if, and you should be, you are a buyer of vinyl, you will have likely clocked a new release on keith worthy’s ever reliable aesthetic audio imprint recently. the four track no look back ep is deep and lush, awash with pristine swirling pads and teeters on the brink between house and techno in a beautiful way. the man behind it is marseille based producer, life recorder, showcasing something of a more mature and accomplished sound away from his earlier tech house outings. he;s one of a few french producers seemingly breaking through at the moment and is soon to release on similarly fledgling uk imprint, fullbarr, any day now.
in this full and frank interview we talk about the scene in france, vinyl vs digital releases and hear about the man born kriss kortz’s relationship with aforementioned d town don, keith worthy.
how are you? how has your year been? what have been some highlights?
i’m good thanks. i can say it was a cool year with time to work on my music with the feeling to continue, so that’s a good thing i guess. highlights…if you’re talking about music i would say that i had maybe my best dj gig ever in january at the moog club in barcelona. fantastic place and audience and it was on a thursday, the club was packed. and the other great thing is that i’m back more seriously to my production side with music released on vinyl on 2 of my favourites labels lately, atmospheric existence on a beautiful v.a release (aer 05) which is miles sagnia’s label and on keith worthy’s aesthetic audio from detroit (aes 015). really a special feeling for me.
whereabouts in the south of france are you? i guess there is not much of a scene where you are? is that good or bad for creativity?
i’m currently living in marseille, but i’ve been here since 2 years only. i’m native from the east of france near switzerland, 10 min from geneva. so it’s completely different now. really two different ways of life, different social statuses. the city has a lot of difficulties lately and the music scene in switzerland is better but i must say that this change is really good for me and was necessary.
so, i don’t know if i’m the good person to talk about the scene here but what i feel is that there was some golden years during the 90′ies here, like several cities in france, with parties and good records shops, but it’s a far different story now. also marseille is a city that lives for football, not so much for electronic music, and you can feel it lol. however, before moving in here i was in touch with some local artists. for instance, jack de marseille. we’ve played a few times together since 2005 and he was one of the 1st people from the scene to greet me here. i really appreciate that. he is still an inspiration for me as a dj since the mid 90′ies and is still one of the best djs i know. there are also other really talented djs and producers in marseille, with a great music culture, but a lot are more focused on looking for something in paris or outside france. however, we are a few guys who support each other – that’s a good feeling. there is also a younger generation that is excited by the things going on in berlin and that try to bring that kind of vibe in the south like what’s happening in paris, but it’s not easy. the problem is that except a few nice spots, it’s really hard to find places to make something.
anyway, i already have had some nice gigs here but no pressure, no big plans on music or to play here every week. i’m currently more focused on music production and on going ahead in my new life. i’m enjoying the sun, the sea and the way of life in marseille. i often take my camera to shoot some pictures, because i’m often amazed about the colours that we can have in the sky here. my music has really evolved since i moved in here. i feel more relaxed. some friends told me that they could feel it too in my sound. hope things will keep going well.
ok lets go back, how and when did you first get into electronic music and what were you listening to?
wow let’s set the time machine to something like 1990 then…i really started to get into electronic things when i was 10 years old. i discovered things like « technotronic » during my school days, do you remember that? everyone was excited about this music, it was so new. i made a copy of a friend’s cd on a tape and i was listening to it all the time. i had my first stereo in my room and i started to listen to the radio. i used to sit in front of the tuner and listen to it every evening after school and every week end. i used to record tapes, tons of tapes. i was also more into pure hip hop and hip house like de la soul, a tribe called quest, monie love. i was really attracted to a certain sound. then a song like incognito « always there » remixed by david morales really put me more into house things. it was a hit, and still one of my fave tunes ever.
a bit later a french label called « fairway » started to release cd compilations that were going really more into straight detroit and chicago and rave sounds from belgium and holland. these compilations started to attract my attention on where the music came from and on the identity of this music and i started to understand that each city had his own sound. so hard to choose my favourites from this period but ron trent’s « altered states », 69′s « my machines », maurizio’s « eleye » or sonic solution ‘s « on the move » where some tracks that really kept my attention. then in 1994 i heard a derrick may mix on the radio, and i was really hooked by his energy, it was also the 1st time that i heard lil louis’s « french kiss » or the 1st « rhythm is rhythm » tracks. but i used to listen to a lot of different things from garage house to drum ‘n bass.
and when did you decide you wanted to be a dj/producer? did you start sending out demos?
before calling myself a « producer » i want to say that i’m firstly just a music lover, who loves to dj and who try to make his own music. i have been more confident in my production side lately, but it’s really a recent feeling. there are so many quality producers now that deserve much more attention.
anyway, before really starting to get into the real dj thing, i used to create my own mixes and medlies on tape, with tape recorders. i was something like 11/12 years old. it was fun and my idea with records was only to keep doing that. i got a more proper dj equipment around 96, and i used to listen to a lot of dj mixes in my room and kept learning. quickly i felt that it was more that just a « hobby » for me, it was a real way to expressing myself.
i started to play records with my friends in a few private parties and i got my 1st club gig around 2001. i got some nice words about what i had done and it gave me some motivation to go ahead, but the real club thing happened in switzerland « weetamix » in geneva and the « loft club » in lausanne were the place to be to see all the detroit and chicago guys playing. it was the only way to really feel the art of djing, and it was really something that was growing in me. then at the end of 2003 the loft club started a dj contest, i sent a demo and i was selected and played a few times there.
