Being regarded as one of the contemporary leading figures in a scene as historic as French electronica means you’re in demand. Just ask Théo Le Vigoreux, better known as Fakear. You can turn to the likes of M.I.A, AlunaGeorge or ODESZA, who’ve all hit up the Parisian for a collaboration. Or his millions of fans, both in his native country and further afield, who helped tracks such as 2014’s ‘Lu Lune Rousse’ rack up more than 5 million streams on Spotify. Shows in France, America, Portugal and a sell-out set at London’s XOYO highlighted just why this DJ and producer is having a banner year.
It’s worth mentioning that these achievements came before Le Vigoreux had even released his first full-length. This has now changed. Animal landed in June via Counter Records(offshoot of the illustrious Ninja Tune), a label that perfectly suits the ambitious young musician’s style. Over the course of 17 tracks, Le Vigoreux showcased an ability to blend soft, spacious beats with exotic-sounding samples. Sometimes vocals are used as snippets, manipulated in an unequivocally unique way, and other times deployed in a more traditional manner, with the record featuring guests likes Ninja Tune’s Andreya Triana, mantra singer Deva Premal and British artist, Rae Morris.
Following Animal’s release, we caught up with Le Vigoreux to discuss his debut album, and the French electronic music landscape in general.
Hey Théo, thanks for chatting with us. I read both your parents are music teachers. What sort of experiences can you remember growing up that shaped your music taste?
My parents taught me music at the same time I learned to speak French, so it’s always been a way to communicate, just the same as speaking or writing. They showed me world music and how to express feelings by making music; I think it’s the most important thing that shaped my sensibility.
And how did you go from this to being on one of the UK’s biggest independent labels?
It’s very simple! I sent a list of my favourite labels to my manager. He went to Counter Records’ office, and gave them a demo of Animal, and that was it! I visited them one month later and signed with them. I was living a dream, really.
Why the name ‘Animal’?
In hope of encouraging people to reconnect with their wild side. I try not to forget we are all animals with instincts. I think we forget that too often. We’re part of nature, part of this great circle. We’re not beyond or stronger. I think it’s an important reminder.
Are your surroundings quite important to you then?
Definitely. When I moved to the countryside, I realised that nature can give all the inspiration you need, all the food and shelter you need. If you know how to read it, a tree can inform you on the weather, on which animal lives in it and if you can eat its fruit. We forgot how to read nature a long time ago, and it’s a shame. Even in my music, I try to ensure there is a big space filled by natural instincts, and I never overthink a song. I always let it be like I wanted in the first time.
What sort of technology and equipment do you use in your production and live setup?
I think I tend to use quite dated stuff, at least for my generation. I work on Windows Vista and use Reason 5 to compose, for example. I also utilise a lot of items that mean something to me, such as my old Kalimba that my stepfather made. When playing live, I use Windows 10 and Reason 8. I like to keep the same tools; new tech means nothing to me if you aren’t able to make good things with older stuff.
I see. And what about this collaboration with M.I.A?
I don’t know if she will use my song in her album, but I produced a track for her. I sent her dozens of tracks when she was working on her new album!
That’s cool, any other names out there you’d like to collaborate with?
I’m all about human relationships, so I don’t tend think too much about with who I want to work with. But in the future, I’d love to collaborate with a rapper – I don’t know who exactly, but if I meet a good one, it could be cool do to something down this route.
Anyone from Ninja Tune?
Bonobo, I’m waiting on his new album like a child for a new toy!
France has certainly produced a lot of great electronic artists, from Air to C2C. How you think the ‘French’ sound has changed over the years, and what has influenced it?
I don’t think there is a ‘French’ sound anymore. We’re all copying others – it’s always been like this. At one point, Daft Punk were the guys to follow, so everyone got inspired by Daft Punk, and the French touch was born. Nowadays everybody is influenced by Diplo, Flume etc, so everyone is doing trap music. Flume and Diplo aren’t French, so we don’t talk about the French sound. It’s the world’s sound. France was so proud of its artists, and it’s rare when French electronic music leads the world! But now we can talk about a US touch, or an Australian touch!
Any French acts in particular we should keep our eyes on?
Superpoze and Dream Koala – two talented producers who are friends of mine too.
Finally, David Guetta was the opening act for the Euro 2016 opening ceremony – which French talent would you have picked to be the in the spotlight representing France instead?
I think C2C would have represented France in a cool way!
Fakear’s Animal is out now on Counter Records. Order it here.
Featured image: Laurene Berchoteau
Words: Nathan Diamond