This week on the Journal we had the pleasure of sitting down with one of the original Godfathers of the French House Movement, Alan Braxe. He took us through his history and career in Electronic Music, projects he’s currently working on and kindly offered some advice to budding producers looking to follow in his footsteps.
Hi, Alan. For those who already don’t know you, could you introduce yourself, and give us a little background into your illustrious career in Electronic Music?
“Well I started making « electronic » music in 1997 when I was 26 years old, but I also played cello for 10 years when I was a kid.
In 1997 I bought some gear, consisting of an SP 1200 EMU ( Sampler), a small 8-Channel Mackie Mixer and an Ensoniq DP4 ( Multi Effect). One year later I had the chance to release my first track «Vertigo» on Thomas Bangalter’s ( 1/2 of Daft punk) label, Roulé. Right after, we released a track together with the singer Benjamin diamond, under the name Stardust. The track «Music Sounds Better With You» was a big hit worldwide, and is now a club classic.
I also started a label, Vulture, in 2000 releasing music from myself but also from lots of other artists.
I have done a lot of remixes in 20 years, in different genres, From Beyonce to bands like Test Icicles. I’ve also been DJing worldwide since 2007.”
Firstly, have you been working on any new music or started any projects that we should know about?
“Yes, I do work on new material. I totally changed my set up one year ago and decided to go very minimal. I bought a very basic modular synth set up, an Mpc X, kept two EQ’s, one 8 channel mixer, one delay 1 reverb, and one compressor, nothing else, and no more computer either.
Going back to basics is very exciting, although it took me some time to get used to a very basic set up after working in a computer orientated environment for several years. However, I’ve found some kind of freedom in this new set up, simplicity can help you to be creative. Hopefully, I’ll have some new music to share soon.”
In today’s electronic music scene are there any artists/bands that you admire and are a fan of?
“Of course, when I DJ I play a lot of tracks from Tiga, Erol Alkan, Soulwax, and in another genre tracks from Joey Negro, Andhim, Superflu, Tiger & Woods plus many others…”
A tough question for you, but if you had to choose one (or two) key moments that defined you in your career what would they be and why?
“Well production/writing wise, not one specific moment, but all of the moments when you feel you just had a good idea. This kind of moment does not last long it’s maybe just 1 minute or a few seconds but it’s really magical, the feeling you have when you just found something that you feel is sincere and original.”
What are some of your favourite pieces of hardware or software that you still use in your setup, and couldn’t live without?
“I’ve sold a lot of equipment but the pieces of gear I’ll always keep with me even if I am not using them daily, are the MPC 60, ASR 10, SP1200. They are all different but all « magic » samplers, they are fun, intuitive, and most important, creative tools.
I also have a pair of Electrodyne EQ & Pre’s, they just sound good, the EQ’s are really simple just 2 band EQ’s, I like it this way, it limits the possible mistakes. I also entered the modular world last year with a very basic set up, and for sure I’ll keep this for a long time, it’s just pure magic as well, once you start from scratch with a simple oscillator and from there it’s just infinite sound shaping.”
A question we ask a lot on these interviews: What advice would you give to a younger music producer who wants to make an impact with their music?
“Just select the piece of gear that compliments you the most, the one that helps you to translate your idea quickly and be creative. From there it could be Ableton Live, a Vintage Hardware Sampler or a Modular Synth, it doesn’t matter, what matters is to go deep into the selected gear & explore it as much as possible.
The danger happens when you focus too much on gear, especially in the digital world where the temptation is high and the marketing very strong. It’s hard to resist getting this one new plugin, this one new virtual instruments, etc … then you end up with a pile of effects/sounds banks, etc. It will become hard to focus because the set up is changing so often.
“My advice would be to keep the whole set up as simple as possible and also to never, never give up…“
Listen to Alan’s discography below: