Mr. Oizo – What Lies Beneath

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Who is Mr. Oizo? A yellow sock banging its head to electronic music, while wearing Levi’s jeans? A musical innovator or a movie maker? He is all these and then some more. Many question marks spring out when attempting to profile Mr. Oizo.

A mysterious guy, with a certain “je ne sais quoi”, thick French accent and a down-to-earth attitude could be a good starting point for a portrayal. His real name is Quentin Dupieux, and he is a man of many talents. He discovered the video camera when he was 12 and started filming anything and anyone. At 17 he began making music to illustrate his videos and bought his first synthesiser. While still a teenager, Dupieux began directing short films for French television.

A Musical Wizard

As a musician, his songs bring an innovative value to the music scene. With six EPs and three full-length albums already under his belt, Mr. Oizo has certainly reinvented himself with every project that he took on.

His association with the music world began in 1997, when the famous French dance DJ Laurent Garnier bought a car from Dupieux’s father. Quentin directed the video for Garnier’s “Flashback” single, as well as the video Nightmare Sandwiches starring and featuring music by Garnier.

He is best known for his electro track “Flat Beat”, a Europe-wide hit in 1999 that came to fame after featuring in a series of six Levi’s jeans TV commercials. It’s worth mentioning that Dupieux also directed the ad that “starred” a yellow puppet named Flat Eric madly nodding his head to the sound of the track while riding in a pickup truck. The song got to first places in all European charts from the first day of its release.

Unexpectedly for the adoring fans, Dupieux’s music genius took a different turn with the launch of his “Analog Worms Attack” album also in 1999. It is an experimental album that disappointed those who were expecting similar sounds as “Flat Beat”, but which nevertheless, won the admiration of a more specialized type of public.

In 2004, he discovers the joy of computers, the thing that changes forever the way he makes music. Mr. Oizo produces his second album Moustache (Half a Scissor), an LP full of raw and ridiculous distortions. But somehow, the end result is an original work, loud and weirdly infectious. Moustache (Half a Scissor) features 17 tracks that were considerably acclaimed and praised in the electronic music circles. The two-minute songs, each with its own “personality”, employ a variety of production techniques that sometimes sound like broken music.

After Moustache (Half a Scissor), the public finally recognized Dupieux’s own way of song writing as an equally enjoyable part of his work, although different from his remixes or video productions.

In 2006 he meets the guys at the now-so-famous Ed Banger Records, and the following year launches a five-track EP called Transexual, on the French label imprint. This features one of the best electronic tracks of the year – “Patrick122”. Dupieux’ genius extracted a few samples from a 70s disco group to serve as the central of “Patrick 122” over. The vocals and saxophone solo come from the New York-based Gary’s Gang and their “Do It At the Disco” track.

Although not technically classified as a remix due to the amount of original production tricks Dupieux incorporates, it comes quite close. Through faulty effects and vocal loops, the French producer brilliantly incorporates the saxophone solo near the song ending.

In 2007 and 2008, Dupieux writes and produces “Steak”, his first feature movie in which the famous French comedians Eric and Ramzy are playing. Ed Banger “A-listers” SebastiAn, Kavinsky and Sebastien Tellier are also centre stage. With an intriguing storyline centred on facelifts, the movie gives Dupieux the opportunity to create the material for yet another music album – “Lambs Anger”.

The 17 tracks on “Lambs Anger” have a whiff of both old-school rave and the contemporary electro style Ed Banger is known for. Even so, Dupieux makes sure his personal touch is heard and felt on the entire album. “Lambs Anger” brings to the table a selection of “Oizo” sounds and rhythms and in some instances, even a strange approach to composition. If only for these reasons, “Lambs Anger” should be listened to by all electronic fans at least a few times. It is like painting in which one can find new meanings each time they look at it from a different angle. What catches the attention is the intro that claims that some of the songs on the record “are good, some are bad, some are just OK.” Which ones are which, Dupieux lets us discover for ourselves.

Quentin Dupieux about Mr. Oizo

Contrary to being a filmmaker/video producer, music remains his life. Although before starting playing himself he wasn’t much of a club goer, his friendship with Laurent Garnier brought him closer to the dance scene. “I enjoy playing in clubs a lot,” he says in one of his interviews on www.inthemix.com.au. “I try different stuff. It’s quite good to play your music loud. It gives you power. I am not what you call a good DJ – I don’t have any technique. I can do anything. I’m like…protected by my name. Even if I just meet ten fans, I am just expecting them to scream and dance.”

Even so, he claims he gets bored very easily and needs to spread his time among many artistic pursuits because of a short attention span. “To me, it’s really boring to do just one thing. I am also drawing stuff. When I only do music, I’m bored quite quick.”

The secret to his success? Perseverant? Perfectionist? Visionary?

According to Depieux’s words published on the French website www.lemonsound.com: “Every day I find myself getting better at what I do; I progress and I never look back. I don’t regret anything, except maybe when I was four and nothing important was going on. When I create a piece of music, it is always the best piece of music ever created by me. Otherwise, I don’t do it. If I finish a track, that is truly my best one so far. I don’t evaluate according to the rest when I say this, it is something that happens spontaneously. If I am excited by a track, it is always the best, it is always the latest. Each track every minute when I was creating it, was the best track possible.” 

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