Le Galaxie set off for new frontiers with big label debut

The Irish electronica outfit are more than happy with the experience of creating their big label debut, writes Ed Power

LE GALAXIE’S Michael Pope would like to clear something up. Jimmy Somerville was not scheduled to guest on his band’s new album.

Rumours that the helium-tonsilled 1980s singer was to collaborate with the Dublin electronica group got into the media several years ago. There was never any foundation to the speculation.

Certainly Somerville’s absence should not be interpreted as a snub.

“We had wanted him to do the vocals on ‘Humanise’,” says Pope.

“Nothing was ever arranged. At the time, he had a viral hit with a YouTube video. A lot of people were discovering him again. Maybe we got lost in all the noise.”

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Somerville’s unavailability was not a deal-breaker, fortunately. Le Galaxie recruited an alternative vocalist and their LP, Le Club, in no way suffers from the lack of big-name cameos.

If anything, the air of anonymity surrounding the project is to its benefit: there’s always been something vaguely mysterious about the quartet, who used to perform in rubber masks and have long subsumed their individual personalities to Le Galaxie’s collective identity.

“With the exception of one or two tracks, nothing had ever really captured the Le Galaxie live experience,” says Pope.

“We’re a band that plays dance music. It can be hard to get that down on tape. It’s what we set out to do with this record. We were fortunate in that we met the right producer, Eric Broucek, who has recorded with [cult punk-funk outfit] LCD Soundsystem. We sent him some tracks, he liked them — we agreed an ‘independent’ price and off we went.”

The project came together in piece-meal fashion. There were good reasons for that.

Le Galaxie is a full time enterprise — to pay the rent the band have to tour a lot. So they would squeeze their studio sessions into those periods when they were off the road.

While it might appear an unconventional approach, Le Galaxie have thrived in this stop-start environment. It’s how they have always worked and appeals to their sense of spontaneity.

Le Club appears on Universal Ireland. This might be considered a surprise. Through their career, Le Galaxie have been proudly independent.

The list of Irish bands that have signed to the local subsidiary of a major label and enjoyed the experience is short.

What prompted Le Galaxie to get into bed with the Man?

“We believe they can help us raise awareness” says Pope.

“Maybe someone will hear us on the radio or read about us and buy a ticket to a gig. It took eight months to hammer out an arrangement. We certainly didn’t rush into anything. The album was already recorded — only then did Universal enter the picture.

“What impressed us was that they didn’t want to change anything. They told us they loved Le Galaxie as we were. And we are confident we know what is best for us. At this point, we are a well-oiled machine.”

He acknowledges that, for a spell, Le Galaxie were in danger of wearing out their welcome.

For several years, the group were irritatingly ubiquitous – their logo on the bill of practically every music festival in the country.

“I think we’ve played all the festivals in Ireland,” says Pope.

“You name it, we were there. We came to understand that you have to give people a chance to miss you. Sometimes you see the line-up of a big festival and you might groan on the inside… thinking ‘oh there the lads are again’. It takes the sense of an event out of it a little. It would be nice to play every festival going. We will be choosing our battles a little this summer I think.”

Le Club is out now. Le Galaxie play Cyprus Avenue, Cork, on Sunday.

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