Exclusive: SebastiAn talks new album, movie scores, and keeping the process fresh

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Exclusive: SebastiAn talks new album, movie scores, and keeping the process freshSebastian

With dance music being such a flavor-of-the-week industry, it’s normal to hear an artist update his or her sound a few times over the course of just a single calendar year. A steady release schedule allows them to stay up with the trends and, more importantly, keep their names fresh in the minds of listeners. Not the case for Ed Banger‘s homegrown SebastiAn.

For the past eight years, he took a considerable hiatus from releases to hone his craft elsewhere. While the gap in his discography has left fans thirsty, the industry attention and resulting production gigs that the French producer (real name Sébastien Akchoté) has picked up in the meantime marks him as one of the most diversely qualified studio producers in the game.

Accordingly, SebastiAn’s sophomore album, Thirst, is served as a delectable tapas of the flavors that Akchoté has incorporated into his palate since we last heard from him. French electronic releases are often defined by their lineage and development upon the scene’s nostalgic sounds of yesteryear. But Thirst acts instead as a testament to the eclectic evolution possible when growth and expression remain an artistic priority. The album enlists a squad of A-list collaborators (including Gallant, Mayer Hawthorne and Charlotte Gainsbourg) and grabs inspiration not just from a range of genres, but a myriad of media types offering a new perspective on the wide, menacing sonic DNA that SebastiAn is known for.

We caught up with the SebastiAn to talk artistic evolution, creating personal challenges, movie scores and more. Checkout our interview below and to ask SebastiAn your own questions, keep an eye out for his Reddit AMA on 12/10.


DA: It’s been eight years since your last album, what can those who are new to SebastiAn expect from Thirst?

If I can be quite literal, I’d say it’s emotional but also challenging at the same time. It’s always difficult to put the music into words but it’s about representing hate and love in music. It’s not like if hate is on one side and love is on another side, but I wanted to express hate and love as one thing in my music.

Total was distinctly French-electro, whereas in terms of genre Thirst is more music without boundaries. How important is it to break away from the confines of a specific genre as an artist?

It’s important but it depends on the artist. Even some artists who I love have styles who’ve never changed, not over 20 or 30 years and I still love their songs. I don’t like to repeat myself in music too much, so the thing was trying to reinvent not by changing the DNA of what I’m doing but by finding another language to express, to create, and express the same intensity. It’s quite important not to be bored and search for new songs.

For example, when I did Total, all of my friends, like Justice or people from Ed Banger had already created sounds that, even years after, became not normal but more common, so it wasn’t the thing for me to come back to. If people still like those kinds of songs, they’re already everywhere, so I wanted to try something new.

I guess that also keeps your job as a professional musician fresh.

In a way, I don’t know if it’s French tradition, but in electro music, like with Justice and Daft Punk, we’re always trying to find something new on the next album.

People always have certain expectations for new releases for their favorite artists, particularly with Daft Punk, but it usually just takes some time for them to adapt to a new sound...

What’s funny with Daft Punk is when they release something new, everybody is disappointed because it’s not like before, then eight months later it’s seen as the norm. I was searching for something new. A new way to produce, a new process, or something that I’ve never done before. It was more like a personal thing, not one where I wanted to reflect recent music that I’ve heard.

A change in style is always most interesting when it’s done for personal reasons, rather than following trends.

You just have to do your thing and let people say whether they like it or not.

On the point of doing something new and challenging, tell me about the title track of Thirst...

It’s so common for music’s aggressiveness to come from the beat or something that can really punch. My thing with Thirst was trying to transcribe something hard without any hard elements, it’s more a representation of being punched for real. It’s the difference between having something really shocking in a painting or a representation of the violence in another way. I want to see if people feel the same.

Well it really does punch. Without the beat driving it, it almost takes on the feel of an early monster movie.

Yeah, you got it! I wasn’t so much into soundtracks as I was how they represent the contents of a movie.

In that case, what would be your dream film to score?

Oh, I’d like to do something unexpected. I was quite impressed with the work of Jonny Greenwood on There Will Be Blood, but for me… not a David Lynch movie because it’s not something I’d be much help for, maybe a big movie like Interstellar or The Arrival would be really fun. I think I prefer The Arrival strangely.

Seems like it all comes back to the idea of a challenge.

It’s funny, I’m fascinated by soundtracks and cinema but when I sit down to write music I have no images in my head. For me when I’m working the music is purely just something emotional. Mr. Oizo always has some visuals in his head because he’s a moviemaker. Justice always has some ideas or pictures in their head, but I have nothing. Nothing at all, which makes it funny when I hear that people hear my music as being cinematic.

You’ve worked with the visual aid before though, like your score for Mr. Oizo’s film Steak. How’s that creative process?

