Jean-Benoit Dunckel, b. Versailles, France; Nicolas Godin, b. Versailles, France

ALONGSIDE Daft Punk, Air led the explosion of French pop/dance in the late ’90s. Dunckel and Godin met as students. With Etienne de Crecy they formed a short-lived indie band, Orange, but went their separate ways at the end of their education, with Dunckel going on to teach maths while Godin studied architecture. They were persuaded to reunite and record together by the Source record label, and contributed to the Sourcelab EP (1995).

Inspired by their Sourcelab contribution, Air cut a series of singles, including ‘Modular Mix’, and an EP, Premières Symptomes (1997). Their full-length début, Moon Safari (1998), was influenced by artists as diverse as the Beach Boys and Claude Debussy, and made use of ancient keyboards and modern-day electronica. Positively received, it also sold well. The success of the singles ‘Sexy Boy’ and ‘Kelly Watch the Stars’ prompted the band to embark on their first tour, with a band made up of musicians from their days at their Versailles college.

Air’s follow-up to Moon Safari was the soundtrack to the Sofia Coppola-directed film The Virgin Suicides (2000).

© Phil Hardy, Dave LaingFaber Companion to 20th Century Popular Music, 2001

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