French house-electro duo Polo & Pan are the children of French Touch who make music that sounds like it's been kissed by the golden rays of the Southern California sun. There's a feeling of proper unadulterated joy that radiates from their productions.
Beginning their musical odyssey over a decade ago as DJs, Paul Armand-Delille (a.k.a. Polo) and Alexandre Grynszpan (a.k.a. Pan), the pair flex an omnivorous musical palate with influences ranging from French chanson to Brazilian tropicalia to '70s American AM pop, with elements of classical music thrown in for good measure. Throw it into a blender with a twist of modern house and electronic elements, and you've got signature tropical concoctions like 2017's breakthrough Caravelle and 2021's expansive follow-up Cyclorama — albums that manage to feel both familiar and forward-thinking.
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Just as the weather warms up, Polo & Pan is heading back to SoCal to play San Diego’s house and techno extravaganza CRSSD on March 4 (there's probably no better way to experience Polo & Pan than with both feet in the Pacific Ocean while they throw down on stage) and a solo gig at LA’s Belasco Theater on March 5. Lucky for us, they’ve got a tasty aperitif in the form of a guest mix exclusively for FREAKS ONLY. Hit play to soundtrack our discussion about how they work, dream collaborators, and plans for the year ahead (spoiler alert: there's new music coming soon — keep reading!).
KCRW: Was there a record or band that you bonded over early on?
Polo & Pan: We bonded a lot around classical music with our favorites being Debussy (Paul) and Ravel (Alexandre). These two French composers were also friends IRL and would spend a lot of time comparing compositions. We feel some kind of spiritual kinship with these two legends.
In terms of roles, is there any area of production that one of you is much better at that the other defers on? Or are your responsibilities even across the board?
Polo & Pan: It’s really quite even across the board in terms of who writes lyrics, harmony or produces beats. We have become quite interchangeable over the years. It’s always the rule of the best idea in the studio. No roles are predefined!
Do you have a regular work schedule in the studio, or do you tend to work in spurts when inspiration strikes?
Paul: I like to schedule work everyday in the afternoon, I like to tend to the studio and am more of a regular schedule guy.
Alexandre: On the contrary, I need to wait for inspiration. It doesn’t work for me to be on a very regular schedule, I also enjoy working a bunch on my laptop from home, but I make sure I am regularly in the studio to make all the songs move forward together.
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Do you have a favorite piece of hardware?
Polo & Pan: Hard to choose a favorite but we love the Rhodes piano, the Minimoog, and the Manley Variable Mu Stereo Compressor.
Is there anyone on your wishlist in terms of a dream collaborator?
Polo & Pan: We would love to work with Snoop Dogg and Hans Zimmer.
What was it like for you headlining a show at the Hollywood Bowl last year?
Polo & Pan: It was an amazing show and a tremendous honor. We were quite nervous as we built this up mentally as being the pinnacle of musical achievements. A lot of our loved ones attended, which added a layer of anticipation. But pretty much once on stage, we let go of our stress and enjoyed every minute of it!
What kind of alterations, if any, do you make to your tracks when you play live?
Polo & Pan: That really depends on the song. As a general rule we try to stick to the studio version of songs when we present them first live. We might alter the length, some textures we play as leads once we get some stage feedback. Also a big part of the creation for the live show is to design the transitions. We put the same sense of detail into the transitions as we do on the songs.
Is there a song that stands out as a favorite when you're playing live?
Polo & Pan: Not really, but we love the vibe on "Feel Good", "Mexicali", "Requiem", "Magic", and "Nanã". We enjoy experiencing the range of musical colors in the live show!
What do you think it is about Polo & Pan's sound that resonates so much with audiences in Southern California in particular?
Polo & Pan: It’s chill and fun and full of sunshine :-)
What can people expect from your set at CRSSD Fest this year?
Polo & Pan: CRSSD is one of our favorite festivals. Our show has really upgraded on a lot of levels. We’re coming back bigger and better this year, and we're looking forward to seeing some of the good friends we made in San Diego!
What can Polo & Pan fans expect from you in 2023? Any new music on the horizon?
Polo & Pan: We have a few tracks that are ready. We might release them as singles or an EP this spring. Stay tuned around May!