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Feature: Sébastien Léger [Interview + Premiere]

32 min read

Hello Sébastien, I hope you’re having a good day and thanks for joining us, what are your plans for this week?

For the week my sister is visiting me, so no studio time for me or anything music related, few days off is becoming very rare.

Tell us about growing up in France, how did you find your way into the world of electronic music?

My very first memory of what we can call electronic music was me watching the Top 50 on TV, with tracks like Technotronic “Pump up the jam”or Lil Louis “French Kiss”. It was in the late 80’s. I then moved to a French island, New Caledonia, next to Australia. It’s only 4 years later, when I was 13, moving back to France that the idea of becoming a Dj became clear, as I went to my first “club” I was only 14 (and totally not aloud to be in the actual club of course). I was already into dancing, and into funk & dance music, but the light and loud music had a huge impact on me, even thou the music played in the club was just shit music.

You are currently based in Amsterdam, what prompted the move there and how has it affected your creativity?

I just moved to Portugal few months ago. I lived in Amsterdam for almost 11 years in total. When I moved there in 2004, it had a huge impact on my career as I left at that time France which was terrible for electronic music in general, to Holland where this type of music was and still is a massive part of the culture. I became evermore creative, and finally had a full Dj diary, so I could relax more in my mind and focus on producing more and better. Leaving France to Amsterdam was one of the best thing I ever did, I should have done it before. The French scene is now much better and I finally play from time to time in my own country.

You’re on record as saying Japan is your favourite place in the world. Tell us why.

I like pretty much everything about the country, maybe not the food as I don’t eat sea food thou. The culture, the mentality, Tokyo itself is magic to me, I have been maybe 25 times there and I’m still amazed by the place. The mixture between high-end building and older architecture, the colors of the light at night, the best game centres in the world as a big fan of Japanese shooting game (Danmaku), the fact that people are so polite and respectful, it’s safe, it’s clean. I love it. The scene changed a lot into more Japanese Pop and EDM but I believe it will come back to better stuff in the near future.

At which club or event did you experience electronic music for the first time and what memories have stuck with you from that moment?

Like I said earlier, that French club playing commercial euro-dance music, but when you are 14 years old and it’s your first time in a club, it’s something else than your living room. Walking into that crowded place with the lights and loud music blow my mind.

You recently released your ‘Lanarka / Sablier' on Lost & Found, marking your first appearance on the label, tell us how that relationship came to be and how one of 2019's best tracks found a home there.

I made Lanarka back in May 2018. The process of the making has been exceptionally long for me, as usually I nail a (good) track in 2 or 3 days. This time was different, it took about a month. I had the main loop, but I couldn't figure out how to arrange the thing in a good way, I wasn’t even sure if it was good or terrible. But I knew I had something very special, so that’s why I kept on going back on the project, then stop, work on something else, and so on…Eventually when I finished the track, I stepped back and I was like “ok this is either amazing, or really shit”, but deep inside I believed it was really special and different. I sent it to Roy Rosenfeld which I know for many years, confirmed that it was a “hit”, I then said the only label I see who can release this track is Lost & Found, as it was bit more “proggy” than my usual tracks. My EP on All Day I Dream was already finished and signed and ready to go in September, I took my chance and sent it to Guy J. He replied 10 minutes later saying it’s a “hit”, and love it. We then gave it to only 2 or 3 Dj’s including Hernan Cattaneo, and it became all over the social media. I knew the release date was in a long time, so I kind of panicked as I thought it will be way too long (it was) but only hardcore fans knew about the track (nobody knew about the name, we managed to keep it secret till the release). Et voila !

You’ve also recently played some gigs with for the ADID crew, they certainly look and sound magical but you’ve experienced it first hand, give us your impression.

Playing for ADID was like a dream, I always looked at the party from the internet view and it looked exactly was I expected from my ideal party vision: very colourful , happy music, lovely crowd, and day time event. Lee Burridge contacted me by email saying that he loved my track Love Star, which was released on Sudbeat. It was perfect timing for me, so I decided to make music exclusively for ADID until I got an EP signed. Then I got booked for the parties, made another EP for them, and now I play quite a lot of the parties, sometimes opening, sometimes closing, sometimes in the middle. We take turns :

You've just launched a new label 'Lost Miracle', tell us about that and your vision for it.

I had labels in the past and one of them, Mistakes Music became pretty much legendary. But I put it on a permanent hold in 2015. Now I have a team and management behind me to take care of the boring side of the label while can focus only on the music and curating the label. The label will not be another All Day I Dream or anything like it (you know the so called house-dreamy sound…) There is no point doing the same and becoming a competition. The music I want to release is a mixture between Instant Classic house and Timeless Feel music. That means that I’ll try to release mostly music that you can actually remember once the track is finished. Not only a dj tool, but something that truly stands out either by its melody or by the sounds used in the track. A bit like Lanarka if you want, the vocal part is something that standout from the rest and the melody really worked too. I live the B side of the EP for more open and artistic free club tracks, it can be a nice dj tool here, or something very organic or mysterious vibe. Not especially big for the charts, but something really good in a Dj set. So basically if you send me your demos and it sounds like stuff which are already out there (like dreamy house or standard straight progressive), the chances to be signed on the label is close to zero. But if you manage to combine groove/soul/warmth/timeless/fun/surprises, then I might consider to have a close look at it. 

We're thrilled to have hosted the premiere for the title cut on the label's first release 'Skadi', why did this particular production feel right to launch the label.