after that the production side came a bit suddenly. i started to get into it more seriously after sending a remix for a laurent garnier remix contest in 2005. i made it for fun, but was pushed by my friends to send it and i was selected to be on the final winners. since this time, i’ve almost never sent any demos until my new releases this year. as a vinyl lover, i wanted to release music on vinyl. so i even cancelled some digital releases that i had in progress and i searched for some vinyl labels to send my music to.
it’s also a good thing to say no sometimes. i’ve nothing against the digital things, but sometimes it’s a bit too easy, you make music with your heart and it’s a bit disappointing to see it in the middle of this digital jungle. i’ve had some music that was released and it was even not mastered, or i’ve had a track that was recently « used » by a label that i don’t know. that’s part of the experience, but i really want to avoid that now.
how long did it take you to find your sound; what are some things that influence the way you work or the sounds you try and make?
well, as i said for the previous question, i’m still learning things and the fact of being actually more productive, but i would say that there are already 2 parts since i started to release some tracks. one was before my moving in marseille,(2005-2010) and the new one after (since 2010/2011).
so many things have changed in my life since 3 years now; i also got married in 2009. the life, the environment, the weather play a big part in my inspiration and in the way i work. i’m someone who sometimes has to wait for the things and feelings to come to me. sometimes it may be long and difficult but i have to deal with it.
before, when i was living in a colder environment, i was living alone, in a small flat with not much space to work, i was more stressed and a bit confused about the ways to take, so it was affecting my way to work music too. now i have a bit more space to work, i enjoy the sun almost all the year, i’m an happy husband and i’m more relaxed to understand what i’m doing to refine my sound. i’ll never be someone too technical, i like when it’s simple, but there some things important that i have learned it’s really a good feeling. so, i’m back on deeper and authentic things musically. more « house » things too. it feels natural to me. of course i’m also constantly influenced by what i listen to.
you have a very clean, melodic buffed up sound i would say – is that fair? are those the things which turn you on, sonically?
thank you! yes, my music always had a « deep basis » since the beginning mainly with pads, chords, atmos and melodic things. the most important for me is the warmth and emotion in the sound in both techno and house. i like the idea of travelling, taking you somewhere with music, it can be with a nice pad but also with something more rhythmical. my armenian origins play an important part in my music sensibility, too. music from there is very emotive and nostalgic. anyway,
also detroit influences obviously loom large, is that fair? how do you make sure you use those influences in your own way?
i can’t deny! the detroit influence is in me, like a lot of other things from chicago or berlin for instance, but it’s the most identifiable thing in my sound, yes. like a guiding line. difficult to explain how i use it in my own way but i feel it’s a natural thing, again. sometimes i don’t want to make something that sounds so much “detroit” but at the end the vibe comes in. there are some timeless influences that are always there somewhere in my mind when i produce. i think about tracks like « at les » from carl craig or « icon » by derrick may. these masterpieces are just part of my life, but i try to not be too much locked on the old school, too. to name a few detroit producers, mike huckaby, luke hess or patrice scott and keith worthy have also been exciting and inspiring for me lately.
how did you come to release on aesthetic audio? did keith have much involvement with you in the final sounds of the ep or did he leave it up to you? and what’s the thinking behind your recent ep?
as i said just before, keith and his label have been part of my inspiration for a few years and i was really feeling the latest stuff on the label. i contacted keith to ask him if he was interested in demos. the tracks were just finished. i sent him a soundcloud set and then he quickly answered me positively to talk about releasing an ep. it was an honour to me. he didn’t ask me to change anything in the tracks, and he also asked me about my ideas for the artwork too, because he said it was normal to be involved in all the process of my release. so i found that it was a really nice and respectful thing. much respect and thanks to him, again. i hope we’ll do something again. so far the reactions have been really nice about this ep. i keep getting nice words about it. it gives me more confidence and energy to work on new stuff.
are the sets you play similar in sound and vibe to the music you make, would you say? are you informed by the dancefloor when producing?
i would say usually yes, there is always a vibe that i try to keep but maybe sometimes in a more eclectic way. it depends on where i play. when i play music for a podcast it is a bit different from when i play music at a party. maybe i have had more « techno times » but i have always liked to mix both house and techno together. and when i produce i don’t think too much about making a dancefloor track. i prefer to focus on the meaning. if it comes out more techno and dancefloor, so, that’s cool!
do you have a day job aside from this? are you aiming to make this a full time thing if you haven’t already?
yes i have to work aside, even it’s a bit difficult in these hard economic times, so i’m currently working on things on this side, sometimes a bit stressful bit it’s part of the game. now i have new family priorities: i’m not alone anymore, but i hope to always keep some time to make music. i try to keep cool and not to wait too much about the music life, i’m glad about the new releases, but i just want to keep learning and hopefully releasing music on labels that really believe in what i do. sure, if i could play more often and sometimes have opportunities to travel with my music, i would be even happier.
what else have you got coming up/are you looking forward to?
well, next things will sound a bit more techno. i have a vinyl release that should be out before the end of october on snapshot records in uk. it’s a techno track called « beyond » that i made maybe in 2008 and was digitally released in 2010. the vinyl has been in the making process since a very long time and it will be out, with remixes by kirk degiorgio, dj 3000 and elliott dodge. so it will be different that my sound on aesthetic audio but i’m glad that at last i will be pressed on wax. also something is in the making process with fullbarr records with some recent stuff… looking forward to this.
what do you like to do away from music?
simple things… chilling out with my wife, enjoying the family as much as i can. i used to daw a lot when i was kid too. i like to take my pencils again sometimes.