Today our guest is Another Pixel, who answered from France to our questions and recorded a various electronic beats mix!
— Tell us please a little about yourself.
— I’m a DJ member of the Parisian Phonographe Corp crew – a collective under a website and several parties – since 2013. Before that I was an active member and a DJ in other collectives, Stimuli and Inner Corner.
If my biggest pleasure is to make people dance and trip, I’m also eager to make discover the values and the stories of underground music. I wrote some articles and did conferences using records and analog machines.
Today I live in Reims, near Paris, about 3000 km far away from where you’re asking this question! When I started to be a DJ that simply would vabe been very hard and rare to get in touch like this! Internet was just doing its first steps.
— So, can you tell the beginning of your love story with music?
— My first musical shock was due to a compilation of 70s electronic tracks, owned by my father and listened in the family car. It was a blending of visionary artists such as Vangelis, Jean-Michelle Jarre, Karftwerk, Mike Oldfield… I was 8 years old.
I remember taking the CD and listening to “Autobahn” secrectly in my bed with headphones and being beamed in a strange but exciting universe.
My father also had records that unconsciously made me falling in love with repetitive/evoluting music. Above many others, there were Tangerine Dream’s “Rubycon”, a real kick-less proto techno piece, and “Masterpiece” by The Temptations, with its hypnotic and rising groove that made soul music quite trippy with the typical metallic Motown sound.
— And when did you start to play with tracks?
— At the age of 10 I think, I discovered that the Sony CD player and tape player/recorder I had in my room didn’t create any noise when clicking on the “pause” button… I thought “woooo that’s gooood”. So I immediately had the idea to play with it, rebuilding dance tracks by multiplying rhythmics or break parts. This machine made also possible to make my own tape compilations without silence or magnetic band noise between tracks…The game was to link tracks, putting the beginning rhythm of one at the end of the break part of the previous one for example.
— Was it at that time you discovered techno?
— It was few years later, in 1992. Underground electronic dance music – mainly Chicago house and Detroit techno – was broadcast on the French radio M40, thanks to DJ Sonic. I found in these styles a greater rhythmic energy than I knew before, blended with the explorations I heard in electronic music pioneers productions.
It was like futuristic dance music, but it was now, it was present, and it was so exciting!!! Then I started an inexhaustible digging of techno & house and the origins of it – funk, jazz, disco, hip-hop, synthwave etc… It naturally never stopped.
Few years later I purchased my first vinyl decks. It was in 1995 and I made my first DJ mixtapes on K7.
— Do you practice of making music?
— Yes, with the years I built a workflow and a setup of analog gear – mono and poly synth, drum modules and drum machines, dynamic processors – with machines that for me have complementary sounds natures – due to their filters. It’s a sort of band creation, with complementary musicians.
From this studio I did a remix for the French cosmic techno artist Humana and I’m actually working on a new one. I’m these days recording techno and electro, with the hard saturated sounds on drums and the spacey atmosphere of deep and mental synth sounds.
— Do you also play live acts?
— I did few ones and it was very minimalist, always done before or after a DJ set. I more often make “hybrid sets”, tangling DJing and Live music by riding my Tr909 or 808 on my records.
What I like in electronic music is when the exploration of sounds, sequences and rythms is shared with the audience as the audience is a part of inspiration – quite as when you DJ. The main difficulty is to maintain a groove, a dancing energy, but the nature of electronic music is for me far away from pre programming and its beauty is synonym of risky business.
— You mentioned the Tr909 and Tr808, what other equipment do you use ?
— For rhythms I also use a Tr707 and a wonderful Syncussion, which is a perfect clone of the Pearl Sy-1 drum sounds module.
At home I have old synths with strong personalities, as the Eminent Solina, Jupiter 4, Korg Mono/Poly, Roland SuperJupiter Rev4, MidiMini. This one was the first machine of the Studio Electronics founder, which wanted to create a MiniMoog in a rack format and with midi and new features. I also use a digital synth for deep pads, the Roland JD-990, and more recent machines as the great MakeNoise O-Coast or the Octatrack sampler.
I also have a long list of effects, the legendary Ensoniq DP4, the cheap Lexicon LXP-1 that brings nice short reverbs for my percussive sounds, a majestic Orban 111-B spring reverb, and pedals for delays, chorus, flanger.
