Hyponik

Bambounou: In Conversation

Cohesively erratic. Blissfully puncturing. Organised Chaos. Try and pigeon-hole a set or production from Jeremy Guindo a.k.a. Bambounou and you’re a fool. He’s a man who devotes his life to experimenting in production, drawing on his unique heritage, experiences and surroundings to forge a truly distinctive sound.

Bambounou has been at the vanguard of a Parisian nightlife scene that has come to fruition in recent years, and his two albums on legendary label 50 Weapons underpinned his talents in the studio. But in the most human of segways from music, he has now become a dad, shouldering parenthood with an enamoured charm. From the birth of his child giving him a new found structure in life, to working with keywords when trying to construct his tracks, we caught up with the man ahead of his set at Horst Festival earlier this month and took an intriguing walk through the world of Bambounou…

I’d like to congratulate you on becoming a father earlier in the year, how are you and how are they doing?

I’m great. I was on holiday for like two months and now I’m back home. But yeah, they are great, like extremely cute.

It’s probably an interesting subject to approach for an interview, you don’t really see much in the way of exploring how becoming a parent changes the way artists approach their careers. I imagine there are a lot of artists out there whose lives drastically change as a result of becoming a dad; particularly due to a demanding touring circuit. Have you had a sustained period off? How have you approached bookings and the transition into fatherhood?

Well, you know, actually, all of my friends were like; a child and that’s the end! But actually, you know what, it’s great. My life is much more organised now. So because everything needs organisation when you have a child, I wake up every morning at like eight, and do the baby bottle, change the diaper and play with her; then the nanny comes and then I have a full day of work, like a proper day in the studio – nine hours for me to work in the studio and that never happens.

It’s crazy. So I’m sitting in my studio, and I’m like, well, I have so much time, what am I going to do? So, you know, I can play guitar now and I never used to play the guitar before; I can experiment with random stuff now. No seriously, everything is just so much more organised. And it brings you back to the very simple stuff. When you have a child, you need to provide very basic needs; like she needs to sleep, she needs to be clean and she needs to be fed. Right. So I pretty much took the same approach with production. I was like, okay, I’m going to do a track but you know, the track needs to be simple. You can have a very complicated idea, but you have to make it understandable. So yeah, that’s, that’s the main thing that came up with having a baby, you know. I was used to not sleeping or like waking up during the night often. So the transition wasn’t very hard for me.

It’s strange, because obviously, a lot of people before they become parents, they’re often warned about, “oh, you’re never going to get any structure in life, it’s all hectic and chaotic,” but it’s kind of the opposite for you and it’s allowed you to be structured in what you do.

Yeah, I would say it’s structured chaos.

Organised chaos!

Exactly, because it is still very hectic, you know, but it’s a lot of fun. And it’s very strange, because you know I’m with my girlfriend, with the baby mama and we love each other and it’s a totally different kind of love that you have for your child.

So did you have a sustained period off when she was born? How did you approach bookings when you finally got back into DJing?

Um, so basically, my girlfriend had four months off. She’s an artistic director. So she basically stayed at home and I didn’t do the whole month of January. And then I started but like just one gig a weekend. I wasn’t doing like two gigs or anything. And I was leaving very late and coming back as soon as possible, you know, like in the morning.

During those four months I didn’t go to the studio, which was nice. Just sort my mind out and sort everything else. But it’s been going amazing. Really, I didn’t expect that. We expected it to be great. But not that great, if you know what I mean.

It’s great to hear. A lot of people say that parenthood changes a person, do you think it has changed you at all and do you think that might filter down into how you produce or your style of music?

I don’t know. I suppose you have to make stuff more simple as we said. Yeah. In the way you the way you approach music, in the way you want people to feel the music you’re doing. But I guess I’m just doing weird stuff. You know, I’m like, fuck it. We’re gonna do it, I have so much time to produce and sometimes some good stuff comes out. But it’s still very, very fun and enjoyable.

You know I find I value my time much more. So, for example, when I get to the studio, and I know I have to be very efficient, I’m going to be efficient. But with the creativity, it’s pretty much the same, you know, it’s just so much more enjoyable, because I know it’s my time to do this. And I love doing what I do. So it’s very easy.

It’s interview 101 asking for a DJ’s influences, and you often hear that it’s their parents. We saw you connect with your roots in your Resident Advisor Origins film, exploring your Mali roots with the Dogon tribe. Now being a father yourself, it’s highly likely that your child is going to be well versed in music and its history. It’s far too premature to say but could we expect to see another Floorplan-esque arrangement? How will you approach their musical education?

Well, you know, every time I take care of her in the morning we try to listen to an album, and I have this little book where I write everything we listened to. So in the future I’m going to give it to her and be like, yeah we listened to this. And we listen to pretty much everything that I like.

But like, you know, the baby music etc. is all very, very, very basic. But I guess it’s going to be and when you get older you get the chance to listen to whatever you want to listen to. But you need to try to make them listen to some different kinds of stuff, without it being too much homework. I don’t want her to end up not liking music because of me.

