Originally published in Third Coast Review
“Le Monde” Magazine in France has dubbed Polo & Pan the “maîtres de l’électro joyeuse,” which translates to “the masters of joyful electro.” And the DJ duo strives to bring nothing but positivity to its audiences, with its mixes of disco, 1930s vocals, psychedelic rock from the ‘70s and more.
Polo & Pan will perform at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall on Thursday, June 14 during its first North American tour as a duo. Polo is the stage name of Paul Armand-Delille, who met “Peter Pan,” or Alexandre Grynszpan, six years ago at one of Paris’s underground dance clubs named Le Baron. They were playing separate sets at the time as the club’s resident DJs.
Le Baron hosts a number of acts, ranging from a Tokyo DJ who choreographed robot twins in synch to his music, to burlesque dancers and more. Grafitti on the walls of Le Baron embodies the mischief those walls are about to witness. The logo of Le Baron is the smiling Cheshire cat whose one eye winks, as the other, just a circle surrounding a dot, peers over the bar’s patrons. It wears a top hat resembling that of the Mad Hatter from that iconic and trippy cartoon flick, “Alice in Wonderland.”
Polo & Pan are a good fit then, displaying a combination of samplings from a popular 1930s Italian vocalist and a modern disco synth-beat to debut as a duo with its EP, “Rivolta.” The DJ duo presents surprising combinations throughout its first record, Caravelle, comparable to the joyful mischief that Le Baron clubs aim for their patrons to experience.
Some of these paradoxical moments can be found in tracks like “Coeur croise,” which makes you feel like you’re walking through a broken down French carnival, whose ominous tones just regress you to a simpler time, to childhood. This song implements the Nouvelle Vague genre of 1960s France, which we in the United States know as New Wave. The video for this song was far from what I expected to see. Pablo Maestres shot the video; “We loved the colorful story board and trusted him to make something fun and beautiful.”
Fun and beauty are the two most important elements in Polo & Pan discography.
Paul and Alex told me that they love to refer to their favorite childhood movies when creating music videos. “The Wizard of Oz” plays a significant role, as do “Alice in Wonderland” and of course, “Peter Pan.”
They went on to share with me that writing a song can be like painting. They said, “when you walk away for a few days, you can come back with fresh look [sic] and the right angle to make it better,” adding that one single thing won’t influence their writing, like their icon, France Gall, or one city, like Istanbul. Movies, books, cultures and a musical sample can bring to their ears the mixes they set out to compose.
The DJs aspire to write the score for a major animated motion picture in their favorite U.S. city, Los Angeles. The duo described Chicago as a “mythical music city” where great things can happen on their debut stop here. And the whole reason the duo felt confident enough to leave Europe and conquer the U.S. with their own mystical sound was you.
“I guess since we started getting a lot DMs from US fans. I guess having released a full album, we’ve been touring for roughly a year, we now have a real proposal on stage to come tackle the U.S.,” they tell me.
Buy your tickets now to ride the caravel next Thursday at Lincoln Hall in Chicago.