UPFRONT: Teki Latex
We’ve always kept our eye on the scene in France, with exports such as French Fries, Bambounou and Coni coming from the ClekClekBoom camp and The B.YRSLF Division bringing up some new artists, it’s a melting pot for fresh ideas and experimental takes on a huge range of genres. For us, no clan stands out more than Sound Pellegrino, with their weighty back catalogue of releases and uncompromising sound. They’re constantly redefining the meaning of a record label, taking on new projects and ventures to build an outfit that is more of a culture than simply a group of people who make music. We asked Sound Pellegrino’s front man Teki Latex some questions.
We’ve heard you say that you feel the scene in France is under represented on the Internet. Now that Rinse France has emerged how do you think it will effect the French scene and has it helped so far to bridge the international gap?
“There’s a strong identity in a lot of french producers’ music which people tend to miss completely, and it’s been in our DNA forever…”
I probably said webzines and music publications tend to ignore the french scene or dismiss it as unfocused and ripping off other scenes, stuff like that. I still think that. I have the feeling people (especially in the UK) only consider France through the prism of the french touch, whether it is the techno sound of now, the “banging” electro sound of the french touch 2.0 or the original filtered house thing. For a lot of people in the foreign press, and even some DJs, if you’re french and you don’t stick to one of those formulas you’re basically ripping off someone and you don’t deserve attention. We’re always judged with these formulas in mind. Or it’s someone who hates the banging french sound of the late 2000s and who’s systematically finding similarities with it in every french newcomer’s music, which makes less and less sense as time goes by. These canon french scenes polarised a lot of attention in their respective heydays so it makes sense that people will have them in mind while listening to producers from France but i do feel that things like Rinse France are helping people to get a better global view of what’s happening over here.
There’s a strong identity in a lot of french producers’ music which people tend to miss completely, and it’s been in our DNA forever, it’s hard to put words on it but i guess it’s a certain way of doing things that stems from a lot of french electronic musicians’ common roots in hip hop. We also like to mix things up and not go in only one direction when we make albums. So foreign reviewers will be like “oh this record is all over the place, it’s not focused at all, this artist is immature, it’s like he’s trying every style and every tempo on his record, there’s no cohesion… etc” and dismiss it as being a bad thing, whereas i think it’s a GREAT THING, and it’s also an unconscious thing, it’s kind of in our DNA, a lot of producers from the generations right under ours kinda grew up listening to DJ’s who would spin rap into berlin techno then back to ghettotech like it’s the norm, they didn’t even make the difference between genres (like genuinely)… we love messing with formats and bringing genres together. Sound Pellegrino does that a lot but i think it’s a common thing for all french producers, and it’s a trait that’s misinterpreted as lack of focus.
It started as a sub-label of Institubes focused on club music. A digital-only label with a different artist on each release. It evolved slowly into less of a strict format, we do some vinyl nowadays, well every now and then. In 2014 even though we’re always pushing new artists and one-off projects, we’re slowly building some sort of core family of artists who are actually signed to Sound Pellegrino. There’s Orgasmic and I of course but also Matthias Zimmermann whose album is almost done, Joe Howe, Nicolas Malinowsky and more to come. We have also decided to release 2 compilations a year and we’re going to stick to that, SNDPE volume 3 is almost done as i type this, it should be out in the summer.
Volume 2 of the Sound Pellegrino ‘Crossover Series’ dropped in January. By pairing two artists from various genres, scenes and sounds you’ve already managed to break down barriers and preconceptions of electronic music. Tell us about where the idea behind the series came from and the process you use to select the artists and tracks. We would also love to know how your vocal collaboration came about with Finnish producer Eero Johannes on ‘Things That I Do’?
The idea behind the crossover series is just to keep things interesting. We used to release EPs with tons of remixes because it was a relatively easy thing to do and it was exciting to see how producers would flip other producers’ work and make it their own. That whole way of making house EPs kind of faded away a bit when the club music world became saturated with remixes that made absolutely no sense. So we tried to imagine different ways of keeping that same feeling of excitement alive and keep that whole aspect of Sound Pellegrino “building bridges” between scenes. That’s how the “Crossover Series” was born.
