Record company knockbacks, family responsibilities and anxiety don’t sound like ideal circumstance to make one of the sexiest albums in history.
Yet in the mid-'90s that was the backdrop for Air's Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel, the French duo behind the dreamy and evocative Moon Safari.
We use our music to cure ourselves from our own psychotic disease.Jean-Benoît Dunckel, Air
Godin and Dunckel were raised in the historic, conservative French suburb of Versailles and attended a school for wayward kids. The ‘good’ schools refused kids like Godin and Dunckel, whose marks weren’t high enough.
So they ended up lumped together with other lower achieving students, which included heaps of aspiring musicians, photographers and artists. It was a nurturing community for the creative minds such as theirs.
At the age of 18, they sent a tape of their music to various record companies and were knocked back by all of them.
Disheartened by the outright rejection, they decided to stop music altogether and focus on their studies. Dunckel became a mathematician and Godin qualified as an architect, but music remained a powerful guiding force.
"Music influenced me when I was doing architecture more than architecture influenced me when I was making music," Godin told triple j's Richard Kingsmill in 1998.
Just when the pair thought a career in music was lost to them, a turn of events offered them the opportunity they’d longed for. Godin’s close friend got a job on a Virgin Records sub label and encouraged them to submit their music again.
This time their songs hit home.
Getting the band back together wasn’t a straightforward decision. Dunckel had just become a father and the prospect of ditching his job to be a full-time musician was deemed ‘crazy’ by his parents and family.
Moon Safari's warm and lush hues are widely appreciated as a pristine example of the perfect soundtrack for the amorous. Dunckel told triple j that whilst on a two day hike in Iceland, he found out that his guide listened to Moon Safari when he and his girlfriend were making love.
Even though this album may give rise to inspiration in the bedroom, the truth is, Godin and Dunckel had their minds fixed much further afield when they were creating this record.
"The day is good for practice and training but if you want to have good ideas it always appears at night," Dunckel told Kingsmill. "So we think strongly that inspiration comes from the moon or the stars, that’s why we want to go on a safari to the moon, to hunt inspiration."
Air fashioned a fresh and stylish new form of chillout electronica with their debut. A style of music that enabled the listener to take leave of the everyday within an instant of hearing the soulful bass notes and Rhodes keys of the opening track.
These therapeutic qualities were of equal benefit to its creators.
"We use our music to cure ourselves from our own psychotic disease," Dunckel told Robbie Buck in 2007. "I think the Air music universe is something we like to travel in. This kind of universe, it’s something really warm and dreamy and it helps us to escape from reality."