Chateau Marmont Build A Bridge From Paris To California

Don’t let the name deceive you: the band Chateau Marmont hails from Paris, though they’re no strangers to the iconic Hollywood hotel. You’ll still want to settle in for a while with the synth-pop outfit’s debut LP The Maze, which was released at home in May. Their born-in-the-70s sound ranges from cozy to sprawling and cinematic, and they’re not afraid of a good saxophone solo.

Next week, Chateau Marmont will release the Wind Blows EP, featuring remixes by noted producers Yuksek and Discodeine. I caught up with singer/keyboardist Guillaume de Maria in New York earlier this summer, where we talked about American dreams, sci-fi, and the band’s hardcore past.

How have things changed for you since the last time you came to the US two years ago?
Last time, we were in the middle of the recording the record, [halfway through] the album. When we came to New York, it was the end of a month’s tour in the US. At that time, we tried the songs that we were writing for the album onstage, to see what works and what doesn’t work. After that, we went back to France and finished the album. We got rid of some songs and we kept some others. So we finished the album last year, which we released in France in May. During that time, our original bass player left us; now we have an additional bass player for the stage, now we are three.
What was the recording process like, since it was so spread out?
It was very long, where we tried different ways to record. We tried different places, we tried different studios. Each time, it failed. The first time, we rented a house in Bretagne. We spent a week there, trying to compose, and it didn’t work. Afterward, we went back to our first studio in Paris and composed some songs, and after that we got rid of some of those songs, and one day, we found the key of what the album [should] be. After that, it was more simple, until last year, when we finished the album in our second studio.
Did you originally form in Paris?
Not really, we lived there for ten years but grew up in the south of France, in the mountains. The biggest city close to where we lived is Toulouse, maybe, or Bordeaux, south-west. We had bands before, then we moved to Paris and we formed Chateau Marmont. We’ve known each other for a long time.
What were some of the other bands like?
It was mostly hardcore bands. At the time we were listening to things like Converge or Neurosis, stuff like that. It was a long time ago, it was noisy and brutal music [compared to what we make now].
Congratulations on the new EP/album.
Thank you. We hope to release the album in the fall. We don’t know where, we have different leads, but we’re very excited. America, for us, is very important. More than the so-called market, but in terms of influences, we grew up with a lot of American music. It’s a real pleasure to play here in New York or California or the southern states. We always had these images of American music, where you drive–it’s a romantic voice.
That really comes across in your video for “Wind Blows.”
Yeah, it was shot in LA by a great guy. We’re really happy with it.
It’s interesting how you have a French name, but in America, it’s so evocative of LA and the hotel. Is the video a reference to how you’re associated with this glamorous Southern Californian lifestyle?
We always tried with that song to build a bridge between Paris and California, the fantasy, the vibe. Even if it sounds sunny or Californian, we always have this French type of singing, a sound that you recognize as a French song.
What makes it recognizably a French song?
We don’t really know, but when you listen to it, you recognize a kind of French touch in it. It’s the way we sing with the soft voice and the sound we use and the scenes. It’s difficult to say. We made this song to try to build a bridge, and yes, the name is a kind of fantasy of California. And the title, "Wind Blows," it’s like that.
Did you always have this very romantic vision of California?
Yes, we’re big fans of Californian music, the era at the end of the 70s and au début of the 80s. Big influences. When we go there, we have these images.

