Though it's a sure bet he'll linger in the minds of most for his omnipresent Levi's advert and 1999 European chart-topper "Flat Beat," music video director Quentin Dupieux turned in some excellent electronic productions as Mr. Oizo.
Far from the madding crowds of ad-oriented hipster trance or jungle, "Flat Beat" was a midtempo techno production with heavily distorted effects and a playful nature that fit perfectly with the visual focus, a lovable yellow puppet. Following the infectious single's freak success, Dupieux continued releasing bizarre, innovative Mr. Oizo records, influencing numerous styles of left-field dance music.
While still a teenager, Dupieux began directing short films for French television, and turned in no less than eight works between 1994 and 1998. His associations with the music world began in 1997, when leading French dance citizen Laurent Garnier serendipitously bought a car from Dupieux's father. Dupieux directed the video for Garnier's "Flashback" single, as well as the long-form video Nightmare Sandwiches, starring and featuring music by Garnier. That year, he also moved into music production, with his debut single, "#1," appearing on Garnier's F Communications label. After the video he (naturally) directed for second single "M-Seq" landed on an ad-agency desk, he was tapped to direct the commercial that launched Levi's vaunted non-denim line of trousers. The eccentric advert -- featuring a puppet named Flat Eric maniacally bobbing his head to the music in the passenger seat of a Chevelle while a nonplussed human driver concentrated on the road -- soon became famous across Europe, and the single (also on F Communications) hit number one all across the Continent. (It eventually sold over two million copies.)
The obligatory full-length, Analog Worms Attack, followed in October, and earned American distribution early the following year. Dupieux also directed the video for "Party People" by Alex Gopher. After taking some time off to update his studio from analog to digital, his computer-driven album Moustache (Half a Scissor) arrived in 2005. The glitchy, frenetic album was a major left turn from his previous work, and was deemed "unlistenable" by the very label that released it, F Communications. Nevertheless, the album obtained a small cult following, and ended up being influential to the emerging generation of French dance producers spearheaded by Justice and the Ed Banger label. Appropriately enough, Mr. Oizo signed with Ed Banger in 2006, with the Transexual EP following on the label in 2007. Dupieux's first feature film, Steak, was also released that year; its soundtrack was written by him as well as SebastiAn and Sébastien Tellier.
The full-length Lambs Anger landed in 2008 as the most dance-oriented Oizo album to date, and featured guest artist Uffie. After working on Uffie's 2010 debut album, Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans, Dupieux collaborated with Gaspard Augé of Justice for the soundtrack to his next film, Rubber. The fourth proper Oizo full-length was the 2011 effort Stade 2, an album that brought back some of the dissonance and glitch. Also that year, Moustache (Half a Scissor) was given its first vinyl release by Brainfeeder, the label founded by Flying Lotus. Film work occupied the next few years as Dupieux directed Wrong (2012) and Wrong Cops (2013), both of the films accompanied by Mr. Oizo soundtracks. The latter film featured an appearance by Marilyn Manson, who also sang on the track "Solid" on Mr. Oizo's 2013 EP Amicalement. Dupieux returned to Brainfeeder for 2014's The Church, which highlighted Mr. Oizo's cartoonish darkness and fondness for West Coast hip-hop stylings. Back on Ed Banger, his 2015 single "Hand in the Fire" featured vocals from pop star Charli XCX. A vastly different version of the song appeared on Mr. Oizo's 2016 full-length, All Wet, which also featured appearances by Peaches, Boys Noize, Skrillex, and others. ~ John Bush, Rovi