INTERVIEW

“Xavier de Rosnay, one half of Justice, is in a car, somewhere in Paris. “I’m going to a she’s dinner,” he tells me, when I enquire of his health. A what? “A she’s dinner.” Yes, I thought that’s what he said. “Yes, a dinner all made of she’s. No bread, no meat, just she’s,” he […]

“Xavier de Rosnay, one half of Justice, is in a car, somewhere in Paris. “I’m going to a she’s dinner,” he tells me, when I enquire of his health. A what? “A she’s dinner.” Yes, I thought that’s what he said. “Yes, a dinner all made of she’s. No bread, no meat, just she’s,” he continues. I frown into my phone. Then as the penny drops, the line goes dead and I’m greeted by the French equivalent of the BT woman telling me to tenir (hold). So I tenir.

For the purposes of atmosphere, I imagine Xavier’s car hurtling between Lacoste-clad kids riding Vespas with no helmets, past tabacs and pavement caf√©s, and realise that I’ve been transported to a weird parallel Paris, where everything abides by the word of Justice and where the world is pretty damn peachy, thanks very much, just because Justice say it is. The illogical makes sense, through sheer persuasion. Like a brighter, Frencher Liam Gallagher, Xavier exudes a nonchalant invincibility that doesn’t plan, just achieves. You want a smash hit single and then an astonishingly accomplished debut album? Fine. You want a cheese (or ‘she’s’ in a thick French accent) dinner? Can do.

Justice’s music is unquestionably French, direct from the same school of Parisian dance chic as Daft Punk and Alex Gopher, and their nationality undeniably augments their cool. But Xavier thinks differently. “We don’t sound like French dance music to me. It’s more like French novelty pop from the late seventies.” I raise an eyebrow as I compare ‘We Are Your Friends’ to Serge Gainsbourg singing ‘Je T’aime’ in camp, Clouseau-accented English.

Thankfully, Xavier picks up the pieces: “The melodies, the music, the chord progressions – it’s French novelty pop. It’s just a natural influence.”

And what about non-musical influences? After all, dance outfits can be prone to the “concept” as inspiration, and a quick scan of Justice’s history reveals tracks called ‘Genesis’, ‘Let There Be Light’ and ‘Waters of Nazareth’, an album named ‘‚Ć’ and a huge neon crucifix as a stage prop. An obvious theme certainly starts to emerge, but Xavier is evasive when I quiz him. “What do you think?” he asks me back. I tell him that I think they flirt with Christian imagery to make things seem more epic and mysterious, but remind him that I’m not the one being interviewed. “I think there are a lot of reasons why we make our stuff like this,” he says, “and the one you just said was one of them.” So does that mean he doesn’t know, or he’s just not telling? “God only knows”, he says with an audible smile. “We are all guided by voices.”

He’s not letting on, then, and actually a bit of Gallic mystery is quite charming. And after all, we’re still very much in Justiceland, where explanations seem slightly superfluous. Xavier presents the same explanation-free synopsis of Justice’s songwriting process. “We aren’t technicians, we don’t use computers, so we just get on with things,” he explains. “When we were making Waters of Nazareth, for example, we thought, ‘let’s make a track with church music and mud,’ so we just did it.” He leaves a pause, presumably so I can ask myself if he actually just said that. But by this stage, I’m beyond questioning. I think he said mud. He could’ve meant Mud. In truth, he could’ve said or meant something different altogether, but it doesn’t really matter. We’re through the looking glass now – you just have to trust in Justice and enjoy the chaos.

And therein lies their joy. Beneath the hype, there’s an underlying casualness to everything – if it can be done, great, if it can’t, then it’s probably not worth doing. As a parting shot, I ask Xavier about Justice’s future, and he’s typically cocksure, unconcerned about how long he’ll have this level of exposure and opportunity. “We don’t know for the moment. If in six months we have an idea, we’ll make it. If in ten years we have an idea, we’ll make it.” In Justiceland it makes perfect sense. And everywhere else? Well, with this kind of confidence, it doesn’t really matter.”

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