! As a project, nobody knows what we exactly look like, and when the public comes to our shows, they finally can “put faces” to the name, and maybe feel a little closer to our universe.

About The Author

Regina Sibilia is a Blast intern

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