The scorpion jacket. Those menacing driving gloves. Ryan Gosling’s brooding good looks. These images could only bring to mind one film (Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn’s runaway hit, of course) and one flittering, synthy, 80s-inspired song – College’s A Real Hero, featuring Toronto indie duo Electric Youth.
The track in question has now gained more than eight million YouTube views, effectively plucking David Grellier, the man behind this humble, one-man side-project, out of obscurity. He’s been burbling out filtered bass-lines and synth chords of nostalgic electro-pop from his home in Nantes, France, since 2005, but since Drive’s release, College has played both live shows and DJ sets all over Europe, as well as at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
A Real Hero is practically the theme song of Drive. Grellier says he created the track in 2009 as homage ‘to lonely heroes like Mad Max or Dirty Harry’. But beyond the wildly successful soundtrack tune lies an arsenal of like-minded, nostalgic synth-pop songs in his discography – proof that he’s not just a one-hit wonder. Grellier as College already has two full-length albums under his belt, including his release last year, Northern Council. Here, he makes you see fluorescent as he pounds away at the synthesiser like a madman while addictively repetitive bass-lines loom underneath.
Recreating the sights and sounds of of the 1980s is a key part to Grellier’s music. He says the 80s inspire him because he’s ‘more comfortable remembering the good times of childhood than fighting and finding inspirations in our future’. Whether Grellier effectively transports an entire room of party people 30 years back in time is the ultimate test this fortnight when College spins a DJ set at XXX. Breaking out your high tops, spandex and neon tees could really help to set the scene.
Cris Stringfellow and Andrea Yu
Catch College's DJ set at XXX on Friday May 18.