Tie Up Your Corset, Throw On Your Top Hat, and Put Your Fist in the Air
Name: Caravan Palace
Where they’re from: Paris, France
When They Started: 2005
Sounds like: The Triplets of Belleville on party drugs
Favorite Lyric: Sassy sisters, dressed in nothing but silk underwear/ Silly swingers, forget your feeling of despair
Caravan Palace’s origin story is better than Batman’s. Three members of the band came together for the first time when they were hired to create a soundtrack for silent pornographic films. These kinds of things happen in France.
They did what anybody would do in that situation: combine Django Reinhardt-style French “gyspy jazz” with pounding electro beats. When their X-rated gig was up, they decided to keep their project going, outside of the porn world. They added a DJ, Antoine Toustou, and singer Colotis Zoe, whose 19th century showgirl style brings a burlesque aura to the group.
In concert, the band plays live clarinets, violins, guitars, and vibraphones alongside fat and funky bass synthesizers and electronic drum pads. All of this happens in front of a giant model gramophone as singer Zoe taps, kicks, and shimmies across the stage. All in all, it’s an impressive production – something like a Parisian answer to the Gotan Project, except considerably more hype.
Caravan Palace put out their first album in 2008, accompanied by a clever stop-motion music video for the single “Jolie Coquine” in which cardboard cutouts have an old-school swinging dance party. They followed it up with a second album, like Panic, earlier this year, which takes the sound deeper into hard electronic realm, from the glitchy analog synths of “Dramaphone” to the Justice-worthy bassline in “Clash.” Below, check out a live performance of their song “Rock It For Me”