Strapontin Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Patrick. As well as your new EP: The End of Logic for HARD FIST you have co-created a video game to accompany the release featuring the track: Nervous Days. What was it about making a video game that you found so appealing, as opposed to other visual forms?

I created Nervous Days – The Game with Yvan Megal because we were both very intrigued by this medium, we like to play video games and always dreamed of making one. Yvan directed 3 of my previous music videos and I worked on his early short-movies, we have a strong artistic connection and this project just crossed all the things we liked so we started working on it in 2019. Video Game is a very underestimated art. When you play a video game you are active, you do more things than watching a video: you can go where you want, make your own decision, if you achieve a goal it will be thanks to you, you are an actor. It is a movie you can interact with or a theatre stage where you can actually go. Some games (especially indie games like Stanley Parable or Kentucky Route Zero) can blow your mind and be truly fantastic experiences, far from what we usually define as ‘video game’. I think it is a powerful medium to share emotions because the player is actually living the story you created not just watching it. This can offer a very intimate artistic experience between the artist and the viewer. As an artist you need to think of what the player might do or not do and frequently be in his eyes, look where he looks, go where he goes. You need to take him where you want without restricting him and always let him feel free. I find that idea very interesting. This game is our first one but we clearly will experiment on new ones.

Nervous Days is about obsession with social media. Do you think society could exist without it and what do you see the end results of the medium being? Are there any plus points?

Nervous Days is a funny satire of our behaviour towards social media. I use social media, enjoy it and also hate it. I don’t see how a number of followers or views make a good song or an interesting person but this topic is already out of date: social media isn’t social media anymore, it’s just regular life. I’m not good at sociology enough to know if society could live without it. I’m not old enough to regret the time there wasn’t any and not young enough to see it as a regular thing to live with. As a producer I need social media for my work but I also feel I must act against it. I think the answer should not have to be necessarily Manichean. This is the rule of this reality and I have to consider it to know how I can break them. Social media work on us on a very primitive level: it creates dopamine and makes us want more of it then create addiction: for example I’m very interested in that uncontrollable feeling of joy/ excitement that comes from having new likes, views or followers: what is this thing inside of us that makes us proud or happy ? Acknowledgement? Lust for love or celebrity? Reassurance? It shows that we are all looking for something. Desperately. Philosophically. It fills a void and that void interests me. That might be the positive point.

Can you talk us through how you produced Nervous Days including any favourite software/ hardware you like to use?

Yvan and I started from scratch in October 2019, we had the idea of a man running with his smartphone surrounded by stressful obligations. We had the aesthetic in mind but had no idea what were our capacities. It’s an entire free and DIY project so we had to learn everything. Will we be able to make the character run? How do we model a 3D facebook like? How do we even set a timer?! We explored our possibilities and learned a lot, we also spent hours on tutorials and nerds forums, by the way it feels always very warm at heart to see how you can get help from online specialised communities. The game was produced on Unreal Engine 4 (by Epic Games) – an extremely well done real-time 3D creation tool, it is free and I really encourage people to try it. Few objects were designed on Blender and pictures were produced on Photoshop. The track itself was produced on Ableton with samples, Minilogue, recorder zoom hk, midi keyboard, plugins, etc.

How did your relationship with the label HARD FIST happen?

Very naturally. In 2018 I heard some great tracks from their labels and simply contacted them, I sent a demo and they instantly replied that they were interested They have a very specific sound, located somewhere between Arabian electronic and dark disco -if this means anything. They add something very personal and different in the actual electronic music landscape and it’s precious. Also it is a bit special to me as they are from my hometown Lyon (France). I wish I had met them 10 years ago when I lived there!

Les Yeux Orange invitent Strapontin – 23 Septembre 2020Rinse France

Outside of electronic music who are your most important influences?

I’m also working for dance shows and visual art so influences comes from very different areas. Music, of course yes, but most of the time directors and choreographers are my most inspiring artists. French Choreographer Gisele Vienne for example produces stunning and haunted works, her early pieces with Stephen O’ Malley are so deep and disturbing it has left an imprint in my mind for years. ‘This is How you will disappear’ is an absolute dark gem and ‘Crowd’, her latest show about 90’s raves (in slow-motion) also was an overwhelming experience. Most of my favorite artists are visual artists who switched to another medium: the performer-director Matthew Barney, the choreographer Romeo Castellucci, or David Lynch -who is one of my hero (Twin Peaks season 3 is his masterpiece to me). Christian Rizzo also has a very positive influence on me and how I considered my multiple activities. Seeing his very eclectic career (he studied fine art then had a fashion brand then toured with a rock band then made dance shows) helped me reconsider that making sculptures + composing soundtrack + performing + DJ’ing was not incoherent. Professionally I felt the pressure to choose one of this medium and focus on it, but seeing him succeed like that gave me confidence and I feel now that I actually don’t need to be coherent because… fuck it ! I want to do what I like!

