Chromeo - Biography
Chromeo is the invention of two Canadians with a fascination for Hall & Oates, who decided to be the foremost sexy synth pop duo to ever grace hipsters’ turntables. Patrick Gemayel and David Macklovitch, better known as Pee Thug and Dave One respectively, have often said they are the first successful Arab and Jewish collaboration in the history of the world. Pee Thug plays keyboard, synthesizers, and uses a talk box for vocals, while Dave One plays guitar and commandeers lead vocals. The two are stylistically very different; Pee Thug rocks a style that is all big t-shirts and gold chains, while Dave One keeps it tidy with fitted jackets and the occasional ascot. Dave One is also in the process of earning his Ph.D. in French Literature from Columbia University, while Pee Thug is an accountant — an accountant with gold teeth and a do-rag. The melding, however, of their aesthetic differences makes for some of the most danceable electrofunk to come about since the dawn of Zapp and Roger.
Best friends since high school, they met after Gemayel moved from Lebanon with his family. The two found common ground collecting records together, focusing on funk and hip-hop — a move that would later influence their music. As a precursor to starting their own label, Audio Research, the duo worked on track production for fellow Canadians Dubmatique and Bran Van 3000. On the heels of relative success with their label and production ability, producer Tiga invited them to produce a demo for his label, Turbo Recordings. Turbo soon thereafter became Chromeo’s first label home.
Chromeo officially got their start in Montreal in 2002 when they hit the ears of retro-disco dance enthusiasts with the 12” single “You’re So Gangsta” (Turbo Recordings), which eventually found its way into the video game Space Colony. They followed up in 2003 with another single, “Destination: Overdrive” (Turbo Recordings). In 2004, the duo released their first full-length studio album on Vice Records, She’s in Control (2004 Turbo Recordings/Vice Records). The album got little radio play, but “Needy Girl,” “Rage!,” “Mercury Tears,” and “Destination: Overdrive” were popular hits in the clubs. Commercial success eventually hit for Chromeo when “Needy Girl” and “Rage!” were picked up for use in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and McDonald’s commercials.
In 2005, Chromeo released a mix tape style album called Chromeo Present un Joli Mix Pour Toi (Eskimo Records). Released on Eskimo Records, the compilation includes tracks by disco, dance, and jazz luminaries like Daddy Dewdrop, The Jets, and even Herbie Hancock. Another mix tape album was released in 2006, titled Ce Soir On Danse on Vice Records, with tracks by The Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens Band, the Jones Girls, and Vernon Burch, as well as 22 others to round out a synthy, sexxxy sound soiree.
2007 found Pee Thug and Dave One supporting indie dance punk band Bloc Party on their UK tour. Simultaneously, Chromeo released the single “Fancy Footwork” (2007 Vice) and then, shortly thereafter, their sophomore full-length, Fancy Footwork (2007 Vice). Once again, Chromeo proved to be a dance floor and club hit, but did little to attain chart recognition. The duo was, however, named MTV’s Artist of the Week for the week of October 1, 2007. Fancy Footwork includes not only the pre-released title track, but also the super slick “Tenderoni” and the sequel to She's in Control’s “Needy Girl,” called “Opening Up.” “Momma's Boy” is perhaps the Portnoy’s Complaint of dance music — a feat not easily pulled off, but with Dave One at the helm of the track, it makes for an incredible song that perfectly captures the essence of Chromeo’s character. “Fancy Footwork” was also remixed for the video game Need for Speed and used in its original form on the CW network’s show Reaper. “Momma’s Boy” was used in the NBC show Chuck.
Chromeo has been teaming up with Daryl Hall of the 1980’s blue-eyed soul band Hall & Oates. Hall hosts webisodes on his site that are filmed in his home recording studio. Chromeo appears in Episode 10 and duets with Hall on the Hall & Oates classic “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).” Rumors of a collaboration album between Hall and Chromeo have flooded indie music blogs for quite some time, but with no solid release date mentioned. In 2010 the band released Business Casual.