Listen Now: Music Spotlight on Cigarettes After Sex

Listen Now: Music Spotlight on Cigarettes After Sex

This week's music spotlight is on Greg Gonzalez of Cigarettes After Sex, who just released their first full album to applause by Michel Gaubert and Françoise Hardy.

This week's music spotlight is on Greg Gonzalez of Cigarettes After Sex, who just released their first full album to applause by Michel Gaubert and Françoise Hardy.

Text: Christina Cacouris

Every week, V shines a light on an up-and-coming artist. This week, get to know Greg Gonzalez of noir dreampop band Cigarettes After Sex, who have just released their first full album after their EP exploded online to millions of streams—even catching the attention of fashion's favorite DJ Michel Gaubert, who played their cover of REO Speedwagon's "Keep On Lovin' You" to close out Raf Simons's first menswear show in New York City. While the band is on a world tour, we caught up with Gonzalez to talk about meeting Françoise Hardy, how hip hop is influencing their next release, and fashion's constant trafficking between art and music.

You’ve continued in the same vein of everything you’ve released before, and this album feels really cohesive in that sound. Do you feel that you’ve been pigeonholed or do you feel there’s room for expansion in further albums?

I want to keep moving forward with some sort of version of it, like the way the Cocteau Twins had this one sound they worked through and developed that for years and years. We’ve already started recording for the next record—I was just listening to it. It does exactly that—expanding the sound by finding little ways to get out of what we just did and has different influences than we did before.

How do you do that? How do you maintain your identity but still develop as an artist without losing your sound?

I think the most basic thing I was able to figure out in the way to evolve with this next record coming out is all you have to do is change the back beats. When you think about the evolution of music in general, you think about the back beats changing in pop music—if you think about a disco beat, or hip hop and those beats, that signals momentum. With this, I thought: let’s do that, let’s change the back beats, so it’ll be the same feeling to it, but a different momentum. I think it’ll be kind of invisible though. Those influences are there but people aren’t going to say “oh this is a hip hop beat.” You just use that spiritually; it guides you.

What hip hop artists have inspired you? You’ve mentioned Françoise Hardy and Miles Davis before as major influences, but are there any hip hop influences that we’ll be able to get a sense of in the next record?

There’s a really dark vibe in a lot of hip hop that I really respond to. I like stuff like “Trap Queen” [laughs] and "Bad and Boujee," maybe Cam'ron, I just think that music is really invigorating. And there’s just something that I wanted to get the essence of in the music with Cigarettes. It’s just this darkness. And also going back to “Young and Dumb”—it’s strange that in hip hop, that music is pretty vulgar and pretty raw, but if I bring it into a pop song or a general rock song, then people are like “I think that’s pretty strange!" If you hear any of these songs, they’re pretty vulgar about sexuality. And so it’s me saying I want to do that myself. But I have other influences like Richard Brautigan's poetry, who I thought was really cool and intriguing.

With “Young and Dumb” were you surprised by the fans shocked reaction to the explicit lyrics?

That song is what I want to see more of in pop music. There’s a lot of humor in it. The main thing people seem to be missing what the song is about, is when you’re with somebody in a passionate way, you have a humor between you where you can joke around in certain ways. I’ve had that relationship with other girlfriends where you can joke around in a vulgar way, and the girl in the song is the one who is saying she wants to go and look at girls—I think people are missing that. It wasn’t first person in that part. It’s based on a true story. I had a girlfriend that liked going to clubs, and she was attracted to girls too, so it’s honest. I'm just trying to do an honest portrayal of romance that I’ve seen that’s maybe a little more atypical, but all genuine. It’s a real story.

Speaking of real stories—I heard that you had dinner with Françoise Hardy!

That was just the best night of my life. It was wild. She was so sweet and so kind. She walked in to this restaurant, and the first thing she said to me was: “You’re a genius.” I didn’t know what to say! She’s a big fan of us—how do you even compute that? Her music has been such a big part of my identity and my life.

Raf Simons used your song to close his show. How do you see your music tying in with fashion?

Actually, the style of Cigarettes, a lot of the mood is inspired by 90’s GUESS ads that were black and white. They had this mood to them that was really attractive to me. So fashion was always a big influence for me, especially Guess. If they ever called us I’d be happy, because they were such a big influence.

And in your own covers you were using Man Ray and other black and white imagery which also has that element to it.

Yeah, and other photographers that I loved like Horst P. Horst, it fits in with the music. Fashion is sexy. It has a mood to it, so great art and great music, like Françoise Hardy—there’s always this fashion that’s involved around that and it’s great.

"Cigarettes After Sex" is out now. Stream the record below.

Credits: IMAGE COURTESY OF CIGARETTES AFTER SEX

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