It can be easier for me because they give me the pieces that I don’t have. This is something that I love to do because it seems like you’re going to be confined by what’s seen on screen, but at the same time soundtracks are maybe a more freeing part of the music. You’re obliged to represent something, but the style that you approach it with is the most freeing thing ever. There are no boundaries, there are no lines, you just have to find something new.

That sort of reminds me of the monologue from Daft Punk’s “Giorgio by Moroder.”

There are new ideas coming from movies where you’re strangely more free when doing these things. I don’t know why, maybe it comes from the images, but it’s like the more restricted you are the more you are obliged to find new ways to do something.

How about your live shows? They’re known to be a bit more maximal than the sounds on your new album, are you doing anything new there?

To me, live shows are where you can liberate yourself into something hard. It’s not possible to play quietly during a live show. It’s almost something sociological for me. Sometimes people have a bad week, or they’re working a lot, and they come to a concert and want to explore or lose themselves and I really like to give them something strong.

And last, almost more of a personal question, it’s been 11 years since the first SebastiAn remix album. When can we expect another?

As soon as possible! I haven’t had time since I was producing my album, but now I’m going to get back to making a lot of remixes. I love the fact that you get a song and it’s possible to release it very quickly, versus the long slow process of an album or what. That’s why I started with remixes, because it was possible to have an idea in the day, give it back to the artist and having it out in a month.

This interview has been edited for both readability and clarity purposes.

Justice live documentary ‘IRIS’ gains wide release via YouTube Music

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Justice live documentary ‘IRIS’ gains wide release via YouTube MusicJustice O2 Briton Academy Credit Guifre De Peray

Back in September 2018 when we asked Justice‘s Xavier De Rosnay if Woman Worldwide would feature some sort of visual accompaniment, his response was a characteristically cool, tight lipped allusion to what would eventually wind up being IRIS: A Space Opera by Justice. The band’s visual deep dive into their latest live performance earned a premiere at SXSW, followed by a limited theatrical release earlier this year. Now the documentary is set for a long-awaited wide release thanks to YouTube Music.

Justice made the announcement via social media with a short teaser for the documentary, giving a sneak peek at the band’s first long form visual since 2008’s A Cross the Universe project. While an official release date for IRIS remains still under wraps, the announcement signals to an online premiere in the very near future. In the meantime, fans can sign up to be notified when the film is slated to land here.

Frank Ocean Previews New Songs “Dear April” & “Cayendo”

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Frank OceanFrank Ocean has had a busy week. On Thursday, he hosted a PrEP+ club night in New York, where he debuted new music. And yesterday, after addressing some criticisms of the event on Tumblr, Pitchfork reports that he officially announced two new songs. More »

Frank Ocean Addresses Rumors About PrEP+ Club Night, Says It Was “Not Funded By Gilead Sciences”

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Frank OceanFrank Ocean still hasn’t played any live shows in years. But last night, he hosted a club night in New York City called PrEP+ — “an homage to what could have been of the 1980s’ NYC club scene if the drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) — which can be taken daily to prevent HIV/AIDs … More »

Justice surprise NYC, headline Frank Ocean’s debut PrEP+ event

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Justice surprise NYC, headline Frank Ocean’s debut PrEP+ eventJustice O2 Briton Academy Credit Guifre De Peray

Frank Ocean‘s newly minted club night PrEP+ is off to quite the start, with Justice pulling up to play a surprise headlining set in Brooklyn for the new event series’ debut. PrEP+, announced earlier this week, is described in a statement as,

“An ongoing safe space made to bring people together and dance. The night is named PrEP+ as an homage to what could have been of the 1980s’ NYC club scene if the drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis)—which can be taken daily to prevent HIV/AIDs for those who are not infected but are at high risk—had been invented in that era.”

The event series promised globally celebrated DJs, and certainly delivered in the inaugural showing with Justice. The French house dons set the bar high, though people are likely looking to Ocean for more queer representation with this new club night, so expect a variety of surprise headliners to make their ways to Brooklyn for future iterations of PrEP+.

H/T: NME

Kim Petras serves up dastardly dance-horror soundtrack with ‘TURN OFF THE LIGHT’

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Kim Petras serves up dastardly dance-horror soundtrack with ‘TURN OFF THE LIGHT’04 Kim Petras Press By Thom Kerr 2019 Billboard 1548

It’s October so that means mass media is seeing orange and black—and lots of it. Halloween candy is riddling the shelves and houses will soon be speckled with synthetic spider webs and lazily cut jack-o-lanterns.

But if anyone is sparking this spooky season off with devilishly delicious gumption, it’s Kim Petras. The German/Californian singer/songwriter-producer has delivered a sprawling Halloween-themed dance-horror album, second volume to the full-bodied elixir, TURN OFF THE LIGHT. Petras shared the LP’s first arm in October of last year.

