Packed with beaming bass surfs, galactic synth magnitude and a healthy dose of kraut and Italo influences, the music of rising Parisian producer Beige is one to make Moroder proud and Klaus Schulze wonder where he’s parked his Juno. After ten years of black-market groove trading, the Frenchman’s eventually set to break through with his anticipated debut 12″, featuring a pair of remixes from German experimentalist Don’t DJ and cross-continental sound collagists Acid Arab.
Recorded at Positive Education festival in Paris a few months ago, Beige’s IA mix naturally reflects the broad-mindedness, fun-loving wit and unquenchable zip of his live approach, colliding the distant realms of Gas, Spaceghostpurrp, Toulouse Low Trax and more for a hell of a multi-layered downtempo trip into steep sonic terrains. To give you further insight into his work and vision, we sat back with the man as he opens up on his studio methods, first loves and his new platter for Global Warming Records, which shall install him at the top of this year’s brightest finds.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"I chose this alias because I wanted something simple, something that meant the same thing in French and English. Then I realised after that it was not that convenient for Google search"
Hey man, thanks for providing us with this wicked live mix. Please tell us more about it, when and how was it recorded?
Thank you for having me! So, this mix was recorded in June. I was invited by the guys of Positive Education to play at their summer edition at La Station in Paris. I opened the second stage, and I knew there were strong chances of playing in front of a pretty ’empty’ crowd for me. In a way, it helped me feel completely free about what I could play. I mean, Positive Education is already a very open-minded structure, but for this one, I didn’t have the additional pressure of making people dance.
The point was to explore very different “types” of music, but in a coherent way. Also, I didn’t want it to be an old-school mix, but had something more avant-garde in mind; like a mix I could play in a museum, or at Atonal, something like that.
I don’t know if I did succeed in this process, but I always try to look forward, never back. The past is very nice (I’m also a nostalgic person), and there are a lot of “old” tracks in this mix, but it’s the combination of it all that I like.
Anyways, I already knew I wanted to start at 110BPM and slow it down progressively around the 80BPM region. I worked a lot, especially with the keys. I tried three different versions before getting to this track list. And here is the result. Obviously there was nobody in the room except my best friends (including my hermano Malcolm). It was pretty weird, but in my opinion this is one of the best mixes I ever did.
Who is Beige? And perhaps more importantly, what is it in the beige colour that attracts you?
(Laughs) First of all, I hope that I don’t inspire to people some kind of mysterious character, because I’m not. I’m just a normal guy. My vision of the world is that everyone is all at once normal and special. This Beige thing is just the name under which I make music. I chose this alias because I wanted something simple, something that meant the same thing in French and English. Then I realized after that it was not that convenient for Google search….
To me, Beige is a color that can be both warm and cold. It’s a neutral color. It’s a white canvas where I can paint whatever I want, even if that’s extreme. I like the idea of not having multiple aliases and doing everything under the same guise, like Aphex does nowadays. I don’t see the point with these artists switching between multiple aliases, getting people confused while trying to categorize their own work.
It’s funny because I think that if you ask these artists “what kind of music are you producing“, they’ll answer something like “I don’t want to be attached to one type of music or another“. The only solution for me is to have one project, because until proven otherwise, you are alone in your own head.
What did trigger your interest for electronic music in the first place? Recall the first record you ever bought?
I don’t know. It’s pretty simple actually. I started listening to some electronic music in high-school, when I was 16. I was listening to what we used to call “electro” back then, but now call “blog house” (very irrelevant name if you ask me). I used to play drums in a metal band too, but I wasn’t feeling it anymore; I wanted to produce my own tracks. Since my father had a recording studio, I asked him if he could show me how Logic Pro works, and he did. I stayed thousand of hours for years in this studio, trying to improve my skills.
As for the records, if you’re talking about vinyl records, I don’t buy any. I only have like ten records people offered me because they assume I have a record collection since I’m a DJ. I would like to, but I’ll be so poor. In fact, I bought like three records in my entire life. The first one was the ‘Pom Pom‘ LP from Ariel Pink. I went to an autograph signing event at some record store and just did the same as everyone else, i.e. picking a LP and asking him to sign it. He turned to me asking, “what do you want me to write on it?“. I answered, “whatever you want“. So now I’m the proud owner of a LP inscribed with the words “Whatever you want, Ariel Pink“.
Your debut solo 12″ is coming out on Parisian imprint Global Warming Records. Please tell us more about this record and the overall concept / big idea behind it.
This my first 12’” yes, even though I already released a 7″ last year on Evrlst.inc. Anyway, I’m very proud of this one. With Malcolm, who runs Global Warming, we first discussed the idea of making an EP on the label about two or three years ago. Back then he was “just” a friend from the music industry, but we built a very, very strong friendship throughout the creative stages of this EP, and I can now say he’s one of my best friends. He’s running my (embryonic) career as a manager, and we have 100% trust in each other, no matter what. This is the first and most important thing I get out of this process.
