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 I don’t see how a number of followers or views make a good song or an interesting person but this topic is already out of date: social media isn’t social media anymore, it’s just regular life.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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Strapontin – The End of Logic – Hard Fist

Epic in every sense of the word. This is the power of music saying more than words sometimes can. The opening Nervous Days is simply too inviting to ignore with its sassy flair of drums, smouldering voices and bass stabs all commanding the floor. The End of Logic marks the tenth release from the label while also serving as Strapontin’s debut as a video game producer (see video below) while proving wonderfully hard to categorise making it even more appealing. But the Nice One! then continues with a low-slung rapture again complete with grinding drums plus shivering effects, with Thomass Jackson supplying a weird and wonderful remix. Likewise the industrial grind of Miss Mickey the Dumbs, also has an equally tempting version this time via the delicious, shimmering syncopation provided by Damon Jee.

Release: October 15

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

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Nark – Do You See Yourself? – Bottom Forty Records

This sounds like everything at once. Obscure, dark, and temptingly rich, and yet absolutely entertaining as the treated statement Do You See Yourself works its way into warped dissolution. Dissolving time right before your eyes as Nark sequences trippy, evolving synth lines against a funky shuffle of drums which combine to heighten a tense sense of ecstasy. A wonderful, deliberately radical exploration of what’s possible. Remixes contrast the trepidation as Thomass Jackson works up the rhythms, adding commanding bass and fuzzy keys, while the Ali X and Palomo version casts a fiery breath of electro over the arrangement, again tripping out on danger levels. The liquid low-end of The Playing Field contrasts as Acid informs the equation over ever expanding Eastern voices to complete.

Release: October 30

http://www.bottomforty.com

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