Fresh off the success off his 2012 full-length debut album By Your Side, French producer/DJ Thibaut Berland, aka Breakbot, has mastered the art of giving a modern twist to '70s disco and funk. Citing Michael Jackson as his biggest influence, By Your Side is a nostalgic homage to the King of Pop, from funky upbeat track "Fantasy" to the infectious pop ballad "Baby I'm Yours," which is currently sitting at around 6.5 million views on YouTube. We recently spoke with Berland about being part of the Ed Banger family, the success of "Baby I'm Yours," and his favorite animation studio. He performs Thursday at Mezzanine with live vocals from Irfane and support from Para One and the Lights Down Low DJs.
What attracts you to such upbeat and energetic music?
It's been the stuff I've been listening to since I was a child. I listened to a lot of funk, disco, and soul. It's pretty interesting. It's very communicative in the messages it sends out.
Since your sound is so influenced by the '70s, who is your favorite artist from that era?
It's quite hard to pick one, but I would pick Michael Jackson. He is for sure the best of them all. He was very inventive to not just music, but videos and creative process as well. He was some kind of genius.
Your sound has become a lot more polished and pop since your first EP Happy Rabbits. Are you happy with where your sound stands now?
I don't always like or think to make the same stuff. I'm going to try to make the next record even better than the last one. It's good to always improve yourself.
What's the best part of being part of the reputable Ed Banger label, home to artists like Justice?
Well, it changed my life. Before I was doing graphics in an office, and my life was pretty boring. But now being with them they give the freedom to do what you want. They give you the opportunities to do what you want to do. Freedom is the best thing that a musician can ask for. Pedro (Busy P) is a very cool guy. He's one of the best label heads in the world and he's really good at what he does. He's very funny. We spend lots of good times together when we travel.
Since your sound is more pop and disco, and very different from your labelmates, do you feel like you have less pressure when you release an album or track?
I don't really worry about that. Speaking about the sound and stuff, every artist on the label has their own thing going on. Like if you compare Feadz to Justice, the music they make is very different, so I don't feel the music I make is that much different.
Prior to the release of your full-length, you were also doing quite a bit of remix work. What's been your most memorable remix?
The Metronomy remix because, that's the one that gave Pedro the idea to sign me to the label. Before he knew my music and was aware of what I was doing, but when he listened to this remix he thought, 'Okay, I'm going to sign this guy.' It was a very special remix for me.
Released two-and-a-half years ago, "Baby I'm Yours" is still receiving much play and attention internationally. What do you think about the feedback from all parts of the world?
I'm so happy about it. It definitely makes the last few years worth it. It feels great to be able to reach so many people. I'm traveling all over the world and people know the lyrics of the song. It's pretty crazy.
What profession would you pick if you weren't a musician?
I would go back to what I was doing before, which was directing commercials and stuff. I would try to make animation. I'm a big fan of animation and cartoons. I would probably try and get back into that. My favorite animation studio is Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli. They make lots of good things like Totoro.
And finally, how do you take care of that signature almost-Jesus hairstyle?
It doesn't look good. It's very messy right now. But thank you. I usually brush it once every two days or something.