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Chromeo: as funky as they wanna be

January 17, 2008|Giselle Zado Wasfie

"Hairy, meticulous and cheap, but in a good way," says David "Dave 1" Macklovitch, laughingly describing Patrick "P-Thugg" Gemayel -- his friend since boyhood, style rival and partner in the electro-rock duo Chromeo.

Not to be outdone, Gemayel fires back, "Dave's neurotic, eloquent and," he hesitates, "lanky," knowingly annoying Macklovitch with the adjective he detests, one overused to describe him by an often fawning press. But, hey, if the shoe fits . . .

Chromeo are living it up these days, riding a breakout 2007 that saw them go from wink-wink electro-funksters to bona fide ballers, starring in MTV teasers as their hit song "Needy Girl" enjoyed endless spins in a candy commercial. It added up to success for their second album, "Fancy Footwork," and shows such as Friday's sold-out date at the El Rey Theatre.

Their connections didn't hurt, either. Macklovitch's younger brother is DJ A-Trak, Kanye West's collaborator, and the duo has relationships all across the cooler-than-thou music grid, including links to Ed Banger Records, Flosstradamus, Kid Sister. Their high spirits are understandable -- does it get any better than two best friends since the old days sharing a surprise rise to stardom?

"P and I met in high school [in Montreal], playing in a funk band together called Rubbadoid. That was the days of Jamiroquai and back then, we were discovering funk, Maceo Parker, Parliament, Bootsy Collins. Basically, any record with an Afro on the cover, we would buy," Macklovitch says.

Until recently, he was the hip-hop editor at Vice Magazine, while Gemayel toiled as an accountant at a music store. When Macklovitch was given a record deal (he already owned a label, Audio Research, with A-Trak), Chromeo was born, with Dave 1 on guitar and vocals and P-Thugg on the keyboards, synths and talk box.

Their first album, 2004's "She's in Control," was a musical exercise in having fun. A little bit avant-garde and admittedly cheeky, "She's in Control" still felt like it came from a real place. Macklovitch was (still is) working on a PhD in French literature at Columbia University. He donned (still does) vintage blazers and ascots. He wrote songs about girl troubles. Gemayel favored (still does) his do-rag. He's the baritone to his partner's falsetto.

"Right at the end of the campaign for the last album, we discovered an audience that had built itself," Macklovitch says. "There was more of a scene for nontraditional dance music and nontraditional electro music."

Synchronously, nerd chic grew in the public consciousness, as films such as "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" made Macklovitch and McLovin seem like natural equals. Come to think of it, they're both kind of lanky.

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theguide@latimes.com

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CHROMEO

WHERE: El Rey Theatre, 5515 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

PRICE: $15 (sold out)

INFO: (323) 936-4790

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