Hotstar: Polo & Pan’s Upbeat Stylings Know No Boundaries

Polo & Pan
Sarah Bastin
– Polo & Pan

As 2019 draws to a close, artists singing entirely in Korean and Spanish have become unstoppable forces in a truly global music industry, and it less unusual for North Americans to hear songs in languages other than English. 

Acts like Daft Punk and Stromae have already shown there is a receptive audience for music from France, and now Paris-based DJ duo Polo & Pan is making waves with its debut 2017 album, Caravelle, racking up streams by the millions and fueling a blossoming touring career.  
“There was no strategy [in terms of language], we just try to make music that rings true to us. If we want to write in French, we will write it in French,” the duo’s Paul Armand-Delille – who performs a Polocorp – told Pollstar. “Because our music is very personal, it doesn’t sound like anything else, it spreads much better. Markets are super saturated with a lot of music that sounds the same, many others are jumping on the bandwagons of various trends. 
“Also our music is very solar, it’s very positive. I think people love to hear projects that are fueled by that kind of energy. It’s rare to have something that is underground that is also very positive. Usually it’s gonna be more on the dark edges. There could be something more romantic, inspirational, more in pain than joy, but we chose to go towards the smiley, sunny side. People are latching onto that.”
Polo & Pan started as a collaboration between two resident DJs at the Parisian club Le Baron – Polocorp and Peter Pan, a.k.a Alexandre Grynszpan – in 2012. Influenced by Polo’s travels through the Moroccan desert, his time spent in the U.S. and his intense focus on production, as well as Pan’s love of historical and obscure samples, Polo & Pan blends a variety of styles and genres from song to song. 
“I think their music was very singular at the time [when I first heard it],” the group’s manager, Matthieu Gazier of Ekleroshock, told Pollstar. “A mix of the electro-discoïd groove that pushes you to the dancefloor, a bunch of super delicate harmonies that provokes nostalgia and childhood remembrance in a sec, and a twist of cool, that very special one that belongs to the best bands of the so-called French touch.”
While the group has been collaborating musically for the better half of the last decade, the proper touring didn’t start until around two years ago. With the release of Caravelle Polo & Pan first took on France, then Europe, then international markets like the U.S. – including a key stop at Coachella.
Arnaud Meersseman of AEG Presents France has been working with Polo & Pan for its rise in France and beyond over the last year. 
“The French model is very different from the Anglo-Saxon one. When we sign a domestic act, we are their promoter, their producer and their agent,” Meersseman told Pollstar. “We finance the tour, we advance the pre-productions, pay for the gear, pay for the rehearsal, handle the payrolls, etc.
“We’re therefore deeply involved in making strategic choices alongside the band, Matthieu and Raphael, and their agent.”
Polo & Pan
– Polo & Pan
The group has mostly played clubs and theatres for its headline run in the U.S. with tickets always under $40 – but from Seattle to Montreal, from Philadelphia to Boston, Polo & Pan is putting butts in seats – or making them get up and move, to be more accurate – as the shows are selling out, including more than 2,000 tickets sold to MTELUS in Montreal in 2018 and 2019 and 2,800 tickets sold to Terminal 5 in New York, which grossed $98,000 on Sept. 13. 
Between the solo shows and numerous key festival plays, including the group’s final French show of the year at Rock En Seine in Paris, the group’s touring career is developing quickly. 
“They’ve had the time to first showcase their DJ-ing versatility in many, many clubs, spreading the essence of their sound,” Gazier said of the gradual simmering from its formation in 2012. “You can’t do that in two years. It takes time to build things organically when you’re not doing music on a charts-oriented perspective.” 
Zach Hyde of UTA first saw the group at The Great Escape in Brighton, England, and was impressed. He sold his colleague Christian Bernhardt on them and now the agent team is planning a second leg in the U.S. and beyond. 
“The lyrics in French are great and they haven’t restricted us in any way,” Hyde said. “The music is so compelling on its own.”
Bernhardt added, “You see the world is shrinking with the growing use of the internet and the cell phone. There’s a demand from the public to explore more international artists and languages. I’ve been of the opinion in the last five years that the language doesn’t matter anymore. Look at Rammstein, they can do stadiums here and all their stuff is in German. Once you have the aesthetic and the music right, the sky is the limit.” 
In the coming year Polo is excited to begin work on a new album and to show off the group’s newly honed performance skills, noting the addition of stop-motion visuals to the live show. “Now we’ve fine-tuned our stage presence, [we have] learned how to bring an audience to different places,” he said. “Talking to people is a skill you learn with experience; in the beginning it’s very hard. 
“I like to write music, but having to perform for two years and do only that was a challenge. But it’s a good one for sure.”