What are some specific artists from that time that influenced you?
We are big fans of Steely Dan. Bands like Toto, Fleetwood Mac, Michael McDonald. Beyond those big artists, there are some underground artists we like too. It’s great music.
Were you consciously thinking about America?
Not really, because in our music, there are a lot of influences that are very different. We live close to Germany and we have something special for 70s German music, krautrock. We have this French background, too, of movie composers. It’s a mix.
There’s also the decision a lot of French artists make to sing in English.
To sing in French is very difficult because it’s very difficult to write in French. And sometimes when you sing in French, you feel a little bit stupid because it’s your language and you don’t feel comfortable with it. It’s very difficult to make the words sound [good] with the music, it’s a rich language. And besides, we grew up with English and American music, so it’s in our ears and our hearts. Since it’s not our first language, it’s a kind of additional instrument in a way.
It’s interesting to see how different French artists address that. I recently read an article about Phoenix in a French magazine that described them as being rejected in France for betraying the language, but they’re also outsiders in English-speaking countries.
It’s changed in the last ten years. But Phoenix, now they’re very recognized in their own country. But you realize that for the [first] two or three albums, everyone hated them at the time.
Well, they weren’t quite as good then, either.
No, they weren’t so good on stage. But more than that, people thought, "They’re from a small, rich city, they’re rich wankers, everything’s easy for them." And now we’re really happy for them, they deserve all of this fame, because they’re really hard workers.
Do people care about class a lot in the French music scene?
No, but at the time with Phoenix, everyone focused on that. Now with Phoenix, with a lot of French magazines, when you have the kind of song like we have with "Wind Blows," you’re always compared to Phoenix. You’re always accused of reproducing Phoenix because you want to be big in the States, and it’s boring. At the time, ten years ago, there were a lot of bands compared to Gang Of Four, all the English bands–it was a natural thing. Today in France, if you have a kind of soft voice, you get compared to Phoenix. It’s very closed-minded about that in France.
Is that part of what drives you to find an audience outside of France, if you are seeking that wider audience?
Since the beginning, we always toured as much in Scandinavia as in France. It was difficult for us as well in France, people didn’t understand. At the beginning, we were compared to porno music composers. When we played a festival in Sweden, the response was really good. French audiences are really weird, there is a kind of frustration or bad spirit, you really build your personality on what you say and what you listen to. You have to take a position to be cool, it’s always easy for French people to spit on bands like us. But I’m a little bit tough, and it’s going well for us at the moment. People are more enthusiastic for us in other countries. In Paris, the audience is a little bit blasé.
Could you sum up what feeling you want people to get out of your record?
We always say that we create a vortex with hints of science fiction and erotism.
On the album, which song leans most toward science fiction and which is the most erotic?
The end of the album is more science fiction, we have an instrumental trilogy at the end. About erotism, we have this song with a French singer called Alka Balbir (“Affaire Classée”) and we have this instrumental song called "Tales Of The Creek."
You have more instrumentals on your album than I was expecting.
For us, we have more singing than in the past. In the past, it was more instrumental.
What led to that shift? 
Until to date, we always made EPs. It was a short format for songs and we were on an electronic label. On the full-length album for a major company–it’s not because of that, but we wanted on the full-length to explore more influences and make more pop-oriented songs with real singing and not just vocoder. Different kinds of songs, richer, like an album we’d want to listen to at home.
Photo by Katie Chow at Academy Record Annex in Williamsburg

Drawn to the Chateau Marmont

Wes Lang’s undeniably bad-ass universe is populated by frightened chiefs, Playboy bunnies, and a graveyard’s worth of skulls, the iconography a mix of tattoo culture and the artist’s own frenzied imagination. (In one collage work, an erect penis pokes out from the folds of a delicately rendered rose.)  Back in 2011, Lang spent some time at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, creating a set of drawings on hotel stationary that became known as the “Room 34 Suite.”
Now, Exhibition A—a company co-founded by Half Gallery’s Bill Powers—is releasing a boxed set of prints from these drawings, in an edition of 100. The handsomely designed and packaged collection will set you back $950, roughly the price of a two-bedroom suite at the Chateau .
“Chateau Marmont is arguably the most famous hotel in America today,” Powers says. “And the Lang box set is our most elaborate edition project to date, really beautiful. He’s following in the tradition of Martin Kippenberger.”
If this edition isn’t quite in your budget, PictureBox will be publishing a Wes Lang monograph in November, with an accompanying book signing at Bookmarc in Soho. (Perhaps the artist will grace your copy with a dancing skeleton, or a phallic flower, if you ask nicely.) Meanwhile, Exhibition A’s next edition is a portrait of Dash Snow taken by Kai Regan, who also shot the late artist for a 2006 issue of BlackBook.

