ClekClekBoom and the Parisian dance scene are the focus of our latest Vs. interview, with French Fries and the label co-founder, Ministre X, trading blows.
French Fries inaugurated the label in 2011 with ‘Champagne’/’Hugz’ and has since gone on to release another 12″ with the label, as well an EP on Youngunz and the infectious ‘Yo Vogue’ on Dirtybird. Ministre X has a record out on ClekClekBoom as well as, as you will read below, a variety of works under different aliases. On the back of the latest CCB release, Chaos In The CBD‘s ‘Rolling 84’s’/’Slab’/’Trunk Music,’ we caught up with the pair to discuss their routes into making dance music, the effects of technology on Paris’ music scene and making ‘songs,’ as opposed to club tracks.
French Fries: Can you see a difference between the current music scene and what it was 20 years ago when you were playing house?
Ministre X: Yeah, a big difference – ready access to technology, information and the internet has meant that electronic music reaches a far wider audience than it did previously. Nowadays, you can easily get your hands on pretty much any track, aside from maybe vinyl-only releases. The fact that you can now also effectively own an entire home studio with just a computer and produce without the need to purchase loads of equipment has changed everything and aided the new generation of 20-something producers like yourself.
French Fries: Does this mean that previously, in order to be booked and respected within the scene you had to have more musical identity, a bigger record collection etc.?
Ministre X: Having a big record collection defintely helped. There only used to be a few record shops in Paris, and the records so few and far between that you had to know the sellers in order to get your hands on the good stuff. Even then you had be quick off the mark otherwise you would have to wait 6 months for the re-release. It was frustrating, sometimes you could go into a store, listen to a great record and not be able to buy it because it was reserved for someone else. Certain tunes were so rare in Paris that you could make new friends instantly just based on your selection. For example, back when I was really into US house I found myself playing alongside Armand Van Helden in a small club in Rio after showing my collection to a promoter 2 hours earlier! There used to be a real hierarchical system like that back in the day.
French Fries: So back then you didn’t have to be a producer to be booked as a DJ?
Minstre X: No, certainly not. There were DJs who didn’t produce and yet earned a living from doing it, although they may have become producers at a later stage. Take Carl Cox for instance, he was a big name in the scene even before he tried his hand at production.
Minstre X: And from your perspective, since you started DJing aged 14, have you seen a change in the scene?
French Fries: When I was 14 I thought that vinyl decks were just for scratching. I was producing hip-hop and I had no idea about house or that it could be mixed, except for in a recording studio! In fact, I didn’t realize that an electronic music scene really existed aside from you (haha!). I didn’t know what djing was. It turned out to be very different from what I imagined. When I got into mixing I was already a producer, and to be honest I will always consider myself a producer over a DJ.
French Fries: In any case, do you reckon that I’ve changed?
Ministre X: Not really. When we met I knew straightaway that you had a little something special when it came to music and that you would go places quickly. I remember clearly that whenever you came to see me DJ and you’d bring a mate, he’d run off and hit on chicks whereas you would stay in the DJ booth and watch everything I was doing and listen attentively to the tunes. It was evident that you were really passionate about music from the offset. I always though that even at that stage we would go on to work together and it only seemed natural that you come on board when ClekClekBoom was launched as a label.
French Fries: Previously you have worked under the pseudonyms Voltaire and Ginger Ale. Has that made your approach to production more like that of a ‘song’ – do you want to speak about either of them?
Ministre X: Ginger Ale was a pop/electronica-orientated project I did with another guy, and under ‘Voltaire’, a duo too, I produced a Brazilian hip-hop album. The latter was very much a return to my roots and consequently the album proved to be a great way to discover my cultural origins. In fact I often find being an artist for ClekClekBoom quite difficult because as a dance music label we release club tracks whereas my style of composition is generally geared towards more traditional songwriting techniques with hooks and verses. Subsequently I believe my music is quite different from that of the other artists on the label. Without blowing on my own horn too much, I was quite happy with ‘Calling Me’ because I felt that it found a good balance between toughness and beauty even if it wasn’t a particularly club orientated track.
Ministre X: It’s clear that you find it very easy to put together a club track but does creating a ‘song’ in the more traditional sense come as naturally? And also, do you have any plans for an album?
French Fries: I am actually learning how to do this at the moment with my latest project. The thing I find most difficult though is editing my tracks for radio because the structures are so different from what I’m used to! Sure its possible that I might make an album in the future and it could even feature ‘songs’ with a more traditional pop structure but I don’t think that the album format necessitates pop structures to be honest.
French Fries: So, what are you working on at the moment?
Ministre X: I’m currently working on my next EP which is due to come out next in the first half of 2013 and also a track for the ClekClekBoom 1st birthday compilation. Also I’ve been working with Sana (the singer on ‘Calling Me’) on a few tunes. Other than that The Boo and I are always always super busy with the label and the BoomCast.
Minstre X: And you?
French Fries: At the moment I’m finishing up a few remixes and a track for the compilation myself. On top of that I’ve also got an EP coming out on 7th November on DirtyBird entitled ‘Space Alarm/Smoke Wine’. I won’t wait long before beginning my next one either.
Ministre X: I’ve always wanted to ask you this question: if you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
French Fries: Fashion. I like to not only design clothes but modify nearly everything I wear. Its not something I take very seriously at the moment but I reckon if the opportunity arose to start up a clothing label or something, I’d almost certainly take it.
French Fries: And you?
Ministre X: I would have liked to work with film in some way, maybe screenplays or TV production. Sure it would take a totally different skill-set to work in such a field but I think I could have adapted. Otherwise I think I might have got into writing. But don’t get me wrong, I’m happy, although running a label is very different to being a producer, they compliment each other well.