steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
blankred.jpg (4669 bytes)
with DAT politics

DAT Politics came alive after the dissolution of Tone Rec, an experimental electronic act that produced several records for the Sub Rosa label. Compared to the atmospheric output of their previous incarnation, DAT is like a barrage of karate kicks to the face. As the group has matured, their music has turned from weird to weird-and-damn-catchy, wedding digital noise with hummable melodies and indisputably danceable rhythms. Their latest, Mad Kit, exudes the influence of compatriots Justice, marking their most accessible and dancefloor-ready record yet.

I spoke with the members of DAT through email as they embarked on their North American tour.


mt: Let's start simple: Name something interesting and/or bizarre about each member of DAT Politics.

dat: We are all family related!

mt: How so?

dat: That's too private :)

mt: Fair enough! In an interview some time after the release of Plugs Plus, Claude remarked that you don't know how to write "songs" in a traditional sense. Has this changed at all?

dat: We grew up with noise rock and minimal electronica; the noisy sound from our early releases is probably related to that. But we love pop culture and we always wanted to inject that into our productions (music and images). We also tried to create a kind of hybrid music, a mixture between those pop influences and a noisy underground background.

Mad Kit contains all the elements which were already in our music, but we spent almost a year to record it, which is a lot for us. We tried to clean up our productions. We really wanted the tracks to be more readable. We had this goal from the beginning to create pop music, to concentrate on simple tricks like the efficiency of the chorus or the beats. But it's true that our last releases are definitely more pop! Twisted pop probably, but the influences are pretty much the same from the beginning - conscious or unconscious, everything is melted down to create our own music.

mt: What was your motivation to make the music more "poppy?" Was this a reach-out to the audience, or does it reflect your own changing tastes?

dat: When we started to do music together, we were not aware that the music industry has so many rules. Once you have a tag it's very hard get rid of it. We had tracks which didn't fit into to the Tone Rec project, so we thought that it would be easier for everyone to create a new name, concept, etcetera... There were different people involved as well. I think we also get bored easily; we don't like too much to do the same track over and over. The project started off instrumental, then we had guests singing on it and now we're singing ourselves. We always try to evolve.

mt: Listening to your early Tone Rec work (Thugny - Trugny in particular), it's clear I'm listening to a completely different band. How come things have become so much more "accessible"? Do you ever dream of going back to more atmospheric, experimental music?

dat: Tone Rec was a different project. There were also other people involved. We created DAT Politics 'cause we wanted to do something else. The experimental scene at the time was not so open-minded. We just wanted to open the doors and break the fire walls. Maybe, as we like soundtracks, we might one day create a new project dedicated to more atmospheric music, yes!

mt: Do you ever go back and listen to the old Tone Rec material? What do you think of it now?

It's funny that you talk about that, cause we just spent few days in NYC last week and a good friend of us played some Tone Rec tracks... That was kind of weird and also good 'cause there were a lot of details that we didn't remember. We're not ashamed of them. Maybe nowadays we would do it differently, but that sounded right at the time for us. It also brings back a lot of memories.

mt: While still unconventional, Mad Kit is a very dancefloor-ready album, bolstered by melodies and rhythms influenced by the electro scene (especially the "Own Thing" duo). Does this relate to the sort of the music you listen to on your own? Are you all ardent Justice fans?

dat: I think that Mad Kit is the album which is closest to our live set. On stage, we always tried to play with this wild, rough energetic aspect of our sound. For the records, we are creating songs, but when we have to perform them live we also want to give something else to the audience, something even more energetic and crazier. So don't expect to get the track exactly in the same version as on the album. We really like to keep this techno noise part, it helps us to stay away from the routine. It's funnier as well! I think that Justice definitely brought something fresh in the scene! We like the digital noise aspect of their music and especially their "Water of Nazareth".

mt: So that noise element is fairly integral to the DAT Politics sound. I think it gives your music a welcome edge. What do you think of music that is basically pure noise?

dat: We were more into noise music back in the days, but I particularly like it when it's mixed up with other elements as well. People like Sonic Youth, Boredoms, My Bloody Valentine were very important for us when we started to do music, and they also had some pop influences. We were also fans of electronic music like Kraftwerk or S-Express and soundtrack music. So we always had this desire to bring all those elements into our music.

mt: I think "Magnetic Attraction" and "Own Thing (Part 1)" are two of Mad Kit's strongest tracks. Are there any songs on the record that are particularly dear to you? How come?

dat: My favourite song is "Freak Me Out." It was the first song we did for this album and one which didn't change too much from the beginning to the end version. I also like "Bad Dream Machine", and "Own Thing Part I" which I find catchy. But it's really strange and subjective to speak about your own music that way, cause you know all the tiny details and you can picture how it was made and everything...

mt: On that note, did the you guys use a different method to making Mad Kit than you have on past albums?

dat: Actually yes, this time we spent about a year to record the whole album. Usually, when we decide to record new music, we just lock ourselves in our studio and work every day on it. This takes place over a few months - max 6 months.