The New French Touch: Six Groups You Should Be Listening To

With the returns of Phoenix and Daft Punk, there’s no doubt that French music is finding a more prominent place in 2013. Sure, those two groups aren’t Versailles’s brightest sons for nothing, and they’ve earned all of their international accolades. But why should they get to have all of the fun? Here are six other coups de coeur that deserve a shot at the spotlight.




True to their name, youth is at Juveniles’ core. The electro-pop duo started getting attention with ”We Are Young,” which may be the only time quarter life crises have seemed sophisticated. “Through The Night” recalls the carpe noctem romanticism of Cut Copy’s “Hearts On Fire,” while “Fantasy” is a nastier disco stomp. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that every song feels like a hit. Their sound is slinky but subtle in its come-ons, so don’t be surprised when you’ve been seduced. Juveniles’ self-titled EP is out now, with a debut album produced by Yuksek (next) on the way.
Essential track: “Through The Night”
RIYL: Cut Copy, Bear In Heaven, The Rapture




Between producing, DJing, and singing/songwriting, it seems like there’s nothing Yuksek can’t do. The dance-pop artist born Pierre-Alexandre Busson also has a new title: record label owner. A longtime cornerstone of the French scene, he’s now spreading the love with Partyfine, which saw its first release on May 13. Partyfine EP #1 features Busson collaborating with Juveniles (previous) and Oh Land. His work is just as sharp and stylish when he’s on his own–check out any song on 2011’s Living On The Edge Of Time and it will become even clearer that he’s no slacker. Look out for Busson’s DJ sets in NYC at the end of June.
Essential track: “Always On The Run”
RIYL: Phoenix, Foals, Blood Orange  


The Aikiu

This Parisian pop-rock quartet got plenty of attention last year for the “Pieces Of Gold” video, which cheekily made vintage porn SFW with footage of the band performing. The song itself is just as memorable, an ode to hopeless romanticism that sounds like looking at the sun. Led by namesake Alex Aikiu, the group combines heartfelt lyrics with breezy melodies to instantly likable effect. They’ll be releasing debut LP Ghost Youth this month, and their new wave-influenced vibes are sure to remain a favorite all summer long–just wait til you hear “Win,” featuring JD Samson of Le Tigre fame. The Pieces Of Gold EP is out now.
Essential track: “Pieces Of Gold”
RIYL: Hot Fuss-era Killers, Diamond Rings, Miike Snow  



With her eclectic style and an eye-catching music video directed by Emily Kai Bock, Owlle might look like Grimes’s chic continental counterpart on paper. Sonically, she’s worlds apart, putting her enchanting voice at the forefront of her sound. Backed by shimmering productions, the few songs the omnichord-wielding parisienne has released so far lean toward the anthemic. “Ticky Ticky” is tears-on-the-dancefloor perfection, while “Disorder” balances a tightly-controlled melody with haunting vocals. No wonder Owlle was also tapped to remix Depeche Mode’s “Heaven” earlier this year. The Ticky Ticky EP is out now, along with an EP of remixes. 
Essential track: “Ticky Ticky”
RIYL: Bat For Lashes, Chairlift  


Saint Michel

This duo has yet to release an LP, but Philippe Thuillier and Emile Larroche are already carrying on the Versailles tradition. Their laid-back, synth-laced sound made its charming debut on last year’s I Love Japan EP. (For the uninitiated, French people really, really love Japan.) From “Katherine” to “Noël Faded,” Saint Michel found a striking balance between sweetness and melancholy. On latest single “Ceci N’Est Pas Une Chanson,” they make a nod toward Magritte with a clap-along beat, showing a knack for unusual textures. Keep an eye out for their first full-length album, set to be released later this year.
Essential track: “Katherine”
RIYL: MGMT, Generationals, Tanlines  


