French Duo Justice Reveal Songwriting, Sampling Secrets: 50 Cent, Slipknot Take Note!

Group says most of its samples -- including 50 Cent, Slipknot, Queen -- are so brief they're unrecognizable.

French electro-pop duo Justice have said that it’ll be a while before they release any new music. But fans should understand that the reason for the delay is because the group’s songwriting process is très compliqué. The pair — Gaspard Auge and Xavier de Rosnay — sat down with us before their recent performance at Hard Festival in Los Angeles to talk about it.

“We’re really slow at making music,” de Rosnay said. “On the album, [†], we maybe sampled 400 records.”

Sampling, of course, has been a hot-button issue in the music business for the past 20 years, reaching a new peak with the dubious legality of the samples used on the latest album from Girl Talk, Feed the Animals.

But Justice — best known on these shores for their 2007 VMA-nominated hit, “D.A.N.C.E.” — inhabit more of a gray area. Conflicting stories have arisen over the extent of their sampling: Fans speculate that from zero to 100 percent of the group’s music is sampled.

“I know why stories are conflicting,” de Rosnay said. “Because we do sample really small bits of things that nobody can recognize.

“Say we use the ’In Da Club’ hand clap — not even 50 Cent would notice,” he continued. “But if you listen to ’Genesis,’ the first track [on †], there are samples of Slipknot, Queen and 50 Cent, but they are such short samples no one can recognize them. The ones from Slipknot, for example, are just tiny bits of the voice.”

Other samples that fans claim to have found within Justice’s musical maze include Three 6 Mafia, Devo, Britney Spears and Madonna. But the duo want a few of the samples to be easily identifiable.

“Sometimes we do also use big samples,” de Rosnay said. “On the album, we used three big samples that we had to clear, and all the rest are just impossible to recognize. We’re using the very short samples to improve the sound, because we are just writing melodies on piano and then we are listing each note taken from other records, so we make a trade between those notes and the proper loops.”

De Rosnay then sat down at his MacBook, reminiscent of the way, say, Josh Groban sits down at a piano. He pressed “play” and then “stop” quickly enough to release a millisecond of sound from a song that’s destined to remain a mystery to everyone but him.

“Just like that!” he said triumphantly. Repeat ad infinitum for most of the duo’s songs. “That’s why it takes so long to do.”

So, as fans wait patiently for more music to obsess over, there’s no shortage of sonic nuances to wrap your head around in the tracks the duo have already released. It’s new music you’ve already heard.

For new versions of older music you’ve already heard, check out the group’s live DVD/CD, A Cross the Universe, when it drops November 24.

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