There’s different ways for us to make it work. Either we have some sort of flash where it appears clearly to us that “artist A” has this one kinda weird nerdy thing in his music which reminds us of “artist B” and they probably have obscure references and inspirations in common and we should bring them together and see what comes out of it – or it’s a thing where we know “artist A” has always secretly been a fan of “artist B” and sometimes vice-versa, and we decide to introduce them to each other… Or it’s a thing where we hear that our dear friend “artist A” has been spending some time in the studio with “artist B” and we jump on that opportunity and try to release the results.
I was a fan of Eero Johannes’ LP which came back on Planet Mu a while back, I always thought this guy was criminally slept on and in this era where every single little internet producer claims he’s a MASSIVE r&b fan, Eero was actually the only one making an amazing futuristic version of post-timbalandisms in a weird, totally new lo-fi kinda way and without the boring mega-whitewashed trip hop aspects or the pompous overproduction gimmicks many of these so called neo-rnb producers tend to use all the time. So we had him make a track for us for SNDPE volume one and i asked him to send me a beat i would try stuff on for the volume 2, then he did it and the lyrics came about super naturally, i was very inspired, and it’s something which very rarely happens nowadays.
For the annual Record Store Day, Sound Pellegrino is to release a huge EP of DJ tools by the little known Track ID. How do you scout out your artists and what can we expect in the future from the label?
“People are just super excited about going out in unorthodox places and there’s a big scene for huge raves happening just outside of Paris.”
We’re just doing our job. The next compilation is mostly newcomers, they are going to blow you away
Paris clubs are changing nowadays and the Social Club is not necessarily representative of the Paris party scene as a whole. Now there’s a big techno scene with massive parties and great, adventurous line ups, but there’s a kind of noxious “serious techno guys vs the rest of the world” effect that comes along with it. The scene is very fractured, you will not get booked in certain clubs because of your supposed affiliation to another club (and promoters tend to be quick to imagine non-existing affiliations whereas DJs kinda want to play everywhere) but there’s also a certain effervescence in the party scene nowadays. People are just super excited about going out in unorthodox places and there’s a big scene for huge raves happening just outside of Paris. For a long time we have been looking for a parisian clubbing identity different from say London or Berlin without really finding it but i think we’re finally in the process of finding it. If promoters manage to get past the clan-like politics, big things are going to happen for Parisian party-goers in the coming years.
Last year you launched Overdrive Infinity. For the few who don’t know; it’s a weekly TV show hosted on Daily Motion whereby Teki curates a two DJ line-up and asks them to play what they want in front of a green screen. We’re curious about the visual side of this project. Can you tell us about both the set-up of the visuals and content?
All the episodes of Overdrive Infinity are shot in the same TV studio complex, which is the Dailymotion Studio in the south of Paris – Overdrive Infinity was created in conjunction with the people who created this studio, and the show is kind of a great window for the studio, they’re both very tied together. There’s 3 different studios in the complex, so when we shoot an episode, there’s two options: the first one is to shoot the episode in the big studio with white walls and a camera mounted on a crane. With that option we kinda have to invite a VJ and we can usually experiment with the visual and the space more, like when we brought an arcade in the studio and video-projected the arcade’s screen behind the DJs and had a Street Fighter IV tournament during the show in episode 16. The second option is to do it in the green screen room. When we pick that option i usually chose a theme which goes along with the DJs i have invited and then i spend an afternoon selecting, digging for videos on the internet based on that theme. Like when we invited Total Freedom & AZF and the theme was basically the correlation between bio-luminescent underwater creatures and phosphorescent Nike shoes. To be honest if i could i would just put entire episodes of the TV show Cosmos in the green screen while the DJs play.
You have a very strong brand image for Sound Pellegrino. Do you see the aesthetic side of the label as an important factor and what are the visual influences behind it?
Our friend Nicolas Malinowsky has been in charge of the visual aspects of the label since the beginning and he has also evolved to become a huge part of the label’s sonic landscape as well. The brand image is strong because it makes everything so much simpler, we have these two colors (yellow and black) which directly scream “THIS IS SOUND PELLEGRINO” so that on the music side we can afford to go in super different directions – because the visuals will always kind of tie it all together.