It’s funny you should say that, I have a one year old nephew and my family play him all sorts of nursery rhymes and what not but I introduced him to DVS1 and it seems to really resonate with him, he seems to just go a bit crazy for that.

Yeah. You know what, there was a study and actually they really like repetition, listening to the same song over and over again.

So going back to your own way through life. I understand you quit law school and in the Origins video you mentioned you were quite a troublesome adolescent. Do you think if you’d stayed on that path with law, and not been so distracted with friends or music, you would have still found music in the end? It’s obviously difficult to say, being a lawyer your time is so precious; but do you think you would have still carved out a way to make it work?

Yeah, definitely. Because I was always attracted to it and I was always very curious how to do it. So I think that even if it was just playing with friends, I would have done it in some kind of way. Yeah, probably in a different way I would have made it.

Going back to Paris itself and the techno scene there at the moment, it seems to be thriving – despite the closure of Concrete. How have you seen it from your first adolescent days going out? How have you seen it mature or develop since you first experienced that?

Well, when I started going out, there weren’t many nights you know, like there were some very Parisian parties that were very snobbish, but sometimes they were fun with some good music, good acts. Now it’s very interesting, because there’s a huge amount on offer. So the young people can go and listen to pretty much anything and I think it’s great for a city like Paris to be finally represented as it should be, you know, like London is.

For example, in London, there’s so many radio stations, lots of clubs, obviously, lots of clubs, some chavvy okay, but Paris did catch up with some cultural places. But now there’s some old political issues, you know, like Dehors Brut, Concrete’s new temporary home closed early because of a drug issue where unfortunately someone died. It is very, very sad and sometimes politicians don’t really understand all the mechanics of a club. So rather than just trying to implement a prevention policy or just talk to the people, they just close it down.

It’s really interesting. As you know, right, there’s loads of parties in the suburbs, so Parisians just go outside the city and these parties feel more inclusive.

And so your music at the moment. How is production going? Have you got any projects you’re working on?

Ah, well, I did a remix for ItaloJohnson telligence and that is going to be out soon. I did another one for Loco Dice, which is getting to be out soon too. And you know, I’m signed on Whities now so yeah, working on a new EP.

Your music, you can try and put it in a box, but you just fail to every time because it doesn’t belong in a box, it spans so many different genres. It’s often been cited along the lines of being quite sonic and spatial, almost metallic at times. It seems almost the perfect kind of music to have an audio visual display to it, something you’d see at Berlin Atonal for example. Have you had much experience of experimenting with visuals and is it something you want to explore?

Well, to be fair with you, I’ve actually no skills other than doing music so I would not be able to do this by myself. That’s an interesting question. I did once do a live show and I asked one of my friends to do the visuals which worked pretty well. What I like is nature, something that would be very slow with beautiful images.

You know, most of the time when I produce I just get three keywords like, I don’t know; plastic, metal and wood. Then say I’m going to try and sound like these keywords. I try to have a different approach than just thinking to myself. I might be like oh I want to make a big room track and make people dance but for me I want to have three keywords. I want to find where the black plastic is, where the metal is, where the wood is, and where everything else is in the creation.

And how was Berlin Atonal? Did you stay around to see some of the other artists?

I actually arrived a little bit earlier because I wanted to see the festival which was mind blowing, really, really good atmosphere, it’s great. I then went back to the hotel and had a little nap then I came around three to see Buttechno’s set. I was supposed to play for two hours like four until six but ended up playing seven hours. So yeah, it was really good. It was really fun.

I suppose seven hours gives you a licence to play all sorts of stuff, what did you go for?

It’s a very interesting gig because you’re playing in Berlin, so people are a little bit aware, you know – you can’t play just seven hours of banging techno. I jumped around, I had a lot of fun. I think I started at like 160 BPM, just percussions for like, 15 minutes and then I started to be more classic.

There’s so many festivals around now, and these festivals such as Berlin Atonal, Horst they put an emphasis on art and culture in addition to the music, blending them all together into this nice, rounded experience. They provide rare opportunities to hear truly progressive music that takes a genre forward. What do you look for when you go to festivals? Do you often go and have a walk around and experience what’s going on?

I think the festival needs to be organic. Even the way you walk around spaces, you need to go to one place to another without it being hostile or difficult. At somewhere like Atonal there was so much stuff to see and a rest area, a quiet room and you could walk anywhere, it was very organic. It always keeps you curious and you’re discovering new stuff. I think that that’s what I’m looking for. And the music needs to be good, of course!

 

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Sometimes the size of stages can be a factor that detaches the DJ from a crowd or the distance they are away from the crowd seems to affect the atmosphere a bit. Is that something you experience?

Yeah I mean, it’s interesting. Sometimes it feels a little bit cold to see people far away. But then you know, everyone’s dancing at the same time. So it’s like, there’s a nice energy as well. But I prefer to play on the same ground, on the same level as the crowd so I can see them dance and feel the energy. That’s why I played seven hours at Atonal for example, because the energy was very present. I think if I would have played on the big stage, I don’t know, I may not have played seven hours, on the stage by yourself; like, what am I doing?

Okay, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me Jeremy.

Yeah, thanks for calling me my friend.

Words: Samuel Asquith

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