Mirwais, like his neo-cowgirl collaborator, creates crisp dance music that makes the world go 'round, but there's a central difference between Production, the French producer's debut album, and Madonna's Music.
"She's a real singer, and I am not a real singer, and I don't pretend I am a singer," Mirwais said late last year. "I'm not saying that my album is less interesting, but it's more interesting with a real singer."
Mirwais, who is nominated for the Record of the Year Grammy for co-producing Music's hit title track, compensates for what he considers a lack of vocal prowess on Production released overseas last fall and due February 7 in the United States by densely distorting his words around brittle beats, disco grooves and colossal hooks.
"I try to project my voice on tracks with different things," Mirwais said. "The most common problem with electronic music and instrumental music is that you are always in one kitchen. You have to replace the role of the voice in pop songs. But the voice is not just the voice. The voice is the soul, and a lot of times you don't find the soul in instrumental music. You can bring very simple or complex feeling with lyrics."
"Naive Song," the first single and video from Production, tells a tale of an "unhappy soul living in a happy world" set to a tone reminiscent of Trio's "Da Da Da" and interrupted with a fuzzy guitar licks and synthesizer effects.
"My record is dance music without the hedonist side you can usually expect from a dance record," Mirwais said. "It's more a mix of the energy of dance and the sadness and melancholy of pop. It's a curious mix."
Mirwais (born Mirwais Ahmadzai) boasts a diverse musical background outside dance music. He played guitar in the French pop band Taxi Girl, and fronted the acoustic project Juliette et les Independants for nearly 10 years.
"My music background is American music from the '70s and '60s, bands like the Stooges, Iggy Pop, Velvet Underground or Patti Smith," Mirwais said. "I try to put both things into my music."
Mirwais was a full-time musician who was producing local bands to earn extra money for his own musical adventures until friend and video director Stephane Sednaoui passed on his first single to Madonna, and she enlisted him to produce six tracks on her recent album.
"Disco Science, "the song that caught Madonna's interest, is featured on Production, along with "Paradise (Not for Me)," a duet between the two artists that is also included on Music.
A U.K. hit last summer that garnered headlines when MTV Europe refused to play Sednaoui's racy video, "Disco Science" is a Basement Jaxx-like house track built around a sample from the memorable opening to the Breeders' "Cannonball." The song is also available on the "Snatch" soundtrack, which was executive produced by the film's director, Guy Ritchie, Madonna's husband.
Mirwais plans to support Production with a U.S. tour before returning to the studio to record his second album.
"The tour will be live, with musicians," Mirwais said. "I am not a DJ. I respect DJs, but I am not a DJ, and I don't want to take their place. I'm mainly a musician. Honestly, [the album] won't be hard to capture live. There's only a few tracks on each song. We can do it with a band and synthesizer."