For most male musicians, playing a fashion show is just a fancy excuse to chat up the models backstage. But when French synth-pop band Pony Pony Run Run performed earlier this year at Paul & Joe, they were inspired to start a collection themselves.
“We really enjoyed this experience of playing at the show, and ideally, we would like to take it a step further,” singer Gaëtan Réchin Lê Ky-Huong says, lounging on the terrace of the band’s record company headquarters in Paris several weeks later.
Lest they get ahead of themselves, Gaëtan, his brother Amaël Réchin Lê Ky-Huong, who plays bass, and keyboardist Antonin Pierre, are sticking to their day job for now. It seems to be where the men excel. The video for their single “Hey You” has been viewed on YouTube more than four million times and this spring they won the Public’s Choice award for revelation of the year at the Victoires de la Musique, France’s equivalent of the Grammys.
Formed in the western French city of Nantes in 2003, the group has been touring consistently since the fall and will soon release their debut album “You Need Pony Pony Run Run” in the U.S., U.K. and Japan.
Already the band has been compared to electronic musicians Air and Daft Punk, pioneers of the “French touch” sound in the Nineties, and recent Grammy winners Phoenix. Like their peers, Pony Pony Run Run sings only in English in a country where radio quotas favor French-speaking tunes. But their musical references encompass acts as diverse as Devo, the Beach Boys, Enya, Blur, Pavement, Weezer and Kraftwerk. “For me, R.E.M. is the perfect pop band,” says Antonin. When it comes to establishing an image, the boys, who met in art school, claim to have a simple approach. “The music is at the service of a story that we then tell in the video,” says Amaël. “It’s not about us having an attitude or a look dictated by current trends.”
They may not admit to cultivating a look, but they certainly have one. They’re known for favoring chic contemporary brands like Paul & Joe and The Kooples on and off stage.
“We’re not like Lady Gaga, decked out in triangles,” says Gaëtan. He does, however, have a thing for sunglasses, which he started wearing several years ago to hide the ravages of touring and now refuses to take off.
“I feel naked without them,” he explains. “Anyway, it’s better to become well-known with the sunglasses on. That way, if I ever become really famous, I can just take them off and go back to being anonymous.”