How has Covid-19 impacted upon where you live and work? How do you see club culture in general changing as a result?

I live in Brussels, Belgium, and Covid had a big impact here like many other places. Clubs won’t reopen and culture in general is frozen from now (September 20). I have no idea or pronostics on how things will be. Quarantine made me realise I love dance music but my passion isn’t only about clubs, it’s about good music and we can dance on anything if it’s good. Dancing with people on loud music is a thing a lot of people need and they already found ways to do it: illegally. Club culture will definitely go through this because that’s the essence of it. With no surprise big clubs and big names will continue and small clubs will close… Capitalist world will just continue its race and eat the poor and the ‘unknown’. But different parties will emerge, yes it is smaller with less people but it’s something. Things are already starting to move. We need to be positive. It is obviously a terrible time for dance music and clubs but there is way more important things happening around us. Clubs are not out of the ‘real world’. We have to question the problems of the world inside of it (ecology, gender equality, racism, capitalism…) Most of the club music is historically born on opposition to a restricted society and our actual society is very problematic. It may be the right time to think more globally and redefine what a club is, who we are, what we want to create and what a club can offer than the outside world has not (or what the club is the opposite of).

What are your thoughts on how artists make money via streaming?

It’s simple: artist’s share on streams are shitty. I earn 100€ if my song has 1 000 000 listens. I read somewhere that the only person who can get the minimum salary on Spotify was Rihanna -not sure about the info though. The only way for me to get decent money from my music is to play in clubs. Also Bandcamp is actually the best way I’ve seen to support artist: if someone buy 1€ one of my track I get 0,74€, which is the best I can get.

What are your preferred speakers to listen and make music on?

Sorry I’m not that much into speakers and gears so I can’t really answer that question. I made some EPs on Ableton with Behringer speakers and people and labels loved it. Quality is important of course and I’m a huge nerd on mixing but music is the first thing, details comes very very very late in the process. Plus most of the time this topic ends up in a toxic masculinity’s ‘who’s got the biggest’ comparison…

And finally. Can you tell us about some of your other artistic projects you have happening this year?

I recently started a very exciting collaboration with french producer David Shaw called ‘It’s Complicated’, we met in Brussels and discovered we loved each other’s music so we decided to make something together, it is still pretty new right now but what we did is already super sexy and dark as fuck ! I’m also working on a score for a contemporary dance show with my Poetic Punkers collective -in which I perform too, so we will work on this in art residency in Gênes, Paris and Brussels. I also prepare a solo exhibition in Brussels in March. Then I have 2 LP’s planned under my name Strapontin for 2021: first one on Invisible Inc with a fantastic remix of Sascha Funke and the other one on Abstrack Record. I’m very happy about both because I managed to work with amazing artist on it (artwork included) and they will be very beautiful items.

Strapontin – The End of Logic – Hard Fist is released October 15, 2020

https://strapontin.bandcamp.com

https://hardfist.bandcamp.com/album/strapontin-the-end-of-logic-hrd010

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Saudade Q&A

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Saudade. Your new EP: Xango has just been released on Pont Neuf Records. Tell us about how your relationship with the label happened? And what does the EP’s title mean for you?

Pont Neuf Records has always been a family to me, I was there at the creation of the label 4 years ago where I released my first EP “Nights” with my other alias “Taos”. I know the manager Thomas and the other artists for years now. Great people and great music 😊

When I lived in Rio, I used to go to the carnival rehearsal of « Salgueiro » samba music school. The energy of their percussion ensemble « Bateria Furiosa » blew my mind. It inspired me a lot for incorporating Samba music into electronic music. Each samba school has a theme for the carnival. The theme of Salgueiro for 2019 carnival was “Xango”. That’s why I called the EP “Xango” as a tribute to my experience in Rio. Xango is an Afro-Latin divinity coming from Yoruba Religion. He is actually the spirit of bolt and thunder.

stream / buy Xango https://lnk.to/SaudadeXango

You can clearly hear how important percussion is to you as so much of the detail in the tracks is dedicated to it. Where did your love of drums originate from, and who are your most influential players?

I learned the drums from the age of 12 to 18. I have always been in love with rhythms and especially dance rhythms. I always listened very carefully to the drum breaks in funk songs. What I love is the energy, the dynamic, and the pace that allows rhythms. I was astounded by percussion ensembles I could hear the street sometimes when I was a kid. The sound power that spread from it. What I found interesting in percussion is its cultural roots. Each part of the world has different patterns and a different feel and therefore different ways to dance. I don’t have specific players to name except Tito Puente. Otherwise, I like Darbuka rhythms from North Africa, every rhythm made in Central and South America, Dhol and tabla beats from India, or even Bodhran from Scotland.

Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks from the EP, including any favourite software/ hardware you use?

To make the track “O Samba”, I wanted to produce a sincere tribute to Samba music. First, I tried to recompose electronically the percussions of samba ensemble like surdo, conga, caixa and shakers. To do so, I used a few drum synthesizers vst and my Roland Juno 6. Then I felt it lack an organic touch. That’s why I recorded my percussionist friend Tom Guillouzic in the music studio of my former music school in Nantes. It was a lot of fun! Then I added some vocals I found in an interview from an art exhibition about samba history that took place in the art museum of Rio. I found this vocal very interesting because it talks about the Angolan roots of samba, its link with the slavery history and the form that spread from it in Brazil and especially in Rio with its key places: favelas, samba schools, and the Sambodromo (literally the Samba stadium where the Carnival parade takes place). I added a few synth pads from my Juno to add depth and a bit of lightness. And subs to add the club energy it needed.

For this track I used the Microtonic and Kick 2 which are great drum synth plugin. I use a Shure SM-57 to record the congas. The Roland Juno 6 plays all the synths in the track. For the mix, I mainly use Waves plugins. You know all the secrets know 😉

https://soundcloud.com/mixmag-1/premiere-saudade-o-samba?in=pontneuf/sets/saudade-xango

How has Covid-19 affected the ways in which you work? And how do you see things changing (in terms of artist income, clubs and music venues etc) as a result of the pandemic?

It didn’t change the way I worked. It helped me to focus on my workflow and to learn to develop independence with my music setup. In terms of artist income, this crisis underlined the precarity of being a professional DJ, and let me think about other ways of living out of music without gigs. In terms of music venues, I am very optimistic, and I hope it will be just like it used to be or very close in a few months.

Where did the inspiration for O Funk come from? It’s such a refreshing track.

Thanks 😊 When I lived in Rio I have been to some Baile Funk parties. Baile Funk which is called “Funk” in Rio is a music genre inherited by Miami Bass with a carioca groove of its own. Originally it is a kind of music made by producers from the Favela. It’s often a tight beat and a MC rapping over it. The groove between the kick and the snare is very special. It makes you stumble. The energy of this kind of music is focused on the bass and low frequencies of the kick and also the noisy high pitched slappy snares. On loud club speakers, the Baile Funk vibe is impressive. It’s like a cloud of frequencies, almost like listening to minimal or techno music on a sound system. At least, that’s how I felt it. Therefore, I wanted to translate that feeling into an electronic interpretation of Baile Funk with this track “O Funk”. At the very end of the track, you can hear a regular Miami Bass 808 rhythm, which is the very root of Baile Funk. That reminds me of that dance contest I saw a Wednesday night on Praça Tiradentes back in Rio with old school Miami bass in the background.

https://soundcloud.com/inverted-audio/saudade-o-funk-pont-neuf-records?in=pontneuf/sets/saudade-xango

How did you get into DJ’ing and also Producing music? Do you think one can be done without the other these days?

I started producing first with a looper pedal and a Casio keyboard at 14 years old. Then, at 15, I bought my first DAW software in a multimedia store at the time… I discover DJ’ing in high school with a friend Adrien from Cosmonection (also in the Pont Neuf Records). We had a duo, he introduced me to DJ’ing. At the age of 17, we mixed for parties with friends from high schools. I loved the positive impact dance music had on a crowd.

I think you can produce music without DJ’ing if you have a nice music live to show to your public. And you can mix without being a producer if you have great knowledge and a particular feel.

https://soundcloud.com/pontneuf/kx9000-pouvoir-magique-1

Outside of electronic music who would you say are your most important influences?

I would say Thom Yorke for the importance of sincerity in music. J Dilla for the complexity of simplicity. Errol Garner for the power of creating a jazz swing of his own. And Tom Jobim for the joy, the sunshine, and the freshness of his music, like a living painting of Rio.

The artwork for the release is particularly striking. Tell us about the people who created it and what it signifies to you?

Shout out to Louis Stecken! We studied in the same school. I discovered very lately he became an artist and such a talented one. I found the painting of the artwork in his portfolio. I loved it. I thought it could be a good incarnation of the spirit “Xango”.

And finally. What are your plans for moving forwards?

After this tribute EP to Brazilian rhythms, I might want to go deeper in this way or to bring new rhythm influences in my music. It might be North-African rhythms or Jazzy stuff. I still don’t know. I like the idea of interbreeding in electronic music between the acoustic and the electronic world. Otherwise, I want to develop the live aspect of my music and to take a step forward in production skills. I bought a new synth recently, the Syncussion. I hope I will be able to make great bass lines and drum synths with it.

https://www.instagram.com/saudade_musik

https://pontneuf.bandcamp.com/album/xango

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