Chateau Marmont

The AM radio-inspired noodling of early Phoenix records strikes again, this time in the form of Chateau Marmont. Between the singalong harmonies of “Wargames” and the saxophone-laced sprawl of “The Maze,” the Parisian pop-rock trio showcases a diverse sound that’s rooted in the same cozy place. The longtime friends have also lent their more synth-friendly side to amped-up remixes for artists like Ladyhawke and Peter Bjorn and John. Chateau Marmont’s Wind Blows EP came out on May 21, with debut LP The Maze to follow.
Essential track: “Wind Blows”
RIYL: Alphabetical-era Phoenix, Kings Of Convenience

That Guy Split Up With What’s-Her-Face

TMZ, People, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have all harmoniously confirmed the terrible breakup of a torrid sexual relationship between Hollywood actors Jennifer Anniston and Robert Pattinson, who appeared on The Daily Show with Jimmy Fallon last night to confirm that he will be the new legal guardian for Suri Cruise, the illegitimate child of British chanteuse Adele and an unnamed father who is probably Bret Michaels, the rock star famous for his recently called-off double-engagement to Twilight’s Kristen Stewart and one of the girls from Teen Mom.

Meanwhile, Gillian Anderson, Anne Hathaway and Carey Mulligan have filed for a divorce from their respective husbands—Stevie Wonder, Tom Cruise and Justin Theroux (née Jeremy Piven). Kenny G, accredited just two days ago as a lawyer, will represent both men in what is likely to be a blood-soaked beast of a court proceeding. Kenny G is also caught in the middle of his own bitter divorce from a crazed fan, who filed for marriage without his knowledge; that case is presided over by Judge Judy.

Judge Judy could not be reached for comment, but this weekend she was spotted scarfing down hamburgers at Chateau Marmont with Ryan Gosling, the world-renown David Duchovny impersonator.

Steal This Bathrobe: The Best Hotel Products to Swipe (& Buy)

You’re wrapped in a plush terry robe, reposing on thousand-thread-count sheets, listening to a custom-programmed iPod on the dock next to your bed, and feeling as though this is nothing more than the lifestyle you deserve. So who could blame you for wanting to take some of the accoutrements of your newfound bliss home from your luxury hotel? These are top three souvenirs we recommend you swipe.

Toiletries: These are always a safe bet, since they’re there for you to use anyway. We love the Remede toiletry kits given out by the St. Regis, the Malin + Goetz soaps used by the Morgans Hotel Group properties (including the Delano in Miami and the Mondrian in Los Angeles) and the exclusive Hermès bath products at all Sofitel locations.

Slippers: Hotels actually get a certain amount of free advertising from branded products escaping the confines of their hotel, and even the non-branded versions still provide travelers with fond memories of their trip. Our favorites come from the amenity-packed Asian hotels, including fuzzy slippers at the Mandarin Oriental’s multiple locations, and the Havianas at the InterContinental Hong Kong.

Personalized Stationery: Once a standard part of luxury hotel service, personalized stationery is a pleasant enough surprise that these days, you might be inspired enough to actually write a letter. While hotel stationery and pens are always fair game, no one can complain about something personalized going home with you, and you can find it at a surprising number of places, including the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, the Trump SoHo in New York , the Stafford London, Chicago’s Talbott, and the New World Shanghai.

That said, not all of us want to steal from our favorite hotels (who wants that on their guest profile?) and hotels have of course developed procedures to address this—many sticky-fingered guests will now find their more outrageous grift charged to their room bill. So why not shop their style the legal way? Many hip hotels have added online shops full of items that either appear on property or embody their style, like these three:

The W Store: W Hotels is happy to sell you everything from the bed you slept in to the music in the air, as well as apparel from brands like John Varvatos and Mara Hoffman. We particularly love their collection of statement jewelry and their eclectic blend of home accessories.

Shutters Beach Style: This Santa Monica hotel is one of a handful that are right on the beach, but the interiors are as striking as the views. Known for its impressive contemporary art collection which belongs to the hotel’s owners, their online store has drawings by Frank Gehry and Ellsworth Kelly, as well as stunning homewares like their signature rug and pewter table accessories.