 I just like it very much :)

Walk us through the production process on it.

It was made out of an accident from a loop on my modular system. I recorded a long jam of that synth loop (the one you hear from the beginning) and then cut, edit and build around that melody. The whole process was pretty fast, the beat was funky on the modular, which I replicated in Ableton but much better sounding, the lead in the main break was made on the Sub37 and also went very fast. I don’t remember I struggled to make this track at all. For some reason I wanted the intro with the first drop to be more powerful and effective than the actual second break with the lead. If you play that track at the right moment, it can be pretty wild :)

Is there a side or sound of yourself which you wish to explore more in your upcoming projects?

I just really want to make quality club tracks. I have done so many music in the past 20 years, I want to listen to what I do now in 5 or 10 years and still think it’s amazing. I can do lots of different style, genres and bpm, but my main focus remains this.

With the barriers to production at an all-time low for many people, and the availability of studio software so easy, do you feel it has had a negative impact on the electronic music market?

Not really. I guess it’s good. Not only bad thing is you get too many tracks out there , too much music, good or bad. It can get very complicated to find your way in this, this is why I ask people to send me music that truly stands out rather than doing I already heard millions of time, even thou the production is amazing. I prefer something a little bit less polished but that has a great idea and soul behind it. It doesn’t necessarily needs to be a banger track either.

How much road testing is done before you’re ready to say a track is finished?

In my case, usually V2 is the one. I make the first “demo” to the maximum I can get in terms of arrangement and mix down, which I test out and then I fix the stuff I heard in my set. And that should be it. I sometimes make others but the differences are too little to consider them as v5 or more. I think the faster the process is, the better your track is, the intention is more important than the details that only you will hear. Work fast and smart rather than wasting time in useless stuff. 

How important are track titles to you? Do they hold a special significance with each track you release?

I see colors when I hear music. I try to match the colors have in mind with a track name. The vibe dictates the name most of time. And sometimeI have no idea, I just drop a word and look for interesting anagrams of these words. Sometime you get lucky. 

Does any production work get done on the road?

No, never. I tried. Miserably failed every time. I need my studio, my mouse, my synths, my environment. Can’t deal with trackpad, tiny screen and plugins only.

What’s a piece of gear that always gets used when you’re writing a track?

The ONLY thing that is always used in every single track I made, for theist 10 years, isn’t a piece of gear, but an audio file. My unique and only one Kick Drum. I have only one, it’s the same, on every track. I changed it maybe less than 4 times since I have it. DIDA actually has a different kick for example.

Do you follow a certain routine before playing a show?

Not really, just collecting the latest promos or stuff I bought onto the USB and let’s see what happen. I don’t plan anything, even 5 minutes before the set, I still have no idea what I’ll play. Maybe I should ahah

You must have a healthy vinyl collection, name a few of your favourites and why they stand out for you.

I sold quite a lot over the years, because I moved many, many times, and it gets annoying every time. I kept about 1000 which remains my all time favorite and stuff that are really important to me. There are so many to mention I don’t even know where to start, one is I know is 99% of the people who follows me now, will be very surprised, and possibly disappointed anyway !

Taking music out of the equation, what other factors are important in becoming a successful DJ? How much do things like image and of course social media matter?

Well, sadly, if you are not a pro at promoting yourself and surrounding you by the right people, even thou you are extremely talented, it’s kind of getting very difficult to stand out, since the market is over saturated by Dj’s, labels, producers, parties. I’m one of the very few that think music should be the only elements where you should be judged on, not based on with who you hang out or how you dress like a fucking actor out of Ali Baba & the 40 thieves (you know… burning man…), how cool and hype is your Instagram timeline or how much drug you took on stage or at x afterparty. It became a gigantic circus, it’s pathetic. Some people play a fake game in that industry that I can’t stand. But if you make amazing music, your image is well done and match your personality , who you really are etc. Then it’s always good to combine those, and present it in a good way on social network to help. But music SHOULD be number one.

Looking back over your discography what release or track holds the best memories for you and is there a correlation between that track and how successful you are today?

I still love “SUN” from the Planets album I did in 2007/2008. I wished I still have the project to rework it a bit. It remains one of my own favorite. I have a lot of unreleased that I really love, they never got the chance to be released, because I think they will not be welcomed as much as I wished, not strong enough or something like that. This is also why I made the label, so the B side can be used for this purpose.

If you weren’t making music, what can you imagine yourself doing for a living? Any hidden skills that might surprise us?

I’m very good with my hands, I can draw pretty good, but never enjoyed it enough. I probably would build stuff out of wood.

What are 5 big tracks you're currently playing right now?

Roy Rosenfeld - The Biggest Heart on TrybesOf
Any Khen I gave me lately, some on Bedrock, some on other labels, secret…
One from me that will be out on ADID summer sampler in August.
Cubicolor - No Dancers (Adam Port remix)
Epstein (LA) & Sarkis Mikael - Elephante 

What can fans expect for the remainder of 2019? And what festivals will you be playing this summer? Anything you can share with us?

There will be few more releases on Lost Miracle, some stuff from me but also stuff from friends already in the pipeline and almost done. After summer.

I’ll play Exit Festival in Serbia with All Day I Dream, Loveland Festival, Untold festival in Romania and also playing Tomorrowland this year with Lost & Found.

First release on Sébastien Léger new imprint Lost Miracle is out now!
Download: Link

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