Union is a musical partnership between the two Parisian producers, OJ and Gold. They recently released Analogtronics, a melodic masterpiece of a debut LP that plots the path for music exploration and growth for years to come. Trust us, you’ve never heard anything like this before.On the surface, it may seem like some beautiful beats and melodies strung together. But when you listen to it as a whole, you quickly realize that Union is taking you on a journey, and you’re riding shotgun. We recently sat down with OJ and Gold to talk everything from working with Talib Kweli, to what inspires them and how they create new sounds.
Hit the jump to read the interview.
OJ and Gold, where did you each get your start in music and producing?
OJ : I started around 19 years old with an MPC 3000, after listening to the first Little Brother album. I was so shocked by 9th Wonder’s beats.
Gold : I started piano around 7. I began to have a professional approach to music around 18 when I decided I wanted to become a professional musician. I had plenty of projects and bands and producing came naturally to me. It’s a part of my geek side.
How did you two initially meet up? And when and how did you come to the decision to come together and form Union?
We met at the AES institute, where we took an audio engineering course. Surprisingly, we lived in the same city , in Paris’ suburbs, and started to talk about music while going to the AES. OJ was working on his solo album and needed some keyboards. I played some stuff. Things that came out from our sessions were so exciting that we decided to create more together.
Can you both speak to your creative processes when creating new music?
We don’t have a typical scheme when creating. Sometimes we start from a beat that OJ work on; sometimes from chords I’ve done. Sometimes we have a reference track, but not often. When searching ideas you’ve got to be aware and open-minded. Cool things often happen from mistakes or unexpected manipulation. You’ve got to jump on those moments and use them to get original stuff. A track is often leading to another one, because we keep every idea we leave aside. We try to go as far as possible in production everytime we work. The phrase, “We’ll do it later.” is forbidden. Also, we often re-work sounds after a few days. It is very important because you’ve got fresh ears and hear the music differently. Most of the time we get interesting things on the second or third re-work.
What sort of responses have you all received with the debut album, Analogtronics?
We’ve had a lot of positive feedback. Thank you everyone! What we hear often is that we’ve got a unique sound and that you can listen to the album over and over and still discover new things. People are also digging the visual work done by Jeremi Chenier. We worked a lot together to achieve this! The negative feedback we’ve heard generally talked about the lack of coherence among all the rappers.
Do you all have any artists that you admire creatively that are outside of the music industry?
OJ : Mode creators like “Les frères Elicha.” I Love Eiichiro Oda, the One Piece’s author; definitely one of the best manga ever.
Gold : I love abstract painters from the 1930s, like Mondrian or Miro. They were pioneers and created pieces that marked the century and the world global taste. I love authors like Irving, Dan Simmons or French writer, Houellebecq. I’m also into European comics; the new scene is associating great graphic skills and story-telling. I love that.
What was it like working with Talib Kweli and Elzhi? Both are extremely hard-working artists at different points in their careers, and I’m sure have different styles and ways of laying a verse or track down.
That was great and unexpected. Talib was very professional. He came in the studio, and boom, laid the track down. It was quick and properly done. For Elzhi, the context was different. It wasn’t planned before. We grabbed him after a show he did in Paris. Since the moment he knew he was going to record a verse, he didn’t stop writing with headphones on his head. It was great to see his deep focus and how he created his piece to our album.
Who would you like to work with next on your sophomore effort?
Haha! Everyone we dig at the moment, like Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, Danny Brown, Snoop Dogg, or Mos Def (Yasiin Bey).
A problem that every person encounters is a creative block. When that happens for you while producing, what do you do to shake it off and get back to work?
We just call it a day and come back the day after with fresh ears. Sometimes a good listening session can open our eyes.
What are you inspired by?
Gold : Every sincere musical act. Innovative artists. Non-followers minds. People who push further and further.
OJ : Evolutionary, creative and original ambiance music that reveals the future.
What albums are you currently listening to?
Gold : Tame Impala; Chrome Canyon; and Good Kid, M.A.A.D city (proof that you can be creative and still be at the top of the charts.)
OJ : Good Kid, M.A.A.D city and Until the Quiet Comes.
Can you give our readers some advice on the music industry?
Gold : Don’t expect to make money quickly. Be sincere. Work, work, work, and work. Believe your ears and not what other people say. Connect with good and professional people.
OJ : Only do what you like, and not hype shit. The hype will come after you work hard on your own stuff.
What is next for Union?
We’re working on our second album and doing some production for a young French rapper, but that is still confidential. Stay tuned.