Hungry & Manic: Azari & III
Short-listed as an opening act for Madonna, and now touring with Die Antwoord, Azari & III has reason to be cocky. This Saturday, Nov 3, is the first time the Toronto dance-pop foursome will be in Montréal for a full-on live show, at Metropolis for the one-night Sonar Festival. We chatted with the cocky team of hotties about +/- Grace Jones, touring, and how they’re not voguers, thank you very much.
- Jealous Lovers + DJ Vosper @ Glitterbomb
- Corsten, Kaskade & Steve “Bear” Sas: new EDM albums
- Group Therapy: Above + Beyond
When Toronto dance-pop foursome Azari & III (pronounced “az-AH-ree and third”) released their digital EP “Reckless for Your Love” in February, DJs and dance music lovers on the East Coast and all over Europe ate it up. The deliciously voguey video by George Vale from three months before was serving everything house and electro-loving queers want to see in a song: delicious beats, bright-coloured suits, turbans, same-sex kissing, snappy editing, and choreographed dancing, with a big dollop of Grace Jones. Performing the interview as a chorus, I can hardly tell when I’m hearing Alixander III, Fritz Helder, Starving Yet Full or Dinamo Azari (pictured) because they asked to do the interview as a unit.
The four started Azari & III in 2008 “after our modelling careers came to a crashing end. We were all top models! We excelled in our social networks, but there was something more we were looking for.” Dinamo waxes poetic, adding that “the day you become lost is the day you start to become found, you know?” Several tracks on the album speak to a hard, urban reality infused with glamour, dark desires, and a kind of sexy 90′s nihilism (check out “Undecided” or the impossibly sexy “Manic”). “The base lines are like a big hard dick that’s gonna break through your ass!” one of them yells while Dinamo takes back control of the call, like the Father of the House.
While they admitted to a lot of deliberate Grace Jones referencing, they were less impressed when I read some elements of voguing into their styling and sound.
“We weren’t involved in the voguing, there’s not a lot of voguing in our songs. I think our references go deeper than that,” one says. Dinamo (I think) adds, “If that reference comes out, then we get lumped into it because of what we look like or sound. When people reinterpret things, half the time they don’t even know what they’re doing. I’m annoyed more at the fact that voguing has been homogenized: Vogue is a culture,” he corrects me, “and if you really want to get into it, it’s about shade.”
“We honestly didn’t think about anything, we just made some beats and went for it,” they say of the influences of their instant-dance-party tunes. Luckily, not overthinking their project hasn’t held them back from international dance stardom. Although they got rained out of playing an outdoor show in Montréal this summer, that didn’t stop them from tearing it up all over Europe to hysterical crowds in Berlin, London, and Hungary. “We were at a festival called Exit in Serbia which was mind-blowing: seeing thousands of people dancing in the sun. These are people with no agenda, they just wanna have fun,” one of the Azarians adds.
“No agenda” isn’t exactly how one would describe their Sonar tour-mates Die Antwoord, the wackier-than-hell South African trio known for their abrasive shock-rap in songs like “I Fink U Freaky” and recently, “Fatty Boom Boom,” the song the band wrote to rebuff Lady Gaga for asking them to tour with her. Montréal misanthrope/DJ Tiga is also one of the headliners, a term that makes Dinamo take umbrage. “It’s hard to say who was the headliner because they are so many good artists. Everybody in their own right has their own fan base and original sound.” Barcelona’s Sonar Festival certainly knows what they’re doing.
Asked about Toronto, the group says they’re always happy to return because, “If you want to tuck away, you can do that, but if you want to be part of something bigger, like the creative scene, that’s always there,” although they also feel close to Montréal, where Dinamo Azari grew up, and where their label, Turbo, is based. When 2Bmag interviewed John Caffery last summer, the Kids on TV frontman named Azari & III as one of his favourite Toronto-made tracks right now. “Manhookers think alike,” the jokers retort.
Sonar Festival 2012
w/ Azari & III + Die Antwoord
Sat Nov 3 @ Metropolis, 59 Ste-Catherine Ouest