It may be merely margaritas and mazel tovs here in this Hollywood parking lot where we lob Q’s towards A’s-supplying international dance duo Benoit & Sergio, but what we’re really talking about is neither Q nor A but K. You see, K is one hell of a drug. Just a wee little sum sniffed off the end of a car key can raft you slowly, slowly down the heady river of sedate tranquility. That said, a slightly heftier rail, for the unacclimated, will suck you deep into a dense neural fissure called a K-hole. If you’re a veterinarian, Ketamine is how you’d pencil it onto your notepad, and you’d be using it as an anesthetic for surgery on a cat. And if you’re the protagonist in Benoit & Sergio’s Balearic banger “Walk & Talk,” your baby does it all day. She doesn’t wash her hair, doesn’t wash her clothes. Just sits on the couch watching television shows.
“I guess the one thing we should set straight about that is that everyone thinks this song is funny, but it’s actually supposed to be kind of a lovers’ tragedy. It’s anti-romantic,” explains Sergio. Sergio, who’s an American ex-pat living in Berlin, was given the name Benjamin at birth, but two handsome Bens in one band would just be confusing, n’est-ce pas? Benoit nods along. He’s a Frenchman living in D.C. They make it work, long distance.
It’s the day after the duo’s first L.A. performance, a spirited Sunday afternoon-bled-into-evening to-do on the rooftop of the Standard Hotel in Downtown. The sound system there is a bit suspect—maybe the Standard got complaints from the fitness center on the neighboring rooftop—but it didn’t stop the duo’s fans from constricting the dancefloor into a nice, compact snakepit of writhing raver anatomies (an effect Alastair Duncan, the event coordinator/public relations lad who led Benoit & Sergio to this here parking lot, playfully dubs, “The Witching Hour”). Whatever the case, the scenario didn’t discourage. “I’d rather have an intimate, great vibe with the crowd than a shitty crowd with a great soundsystem,” says Sergio. “Get close.” It’s more an indictment than anything.
That stylish, undulating crowd is paramount to a successful evening for Benoit & Sergio, who unleashed dance favorite, “Principles / Everybody,” this summer to wiggly acclaim. “You have bad promoters or good promoters,” says Sergio, “or good food or bad food, bad hotel or good hotel—all of that’s tertiary to a good crowd. A magical night will be a great crowd. Then everything else is great, too.”
Benoit & Sergio only recently began their foray into making music professionally (they debuted in 2009 with “What I’ve Lost,” a single on thesongsays label), perhaps explaining the significance of the crowd in their performance gauge—they were not long ago amateur producers and dance floor residents themselves, eventually coming to the Benoit & Sergio project from a fan’s perspective. “We really do look at it from the guy on the dance floor,” tells Sergio, “rather than kids who are DJing now, who’ve been DJing since they were 16, and it’s more about [the dancers’] taste and what they like. We got together and were like, ‘We don’t really DJ, but this is what we’d want to hear.’”
“But one thing, too,” pipes in Benoit, “is DJs see the reaction of the club, and they know how the club works, how the sound system works. Doing the live set really improved our knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work. If we want to make a dance track, it’s good knowledge.”
The interaction with the crowd is the key to Benoit & Sergio. The feedback is key. The key holds the K. The K makes the sounds woozy, and the rest is, well, easy.