Chromeo sometimes describe themselves as "the only successful Arab/Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture," but the Montreal electro funk duo hardly have a reputation for writing protest songs or speaking out about social issues. That may be changing though, as the pair gear up to release their fourth album "White Women."
"Well, our choice of album title wasn't innocent," admits singer/guitarist Dave 1. "No one in their right mind would call their album 'White Women,' and one of the reasons we picked that was to start to spark a dialog on social and political issues that people don't usually associate with us. Yes, we are musicians who make this light-hearted party music, but we can use that as a forum for other things, like an art installation, or as a forum to discuss Middle East politics, or we can use it as a forum to discuss whether it makes sense to ban public sector workers in Quebec from wearing religious symbols."
He's referring, of course, to the controversial Charter Of Values being fiercely debated in Quebec, which would ban provincial employees from displaying any religious symbols while working. While the PQ claims it's a defence of secularism, many see it as pandering to xenophobia, and devised to specifically target religious minorities.
"I don't live there now, so I don't follow it that closely, but I think it comes down to two different views on immigration: the North American and the French. In France, you're expected to assimilate into the culture completely. In North America, you've got something more like a mosaic, which thrives on diversity."
"The problem with Quebec is that it has one foot in North America and one in France. A resolution like that is deeply French, and it ruffles feathers in North America. I actually don't think that bill is repressive and I understand where it comes from, but I know it's very hard to understand for North Americans."
So does this mean that "White Women" will find Chromeo trading their party anthems for nuanced songs about heavy issues? Not likely.
"It always feels heavy handed when it's in the actual music. Would you dance to a Chromeo song about the death penalty?"
UPDATE: Chromeo tweeted a clarification of their stance