Musically speaking, I sent a pack of demos to Malcolm, and he chose the ones he felt could fit the label’s sound and direction. The tracks were called ‘Untitled 31‘ (now ‘Unboxing‘) and ‘Untitled 36‘ (‘Ghost Producer‘). In the beginning he didn’t pick ‘Ghost Producer‘ because he thought it was too dark. But, I don’t know, we both liked this tune a lot, and suddenly thought “fuck it, let’s get dark“. I’m pretty happy because it gives the release some kind of a sun/moon or Yin/Yang energy balance. Once again, we worked a lot on those tracks, rebuilding, re-recording them over and over. But here they are, ready to run on their own.
You’re pretty well served for your first outing on Global Warming Records with a pair of remixes from the high-rated Acid Arab duo and multi-talented German sound experimentalist Don’t DJ. Was it a request of yours to have them remixing the tracks, or did Malcolm (the label owner) come up with the idea?
Once again, it’s a team work. Malcolm came early with the idea of asking Don’t DJ to remix ‘Unboxing‘, because we were listening to his work on a daily basis, and both thought he’d be an ideal fit. Fortunately, he loved the track and made this ace remix. For Acid Arab, I suggested the idea, because they’re now good friends of mine. I met Pierrot Casanova from Shelter Studio, who’s working closely with Acid Arab, when I arrived in paris four years ago. We became friends, and he always helped me and gave me wise advices regarding all kinds of musical matters. That’s how I met Herve, from AA, who also became a friend. I was afraid asking them to remix a track on the EP, because they are so big right now. You know, like being afraid of asking the most beautiful girl for a date. But in the end, she said yes. And I want to thank them once again, because they made this awesome remix and refused to take money for it.
Which artists do you particularly look up to, and why?
Wow, I don’t know. I can’t name-drop here, there are so many. The only thing I can say is that I admire artists who are trying to move forward. I don’t like lazy artists, the ones who think they found the “good formula” and repeat it again and again.
Are you an analogue head at all, or is it not so much important for you as to where the music comes from, but rather well where it goes?
I wasn’t until recently. I’ve been producing music for ten years now, and I bought my first piece of hardware only one year ago. I always found Logic Pro and VSTs very practical and sufficient. I just had a Midi controller, headphones, and that was it. But one year ago I realized i was going round in circles. Today I want my producing process to be a bit more instinctive. But I don’t think I’ll ever become the kind of guy who thinks computers are evil. Sometimes, some guys are releasing very shitty tracks, but just because its “analogue only” it has to be great.
Where do you most enjoy to hang out in Paris usually? What club(s), bar(s), record store(s), random spots have your preference?
I don’t go to clubs that often, even though I do like to. Usually, when I go to clubs, I’m not like “okay it’s 2am, I want to go out, where’s the party at?“. I always keep an eye on what’s going on every weekend and am generally “interested” in 15 events a week on Facebook.
Contrary to what I can read, we have one of the best clubs in Europe. We for sure have the best line-ups. The crowd sometimes isn’t that good, often too young, but paradoxically I thinks it keeps getting better. I don’t have any favourite club though, because I always care for the artists and not the clubs themselves, but still I could name La Machine du Moulin Rouge, La Station…
Otherwise, I don’t visit record stores because I don’t buy records, but I DO love eating and drinking. Once again, I’m not the kind of guy who has his habits in a particular place, but I can assure you I almost never stay home at night.
What is your definition of happiness?
Important question. And difficult. In my opinion, the best way to reach it is to be proud of yourself, proud of what you do. Even the happiest person feels bad sometimes, but I think you can’t ever really feel down in general if you are proud of yourself.
Your worst nightmare?
(Laughs) To die, like everyone I guess?
What are your plans for Xmas and NYE?
The end of the year is always pretty soft for me. I go back to the south of France, where my family is, and try to spend the largest amount of time possible with them. Today, all of my best friends from the south made the move to Paris, and everyone is heading to Nice for Christmas. So it’s always a nice occasion to spend time all together outside of Paris. As for now, we’ve just planned to have dinner on the 31st, and that’s more than cool with me, because they’re my best friends, and the only thing I want is to be with them, no matter what we are planning.
What can we wish you for 2019?
Happiness, of course! The main project for 2019 is to set up a live show, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I won’t say any more for the moment, but I’m very excited about it. I’m also cooking another EP for Global Warming, I really hope it will be out this year.
Discover more about Beige on Inverted Audio.BeigeGlobal Warming RecordsDowntempoElectronicHip-Hop