French Horn Rebellion take over South Florida

What happens when two brothers from Brooklyn, who grew up thinking the French horn and the bassoon were really cool, discover the joys of electronic music? Orchestra Geeks Gone Wild, that’s what! The French Horn Rebellion combines true musicianship with the whimsical, bouncy sounds of hipster dance bands such as Daft Punk and Hot Chip. And you’ve got two chances to catch them live in South Florida – at 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13 at the Green Room in Fort Lauderdale, and 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14 at Grand Central in downtown Miami. (697 N. Miami Ave., Miami). FHR member David Perlick-Molinari talked to about what we can expect from the shows, the band’s roots and musical philosophy, and his personal experience producing the popular indie-rock band MGMT.
What’s a French Horn Rebellion show like?
It’s like a basement dance party. Hot, sweaty, really fun, and goes on as long as you want it to go on in your mind. The reason we started this group is these moments of freedom and fun.
You’re down here for two shows – will they be significantly different?
I don’t think so, but the Miami show will be a bit more dance-y and bangin’, and maybe a bit more light-hearted for Fort Lauderdale. But they’ll be very similar in terms of overall sensibility.
What inspired your name?
Actually it’s all about my brother, Robert. He was a French horn performance major in college, at Northwestern University, and I played the bassoon. And our mother made it seem like classical musicians were like rock stars, like highly regarded. And she would say things like, “You’ll be the next French horn stud!” [laughs]. The tone of the French horn is one of the most beautiful sounding tones in the orchestra – it’s so heroic and romantic and tender. So Robert was hooked, and he still is. And he went to school and said, “I’m gonna play the s— out of this thing.” The horn program at Northwestern is regarded as one of the best in the country and he was elated when he got in. But there just came a point where the reality of the world where we live in and this fantasy dream world that my mom kind of led us to believe, kind of collided. And Robert felt he couldn’t really express himself with this instrument, and with all the time and energy it took to master this archaic instrument – it takes a lifetime to really play it well.
So in the end, this is freedom. We’re gonna express ourselves the way we want to – I mean, we can be the French horn player, but we can also be the composer, the arranger, and whatever we want, and it’s just liberating.
But your sound is so far from traditional classical music. What happened?
How this translates into dance beats? I don’t know – this is just what came out. For me, I always loved dancing – when we were kids we used to just bop around, not that we’re any good.
How did you hook up with MGMT, and what was it like working with them?
Awesome. They were friends of friends, and I’ve always produced for other people or written for other people. My friend Will Griggs, whom I worked with at NYU, saw that my sensibilities were similar to MGMT, so he asked me. And at the time, it was just one of many projects, but it was pretty influential for me because what set them apart was that they didn’t put any elusive expectations on the creation process. They weren’t doing it for some kind of weird, mysterious goal, to be a pop star, for example. They were doing it because they were having fun, and that’s the same reason that I was doing it. And I’ve never met many people like that – all the people I’d met were like, “You can do this for me and I’ll be able to reach all these people and become a STAR!”
Did you have any influence on their song “Electric Feel”? Because that sounds like something you guys would do as well.
Yeah. It’s funny – we had recorded a version, and at that time it was called “Electric Eel.” And it was a great track, and we had been working on it, and then they got signed and whisked away to a different world, the major label world. But the things that we worked on influenced the final recording.
Did your sound – kind of a funky cross between Daft Punk, Hot Chip and Prince – happen naturally, or were you consciously going for it?
For me, the only way I can think about it logically is that we’re constantly taking in experiences every day, and sometimes one experience can affect you and it comes out in a very different way. And so, that must be where some of those influences come from, but I couldn’t pinpoint specifically to you. But it’s easier to see it from the outside, and I can definitely say Prince for sure, with a lot of his vocal utterances. But it depends on the song, too – some things feel better than other things, and we just roll with it.


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