After 4 years spent exclusively behinds the decks playing throughout France alongside the biggest D&B names, he started producing in 2006. And since then his aim stays the same: develop his own approach to Drum&Bass by blending genres influential to himself, mainly Reggae, Trance, Funk, Trip Hop, Rock, Hip Hop & Jazz. That’s certainly why he’s nowadays renowned as an eclectic artist, not limiting his skills to the boundaries of just one style.
2008 was the year when his talent began to be noticed, with first signings on a selection of labels and support from a number of big artists. Then 2012 marks his position as one of the most talented newcomers, with releases on worldwide-known labels such as Fokuz, Citrus and Celsius. The year after, he entered legendaries J Majik & Wickaman’s seminal imprint; Infrared.
The upper level was reached in 2014, when he signed his first track on THE leading label in the Drum & Bass scene: Ram Records. On 2015, he came back to Ram (and its sister label ProgRam) and also entered another D&B superstar label: Technique. This ability to reach the biggest imprints in the game proves that he’s now a well established artist.
He’s now about to release his album on The Bughouse (Wickaman’s label) and it’s just a beginning! So we have stopped by to have a chat!
First of big up on the album coming on The Bughouse, we are all really excited for that, and obviously the release on Ram, you must be stoked at so much UK support right now?
Yeah, the UK scene has been supportive of me since day one and I hope it will stay the same in the future! I really appreciate the professionalism of most UK D&B labels and they feel the same for me so my relationship with the UK is far from being finished.
And how is the scene in France, do you play out there often?
As you may know, it’s completely different than on the other side of the Channel and the D&B scene is quite small here. But it’s getting better day after day. I’ve got no gigs for now in my homeland but I’ve already played over a hundred times here from little pubs to over-crowded festivals and big venues.
So can you go back to 1997 for me, what you were listening to, who’s influenced you and how you discovered dnb?
You named the good year: 1997, quite the start of everything for me. It’s the year when I discovered The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk, Underworld, Orbital … all this at the same time!! After that, it was obvious for me that I’ll listen to Electronic Music until I die! Of course I knew that the full spectrum of this Music was very wide but I did my best to browse as many genres and styles as possible … Then D&B came along. I think you may imagine the rest of the story…
I understand you were studying classical music around 2000, and you can play piano? You also have a few other brass instruments? What if any grades did you do and can you tell us about your classical training?
Indeed, I started to study Classical Music from the early age of six until my eighteen. And it’s definitely not the best memory I have! These courses were such a pain that when I gave it up, I didn’t want to practice any instrument or make music for the rest of my life. Fortunately things have changed. Anyway at least I can play piano and trumpet now, even if I’m not really good to be honest!
So around 2002 you moved into electronic music and started mixing. What was your first DJ set up and can you remember your first gig?
My first set up was 2 BST belt drive turntables and a poor mixer without EQ faders. Of course I played only vinyl at that time. And my first gig was in Summer 2014 in a little pub where most of the audience was my friends.
4 years on in 2006 from that you started producing? What was your first DAW, are you still on that now and was it all digital?
From the beginning my DAW is the same: FL Studio (formerly Fruity Loops). Of course, my PC is way more powerful nowadays. Also I bought good speakers and soundcard since then, plus a fsome other equipment, and set a proper studio up. But the DAW stays the same (I use a more recent version of course). I tried many other softwares but they never made me give up FL Studio
So 2012 was a big year for you – you had your first release on Triple Vision’s imprint and you were starting to get some worldwide recognition? How did that feel?
It felt great, I had the feeling that my tracks were at last good enough for reaching a bigger audience.
SC link: https://soundcloud.com/salaryman/sets/beautiful-love-ep-fokuz-out
The dnb scene must of felt like a far away place from where you were in France? Did you manage to come and visit the UK at all?
Sure I was actually born and lived until eighteen in Lille so quite close to the UK border. That’s why I’ve been in the UK, mainly London, over a dozen times. And I hope I won’t be long to be back there.
