hen Axel Rondeau and Vincent Teoule began making music together as The Geek x Vrv in 2013 they never intended on gaining international fame, they were just trying to have fun. Despite the Parisian duo's initial humble intentions, their unique fusion of funk, hip-hop and electronic music struck a chord with the masses and they would find themselves on their first US tour just two years after embarking on the project. From then on their success grew exponentially with massive tours in Europe, collaborations with the biggest names in the scene and releases that have garnered millions of plays. We had the chance to speak to them in Chicago as they toured the States for the third time and they seemed a bit surprised by their success.
Vincent: We feel blessed to be able to play again in Chicago, for the third time, every time its a good gig. For us, coming from Europe, it's a pretty big deal like ‘Whoa some people are listening to us on the other side of the Ocean.'
Axel: We feel lucky
Although they are quite used to touring now, they are still reaching milestones that were thought to be unreachable such as collaborating with artists that inspired them to start making music. A day before our interview The Geek x Vrv released a collaboration with Gramatik called 'Royale With G's 2013' which reminded Axel of his first time meeting the renowned producer and how they would eventually tour with him.
Axel: I met him for the first time in Paris at the Nouveau Casino and I remember when I met him I was wearing all Pretty Lights shit like hat, jacket and things and he said ‘Oh you’re a Pretty Lights fan’ and I said ‘ Well you don’t do merch, so yeah’ And my English was pretty shitty so my manager was there and he translated everything like ‘Oh tell him he’s good and I like his music!’ I was pretty humbled to play after him like ‘Wow’ because this dude is really good
Vincent: Yeah then one time we had the opportunity to play more with him and at the beginning he was pretty shy but show after show we start talking with him and had a good time with him and now we’re friends so that's super cool. He is super nice with us so that's so amazing for us because he was one of the most important inspirations for us so having him as a friend and making music with him now.. it's pretty big.
Axel: It’s pretty big, I don’t know, to do music with your first inspiration- it’s like wow it’s a great accomplishment but when he said “Yeah lets do this’ I was like ‘God, he said yes!’
'Royale With G's 2013' is the third single to be released from their debut LP 'Time Machine', which they have been working on for the last two years. After gaining respect within the American and European electronic scenes, The Geek x Vrv wanted to make a project that would stand the test of time, a project that would not be quickly forgotten. They chose the theme of time travel to encapsulate their album because they wanted to explore various types of music. Every track has a year attached to it which corresponds to a specific story that resonates with them.
Axel: Every track has a date, It’s like we are time travelers and we are back in time on every track, we can be in the past or the future, it depends on what track you are listening to.
Vincent: There is an event back in the day in that year so people have to find the meaning, for our track with Denis (Gramatik) it is 2013 and that is the year we met him, so for each track there is something. Let’s see who will be the first one to find everything, some are really easy. We will see
Axel: The whole album is different, none of them are the same. The first track from the album was made around the time we first came here but we made many EPs in between, we kept this track on the side and we finished the album.
Vincent: We started with a hundred songs on this project and we only kept 12. We started so many ideas, we tried to explore different types of music
The Geek x Vrv's 'Time Machine' album will be released "early next year" but those who are itching to hear the group's new sounds can be satiated with 'Paris Jazz Club 1920' and 'Kanagawa Waves 1831'. In addition to the time travel motif of their new album, The Geek x Vrv have also decided to try a new direction for their album artwork that utilizes animation.
Axel: In real life we don’t do a lot of photography, we don’t show our life, we are not the influencers on social media so we decided to put our character on animation. There is a character designer named Linnch and we told him we are not influencers, we don’t want to take photos everyday, it is not our job. We just want to make music so maybe the character will do the job for us. In this way it was just cooler to do some 2D animation, it is the best representation for us because it is old and new at the same time, like our music. The animation of Gramatik is really awesome but the [unreleased] rest of them are so much better. We made animation for the album and two singles and its awesome. The album is coming out early next year.
It is quite rare to find artists that care more about the music than the spotlight but that is just how Axel and Vincent are. Their craft is more important for them and attempting to be influences on social media doesn't interest them at all. They would rather spend their time looking for the perfect sample for their next track.
Vincent: The structure of Hip-Hop is sampling old music and at the beginning I was just curious like why do they do that? Then I started to learn about the whole process and enjoyed the fact that you dig up a forgotten track, most of the time, and then you bring it back to life and give it a second chance to be heard by people. Yeah there is so much music out now, people don't to listen to everything. There is so much cool music from back in the day, its a cool part of the job, I guess, listening to hundreds and hundreds of old school tracks, like old soul music or jazz music, some of them are really bad but sometimes you find something really good and you feel the need to use it and make it more modern.
Axel: You are always in the process of finding the perfect loop, sometimes you just need a loop to make a hit.
Over the years they have also spent time perfecting their live show by adding multi-instrumentalist Basile Verschaeve.
Vincent: We were tired of just being two on stage, it's just machines, so people aren’t receptive of just two guys behind a table like a DJ. People need to see the music so we found Basile and tried a few shows with him. He played sax and keys and it was totally perfect since the first show so we bring him everywhere
Axel: The music is better with him, it is organic and alive, you can feel the music much better. In Europe we are five on stage we have two saxophone, one trumpet, one bass, one keyboard with Basile but we couldn’t bring all of them because the visa is so expensive but maybe one day.
There seems to be no stopping The Geek x Vrv and this constant stream of success cannot be separated from their grounded personalities that care about the music more than anything else. Their humble nature can be deduced by the answers they gave to the question, 'What do you want your legacy to be?'
Axel: I just want to make people happy, it’s just music so if you feel happy when you listen to our music it’s good.
Vincent: Nothing too complicated we just hope people enjoy it, if people don’t want to listen to our music in 20 years that’s it, that’s part of making music and its not that bad because we are so blessed to have all these opportunities. We went pretty much everywhere in the world so I think that’s enough
Axel: At the beginning we just made music for fun and now we’re here, so I feel blessed for this
Vincent: We make music for fun and we still try to make music the same way we used to.