Because he witnessed the genesis of the electronic music in France, Umwelt has formed with the passing of the years his very personal and characteristic sound. First hexagonal artist to sign on Satamile, the Rhône Alpes based producer, author of a already consequent discography, retraces for us his exemplary musical journey and unveils his projects...
- Atome: Hello Fred, first of all congratulations for your superb "Post Humain EP" release (cf. review) on Satamile. Let's talk about this project? How did you meet Andrew A. Price, the owner of Satamile?
- Umwelt: I turn back the greetings to you regarding the choice of the records that you review brilliantly. About the EP on Satamile, it simply started with a demo that I sent. Signing on Satamile is something amazing! Everything went well between Andrew and me. He's really close to its artists. It's not a coincidence if Satamile is a reference. As for the EP, first Andrew choose the tracks, then I gave the "Post Humain" title. It's a kind of anticipation of the human being evolution that will have to adapt himself to the hostile environment that he has created... it's about the violent and fast mutation of the human being.
- A.: Let's introduce you a little bit more. Where do you come from? What is your musical background? When and where did you discover electronic music?
- U.: I'm French, coming from Lyon. At the end of the 80's, I bought my first turntables with my brother Phil. The first record I owned was called "Cocaine" by The Maxx, it was the New Beat era... At that same time, I started my first experiments. I was 15 years old. I was creating megamixes from those sound collages with my tape recorder. In 1990 came Maxximum, a radio that was broadcasting artists such like D-Shake, N-Joi, Lost, Altern 8, True Faith, LFO, 808 State... and productions from one of the first French labels Rave Age Records. Then the raves in France appeared with DJs like Adam X and Frankie Bones: a revelation for me! I started buying records regularly. In 1993, under my Freddy'J alias, I became resident of a big squat in Lyon called "L"Hypnotik". In parallel, I started my first show on a local radio. Between "L'Hypnotik", the raves and the radio, I was dreaming! I was playing rather hard records from labels such like Direct Drive, Industrial Strengh, Drop Bass Networks, Magnetic North... Later on, my mixes were mostly influenced by Porter Ricks, Drexciya, Aux88, Steve Bicknell, Kim Rappati, Planetary Assault System... At the same time, I launched a little home studio to release my first EP in 1997 under Umwelt pseudo.
- A.: Where does your name come from? What's its concept?
- U.: Umwelt is the German word for environment. It sums up in a way my mood and so my music.... It's a call to respect the planet. It's a warning done to the people and to our governments. Men are endangering our planet and their own future.
- A.: Which artists are you musically close to?
- U.: Well, at the present time I appreciate what Carl A. Finlow, Radioactive Man, Adj, Andrea Parker, EMS, Transparent Sound, Scape One, Automat, Bass Junkie, Manasyt... are doing. As for the labels, Satamile of course but also Touchin Bass, Kommando 6, Rag & Bones, Lone, Pyramid Transmissions, Electrix, Control Tower... But my influences come from everywhere, they don't limit themselves to pure electro, they oscillate between Electronica and Industrial passing through Hip Hop. I like dark and melancholic atmospheres.
- A.: Could you explain us your creation process? Which sort of instruments do you use?
- U.: I believe I don't use any particular musical creation process. It depends on my current mood, on my wishes... and also on what I listen and what I did or saw. What I do one day is not necessary the follow up to what I've done the day before. Regarding my home studio, I think we can say it looks like the way I work, rather old school. I don't have PC nor soft. My studio is made of several vintage and current synthesizers linked to a MPC that has recently replaced my Atari. Most important for me is the machine. I'm a synthesizer's addict, that's why my studio is in constant mutation.
- A.: Which topics are you generally approaching? Where does your inspiration come from?
- U.: My inspiration? I think it comes from a combination of my past, my current life and my wishes, hopes and fears. My tracks are the result of a unique sound or a musical theme. As for the topics, they're mainly secondary and free of any interpretation.
- A.: What about your other labels Shelter, Fundata and Trankill? What is the main artistic line behind each of them? Are they in stand by or do you keep on with them?
- U.: Fundata has been created in 1997. It was rather a techno label. Shelter was born in 2000 and reflects the musical transition between my first productions and what I'm currently doing. As for Trankill, it was a noisy and hard frenzy done with a friend of mine. No more releases are in the pipeline on these labels.
- A.: What are your forthcoming projects?
- U.: A LP will see the day on Satamile by the end of the year. I hope to keep on with Andrew, to release few remixes and to produce with other labels. As about the electro mixes, I keep my Umwelt moniker. Regarding the live performing, I haven't found the good configuration yet... I keep on searching. I have in mind to launch a new label. I'm currently building my own internet website with the help of a friend. At last, my radio show "Teknocity" will be broadcast exclusively on the net via my website in a near future.
- A.: A word about the electro scene in general and the French one in particular?
- U.: The French and foreign electro scenes are at double speed. There is a very productive and ultra formatted "electro club" scene to my taste. Then comes a more underground electro breaks scene in France, which is still under promoted regarding DJs, productions and parties level.
- A.: What could we wish you for this year?
- U.: May all my projects see the day. I wish everyone to find its place in this nebulous but so alive electronic music.
www.teknocity.fr.fm www.satamile.com www.kommando6.de
Nexus 6, 19/09/2005