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M83, a soundtrack of dreams

By Jessica Dunne, CNN
August 7, 2012 -- Updated 1741 GMT (0141 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • M83's songs have been featured in commercials for Victoria's Secret, Red Bull
  • The band has released six albums, the most recent being "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming"
  • M83 gets its name from a distant galaxy

(CNN) -- If you've seen a Victoria's Secret or Red Bull commercial recently, or watched the movie "Chronicle," chances are, you've heard M83.

It's the band whose dreamy, shoegaze-y, '80s-inspired music seems to be suddenly everywhere.

"It's hard for me to believe it's real," said Anthony Gonzales, the synth-pop mastermind behind M83. "I've been doing this for a long time now, and this is the first time I feel like something is happening.

"It feels amazing, but it's also very scary, because I'm not used to that," he added. "I'm not used to doing interviews and talking to that many people and feeling that important to people. It's very frightening, but I'm not going to complain."

Even though M83 has been around for more than a decade, their sixth and most recent album, "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming," has just now put them on the front lines of success.

The album debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard Top 200 and No. 1 on both the Billboard Current Electronic Album Chart and iTunes Electronic Chart. The first single, "Midnight City," has gotten more than 11 million views on YouTube and has gone gold, with more than 500,000 downloads. The band has toured Europe and North America and has appeared on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and "Last Call with Carson Daly."

Gonzales was born in southern France and lived there for 29 years. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he started the musical adventure that became his latest album.

"I needed a change. I needed to put myself in danger always and try something different," Gonzales said of his move to the States.

The band's sound is a difficult to describe. The first time fans listen to M83, a few descriptions may come to mind: "ethereal," "cinematic,"even "galactic." Fitting descriptions, as the band's name comes from a distant galaxy, Messier 83.

"I was obsessed and very fascinated by stars and astronomy when I was a kid," Gonzales said.

Besides galactic entities, Gonzales is also inspired by his youth. In songs like "Teen Angst" and albums like "Saturdays=Youth," M83 often incorporates ideas of childhood into its work.

"Remembering my teenage years and my childhood is a very positive feeling. It makes me happy. It helps me to go through my fears and my insecurities. So it's almost like a therapy," Gonzales said.

Gonzales was born in 1980, so being inspired by his childhood also means he's enthralled by the music of the '80s. In fact, he believes that the decade was the single most important musical period of all time: "In the '80s, it was like, so many good albums, so many good songs, and the way musicians were experimenting with new instruments, new technologies was truly amazing. I don't think my sound could ever go away from the '80s."

Experimenting is something M83 is very familiar with. On "Hurry Up We're Dreaming," listerners hear brass sections, a children's choir, a collaboration with singer-songwriter Zola Jesus, towering synth melodies and even a child talking about frogs.

"I wanted it to be an ambitious album, something very produced, something I could remember until the end of my days," Gonzales said.

And yet, with all that experimenting, the theme of the album goes back to Gonzales' childhood obsession: space. "This album is about dreams but this album is also about what's out there and we're probably not the only species in the galaxy," Gonzales said. "There's probably something else. I hope that one day I'll be the witness of a cool thing."

Throughout all the acclaim and spotlight this new album has brought on M83, Gonzales focused on his fans: "I want them to be happy. I need them to be happy. ... If the crowd is happy and responds to the music, then it's a whole different game and becomes the most incredible experience of your life."

The group is planning a U.S. tour this fall.

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