Partisan artist Le Loup is one of many French acts making waves within the scene. If you live in Paris you may have seen him playing at Rex Club. If you live in London you may have seen him play at Half Baked, where he and Seuil are residents under their alias Hold Youth.
Trommel writer Andrew Leese sat down with the Frenchman just after the New Year break, to discuss his love for jazz, Half Baked London and how he discovered rare 90s gems from UK electro act Scott Edwards for his label Shadow Play.
We last saw you at the Half Baked 8th Birthday in London just before Christmas playing as Hold Youth with Seuil. How was your Christmas and New Year period?
Everything was really chilled, Christmas with family and NYE with my girlfriend at home. I’m not so into parties for the new year period because I do it the rest of the year — I’m more into a great dinner. This year was about oysters and scallops! So good.
You have been a part of the Half Baked brand for some years now. What are some of your highlights over the years with Bruno and the team?
I would say the first few years we had at the Fairchild created some really good memories, also when they put on the outside parties in the car park. But my highlight is definitely the 5th birthday when we played before Zip as Hold Youth. It was a perfect night, the vibe was special all night long and it was an honour to play before one of your DJ mentors. He played an amazing set, he stayed until the end and I remember him dancing at the end when I played with Robin at the afters; that was really special.
The Hold Youth project has worked really well. How did the relationship between you and Seuil start and blossom into what it is today?
Alex and I met at a party back in 2009. A friend of mine who organised parties for a school that specialized in data processing asked me for advice with booking DJs. The lineup was Pierre Bucci, Seuil (live), Jan Krueger and me. It was really nice because at the time there weren’t so many parties happening outside of clubs, especially not in a school car park. I gave Seuil a CD with some tracks and we exchanged emails that night.
After that we started to talk a lot via Skype, sharing music and getting to know each other. We realised that, although we didn’t come from the same scene; that we had a lot in common. Alex had this idea to run a label together. We produced the first tracks together in 2010 at his place, he didn’t have a studio at the time. After that everything came naturally. After the album, we played quite a lot together and I think we both got to a point where we wanted to take a break and focus more on our own personal projects. However, that said; we do have a new Hold Youth EP on the way.
You are a resident of Rex Club in Paris. How important is it for an artist to have a residency in his hometown/city?
It is so important to have your own party in your city because that way you participate in, and contribute to the local scene. I think the most difficult aspect of a party is to create ‘clubber loyalty’, you need to be followed by a crowd – then you can introduce artists that you like and bring your vision of DJing. It’s not an easy task, especially during the week when people work.
The crowd is older and maybe a bit more educated than they might be at the weekend so we took the decision to take some risk. We made the decision to bring small artists instead of big names to push the scene we like. We try to invite one international guest each time plus one local new and upcoming artist. It’s cool, as though playing the party some young artists got to play at Rex Club for the first time. That club is our local institution, a legendary place; so it’s really something for an artist to play there.
Another organisation you have been a part of is Concrete. Your release on Concrete 7 AM really shows the love you have for Detroit and Chicago house, the saxophone that can be heard in ‘Chateau d’Eau’ is a dead give away to anyone who has heard it. What initially got you into the sounds of Detroit and Chicago?
Initially, I started listening to French and US hip-hop when I was in junior high school like all the kids did in the 90s. Here (of course) French Touch was big. I started with this kind of stuff, artists like Daft Punk and Bob Sinclar. This music was hugely influenced by the pioneers from Chicago and Detroit so making a connection with the older stuff, the roots; was easy. I was also going to the record store every week to hear the latest news and check out all the new releases.
The first artists that really caught my attention were Moodymann, Theo Parrish and Andrés because the music they were doing was influenced by other styles of black music in general. Like the 90s hip-hop, house music was sampling a lot of funk, jazz or disco; so I decided to dig into all of that stuff to get a better understanding of where this music came from and how it was conceived. My uncle influenced me when it comes to jazz – we were always listening to music in my family so I’ve been surrounded by jazz and classical music records since I was a kid.