2013 you had an EP on Infrared and you started to collab with Wicka (Wickaman). Did you learn much and give us an insight on bouncing stems / was it difficult?
I’m a fan of Wickaman since the first Infrared vinyl I bought back in 2005. So I felt blessed to feature on his label. Then I couldn’t resist to propose him a collab and he was keen on doing such a thing. But I think the most I learned from him was throughout the production of my album. Wickaman is the kind of perfectionist that wouldn’t release a tune if he thinks it may be improved, even if the matter is just a hi hats layer in the background which most people won’t even hear! He has always good suggestions and know how to motivate an artist for making him rework a track (even if it’s the 126th version of it!). That’s why having my album on his label was definitely a good experience for me.
So 2014… your first track went on Ram.
Did you pop open the champagne or do a little boogie round your house? You must of been pleased?
Yeah it was so unexpected to feature on this label of which I was an absolute fan for a decade. But no champagne or party, I just went back to the studio and tried to produce something good enough to be back on Ram again (that’s the true story!). And fortunately this happened.
Mixing down… can you give our readers some helpful tips?
Ahah my favourite topic! I could talk during hours about it but let’s do quick. The main thing for me to provide a fat mixdown to your tune is to mind that any single sound don’t infringe upon another one. So what you have to do is to EQ any sound properly, which means to restrict it to the good frequency band. A good tip is to play the whole track and modify the EQ in real time, for instance tweak a +5dB peak until you feel an improvement. Also take care of cutting low frequencies on the sounds that are not bass or kick as no one will hear it and it make cause issues with the bass section. Then, limit your sounds correctly. There’s no typical way to use a limiter so once again play the whole track and tweak the ceiling button. If you feel that’s the sound on which you work has lost too much dynamics, that means that you have been too far! Most of the time EQs and limiters are the things you’ll have to use the most in the mixdown process. Sometimes you don’t even need more plugins.
2016 you released more tracks on Ram and Technique, and now the release of your album. What’s the name of the album and how long has it taken to make?
It’s called “Choose Your Language” because my aim was to do something eclectic that may speak to anyone despite their “language”, I mean their musical tastes. And it took quite a long time to do it. I submitted over 25 tracks (which I already pre-selected) throughout almost 3 years and we have finally just kept 14 tracks (plus a DJ mix).
How many tracks are on the album and which 2 are you particuarly fond of?
My favourites are probably “Dancehall Drama VIP”, a powerful tear-out tune I’ve made with Ragga female French singer LMK, and “Let’s Go Baby!”, a laidback soulful Liquid track that should warm up your winter.
If I gave you £5000 to spend on studio equipment, what would you buy and why?
I think I’ll invest in a bigger room for my studio and a good acoustic treatment. My actually studio is not bad but may be improved a little with this kind of treatment I think. By the way, thanks for your generosity!
So what gigs have you got coming up now?
Nothing confirmed for now but it shouldn’t be long to be!
If I see you out at the bar, what are you drinking?
First of all, you’d be a lucky one as I’m not going out often nowadays. Anyway I think I’ll drink a Belgian beer or maybe a couple of shots of good amber rum.
If you got stuck on a desert island and you could only listen to one dnb track ever again, what would it be and why?
I hesitate between Logistics – Inside My Soul and ShockOne & Phetsta – The Sun. These tunes are now oldies but it keep on putting me in a very good mood every time I listen to it.
So what’s the plans for 2017?
Biiiiig things!! I know I know, everyone says that. But trust me if you liked what I did so far, you’ll be certainly amazed by what will comes out next year! Basically I’m not allowed to talk about it for now, except that my third sample pack on Loopmasters will come out on late January. So producers, stay tuned!
Any shouts and thanks?
Huge thanks to Wickaman, Jim and the Ram crew, Bassline Smith and the Technique fam, Marco and all the team at Triple Vision, and generally speaking anyone who like my music (even if it’s just one tune!)
Thanks for your time! All the best for 2017!!!
Interview by Aliina Atkinson 2016