Caravan Palace: The Story of 40’s Swing & Sound System

Caravan Palace

I was fortunate enough to attend Boomtown Fair in August of 2012 and a complete novice of the waves that the particular sub-genre of electro-swing was making. I happened to affix myself to the left speaker of the main stage for the evening headline slot on the Sunday of the festival and I have to say, wasn’t prepared for what was about to ensue. Hailing from Paris, Caravan Palace strutted out on stage and took place by their instruments of guitars, violins, a double bass, a trombone, and decks with an apple laptop. So what was I expecting? Gypsy Jazz with EDM beats? Well, not far off…

I have never danced so hard with such avidity for two hours in my entire life. and the entire concept of electro-swing from this day forward has thrilled and fascinated me. Why hadn’t it been done before? Throw a bit of Django Reinhardt or Benny Goodman into a pot with some Daft Punk and the results are nothing short of seductive. The idea itself wasn’t entirely new, the roots and seeds of modern Electro Swing had been around since the nineties, but only recently has it been molded into the current form that is steadily becoming a favourite of DJ’s around South-West England. I was enthralled. I still am. Upon exiting the festival, I immediately found and purchased Caravan Palace’s debut eponymous album and perused the track list – it turned out that I had stumbled upon one of those rare albums in which I don’t have a problem with any song on it whatsoever: start to finish groovin’. If it’s on in the background I find it extremely difficult not to get up and jive for a while – the ragtime fervour and vigour that extrudes from this record is, well, electric.

caravan place 2

Although quite a unique sound, it also wields an arsenal of rather atmospheric variation to it. The first track Dragons has some straight-up swinging, grooving antics that instantly gets the hips moving, yet the second – Star Scat – is chilled and sexy, with a bebop edge. Ended with the Night slows down considerably, with an ambiance that for some reason is reminiscent of the streets of London or New York, when the River Thames was a dark shade of sepia. It is during this track that lead vocalist Zoé Colotis brings her rather sultry crooning to eclipse the violin that pervades the melodies throughout. I have to say, the voice is all the more rapturous after seeing her live: her onstage movement and crowd participation are almost unmatched. It’s rare I see such energy and love for the art from a performer – thoroughly impressed.

Additional Listening:

Odjbox, Parov Stelar, Dutty Moonshine, Defunk, The Electric Swing Circus, G-Swing, Molotov Jukebox

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