I can imagine we could talk for hours about how jazz has influenced you! For many Parisians places like La Cave du 38 Riv and New Morning have been tremendously inspirational places to go to, to listen to bands playing live and really bask in the ambience. Have you spent much time at these places?
I have never been to Cave du 38 Riv unfortunately but I’ve been to New Morning a couple of times for hip-hop concerts. Not many of my friends are really into jazz so it’s difficult to go to places like 38 Riv, to be honest. There are so many styles of jazz, and my tastes are a bit ‘special’; shall we say. I collect jazz fusion records from the 60/70s and I’m a huge fan of Weather Report, for example. What I like is the ability of musicians to transmit emotion and this music, in particular; allows improvisation and experimentation. Jazz and electronic music are very similar in a way and fit really well together.
Have you ever been involved in any live jazz music?
Never! It’s not that I wouldn’t like to, but I’m not a “real” musicians in that sense. To me, in jazz, you need to master the instrument, that’s what it’s all about. Working on a collaboration with a jazz musician would be dope, but centred around a studio situation; rather than a live session.
You had the chance to remix Nicolas Jaar back in 2009 for Wolf + Lamb. What was the process behind this? Did you find it intimating or exciting putting your own stamp on his work?
My girlfriend at this time was a schoolmate of Nico’s, that’s how we met. He was just a student, like his first EP’s name says but he was making something special. Nothing sounded like him at the time, he was really fresh; naive and innovative. To me, he was a real artist and musician whereas I was more into the DJing culture.
We thought it was a good idea to remix his first track called ‘The Student’ in a more classic dance-oriented way. The stems were just amazing, it was very organic with a lot of textures. It was really easy to make something with this kind of material. I mean Nico was not famous like he is today, no one really knew him at the time so it was not intimidating at all; but yes, definitely exciting.
We were just two young fellas who were fans of music and sharing stuff with one another. I produced the remix on the computer I knew best with Ableton and Fruity Loops, it was my first real production. Gadi and Zev from Wolf & Lamb loved it and started to play it.
How have you found it managing your own label and what have you got planned for the label this year?
I already picked up a bit of experience with Hold Youth, but starting your own label is quite a challenge for sure. The idea actually came from my girlfriend two years ago. It took us a lot of time to make sure we did it in the right way, to find a good, solid name, to work on the aesthetics etc… but I’m really proud of what we’ve created.
We don’t put any pressure on ourselves in terms of output, we take the time it needs to do our own thing. Quality instead of quantity, that’s for sure. The next release is from Scott Edward, and should be out this month then coming next is a young French artist called Daïf. You will definitely be hearing more about him in the coming months.
How did the release with Scott Edwards come about? The tracks are mainly from the 90s…
I’ve got a lot of records from him under different aliases. At the beginning, I was interested in his “Uriel” project, which is more jazz-influenced. It was exactly what we were looking for Shadow Play. I always wondered what happened to him, I started to look around on the internet but I couldn’t find anything about him. Two years ago, I found a website from an artistic edition company that had all his catalogue. I started to send emails to them but didn’t get an answer. In the end, I found him on Facebook during the summer of 2016. He was super friendly and told me that our direction was the same he had with Beau Monde, a label he ran with a friend of him.
We spoke about music but I realised it would be complicated to get new material from him. We took time to listen to everything from his back catalogue and we finally decided to release some previously unreleased material on vinyl and to repress one track originally released in 1994 on Out Of Orbit. We really think his music deserves to be heard by a new audience, as it’s a little complicated to find his old stuff on vinyl.
Who else do you find really stands out at the moment, be it pioneers or newcomers on the circuit?
I don’t go out that much at the moment. In fact, I try to do something else when I’m not playing but I think there is a lot of amazing music out there right now from all over the world – I see it every time I go to the record store. I love the Canadian scene at the moment, I’m also really into everything Slow Life does. In addition to being amazing DJs, they keep releasing quality stuff – I feel they are visionary in all their approach. I have to mention Nicolas Lutz, he’s clearly in a class of his own with a unique style; there’s no doubt he’s influencing a lot of artists. In general, there are a lot of exciting newcomers; the scene is really on fire right now.
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