The limitations of an artist’s environment can have a strong impact on their work — take the Avener and his song “Hate Street Dialogue.”
“A friend of mine introduced me to Rodriguez‘s music ten years ago,” the French producer tells Billboard. “I was absolutely mesmerized by ‘Hate Street Dialogue.'” As a DJ, this presented him with a problem: how do you segue from groove-heavy dance tracks into a spare, guitar-driven song from an elusive folk singer?
“The only way to do so was to re-produce it to fit the dance floor,” the Avener says. The resulting track ended up on his debut EP, and today Billboard is exclusively premiering the song’s video.
The Avener’s artful mix of past and present makes him a good fit for Casablanca, a label that came to prominence in the ’70s with dance-friendly fare from Donna Summer and Parliament before folding and being relaunched in 2012. The producer’s penchant for blurring musical time periods also makes him an excellent partner for Rodriguez, an almost-lost Detroit singer who was given a second career when the Oscar-winning documentary Searching For Sugarman came out in 2012.
“Hate Street Dialogue” shares some qualities with the two Robin Schulz remixes that were hits in 2014 (especially Mr. Probz‘ “Waves”). There’s a pumping beat, of course, but it never overwhelms the fragile guitar line or Rodriguez’s worn, lightly textured vocal.
The video begins with a time machine that transports the clip’s protagonist to a desert in 1973. After that, there’s sex, violence and scorpions: all the good stuff. “It’s an absolute honor to have avant-garde director Mikael Colombu giving ‘Hate Street Dialogue’ his very personal JankyVision treatment,” the Avener declares.
Importantly, Rodriguez approves of the track as well. “When [he] heard this version, he loved it, and the rest is history,” the Avener says. But it’s not just history — now Rodriguez has a contemporary voice as well.