For the “sound signature” I use different tube distortion units on pre master and other analog beasts on post master: a stereo tube eq, a stereo germanium compressor and a fantastic Elysia Karakter!
— How do you technically do hybrid sets?
— I mainly take with my 909 – more rarely the 808 – that I plug in a LP2BE stereo tube distortion pedal and then a sterero effects unit for time effects. It allows me to ad more rythm variations. With the drum machine I like to play sounds and loops from vinyl records, and some time I also use a compact synth, for example the 0-Coast. I link jam parts and records parts by adjusting the tempo button of the drum machine or the deck’s pitch and get an “on tempo” mix beetween vinyl and machine. I also use ambient tracks to install new atmospheres or radical groove type changes.
— Is it important for you, from which media to listen to music?
— If new medias could clearly bring great comfort improvement, this point must always be secondary compare to the quality of experience.
In pure listening sessions I also just say thank you to the numeric world to make music quite everywhere/everytime listened and shared! By the way, I will always prefer to hear music on vinyl when installed in my settee.
I’m an eternal lover of Vinyl, its sound… even more when music is originally mastered on analog gear… what is rather rare nowadays. Maybe it’s relative to the grainy type of music I like.
— And to mix tracks?
— There’s for me a link between music genres and format characteristics. For example, I think coherent, it’s very subjective I know, to mix “Digital” type of goa trance sounds on mp3/wav and CDs. On the contrary, the artistic essence and warmly produced tracks of disco, hip-hop, ghetto house, techno, soul, will for me be more exprimed and respected with an analog format.
But I’m also very attached to the physical contact with the music. I need this physical performance when I DJ. The risk of the material manipulation is a big stimulation for me.
Nevertheless, about 10 years ago, I was really interested in the potential of the Traktor software to re-edit tracks in live, play 4 synchronized sources at a time, doing weird things that would be impossible with vinyl records even for the greatest turntablist on earth.
Anyway I get wearied by the distance with music and the plate sound of numeric formats. So I came back to records, improving my technic, playing on 3 decks, mixing drum tracks with records of synth sequences, using looper and some effects, etc… Finally it’s funny that the digital format challenged me to learn more and more on vinyl mixing and to get new tricks.
Finally I think that a big point in DJing is the creativity the format can allow and how your own creativity expression will be more spontaneous.
— What do you usually listen to ? Are there genres do you prefer ?
— I don’t usually listen to one type of music. It depends to my mood, the context. But I can say I now rarely listen to techno or house. I think the unique moment I listen to it is when I cook, because it’s quite like dancing… and in my car as a fantasized spaceship… ! When I listen to techno at home is otherwise when I prepare selections or try new mixes, so it’s not really listening.
The rest of time I put my ears on hip-hop, disco, Latin grooves, funk, cold wave, psyche rock. In electronic genres, I actually listen a lot of things like Sued Records music to… travel, or the great deep atmospheres from Horo Records to… make my brain dance! And oh I think the music I spend as much time to play as time to listen to is electro – electro funk ! The Tr-808 is essential in my life! Seriously, electro is a real mind stimulation machine, and it is so exciting to mix by playing with those breaking beats and melodic harmonies.
— And are there any particular musicians or labels whose work inspires you?
— The hardest question… the list can be long! As I love when music creates bridges between space, urban and soul. I choose these “big names” : Gerald Donald for his parallel universes, Rephlex Records for the geniuses, Assassin [a French hip-hop group] for the wide political messages, DJ Deeon for his dance-floor killers, Steve Hillage for his cosmic rock, Marlena Shaw for her sensibility, Mike Banks for his fight, Derrick May for his DJing energy and elevating music, Strictly Kev for his technic and his open minded creative wide DJ set approach, Aux 88 for their funk, L.I.E.S. Records for That sound and this big all-good catalog, Anthony Shakir for his courage, talent and authentic kindness.
— So now, with these inspirations, what are your plans for the musical future?
— My “before all” goal is to end some tracks I’m working on. I have prototypes and need to level it up by new structures or new elements.
I also have a new remix to do and I started to work with a guitarist on two cosmic funk/soul tracks.
Third, I hope to play soon some hardware improvised live acts with micro modular systems, drum machine and effects.
And of course, the more I’ll play as DJ to share music and make people dance, the more I’ll be happy! Thanks to the music I met so many great artists and nice generous people that helped me a lot. I hope it will continue for a loooooong time and offer a lot too!