20 Questions: Anoraak

From Kavinsky to the Chromatics to nearly everyone else, '80s synthpop is back in action, but no one does it quite like Anoraak, who also has a love for great things like moderately proportioned red wine and Anchorman.



Label: Grand Blanc
US Release Date: 2013-10-21

Back in 2008, the song "Nightdrive With You" seemed to emerge out of nowhere, with virtually no information known about this '80s-indebted pop wonder who simply went by the name Anoraak. Yet some solid singles and some very high-profile remix work with artists ranging from Neon Indian to Mika to Phoenix has suddenly made the Raak's sound very much in demand.

Now, three years since his debut release, Anoraak is back with the neon-atmosphere synthpop work that is known simply as Chronotropic. Mixing a multitude synths sounds with his very plainspoken voice, the imagery and feelings this song conjures are both celebratory and cerebral, emotional but not without a solid beat behind it. Although sexy jams like "Guest Star" may work for your own private dance party, it's things like the soaring chorus to "Falling Apart" that makes you stick around well after.

In celebrating the release of his new disc, Anoraak answers PopMatters' 20 Questions and in doing so reveals a love of Starship Troopers, moderately-proportioned red wine, and the sincere advice his father gave him after school.

+ + +

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

I rewatched Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and I cried, a lot. It's hilarious.

2. The fictional character most like you?

I sometimes feel like Slurm MacKenzie (Futurama), especially when I'm on tour and after an exhausting long journey, you play, and then everyone wants to take you to all-night-long parties. At this point you just want to sleep, but you're here for a little time and you don't want to miss a good moment, and you don't want to be rude. So you go to the party, and you enjoy it because it's totally worth it, but inside you feel like Slurm MacKenzie, with his blood-injected eyes hidden behind dark glasses.

3. The greatest album, ever?

This is Pinback, by Pinback.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Starship Troopers.

5. Your ideal brain food?

The night time in general, especially the night rumor, sex, stupid movies, good wine, cooking, trips.

6. You're proud of this accomplishment, but why?

Because I've spent a lot of time making this record, I mean it took me several tries before ending with the Chronotropic concept and all the tracks. I think I'm really proud for the first time since the beginning of Anoraak, because it looks and sounds exactly like I wanted this album to.

7. You want to be remembered for ...?

For making sincere music, for not trying to run after something. Basically, for being a musician.

8. Of those who've come before, the most inspirational are?

Bill Murray, Bernard Edwards, Mike Myers, Jimi Hendrix, Gil Scott-Heron, Minnie Riperton, Don Caballero, Wes Montgomery, Ric Ocasec, Phil Collins, Chris Isaak, the Porcaro brothers, John Carpenter, James Cameron, Rivers Cuomo, Steve Reich ... to name a few.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

"The Slavonic Dance Opus 72" by Antonín Dvořák.

10. Your hidden talents ...?

I think I'm not bad at cooking. And I love that, I really do. That must sound extremely French though. Also I can turn my thumb over, but I'm not sure this can be classified as a talent.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

After years of fighting against my talent for being the best for not working at school, when I eventually got graduated my Dad (who was not an easy one during that long period) said to me : "I'm proud of you for this, and from now on, I'll let you do whatever you want to. Just one thing: do it the best you can, that's all I ask." Technically it's not what you can call an advice, but more a simple guideline for the rest of my life, and coming from my Dad it was something, so I'm doing my best to apply this everyday.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

When I was a teenager, I was really about gaming, I had all the Nintendos, a huge amount of games, etc. And one day we got burglarized, they took everything. With the money from the insurance I bought a guitar. That was certainly a good choice, it's where it all started.

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or ...?

It all depends on the day and the mood he's bringing, but generally I feel myself in a good pair of jeans. A couple of months ago I discovered the Swedish brand Örjan Andersson; that's my new Levi's.

14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

I'd love to have a talk with Boris Vian. His vision of the world, his writing, his jazz player skills, everything in this man is intriguing. Unfortunately he's dead for a long time, so I'd pick Pierre Soulages to talk about his lifetime work around the color black, it's fascinating to me.

15. Time travel: where, when, and why?

In the early '70s, in New York, to live the beginnings of the disco. I guess I heard a lot of disco when I was at the embryo stage.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?

Red wine! In reasonable quantities, of course.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or ....?

You know me so well. I'll just pick red wine instead of vodka, and add some physical training too.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

I'm definitely opting for the city, maybe because I've lived for many years in the countryside, where it's beautiful indeed, but as a teenager I was feeling like I was always missing something, so some sort of frustration grew in me and I feel better inside the non-stopping activity of a big city. Now I'm living in Paris and I'm enjoying myself, but some other ones a on the top of my list, like Melbourne, Barcelona, Los Angeles, Marseille ...

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Be careful.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

Right now I'm working on the live show with my musicians, and keeping composing music, maybe for collaborations with other artists I like, and for a next album. But I'm really excited to launch this new album and to go back on tour, that's the main topic at the present time!





The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.