Coachella Band Preview: M83

Another week less until Coachella 2016 means another week less to listen to your favorite bands performing in the desert this April. I have plenty of favorites playing the festival this spring, but one I wanted to preview is French/American band M83. They’ve been out of the picture for a few years since their last album came out 5 years ago. With multiple festival appearances and a new album slated for release this year, 2016 looks to be a big year for the band.

M83 was originally a duo formed in 2001 by Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau. The band’s debut self-titled album was released in the spring of 2001. It didn’t receive much acknowledgment outside of Europe. It wasn’t until the band released their second album Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts that their name reached the shores of North America. However, the album was released in Europe in spring 2003, but did not get popular in North America until the following summer. After M83 toured to promote their second album, Fromageau left the band and Gonzalez went on to record the following two albums, Before the Dawn Heals Us (2005) and Digital Shades Vol. 1 (2007), by himself.

M83’s fifth album, Saturdays = Youth, was released in 2008 and was the band’s first album that contained a typical song structure and form. It was at this point that Gonzalez began to receive consistent help from others in the recording process. One person in particular was vocalist and keyboardist, Morgan Kibby. The band then went on to support acts like Kings of Leon, The Killers, and Depeche Mode in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 Gonzalez made a permanent move to Los Angeles, which, in a way, revamped the band. By 2011 Gonzalez began writing songs for the band’s sixth album, which he stated would be a double album. In July 2011 the first single from the new album “Midnight City” was released. It was M83’s breakthrough hit. The album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, was released on October 18, 2011. It became the band’s most successful album to date, debuting at number 15 on Billboard’s 200 and receiving honors from Pitchfork on their list of Top 50 Albums of 2011 . It also received a Grammy nomination in 2013 for Best Alternative Music Album.

Since Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, M83 has not released an album. However, it was announced via Twitter in mid-December 2015 that the band recently completed a new album. It’s safe to say we can expect a new release sometime this year. In the meantime though, the group re-released some of their older albums in late 2015.

M83 got their name from the galaxy Messier 83, nicknamed M83. Their sound perfectly reflects their name too. Their synthpop, ambient style music has a super trippy, outer space feel to it. When you listen to their music and close your eyes, you can literally imagine yourself floating through the universe. Their early music is especially like that since, as I mentioned, most of their songs didn’t have much form or structure until their fifth album.

I first heard of M83 around late 2011-early 2012. Midnight City was of course the first song I downloaded by the group. I then proceeded to download a few other songs in the following months. M83 was a tough band for me to get into, since their music was pretty different from what I was listening to at the time. However, I really took a liking to the song “Steve McQueen” off Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. It became my go-to for M83 songs.

This won’t be M83’s first time at Coachella. They last played in 2012 in the wake of their success from their most recent album. They play Friday this year. I’m sure they’ll play many old favorites and a few new songs as well. It’s bound to be a good set whether they’re one of your faves, whether you missed seeing them in 2011-2012, whether you got into them after that time, or whether you’re just hearing about them now. To get you ready for their set though, I recommend these jams:

  1. Midnight City
  2. We Own the Sky
  3. Steve McQueen
  4. Wait
  5. Splendor
  6. Kim & Jessie
  7. Reunion
  8. Intro
  9. Outro
  10. Skin of the Night
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