Shop The Standard: They’re on the cutting edge of urban hotel style, so it’s no wonder that they’d have a quality online presence. The covetable goods include everything from RK Ripper fixed-gear bicycles to limited-edition art prints to the kissing puppy salt-and-pepper shakers on the table at the Standard Grill—so stealable that they’re listed for purchase right on the menu.

Alexa Chung’s New Collection for Madewell Crashed Their Website

Last night at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont, Alexa Chung fans turned up in droves to toast the launch of her latest Madewell Collection. Top style starlets like Kate Bosworth and Elle Fanning joined the model / perpetual television host as she crossed her fingers that her second collaboration with J.Crew’s kid sister label would please the masses. Not only are the masses pleased, but traffic was so heavy when the collection hit the retailer’s website that it crashed.

Chung gleefully tweeted the news early this morning and Telegraph quickly scooped up the story thereafter.

Now that she’s helped Madewell grow from mere cute-kid into a legitimate cool-kid and Mulberry is the world’s top-selling fashion house thanks to her handbag collaboration, it’s safe to say that Chung has the sartorial Midas touch.

The website’s back up and running, so shop the collection here or wait until it lands in-stores at 6pm tonight. If you do decide to stop by one of Madewell’s outposts, be prepared to wait in a massive line and brave aggressive shoppers trying to pluck the most-wanted leopard print Zowie Boots (above) directly out of your hands. Good luck!

‘Conan the Barbarian”s Rose McGowan’s ADD Playlist

When Rose McGowan has trouble sleeping, she doesn’t turn to the sounds of a Brazilian rainstorm or fornicating dolphins for help. Instead, she flips on an episode of True Crime with Aphrodite Jones. “It’s basically all murder and mayhem, but with soothing voiceovers,” she deadpans from her suite at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, where she’s staying while her house undergoes renovations.

That the 37-year-old actor finds solace in savagery isn’t too surprising when one considers her career. McGowan, who has starred in such seminally twisted films as The Doom Generation, Scream, and Jawbreaker, will next appear as a wicked enchantress in the big-budget remake of Conan the Barbarian, out August 19. “I’m so impressed by how insane and magnificent I look in the film,” she says. “I was in prosthetics for five hours each day, from 2 until 7 in the morning. The whole experience was otherworldly and beautiful, and I really loved what was being created. It was nice to feel that way.”

McGowan hasn’t been involved in a high-profile project since the 2007 release of Grindhouse, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s giddily trashy double-feature. When asked about her absence, she says, “I took two years off because my father died. I pulled out of three films to deal with it. We had $85 million to shoot Barbarella in Germany, but Robert [Rodriguez, to whom McGowan was engaged until they split in 2009] didn’t want to shoot there.”

Her personal tumult over the past few years seems to have colored her taste in music (with, perhaps, the exception of the final entry on this list), but McGowan politely dismisses the idea. “It’s basically just the ADD playlist in my brain,” she says. “I can go from listening to Eminem to AC/DC to Patsy Cline in a half hour.” Or, you know, a song about bloodsucking vampires in the Big Easy.

Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” How sexy is this song? It’s so playful and dark, and it’s very New Orleans. I’ve often thought I’d make a pretty great vampire, and I always feel at home in New Orleans—with the spirit and the people. When you’re walking around Oak Alley Plantation at night surrounded by the heavy scent of magnolia trees, playing this song on repeat, it’s pretty heady stuff.

Arcade Fire’s “We Used to Wait” This one reminds me so much of waiting by the mailbox. My parents are divorced, and when I was a kid I used to wait for letters from my mom when I was at my father’s house. He had a winding driveway and I remember taking long walks down to the end of it, and sitting out there by the mailbox all day. There’s such longing in this song for a time when you’re young and things are simple. Forget waiting by the mailbox—who even writes letters anymore? It makes me so sad, because it’s such a classy, genteel thing to have a nice set of personalized stationery. Not long ago, some douche at a restaurant sent over to my table a bottle of wine, so I sent him back a bowl of soup. You have to be creative in your thanks sometimes.

