MTV Exclusive Interview With The Do
Finnish vocalist Olivia B. Merilahti and Tunisian-English-French multi-instrumentalist Dan Levy, better known as French-based duo The Do, are two of the freshest faces in view on the world music charts right now.
Flogging their unique mix avant-garde, classical jazz-tinged pop rock on debut album 'A Mouthful', the outfit are gaining hard won kudos for incorporating a heady mix of instruments into their live sound. However, The Do are probably most famous for resisting pressure to release singles in French, and at the risk of falling afoul of French audiences, instead stuck it to detractors achieving a number one charting album.
Now, one of the biggest European indie acts of 2008 are set to light V Festival audiences' hearts on fire with their unique ability to meld genres and rip the stage up.
Dan rings up from France for a chat on singing in English, the perfect festival, and how the hell you pronounce that name...
MTV: Hi Dan! So you guys are coming down to V Festival in March?
Dan: Yeah. Good news. Good news!!!
MTV: Have you guys been to Australia before?
Dan: No it's too far and too expensive. But now we are coming to Australia to make music and it's fantastic.
MTV: Do press in the southern hemisphere mis-pronounce your name?
Dan: They do! They try to say it in each country with their own pronunciation. So we try to explain to the people that it's 'dough' like the do-rae-me. We tell them the D off Dan and the O off Olivia.
It's very simple. It's not The 'Doh', not the 'Dooo'!
MTV: Olivia sings in both English and your native Finnish on the album - have you experienced any pressure to do a song in English so your singles sell better overseas?
Dan: Ahhhh, no!!! We didn't receive any pressure from the record label because we signed when the album was completely finished. So we put the album on the table and we say to the people 'that's the album, you want it or you don't want it.'
The only pressure we have is from people here in France. They ask, 'why don't you want to sing in French?' But we don't want to sing in French because that's not how we write our songs, so it is not pressure to sing in English, it is pressure to sing in French.
MTV: Do you think that is changing in France? Do you think more artists are beginning to sing in English?
Dan: Yes. Last year was a big change. Because we were number one on the charts here in France, and it was the first time for a French band to sing in English and to be number one in France. So people are realising that it's possible. That means record labels and people are not afraid for Frenchmen to release English music.
So there are a lot of French bands now singing in English and that's the good news now.
MTV: I suppose for you having English on your album that means you can come to countries like Australia where we understand your music?
Dan: Yes, at one time Olivia was very sad because we know that when we are playing overseas and else where in Europe, some of the audience didn't really understand the lyrics. But we then we started singing some in English and when we went to England, Scandinavia and Holland the people understood. They got to talk about the lyrics. Which was really cool.
MTV: I heard that you compose for films as well, and this is where you met Olivia.
Dan: I use to before The Do. My job was to make music for movies. But yes, now we know the freedom. Now we can say that we are doing our music and we are free to create music the way we want to. Before we were working for a movie or a theatre, we had some one telling you what you have to do. And that's very boring.
MTV: So you don't miss it?
Dan: No! Not at all! I just need to do what we're doing.
The smaller movies - the people are so intelligent but they don't have any money. If they don't have any money, it's more freedom. When there is lots of money on the movie they [the producers] think with the brain and not with the heart.
MTV: So you just released your first album. What are you working on now?
Dan: We are now back in the studio for the second album. So, it's really nice to go back to the studio and make new music and that's very important for us, just to make new things.
MTV: So you spent a whole year on the road?
Dan: Yeah, yeah!!
MTV: How did you find that?
Dan: It was completely new for us with the stress. But it's a normal step. One of the strengths was that when you travel in a small clan, that you have time to get used to it.
We need to keep professional because we had a very quick success in France, but now its different - we tried in one year to play everywhere at all the festivals and it was amazing. It is very good for us but also very strange as we started to play in countries that didn't know us very well. So now we are going to start as a small band and a small crew.
MTV: What is your idea of the perfect festival?
Dan: We love to play at huge festivals, where people are sleeping for three days and three nights on the floor and they are just there for the music.
MTV: We can't wait to catch you guys at V Festival!
Dan: Thank you! We look forward to it.