Interview: French Horn Rebellion

Nothing is more engaging than a band that can move beyond the norm and take things in a new direction. That is exactly how to sum up the French Horn Rebellion. They’re an electro-pop dance band comprised of brothers Robert Perlick-Molinari and David Perlick-Molinari.

The duo emerged from Wisconsin. Robert was attending Northwestern University and felt the call of beats and moved from studying classical to make dance music with his French horn and brother.

The brothers have worked with The Knocks, Jody Watley, JD Samson (an Ohio native), Fat Tony, Autograf and have remixed for Beyonce, Sia, Andy Bell of Erasure and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

How would best sum up your sound and the connection with the French horn?

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The group started as a creative outlet while I was classical French hornist in Chicago circa 2007. In the conservatory world, there are a few keys to success: practice, practice and practice. Though it’s great to hone in on your craft, about halfway through my training I started to wonder what all this practice was for.

For fun, I had produced music on my old Gateway PC in my parents’ basement, and that love went into college. I used that skill to start making music that I wanted to make, rather than music I had to practice. I make this music using all the skills I have, including the French horn. Believe it or not, but it makes many appearances in our music, even though it hardly ever sounds like the noise was made from a horn.

At what point did you start experimenting with dance music?

I remember specifically in 2007, I went to a show at Smartbar in Chicago and saw Digitalism play. I was so inspired, I called my brother immediately after the show and said, “This is the best show I have ever seen. We have to make music like this!”

This was just the beginning of the internet-music-discovery era, and it all started because I heard a song by Fox & Wolf called “Youth Alcoholic.” I checked out who the label was, and it was something called Kitsuné. I was a fan since then, and immediately wanted to make dance music.

Your shows are described as pretty wild at times. You instruct people to dance like their favorite animal. What are a few of the best stories from your shows?

Yes! We love to throw a good party. We’ve been known for having some wild and crazy times at shows. One of my favorites is a show we played in Madison, Wis. Everybody got so excited, and the venue was so small that chaos truly ensued.

Halfway through it, the audience rushed the stage and started dancing with us. Girls were trying to be cute playing our keyboards during the songs, and guys were trying to get on the mic to sing. Ultimately, what happened was all of the on-stage monitors and amps got unplugged because of everybody dancing. So in short time, everybody kept dancing just to the drummer’s beat, since that was the only live instrument not relying on electricity.

Your latest release, “Love Me Back,” is a pretty laid-back track and “Soy Bonita” had more of a Latin funk-infused track. What influences the diversity of the sounds?

Our favorite thing to do is to collaborate. Life is just a lot more fun when you incorporate your friends. Because of this, many of the recent releases have lacked some sonic consistency, as we are collaborating with folks from all genres of music.

To address this, in 2019, we have started a new label, called Toucan Sounds, where we are focusing on our roots in indie dance, namely disco, electro and house.

What is in the future for the French Horn Rebellion?

French Horn Rebellion this year is going through a massive shift, but we are doing it quietly. In March, we will be releasing our fourth and final album as a brother-duo team. We’re not doing a big press push about it, as it will be nine songs, eight of which have already been released as singles.

From then on out, we will be releasing dance- and disco-leaning tracks, with a touch of indie pop. It will continue as a solo project/artist moniker for myself.

I will also be shifting the focus from live parties and events to club nights, and from producing and singing to A&R and releasing music for other artists.

My brother and I still work together every day. He is the head of the music studio in Williamsburg, called YouTooCanWoo. This new dance label I’m working on full time (Toucan Sounds) is a subsidiary of the music studio.

We are REALLY excited about this new chapter in the project’s life. I can’t believe it’s already been 10 years. Hopefully we can keep it going for another 10 years.

Something no one knows about you:

I love to go camping! It’s actually one of my favorite things to do. I was an Eagle Scout from back in the day, which is where I originally got the camping bug, and I’ve had it ever since.

Favorite way to relax and unwind:

I’m super into reading and watching documentaries about world history. I’ve always been interested in history, and there are so many insane stories that have ACTUALLY HAPPENED. I find it fascinating.

One person you could spend one hour with and what would you do:

I never met my great-grandmother Rosa. She is my dad’s dad’s mom, and it seems she was a pretty bad-ass woman who was way before her time. I would love to have accompanied her on one of her many trips to Italy, where legend says she sang opera.

So, if we were to have one hour together, I would have loved to get lunch with her back when she would visit Italy in the mid 1930s.

Music:

Currently, my favorite artist is actually somebody we are releasing on our label! His name is LEFTI, and he makes a stellar combination of disco, house and indie pop.

\He has a new EP, called “DISCOTECA,” that is coming out the first week of March. His single, “Every Time,” featuring Spencer Ludwig, is out now.

The one person you could record a duet with and why:

I would love to do something with Nancy Whang from LCD Soundsystem. We’ve done some DJing together in the past, but I would love to work with her on a duet.

Favorite song by genre:

It’s so hard to have a favorite song of all time, so I’m just going to some of my recent favorites!

Country: “Mi 45,” by El Fantasma. This is Mexican country/bandero music.
Hip Hop: “Strength,” by Blac Youngsta.
Rock: “Cosmis Beings,” by Abby Jeanne.
Alternative: “Variety Hour,” by Deidre & the Dark.
Dance: “You Are,” by NVOY.
Disco: “Cabrio Mango,” by Coeo.

The one song no one believes you would like:

Ben Folds Five was my absolute favorite band in high school. I know the lyrics to almost every song they released.

The one song you have always wanted to cover:

The New Pornographers’ “Loose Translation.”

Brad Henry
Brad Henry is a the CEO of EduTechnologic, llc. Brad supports the web infrastructure and is a contributing author. Contact: BradHenry@prizmnews.com