For Mad Kit the process was different. We would work for 2 weeks together, and then each of us kept the tracks to be able to listen to them. And two weeks later we would meet again with new ideas. This process took place over a year. It was good to have some time off.

It's funny to think that our early recordings were made in a very short time. For instance, "Villiger" was recorded live and "Tracto Flirt" was made in one week...

mt: While your recent material provides a fresh take on dance music, earlier DAT Politics records - Plugs Plus, for example - seem to wed melody and experimentation in a much freer manner. Even pop songs like "Pie" are wilder than anything on your more recent records. Are these liberties a thing of the past? How do new fans react to older records, and do you ever go back and listen to them?

dat: I think that, in some ways, we're more aware about our accoutrement and stuff, and we know how to use it better. In the past we didn't care that much about the production and we also allowed a big space to "mistakes". I think that we continue to include this aspect in our music but we also want to evolve and try not to use a kind of recipe. The fans' reactions could be different, it really depends on their background too. We have people who totally understand that evolution. Some new fans who easily got to our old albums, and discover a new sonic world. And some who just like the new tracks... There is no typical fan. We play mostly in front of a very young crowd nowadays, and now they really have their own eclectic way to listen to music as well.

mt: What happened to Ski-pp?

dat: Ski-pp has been in standby for a while now. It was funny somehow to be on the other side, like choose other artists, take care of the distribution deals... Managing a label is a tough job as well, and as we spend a lot of time on DAT politics, we couldn't really work on that other activity as well as we wanted to. We keep the platform and name for our design projects.

mt: Do you think there will be more Ski-pp releases in the future? Do you guys still have a fair amount of inventory left over?

dat: Honestly, I don't know. Maybe we'll do another label one day.

mt: Visually, the DAT Politics aesthetic sense tends towards collages between digital, photographic, and hand-drawn elements. How important is visual art & design to the band, and why do you think this style recurs so frequently through Dat Politics record covers and Ski-pp releases?

dat: As we all come from visual art, we always created our cover design for DAT Politics... graffic works like flyers or stickers; even band pix. The sound and the visuals come together. It's a kind of global package.

But, I think that we totally create our music the same way as we do our design. We like to mix - make a link between stuff that we like - to create something really different. We like to use eclectic references, and we don't want them to be too obvious. Our world is always cryptic and nerdy.

mt: Where in the world does DAT Politics seem to be most popular?

dat: We played in South America recently and people seemed to be really into our music. Japan has always been a very good place for our music too. I think that we have a solid base of fans spread out over the whole world!

mt: Can this DAT-globalization be attributed mainly to the internet?

dat: Of course internet was really important for us at the time and it's even more now! For instance, I wouldn't be able to talk to you right now without it.

mt: What has the response to Mad Kit been so far?

dat: Actually it was good! We started to play the new live set in February of this year, and we are really amazed about the reactions!

mt: That doesn't surprise me at all! Are there any plans to put out Mad Kit on vinyl?

dat; Not yet, which is a pity, but the music industry has been suffering from the internet, too, and vinyl is still expensive.

mt: What other current music makers do you admire?

dat: Personally I got back to old school hip-hop like Grandmaster Flash.... Gaetan is really into Italian soundtracks. But we all love stuff like Rye Rye, Sebastian or the new Peaches' album.

mt: What do you do when you're not making or playing music?

dat: Watching movies, partying with our friends, taking pictures....

mt: So is music a full-time job?

dat: Yes it is! When we're not on tour we do music, or take pictures or design stuff for DAT Politics, or write lyrics...

mt: Last but not least: What is your favourite colour? Why?

Tout Bleu! Listen to "Plugs Plus ! :)

interview conducted by Michael Tau
June 2009
published July 1, 2009



all content copyright 2009