La Roux’s “In for the Kill (Skream Remix)” This song is so dusty. Listen to it while lying on your couch after you’ve been up all night having fun with your friends. I’m not involved in nightlife—never really was—but that’s often been a great misconception about me. I’d rather spend time at my friends’ houses playing backgammon. I love backgammon.

Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman” This one can make me cry. We’re no longer in an era when people dedicate things to each other on anything but AM radio, but somebody I used to love—I won’t tell you who—would play this song and say that it was all about me. The woman Billy Joel is singing about clearly has the upper hand.

Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” Haven’t we all had that relationship? The one I apply it to wasn’t so much about my being scorned; it was more like he scorned a situation that could have been so amazing and beautiful, but this is what he did and this is who he left. It was a case of this person being unable to be anything but himself, which was unacceptable. I didn’t want to include too many crybaby songs, but that’s exactly what I’ve done, huh? I’ll sit in my car playing this one over and over again, crying, and then I’ll think, My garage smells funny and I’m feeling awfully lightheaded! Oh, yeah, I’ve been sitting in here with the engine on, crying to this song for 30 minutes.

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” Featuring Kylie Minogue When I was little, I used to choreograph ballets in my head that I set to pretty much any song I’d been listening to. I still do that, but now it’s with ideas about how it would look on film. I can no longer separate film visions from my audio pleasure. When I go on a trip and see something—a view or a landmark—I think, It looks just like it does in the movies. I just got back from Auschwitz. I truly think, had I heard a German accent anywhere in my vicinity, I would have lunged at them and killed them. There was a point, when I came across the room filled with all the babies’ shoes, where it took everything in me not to fall to the floor and start screaming like a madman. By the time I hit the gas chambers, I never wanted to stop screaming.

Belinda Carlisle’s “Avec Le Temps” This song feels like when you’re by yourself and you sink to the floor heaving with sobs, but you feel strangely cleansed afterward. Music is often a really personal experience for me. I don’t really go to shows, but I did see Dolly Parton at the Greek Theatre a few years ago. Dolly’s music resonates with me because it’s all about being underestimated and misinterpreted, which is common in my life. Lots of people vomit up so much information about themselves, and I find that to be so repellent. Since I don’t really talk about myself, people make up stories about me. I am strong—this is true—but I hate when people say, “She’s definitely not the girl next door.” I’ve lived next door to somebody my entire life.

Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” This song is so beautiful. I always say that I believe I’m a gay man in a woman’s body, which my boyfriend [financier Rob Adams] doesn’t like. I’ve known this to be true for a long time, but I only realized I was even gayer than all of my gay friends when I made one of them go to a Zac Efron movie. He was like, “Seriously? You’re dragging me to see a Zac Efron movie and you’re playing the Flashdance soundtrack?”

Kay Starr’s “Wheel of Fortune” This one reminds me that life is like one big pair of crossed fingers. That’s sad to think, isn’t it? I hide sadness well. Put on some bright lipstick and nobody will ever know. That’s how I live my life, darling. I’m not even sure what I’m wistful for—I’ve just always felt a bit out of time. It’s a fish-out-of-water feeling, like I’ve gotten lost in some stitch in time and deposited in the wrong place. My mannerisms, my everything, just feel… wrong.

Lady Gaga’s “Telephone (Crookers Vocal Remix),” Featuring Beyoncé I wanted to end this list with something highbrow. I do fight training five to six days a week, for about two hours each day. I tend to do a lot of martial arts in movies—for whatever reason I’m either trying to save the world or kill the world, so I figure I’d might as well be good at it.

With ‘Super 8,’ Elle Fanning Graduates Straight to the A-List

Blue-eyed and blonde-haired, 13-year-old Elle Fanning has just finished seventh grade. She loves to draw, dance, and act. She lives with her family in a house in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, where her parents—Southern Baptists, her mother a former tennis player, her father an ex-minor–league baseball pro—moved from Conyers, Georgia, when Fanning was a toddler. This summer, a full year before she enrolls in high school, Fanning plans to go to Paris, already her favorite city in the world despite her never having visited. (“I want to go there so bad,” she says.) She also has three Hollywood movies premiering before Christmas, which she filmed under the supervision of mega-directors J.J. Abrams, Cameron Crowe, and Francis Ford Coppola.

