Modjo, the French dance duo behind the sizzling single "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)," are the first to admit they have dues to pay.
"It's not like we have been working for years on something and it's happening today," singer Yann Destagnol admitted. "The first track we did together was 'Lady.'"
Modjo were so quick to rise that when "Lady" hit #1 on the UK singles chart in the fall, Destagnol and partner Romain Tranchart had not yet finished another track.
Fortunately, they have since recorded more music. And with "Lady" just breaking in the States, their summer album should come just in time. But first Modjo will release a second single, "Chillin'," to radio on April 2 and as a five-song EP on April 17.
"Lady" recently reached #1 on the Billboard Club Play chart and has made a rare crossover to top 40 radio. Several stations, including Chicago's B96 (WBBM-FM), have been playing the song since late January.
"We don't usually play a lot of songs like that in regular rotation, but we really liked 'Lady' from the beginning," Erik Bradley, music director at B96, said. "It's a nice, fun, party record."
For all of the success it has achieved, the song came from a simple idea. "Lady" builds a house groove around a sample of Chic's "Soup for One" while lyrics tell the story of a guy who falls for a girl at a disco.
"It's pretty easy to understand," Destagnol said. "We are young and we don't have the experience of songwriting, so we don't expect a lot of things from the lyrics a bit like the Beatles used to in the beginning. 'Lady' is just a love story. We're not much proud about the lyrics."
Instead, Modjo focus on nailing harmonies and creating seamless melodies to go with them. Destagnol, 21, and Tranchart, 25, are trained musicians who met at the American School of Modern Music in Paris. Both play numerous instruments, but neither has touched a turntable.
To prove their musical proficiency, the duo released an acoustic version of "Lady" as the B-side to the single. When they tour later this year, a six-piece band will join them.
"Since I was very little, I played instruments," Destagnol said. "I never bought a sampler or that kind of thing. Romain played jazz guitar. We're not DJs. I've never mixed two songs together in my life. We're going to adapt the electronic sample so it works played live. Even if our songs sound very electronic, we're going to find a way to play them with real instruments."
Modjo's as-yet-untitled debut album will blend Destagnol's Beatles influence with Tranchart's house background as Funk Legacy, the name he was using when he scored a club hit with "What You're Gonna Do Baby."
"Before we worked together, I was not into house music or samplers or that kind of thing," Destagnol said. "I was much more into the whole pop music band. I like Daft Punk and Air, but I don't have any of their recordings. It's not the kind of music that makes me dream. Pop music and songs do."
Although Destagnol has only been singing seriously for two years and doesn't consider himself much of a crooner, he said every track on Modjo's album will include vocals. But don't expect an album of "Lady"s.
"The melody side of it will still be there, but we have some tracks that are going to be a little more different," Destagnol said. "We have some that are slower, R&B style. We're going to try to be very creative."