It is, by some distance, M83’s most successful single, but it turns out that Anthony Gonzalez, the band’s one constant member, isn’t particularly pleased with the legacy that Midnight City’s popularity bequeathed him.
Released in 2011, the song became a worldwide hit, and its parent album, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, placed highly on a lot of critics’ best-of-the-year lists. However, Gonzalez wasn’t entirely happy with the impact this had on his career, and the kind of following it brought him.
“For me, the struggle with being a successful artist with that album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, and especially with that track, ‘Midnight City’, is that all of a sudden, I had this huge EDM following,” he told Consequence (opens in new tab).
The problem for Gonzalez, it turns out, is that “EDM is probably one of the styles of music that I hate the most. All of a sudden, I have these bro EDM DJs playing my music, and I just can’t even care less. Sometimes I wish that I could erase that fanbase but I don’t think it’s possible to do that.”
Gonzalez went on to joke that, such is the pace of technological change, “maybe in a few days, there’ll be some apps that can do this.” Even if they can’t, he’s certainly become aware of what AI can do in the musical sphere.
“I feel like now we’re in the era of artificial intelligence in art,” he says. “On Instagram, I started to look at some artists, and I came across a couple of artists’ songs, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in a long time,’ and I didn’t know anything about AI, it was just a few months ago.
“Then I discovered that everything was computer generated, and the feeling I had, knowing that I thought it was probably the best thing I’ve ever seen in years, and knowing that it was not human in a sense (or barely human), I had a strange feeling of a void in my stomach and guts. I felt like, ‘Is it the beginning of the end?’”
It seems unlikely that AI will have any part to play in M83’s future, though: “To me, being able to gather in a room with musicians, put a lot of sweat in an album…. Creation is crucial,” says Gonzalez.
Back to the present, and M83’s new album Fantasy, is released in its entirety today (the first half has been available for several weeks). A guitar-heavy slice of shoegazey ambience, Gonzalez describes it as an emotional record that marks a new beginning for him.
“To me, I truly believe that this Fantasy album is probably like the beginning of the next chapter of my career and I am truly excited about what’s next.”
You can read the full interview on Consequence (opens in new tab).