Precociously talented child actors aren’t a new phenomenon in Hollywood—Jodie Foster dropped jaws in 1976 as a teen prostitute in Taxi Driver, Anna Paquin won an Academy Award at 11 for her work in 1993’s The Piano—but Fanning’s career trajectory is remarkable for its range and continuity, and for the fact that her older sister, 17-year-old actor Dakota Fanning, is already earning comparisons to Meryl Streep. In fact, Fanning’s entrée into the acting world was as a younger version of a character played by her sister. By age 4, she was striking out on her own, delivering astoundingly nimble performances in films like The Door in the Floor, Babel, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. (Fanning’s growing collection of on-screen Dads scans like the male half of People’s Most Beautiful list.) Last year, she appeared in Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere, a tale of haute-bourgeois listlessness at the Chateau Marmont. It won the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion, the awards ceremony’s highest honor.

Talking to Fanning, one begins to appreciate the beguiling blend of childhood and professionalism she represents. She squeals, giggles, sprinkles her speech with cusp-of-teen parlance (“like,” “oh my god,” “you know?”)—in short, she’s genuinely delightful. She also handles an interview like a seasoned vet, summoning equal parts deflection and flattery. (Fanning on the possibility of future career clashes with Dakota: “We haven’t gotten really competitive with movies yet. I don’t think we ever will.”) Like many children still on the lunch-pail side of puberty, Fanning is comfortable with herself. She’s comfortable with her age, her acting, and her unique traits, which are just beginning to come into focus: goofiness, intelligence, the discipline of a prima ballerina. image

On June 10, Abrams’ Super 8, a super-secret, super-big-budget adventure film about an Area 51 monster-alien unleashed on a sleepy Ohio town, will hit theaters. Like most of Abrams’ projects, Super 8 has been shrouded in a haze of secrecy so thick it seems yanked from one his screenplays for Lost. “We were sort of scared,” says Fanning about maintaining the strict code of silence. “We didn’t want to slip up and say anything.” Even during the auditioning process, the plot of Super 8 remained obscure. Then the script arrived. “It was just, like, the biggest thing ever,” Fanning trills in her helium-balloon falsetto. “J.J. was so good with us,” she recalls of filming Super 8. “When we were doing the big train-crash sequence, all these explosions were going on, and there were so many people everywhere—and then you have these six kids. He had to take care of us and make sure that we weren’t getting into trouble. There was fire.” When he wasn’t acting as a sort of paternal deus ex machina, issuing stage directions through his ever-present microphone, Abrams was “like one of the kids,” according to Fanning. “He’s obsessed with his iPhone, obsessed with Angry Birds. He’d just be sitting in his chair playing Angry Birds.”

As Abrams surely knows, being like one of the kids is the point. Super 8 is being backed by Amblin Entertainment, the production company co-founded by Steven Spielberg in 1981. For more than a generation of American high-schoolers, Amblin’s filmic aesthetic—E.T.’s flying bicycle, the Gremlins’ furry malevolence, the blazing tire treads Doc’s DeLorean leaves in the mall parking lot in Back to the Future—instantly conjures the terrible wonder of early adulthood. The chutes, traps, and treasure maps of The Goonies, were, of course, just metaphors for puberty, the most unknowable X mark of all.

In partnering with Spielberg for Super 8, Abrams meant to evoke the same giddy blend of science fiction and adolescence as early-’80s Amblin films. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting—or more telling—movie for Fanning to be starring in next. “[Super 8] is based in the ’70s [1979], around the same time Steven and J.J. were growing up,” she says. “J.J. told me that Steven did exactly the same thing the kids in Super 8 are doing—he made crazy monster movies with his super 8 camera. You could tell he was really excited because he saw us doing what he did.”

