Seven years ago, Ara Starck met David Jarre in Paris. She was a painter, he was a magician. Their meeting produced magic of another kind, crystallized today in The Two, a duo that weaves together its members’ atypical career paths, and melds their singularities in a shared intimacy. The Two’s music feels like an invitation to dream in their own secret garden. On their debut album, Ara and David are seemingly rediscovering the magic of uncluttered melody, primary sound colors and simple words, all underlined with strength and elegance by their vocal harmony. As though improvised, The Two’s music speaks with a rare natural voice.

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France Rocks Austin: SXSW 2012 Interview with The Two

Is this The Two’s first time at SXSW? How would you describe SXSW so far?

Ara Starck: It’s our first time. SXSW is like a movie. It’s like the bar of Star Wars but for a week, all day with incredible people on the street and an amazing vibe. A big discovery for us.

David Jarre: A mishmash of influences and different bands and people. It’s very laid-back. I thought it was going to be much more hectic and aggressive. It’s very, very cool even though there are a lot of people everywhere.

What did you know about South by Southwest before arriving?

Ara: We knew we wanted to come, that’s for sure!

David: Yeah, that’s the thing. We knew there was this amazing festival down in Texas. But I didn’t think it would be that cool. It is very professional, but it feels very simple and open. That’s the best thing for us.

Ara: I’ve got a personal reason for wanting to come here as well. I was brought up in Dallas. I did all my kindergarten in Dallas, so I wanted to come back to Texas. If I could come back by playing our music, that would be a real gift.

What did you know about Bureau Export and how had they helped you so far?

David: We met Bureau Export last year when we played for the Fête de la Musique in New York. We met Michèle Amar and we got along very well. She liked our band and trusted our music. We came back twice to New York since. We released our album on the 24th of January and were on a little mini-tour here in January and February. Christian Bernard [The Agency Group] liked our music. As we were touring in the States, he along with Michèle managed to find a slot here for us. That was pretty magical because it wasn’t planned and then a couple of months ago we had a fortunate phone call.

Ara: Our idea is to be touring in the States on our own with our manager. So it’s quite fortunate that every time there is a Bureau Export event while we’re touring on other dates, we kind of come and do an extra date with them. It’s always good. It’s like a meeting point.

David: It’s good also because there is a great French music scene that sings in English happening now in France and abroad. It’s good to be part of that. Maybe a few years ago when you would listen to French bands, and tonight you hear all of the bands that are playing here, you’re pretty proud of being French and doing our music over here. There’s nothing to be shy about. That’s pretty positive.

What’s your opinion of the reaction of the American public when they see you?

David: People discover us. We’re going out there to meet fans or basically people who don’t know us. So it’s a discovery for us, and a discovery for them.

Ara: I think the reaction is actually super positive. What I like about the American audience is that they come to see you after the show. Even if they don’t know you, they are enthusiastic and want to know more. That’s interesting.

What would be one of the more exciting things happening right now in the French music scene?

David: Apart from us? [laughs] There is a kind of rock, electro mix that’s happening that I find interesting. There was a kind of French touch with Daft Punk and this rock band called Phoenix that did quite well also in the States. Now there are bands that are more a mix between rock and electro, which is good. We’re really into our stuff, and it’s true that we don’t listen to a lot of bands. Tonight, for example, we know the bands that are here but we’ve also heard them for the first time. So it’s fun to be here in Austin and hear French bands that are neighbors in Paris that we’ve never heard, and we get to discover them here.

Ara: I think I couldn’t mention any one particular band, but there is a good dynamic at the moment in France with English-speaking bands. It’s good. Every generation has one, and we are in one big dynamic of French bands that want to sing outside of their country. We’re one of them!