French electro-house duo Polo & Pan have spent the past few years experimenting with the boundless atmosphere of untraditional soundscapes. Their music is anything but ordinary – mixing classic synth sounds and iconic samples with sounds found in the natural world to create a cinematic experience through their music. There’s no one who sounds like Polo & Pan, and that originality has guided them to a (mostly) sold-out tour across America and France. Thankfully, they’re stopping by Mission Ballroom tonight to bless Denver with their pleasant musicality and strange composition. 303 Magazine caught up with the duo before their show to talk about the tour so far, sampling Pilot’s “Magic” and embracing the natural world through their music.
303 Magazine: Your sound is wholly original, mixing genres of house, electronic psychedelia and ambient dance together to create a cinematic experience through sound. Creativity and inspiration come from many different places, so I’m curious – where does Polo & Pan draw inspiration for your music versus influences that impact the cinematic atmosphere of Cyclorama as a whole?
Polo & Pan: The sources of inspiration are continually evolving. That’s what keeps making music always fun and fresh. But I guess some of our big inspirations are Exotica, Latin music, OSTs (original soundtracks) from the ’70s, some French songwriters like Serge Gainsbourg and of course classical music.
303: You sampled Pilot’s “Magic” for the third track of Cyclorama. Sampling such an iconic song is a difficult balance, and there are a lot of expectations that come with that. How did this song come about, and what does it represent to you in the context of the album?
P&P: It came from discovering the track in Happy Gilmore (1996 Adam Sandler movie). The track kinda created an impact and was the starting point for what was supposed to remain an edit. The iconic quality of the track made us want to finally release it for the LP!
303: You worked with Vladimir Cosma, a legendary, 80-year-old French-Romanian film composer and conductor, on the track “Bilbouqet (Sirba).” Being that Cyclorama, thematically, represents the cyclical and perhaps never-ending nature of time, are there any lessons you learned from Vladimir Cosma about the nature of life and music?
P&P: His work is a great inspiration to us, and seeing him so committed to creating and sharing his work at an advanced age is obviously a great thing to witness. He’s a real legend!
303: Your music has a bit of a retro feel to it, although it’s undeniably modern. I know you utilized many of the same instruments used on Air’s 1998 project Moon Safari to produce Cyclorama. What is it about these instruments that transcend time and culture, and how does this fit into the themes of Cyclorama?
P&P: This album was a starting point for both of us for getting interested in a music career. Although we were really young when it came out, for me (Polo), this record encompasses a lot of our favorite influences – OST vibes, classical music arrangements, mastery of analog synthesizers. For me, the album sounds so uniquely great and it has been a life quest to put my hands on the instruments that were used for this album!
303: Sampling natural sounds like waves and chirping birds (or even a croaking toad) is nothing new, but it feels especially essential to Cyclorama’s sonic identity and thematic direction. What is your relationship like with the natural world?
P&P: Organic textures have been part of our music since day one. We love to confront the cold world of digital precision with the inherent life of a recording. We sample a lot of “elemental sounds” — water, metal, wood, wind, etc…
303: Your show at Mission Ballroom on February 10 will be your last performance in America for a while. Before you head back overseas, can you reflect on the first few shows of this tour in America? Is there any moment or place that stands out?
Polo & Pan: Indeed it’s our last headlining show in the US for a while. This first run since the big Covid break has been amazing. We are grateful that our audience is more than ever supporting us and coming out to the shows. The show in LA stood out because our label team came out for the event and we had a really fun show at the Shrine!
All photography provided by Polo & Pan