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Electronic Duo Justice on How Taking Eight Years Between Projects Influenced New Album ‘Hyperdrama’: ‘It’s a Big Leap of Faith’

For electronic duo Justice, everything comes down to timing. When the French group debuted with 2007’s “Cross,” Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay entered the music space at the exact moment when bloghouse — a cultural moment defined by its skittery, electroclash sound and propagated by music-sharing blog sites — was opening audiences to developing strains of dance music. Justice presented as something of an alternative to their peers; their music was distinct, like a mutated Daft Punk, with assaultive songs that mainly lacked vocals and touted instrumentation pocked by harsh, distorted sounds.

“A lot of people felt [‘Cross’] was a heavy metal influence,” says De Rosnay. “And for us, it was like a disco record made with noise and it was like if the remnants of the White Stripes made a disco record. The reason it was so different is when we started noticing the huge gap between what we make and how people perceive it. Which is great. That’s the…”

Augé chimes in: “That’s the magic of music.”

Roughly two decades after they released their first song, a remix of Simian’s “Never Be Alone,” Justice is returning with its first album in eight years, “Hyperdrama,” out today (April 26). They haven’t lost the magic on their fourth studio project, a fully realized vision that sands the edges of their harder productions and lets the music simply breathe. It’s a testament to the group’s growth. At 41 and 44, respectively, De Rosnay and Augé have outlasted many of their bloghouse peers, largely taking extended breaks between records and coming back with full-lengths that ignore the conventions of both pop and dance music of the time.

That much was evident at this year’s Coachella Music Festival, where they debuted a new live stage setup and toured their discography from Justice classics (“D.A.N.C.E.,” “TTHHEE PPAARRTTYY”) to “Hyperdrama” cuts (“Mannequin Love,” “Neverender”). They’ve played Coachella before, but headlining the Outdoor Theatre this time left them questioning what, if any, sort of impact they would make following their absence.

“We always have this anxiety of, who’s going to come? Are there going to be people interested in what we do?” says De Rosnay. “It’s a big leap of faith because it’s something we feel is right for us, and if people don’t want to see that, then we’re doomed because we’ve already worked and finished everything. It’s a gamble all the time.”


The teeming audience at Coachella reacted with fervor and devotion. As one of the very few electronic acts to headline the Outdoor Theatre, their return felt natural, a welcome reprieve from the pummeling EDM a few tents over. Justice is taking this all in stride. Between Coachella weekends, De Rosnay and Augé are seated on a couch at their label Because Music’s headquarters in Los Angeles. They’re both wearing sunglasses indoors, pausing between reflections on the meticulous machinations — a light show for the ages — of their weekend one performance to take puffs on their Juuls.

“If you go and see Lana Del Rey or the Strokes, their presence is enough on stage as singers. They’re rock stars,” says De Rosnay. And Justice aren’t? “Not in the sense that people would be satisfied watching us turning knobs. So yeah, every moment of music and everything has to be illustrated at some point.”

That attention to detail permeates through “Hyperdrama,” crafted over the past three-and-a-half years. De Rosnay and Augé live within five minutes of each other in north Paris, and set to work on the project just before the start of the pandemic. Unlike with previous albums, where the final product would consist of the only tracks they confected, they approached “Hyperdrama” with a loose-fitting ethos, toiling over a track for a week and then returning to it six months later.

They ended up with enough songs to make a double album, something they considered putting out, but inevitably decided to pare down their vision to 13 songs. (The ideas left on the cutting room are “lost forever.”) What resulted is a collection of tracks that flow from one to the next, spanning mood and texture. There’s the face-punch industrialism of early Justice records on “Generator” and “Incognito,” but much of “Hyperdrama” floats on a cloud. Some inclusions, like “Moonlight Rendez-Vous” and “Muscle Memory,” barely have percussion.

“Our music and this album for us is pure fantasy. It’s almost like a dream or fever dream. Sometimes borderline LSD, all this type of stuff. A stream of consciousness,” says De Rosnay. “And ‘Hyperdrama’ for us means that. We thought of that word in the sense that it’s the same way melodrama is an enhanced version of a drama, everything is more. More everything.”

It comes in the wake of the Big Tent reign of EDM musicians on the charts and at festivals. Justice never really fit in with those artists, and rarely, if at all, tuned in to the noise around them. “To be honest, we never really think in terms of electronic music. Because it’s not the music that we listen to most of the time,” states De Rosnay. “Of course, we pay a bit of attention and when something new comes out of the electronic scene, we love it and aren’t against it. We feel actually in our place in festivals that are not electronic music festivals, sometimes even more so than EDM-focused festivals. For us, it’s more of a challenge to play an EDM festival than a general music festival.”


Justice has always operated in their own orbit, dating back to the days when they first linked. De Rosnay and Augé met when they were graphic designers, and only collaborated on the Simian remix as part of a college radio contest. The song went viral — whatever that meant in 2003 — and they soon signed with Ed Banger, a French breeding ground for electronic upstarts. After the release of “Cross,” they secured their first Grammy for their remix of MGMT’s “Electric Feel,” and their career continued to ascend. In the time since, they secured another Grammy for the release of their 2019 live album “Woman Worldwide.”

Still, Justice operates just out of time — even though it consistently works in their favor — and they’re reemerging at a moment that feels right for them. While stretches between albums get longer and longer, they’ve already begun conceptualizing for their fifth record, though they don’t want to put constraints on the creative process. “There’s so many things we want to do,” says De Rosnay. “‘Hyperdrama’ has a lot of frivolity in it, and on the other hand, it’s very monolithic and monomaniac almost. But it’s just one part of what we like to do, what we want to do. And there are so many things we haven’t made on this record. So we still have things we want to make, and I think yesterday or two days ago, we were talking about what we could potentially make as a next album. It’s always working in the background.”

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