With two other releases expected to hit theaters later this year (Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo, adapted from the memoir by Benjamin Mee, and Francis Ford Coppola’s gothic, Dan Deacon-scored Twixt Now and Sunrise), red carpet appearances, and, most unnerving, eighth grade, Fanning might be the one struggling to stay free of adult cynicism. When Twixt wrapped production in Napa, California, earlier this year, Ford Coppola—“I feel like he’s my Italian grandfather now!”—gave Fanning a piece of advice: “He told me, ‘You always have to love it. You can never just act because someone else wants you to. You always have to feel it in your heart,’ which, well, I thought that was great.” Giggling, as if realizing it for the first time, she says, “And it’s so true!”

Photography by Yu Tsai. Styling by Britt Bardo.

The Sound of Music: 4AM DJs, WMC, Women

With the Winter Music Conference blasting Miami, a great many of the DJ staples are not at their usual haunts. Sure, they often enlighten us, educate us, and take us to a different place, but all too often they play the same tracks in the same order as their brethren. With Vinyl and CD’s heading in the same direction as the Eastern Ghost Cat and the Dodo — extinction, if you didn’t catch my drift — the loss of ingenuity looms dangerously, as redundancy threatens.

Miami’s gain can be ours too, as new DJs and sounds will have a chance to spin. While the cats are away, the mice might play at a club near you. Things might be getting a bit too desperate, bookers may indeed be scraping the bottom of the barrel. Example: Rob Fernandez has asked me to spin at Pacha real soon. Don’t panic, house heads: the only house I play is at home with my Amanda. It’s a rock and roll event.

Since some people who don’t pay attention, or are maybe just a bit lost, are asking me to DJ, I think I will take up 4AM’s offer, and sign with them. The DJ/talent and management agency is hosting a WMC soiree on Thursday night at 10PM ‘til 1AM in celebration of their one year anniversary. It will be held at the Soho Beach House. Featured DJs include Jus-Ske, Jesse Marco, Ani Quinn, Brooklyn Dawn, Mia Moretti, Orazio Rispo, Phresh, Price, Sinatra, Suss One, and Theory. Now, it may become a conflict of interest if I am writing about someone I am getting work for, but that would concede the fact that there is actually interest in my talents, or lack of. I will disclose.

If I was in Miami I would have attended last night’s Def Mix the Godfathers of House Descend Official Opening Party for WMC 201, held at the Vagabond. Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, and Hector Romero were in charge of the music. The other day was International Women’s Day: a shout out to all the women in nightlife who struggle in what James Brown would surely call “A Man’s World.” Jayma Cardoza is killing it over at Lavo, and there are a few other ladies of the night out there, but the cards are stacked against them. The awareness day hits home in an industry where women are generally categorized as commodities. On the night of International Women’s Day I happened to be at a joint sipping a Diet Coke with some friends when a lovely lass left the mayhem of a promoter’s table to say hello. She thanked me earnestly, through once prettier eyes, for always taking care of her at clubs I associated with. Still drop-dead gorgeous, I imagined she cocktailed somewhere when she wasn’t getting plastered. I declined credit for her entry into clubdom, and kissed her on her cheeks. I remembered the words of Scott Lipps, head honcho over at One Model Management. He told me recently that you never see the real girls at the clubs, as they’re too busy working. So the sad scene of the “C” model, with the “C” promoter, at the see and be seen table, was sad. (Editor’s note: What? She couldn’t just be out having fun? Blowing off steam after working all day as a hedge fund analyst? You never know! Love you, Uncle Steve) I guess they aren’t all getting what they want, but maybe what they need, as the girls are indeed having fun making connections for small work, and meeting cool guys. The promoters are delivering talent to the club, which is scoring on the bottles that the suits at the adjacent table were Black-Carding. Now there is no reason to change too much, but it would be nice if owners possibly hired a few women promoters to bring some model boys to the bar. Patty Doria used to do that, and worked everywhere. Now, of course, she keeps things smooth at the Chateau Marmont in Beverly Hills. Maybe International Women’s Day should be a monthly.