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Laurent Garnier on dubstep, stealing music and Creamfields

by Purple Revolver. Published Sat 22 Aug 2009 08:00
Laurent Garnier
Laurent Garnier

Legendary techno DJ Laurent Garnier talks dubstep, stealing other artists' tunes and his live show at Creamfields.

You were a massive part of the Madchester scene, where is the best dance scene in the world right now?

I'm very fond of Japan, it's my favourite place for playing as a DJ. The crowds are amazing and super open-minded. They never complain, and they're a great, faithful crowd.

What new music excites you?

Dubstep is very exciting at the moment. Every two years the media dive into something fresh and want something new, they're hungry for a new style or genre. Dubstep sounds fresh and exciting, and music-wise it has a future.

Have you got any tips for aspiring DJs and producers?

Don't follow the trend, be yourself and search a bit further than wherever you belong to. I've always belonged to techno by I'm excited by soul, reggae, jazz and I believe that's why I'm still on the scene.

What are you looking forward to most at Creamfields?

I'm coming with a live show, which is not an easy task. I'm very excited to play a live show for the Creamfields crowd and hope they will be open-minded as it will take them off in a lot of different directions. And I hope they'll have a good time. It's always dangerous playing live, we're at the mercy of the mood of the crowd, which makes it a difficult task.

What can we expect from your live show?

The music is very open-minded, lots of different beats and types of music from house to P-Funk to dubstep. We're not doing a straight one-hour dark techno show - that would be extremely boring. Expect the unexpected.

Have you got any tips for anyone going to Creamfields?

The great thing about festivals is being with your friends. Be open-minded, I find it sad to go to a festival which is segregated, with techno in one room, house in another. I like to take risks and mix it up. I've been doing a lot of European festivals and the ones with a sound clash work better, the crowd are more excited, it keeps it fresh.

What's your idea of the perfect holiday?

Doing absolutely nothing. I love partying, but it's part of my job. I'd get together with close friends, cook and go to the beach with the family.

What's on your ipod?

I don't have an ipod. But when I travel I usually switch on my computer and listen to music. I get through 1,000 tracks a week and spend about four to five hours a day listening to new music. I also programme my online radio station each day.

How do you pick out the best tracks?

After listening to a lot of music your ears get tired. I'll scroll through a track five to ten times. One listen is not enough and you can't just give it 30 seconds. Sometimes you'll know it's not for you at once. These days the average level of production is very good. And the difference between a good and a bad track is a personal choice.

How important is the internet to DJs?

The internet is vital, and it depends on how you use it. It's a wonderful tool, and can be used as a weapon as well. Doors open the whole world. As a kid if you wanted to know about music it was harder to find the right magazines and being super-dedicated to track it down. Now it's a matter of a few keywords and you've got it.

Do you miss hunting for records in the old-fashioned way?

I miss the hunt for the golden treasure. Having everything is so easy. There are four main techno sites which have 80% of what you need. Before, you needed to travel, be sneaky, find the golden grail. Shop differently, I still find out about new artists through travelling, listening to others live, dinner parties. Only last week I was eating with a neighbour and friends from LA who introduced me to Teitur, an artist from Iceland, extremely personal, pop songs. We started playing it, and I couldn't believe it. How could I have missed it? I've since found all their records. I'm a music-aholic and when one track blows me away I'm compelled to track down everything they ever recorded. I had this experience with Van Morrison and PJ Harvey.

You released Tales of a Kleptomaniac in May what do you steal?

The title refers to DJs. DJs are the biggest kleptomaniacs of all. They make their names by playing others music and make it their art. I find that exciting, using pieces of music. Each piece is a part of someone's life, a snapshot of how and where they were living at that time. It's like taking a snapshot of everyone's life.

What are your memories of Michael Jackson and how he impacted your life?

My favourite Michael Jackson track is Don't Stop Til You Get Enough, it's a great party record. It was part of my teens when I was 15 or 16 and super-well produced. But when you grow up and listen back it seemed a glamourous but troubled time.
I like Billie Jean too but some of his tracks have gotten old. I never liked his music after that and for the last 10 years he's been pretty fucked up. Appearing in magazines and on the news for being a freak. What has he done for music? A French choreographer died in the same week as Michael and I saw that as a bigger loss. I saw her four years ago and she blew me away. There was hardly any mention in the press.

What's happening with Electrochoc (Garnier's fiction on the story of techno)?

I've signed with an English scriptwriter and film-maker but it's all very top secret. I met with him last week and we're looking to shoot in 2010 for release in 2011. It's been translated into nine languages, but not English. So my wife and I are working on that right now. It's the story of techno, with a massive chapter in Detroit and I'm building new characters for the film version.

In 2005 you made Cloud Making Machine while living in a very urban area, how has your move changed the mood of your music?

Where I'm living now is a million times different. I was living in front of train tracks, surrounded by noise, it was messy, grey and super-urban. Now I'm in a small village, watching squirrels as we speak and can look at the sky and see stars for the first time. It's a much quieter place, and a much happier album.

What's in your future?

I'll continue to program my internet radio station everyday. I spent two and a half years writing the book and it will be another two years before we see the movie. I'm working on a big project with a contemporary choreographer in Russia where I'll be producing the music. Touring live 'til March 2010, then back to DJing, with a dance single out soon.

Are you happy?

Very happy. Life is not easy, I'm 42 and still do the same thing at 20, and I've achieved the dream. Things can change very quickly and I'm asking myself a lot of questions and doing something I truly love.

You're travelling a lot, do you find your dreams are different when you're on the road?

Conditions are tough on the road. And I never remember my dreams, I hit the pillow, and I'm gone. Even for the past couple of years I don't remember my dreams.

Perhaps you daydream instead?

Yes. Every gig in Europe takes seven hours to get to, 17 hours for Russia after we missed our connection. It becomes complicated just getting to your destination so it's better to be a daydreamer. And I read while travelling. I'm reading a book by a french writer living in New York, it's about a secret crew who change the facts of reality and the world, like 9/11. It's super-exciting.

Connect to Monsieur Garnier's internet radio PBB
Copy and paste the following link in your player (winamp ,iTunes) ...

pbb.laurentgarnier.com:8000

Pick up: Laurent Garnier's Tales of a Kleptomaniac



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