Sergio's rep on the international EDM scene rised slowly and surreptitiously, thanks in part to word-of-mouth praise from inner-circle luminaries like Seth Troxler and Bruno Pronsato.
The release in question was a two-track gem of an EP called Full Grown Man which Pronsato put out on his small and obscure Thesongsays label. But the
Washington, D.C. duo would not remain obscure for long.
with the eminent Visionquest crew for the debut release of their eponymous label this year, Benoit & Sergio's Where The Freaks Have No Name EP quickly climbed the deep house charts, scoring serious worldwide buzz.
We caught up with Benoit & Sergio in advance of their Ultra week performances for Visionquest's label showcase at the Shelborne on March 25 and Sunday School on March 27.
In your own words, who are Benoit & Sergio?
We are friends who make, at times, melancholic dance jams. We actually don't like to think too much about who we are or what defines the tracks we're putting out. We remain very particular about things within each track (sequencing, sound, or simply the mood) but, outside the tracks, we like to let the randomness of life take us to unexpected places.
How did you guys first hook up with Bruno Pronsato's Thesongsays label for your first release? Why did you decide to release on a techno imprint considering your sound is more song-oriented?
We had just finished "Full Grown Man" before DEMF, and we'd given it to a great friend, because he'd heard it and liked it. He in turn played it for other friends in Detroit and Bruno happened to be around and loved it. Bruno was starting his label around then and he didn't want it to be about techno stuff necessarily -- that's why his label is called Thesongsays, and that's why our more "song-oriented" sound worked for it.
There seems to be an almost pop-like songcraft to your productions, especially tracks like "What I've Lost". How do you go about writing your material?
"What I've Lost" and especially "Boy Trouble" do have songcraft. Both came about incrementally, bit by bit, like chess moves. We had the raw material from the start and had to re-combine and switch layers to reach that pop-like structure. The lyrics/vocals happen last in the process. We don't like getting into that until we have the other parts down.
Your work is definitely quite lyrical for dance music. What inspires it?
Moody evenings spent alone, thinking about the passing of time.
And how did you first hook up with the Visionquest crew?
Sergio met Seth [Troxler] and Shaun [Reeves] in Berlin in summer 2006. Seth introduced Sergio to Lee [Curtiss] and Ryan [Crosson] that following fall. Sergio then introduced Benoit to all of them in Detroit in 2009.
So far, what have been the biggest perks of topping the charts?
It's great to see Where The Freaks Have No Name atop the charts, but there haven't been so many perks yet. No pink limos. No VIP. People are still just learning about who we are. If anything, it is great to see people's reaction when we play "Walk and Talk" during our live set.
What prompted your move from DC to Berlin and what are your impressions of the scene there so far?
Benoit still lives in DC. Sergio moved to Berlin because he'd retired from teaching and had always loved the city and the many friends he'd made there. Berlin's dance music scene is pretty hard to top. Wednesday nights in Berlin surpass peak weekend parties in most other places.
What do you have in store for the rest of 2011?
We have an EP for Spectral called Let Me Count The Ways coming out around DEMF. We have another EP for DFA called Principles coming out rather soon, too. And we're working on new stuff for an album.
What is your live performance M.O. and what do you have planned for Sunday School?
We want our set to be epic for an hour. And we like to make girls dance. For Sunday School, let's just say Bruce Springsteen at the Meadowlands is in the back of our minds.
Benoit & Sergio as part of Sunday School: The Lost Weekend. Friday, March 25, to Sunday, March 27. Ice Palace, 59 NW 14th St., Miami. Doors open March 25 at 10 p.m. and close March 27 at 10 p.m. with a 12-hour intermission from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. A full 36-hour wristband costs $125 via ticketweb.com. Ages 21 and up. Visit madeevent.com.