Published on May 28th, 2000 | by Gerry Galipault0
Eiffel 65 Sings the Praises of ‘Europop’
Nearly 3 million fans in the United States can’t be wrong.
You think you’re surprised by the Top 10 success of Eiffel 65’s catchy and equally annoying hit “Blue (Da Be Dee)” and the multiplatinum status of its debut album, “Europop” (Republic/Universal); imagine the reaction of Jeffrey Jey, the Italian trio’s vocalist, producer and computer wiz.
“I was surprised about its success, generally speaking,” Jey said during a recent U.S. tour stop, “because it started off in Europe with it not getting played on the radio and we were getting no response at all and people were not buying it. Nothing was happening.
“Then suddenly it exploded and I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute, this can’t be true. I’m going to be waking up sooner or later.’ But I think we have to thank all the people who actually bought the album and the singles. Europe is a bigger market for singles; it’s not an album market. These people actually got out of their houses and bought the records, and they made us what we are today. It’s incredible. If they hadn’t bought it, we wouldn’t have been such a phenomenon.”
They’re such a phenomenon, fans are showing up at concerts painted blue – from head to toe.
“We’ve seen people totally painted blue,” Jey said, laughing. “We had a lady come up to us wearing only a bikini and she was painted entirely in blue. She said she wanted to kiss me, but I said, ‘Uh, I can’t let you do that. You might ruin my outfit.’ But it’s funny, you gave that person something and they appreciate you for what you are.”
Eight years ago, Jey, producer-composer Maurizio Lobina and DJ-producer-composer Gabry Ponte were struggling musicians until the Bliss Corporation – a collective of dance-music producers, artists and labels – signed them and gave them free rein of the studio. They churned out several Top 10 European dance hits on their own, then decided it was high time to pool their talents for their own Eurodisco sound.
“It’s really good that we actually got to be in Eiffel 65 together,” Jey said, “because us three guys were hanging out already and were really good friends. It’s been almost two years now.”
Sharing an affinity for dance and electronic music, they fashioned an album that also draws from their varied influences, from Jey’s love for Duran Duran and Depeche Mode to Lobina’s classical training. They also seized the topical moment, tackling such subjects as video games (“My Console”), Internet sex (“Hyperlink”) and alien life forms (“Another Race”).
And then there’s “Blue,” an odd duck if there ever was one. Over Lobina’s hook-laden rhythms, Jey sings through a vocoder (like Cher did on “Believe”) and takes on the personality of a futuristic man depressed about his situation and lifestyle.
“You know, it’s the kind of music that when you walk into a disco it’ll make you dance, and when you listen to it on the radio it’ll make you sing,” Jey said. “So, there is a catchy vibe to it, of course. But then I’m not the kind of person that believes in only one kind of music. Music is international, it doesn’t have a race. It’s music, it’s just music. I listen to everything, from classical music to Venom, which is deep, hard metal, and I go from Limp Bizkit to hip-hop, like Snoop Doggy Dogg. I listen to a lot of music. I listen to Eurodance music, I listen to French house music, I listen to everything. Just as long as it’s a good track. If it’s a good track, I like it. And that’s all there is to it. You have to love music. You just can’t give it a race and close it in a box. It’s too limiting.”
“Europop” has something for everybody, Jey says.
“We grew up listening to everything,” he said. “Depeche Mode, mainly, I would say, was the biggest influence, of course, because they were our teachers, speaking about sounds and how sounds can give you emotions. And U2 and Duran Duran, Rick Astley, the ’80s music mainly. We called it kind of like a new age for melodies, and that was wonderful for us. We grew up listening to everything. We put that into the album. It’s mainly Europop, what the album of course is titled, which means a blend of different European music styles, going from trip-hop to dance music, and with a pop song on top of it all the time.”
“Blue” is a prime example, with just enough of a hip-hop, rock and pop feel to appeal to a wide audience.
” ‘Blue’ is a hybrid of a pop song with dance music, and the tracks on the album, like ‘Too Much of Heaven’ is a crossover between a pop song and trip-hop,” Jey said. ” ‘Living in a Bubble’ is a crossover between pop and R&B. So there’s always a double catch to it, giving it the opportunity to actually touch anyone without having them say, ‘Oh, but it’s not this, but it’s that.’ And if it sounds tedious to someone, they’ll probably still end up singing it, whether they want to or not.”
Born in Italy, Jey lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his parents for 12 years before returning to Italy when he was 14. His time in the United States gave him an appreciation for hip-hop and rock.
“I brought that into my Italian musical culture,” he said. “When we all fused together for Eiffel 65, it was a blending of European and American cultures, which gives it more of an international taste, without any boundaries.”
Was all this a fluke, a timely alignment of the sun and the moon, and a bit of luck? Jey isn’t concerned with trying to top “Europop” with the next Eiffel 65 album.
“I don’t really care about that,” he said, “because what we mainly like to do is make music. If anything just goes wrong, we don’t have to prove anything to anyone. We just want to have fun, because if you live your life thinking about how much money you’re going to make or how much you have to be famous or how many hits you need, you’ll end up dying.
“You should enjoy yourself while you’re making music and giving your creative best. If you don’t do that, and you’re thinking about the money and what the producer wants, you’re going to flip. We’ve maintained that same philosophy all the way through: What happens, happens. That’s the way we thought about ‘Move Your Body,’ which was the second single in Europe. It ended up being a bigger hit than ‘Blue.’ So … no one can say we’re a one-hit wonder.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: ” ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ by Rod Stewart when I was a little kid here in the United States. I remember jumping on the couch to that song.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “George Michael, about 1987, when the ‘Faith’ album came out. I liked his songs and the way he writes. I prefer some of his old stuff, compared to the new stuff, but he’s a good guy.”
THE LAST CD I BOUGHT: “Lit’s ‘A Place in the Sun.’ I tell you, I go from rock to hip-hop. I’m into everything.”
BWF (before we forget): For more on Eiffel 65, visit www.eiffel65.net.