NEW YORK — All an unknown band needs is for its album to fall into the right hands. And if those delicate, Midas-fingered mitts happen to be Sofia Coppola’s, even better.
Since appearing on the soundtrack of the Oscar-winning director’s “Lost in Translation,” Phoenix, a Parisian pop quartet known for its catchy tunes, has become a darling of the hipster set. Previously, lead singer Thomas Mars made a cameo appearance in Coppola’s “Virgin Suicides.”
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Now its sophomore effort, “Alphabetical,” out July 27, has caught the ear of another high-profile trendsetter, Dior Homme designer Hedi Slimane. The designer shot the album’s cover and inside art, including candids of the band members — Mars, 27; bassist Deck d’Arcy, 28, and guitarist brothers Christian Mazzalai, 28, and Laurent “Branco” Brancowitz, 30, who met Slimane two years ago. They provided the live soundtrack for the Dior Homme runway show in January and the brand’s Tokyo store opening in May. There’s also a chance Slimane will design the lighting for the band’s upcoming fall tour.
“We find any excuse to make some kind of joint venture,” says Mars of the Dior association. “But it’s not a sponsoring thing. It just stays at friends.”
The bandmates, who got their start in a parents’ basement, aren’t necessarily interested in fashion. “We’re not the kind of guys who would change clothes for a photo shoot,” Mars adds. “We prefer to stick to the style we have so far.” That uniform would be scruffy jeans, chic vintage blazers and shirts, topped off by disheveled hair. Slimane calls their look “very French somehow. Just good St. Germain style.”
As for Phoenix’s sound, Slimane says, “It feels very natural to me, very intimate,” and he has no doubt that it will do well in the U.S. The Coppola connection can’t hurt, either. Roman, Sofia’s older brother, directed the video for the album’s single, “Everything Is Everything,” and any one of the other dance beat-driven songs could end up on the next signature Sofia soundtrack.
To their credit, though, the guys don’t exactly court the celebrity scene. “You go to 10 parties and you discover that it’s boring,” says Brancowitz.
But what about all those post-“Lost in Translation” get-togethers, rubbing elbows with Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray and the like?
“Yeah,” laughs Mazzalai, “we’re all still waiting to go to those parties.”
— Nandini D’Souza