The Parisian duo Justice admitted recently that they used around 400 uncleared samples on their Grammy-nominated album, †. They did not admit, though, to taking cues from another Euro dance duo, Milli Vanilli.
Citizens of the blogosphere are wrongly comparing them to the disgraced duo after a photograph appeared online of Justice member Gaspard Augé performing with parts of his DJ gear unplugged (DJing debranché, the French might say).
The conclusion was that Justice committed the DJ equivalent of lip-synching - a faux pas of course made famous by Milli Vanilli. Without the USB cable connected to the MPD24 MIDI controller, the set played earlier this year in Manchester, England, would have been partially mute.
But it's the argument that Justice were faking their live set that is moot.
For Augé, the photo popping up on the Internet must make him feel like he forgot to put pants on before leaving the house in the morning. A clumsy error, for sure, but not clear evidence he was trying to snow a live audience. He's since tried to make a joke of it, posting the photo on the band's MySpace.
On the site Beatportal, Augé offered an explanation: "I didn't notice at first, because as you can see I was looking at the computer to launch the next vocal hook, and right after I realized that the blue screen went black, so there was no way possible it could work. So I plugged it back in. Big deal! And the next thing you know is this picture."
Beatportal continued to treat him skeptically, writing, "I guess we'll never know if that's a fib or not." The Internet seems in step with that skepticism.
This is an odd take for a few reasons.
• First, the resident photographer of the Manchester club was at the scene of the crime and posted two photos in Beatportal's comments section showing Augé plugging his gear back in. If he was somehow trying to avoid using the instrument, what would possess him to reconnect it?
• Justice used to use older CDJ-1000s for DJing. On this tour, they switched to a new, more user-friendly technology called Ableton, mostly because it made DJing live easier. If they didn't fake it with the CDJ decks, why would they fake it with the less challenging Ableton?
• Lastly, there are many undetectable ways to counterfeit a live set. Unplugging the USB cord in plain view of the crowd isn't one of them.
This whole fruitless exercise stems from the Internet's collective obsession with unmasking musicians. Justice need only look around the corner at their Parisian city mates Daft Punk, who've been plagued for years by unfortunate accusations that they've been faking their live shows.
It's becoming almost automatic: make a hot track or DJ a good jam, and, as Augé says, "the next thing you know is this picture."