Released 20 years ago today, 16 January 1998, Air’s Moon Safari was THE soundtrack to countless post-rave chillout sessions, dinner parties and student digs in the latter part of the last century.
In May of that year, The Independent newspaper sent journalist Mike Higgins along to meet the band’s Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit Dunckel, not without a touch of sarcastic little-Englandness.
‘After decades of pop music that was Eurovision in all but name,’ Higgins writes, ‘the country that inflicted “Joe le Taxi” on an innocent listening public appears to have colonised the wittiest, most playful realms of dance with a nouvelle vague too funky by half.’
As for the band? Dunckel describes the thought process behind the album, outlining the band’s intention “to make people fly when they listen to our music – we are searching for beauty in the chords. We are doing music in an intellectual way: we have a perfect world in our mind.”
It’s a bit of an obtuse statement – as Higgins quips, ‘if he wasn’t so ingenuous and free of pomposity, his pronouncements would be embarrassing’ -but is forgivable given the band’s choice of influences.
“We have been very influenced by Claude Debussy,” says Dunckel. “There is no tension in his music: it is very sweet, light and our music is the same thing.”
Coming on the back of Daft Punk and Etienne de Crecy’s success, Air could have been said to be part of a ‘Gallic wave’ in the 90s – one that they have now surfed for two decades.
Not that they thought success would last, however… particularly on the other side of the English Channel.
“We try not to think too much about it,” says Godin. “England goes so fast in themusic business – you have a hit and afterwards they say ‘Bye- bye’. England needs bands like people need food.”
[Article snippets copyright Newspaper Publishing Plc May 15, 1998. Video taken from the airofficial YouTube feed]