Everything about this album is meant to frighten and seduce—all at once. The electro-pop/synth-wave amalgamation emulates Petras’ grueling electronic cohorts like Gesaffelstein and Justice, whose gut-wrenching synths have made them fond bookings at Halloween events around the globe. Her lyrics are precisely what a horror fan would want, with veracious titles like “Massacre,” “Bloody Valentine,” and “Knives” (the last of which loyally employs knife samples in beguiling fashion).

October may have just begun, but for those already reeling in Halloween spirit, this album will keep listeners fraught with witchy, danceable wonder.

Photo Credit: Thom Kerr

Palm Springs Heats Up For First Splash House Festival of 2019

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This past weekend, partygoers headed to the picturesque desert city of Palm Springs to partake in a magical sun drenched weekend filled with non stop electronic music. Goldenvoice’s Splash House kicked off their first Splash House pool party of the year at 3 iconic Palm Springs hotels. Not only were partygoers offered up a massive

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Justice announce theatrical release of live film, ‘Iris’

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Justice announce theatrical release of live film, ‘Iris’Justice Www Live Credit Anthony Ghnassia

Justice is an electronic duo who have always been as spectacular visually as they are musically. Their live shows can’t be contained within walls, so they often have to play arenas and giant festival stages.

As such, it’s no surprise their live film, Iris, couldn’t be contained in just one screening at SXSW. The French pair of Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay just announced via their social media accounts that Iris will receive a theatrical release in their native home of France. With showings beginning on August 29, 2019, the announcement alluded to future screenings in other parts of the world with the quote:

“More countries to be announced. #irisbyjustice”

Iris debuted earlier this year at SXSW as a part of the 24 Beats Per Second screening. The film — directed by André Chemetoff and Armand Beraud — presents Justice’s Women Worldwide Tour in a whole new way. Filming the entire performance without an audience present, the two directors capture images and angles that can’t exist during a standard performance.

Photo credit: Anthony Ghnassia

Splash House shares stellar June 2019 lineup topped by Justice, A-Trak, Jai Wolf, Armand Van Helden and more

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Splash House shares stellar June 2019 lineup topped by Justice, A-Trak, Jai Wolf, Armand Van Helden and moreAlice MoitieÌ Credit Justice Press Shot

Splash House is back, programming a top-notch lineup for the poolside function’s 2019 iteration. This year, Goldenvoice roped together a complementary blend of dance icons and the moment’s current wave makers—pairing acts like Justice, Jai Wolf, A-Trak, Pete Tong, Medasin, CRAY, and Armand Van Helden together on one of the most colorful billings of the year.

Additionally, AC Slater, Dom Dolla, Troyboi, Dusky, Shiba San, and more round out Splash House’s June 7 – 9 run. Splayed out across four luxurious Palm Springs’ venues—The Renaissance, Riviera, Saguaro Hotels, and the the Palm Springs Air Museum—Splash House as reinvented the typical festival model over the years, and based on an impeccable 2019 lineup, might be primed for its biggest year yet. See the full lineup below.

Splash House shares stellar June 2019 lineup topped by Justice, A-Trak, Jai Wolf, Armand Van Helden and moreImage

Justice cement their legacy as one of the greatest dance acts of all time with Grammy Award for Best Electronic Album

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Justice cement their legacy as one of the greatest dance acts of all time with Grammy Award for Best Electronic AlbumJustice O2 Briton Academy Credit Guifre De Peray

Despite this being their second gramophone, something about Justice‘s victory at the 61st Grammy Awards feels a little more special.

The duo were nominated for their debut album in 2008, the seminal †, and eventually would go on to take home the hardware the following year for their inescapable remix of MGMT‘s “Electric Feel” in 2009. But at the time, electronic dance music wasn’t the global phenomenon it is today, and despite having one groundbreaking studio record already under their belts, Justice certainly hadn’t attained the iconic status they now humbly entertain. In 2019 however, things are much different.

Justice cement their legacy as one of the greatest dance acts of all time with Grammy Award for Best Electronic AlbumUnnamed 1

Justice took home a well-deserved Grammy Award for their most recent LP, Woman Worldwidea live homage to not only their third studio album, Woman, but to their entire catalog. The record was a studio emulation of their live performances in support of Woman, though it covers recreations of their biggest hits, spanning over a decade. Now, Woman Worldwide has even inspired a film project, IRIS debuting this spring at SXSW. On February 10, Justice took home the Recording Academy’s Best Dance/Electronic album designation, during “music’s biggest night,” cementing the Ed Banger duo’s legacy as one of the greatest dance acts of all time. And while many of the trailblazing pair’s electronic contemporaries have brought home Grammy Awards in the years since † first landed Gaspard Auge and Xavier De Rosnay in the mainstream line of sight, few have done so with the degree of timelessness Woman Worldwide surely commands.