Nov 22, 2017

Interview with Lifelike

This time our interview is with Laurent Ash, nu-disco pioneer, the man behind Lifelike and all that amazing tracks. He's crowdfunding his debut album, it will include tracks with A-trak, Chromeo, Oliver, Electric Youth, Yota, Benjamin Dante and Audio District. So read the interview and help crowdfund his “Electronic Dreams".

How everything started? 

In the mid 90’s, i was playing bass and synthesizer in a high school band, mostly influenced by pop and new wave, belgian EBM, we were a lousy band, the singer fell of its chair a night we were performing in front of friends because he was too drunk , i decided it was time to go on my own 

When music turned from passion into profession? 

Around 2000, when i signed with a record label in Paris called 20000st,  at that time the record industry was at its peak, there was a lot of money injected into indie project, we
Had weird record deal and there were giving us advances to produce new record, they then signed me quickly with Universal Publishing.

What is the origin of the name Lifelike? 

A computer generated this name for me, i thought it was brilliant.

Which are your influences? 

Chic, Giorgio Moroder, Daft Punk, New Order, Midnight Stars, LFO

And which are your favourites albums? 

Chic « C’est Chic », LFO « LFO », New Order « Substance 87 », Daft Punk « Discovery »

Which are your favourites instruments? 

Mostly vintage digital samplers/Synthesizers, im not a bit analog synthesizers collector,
A few names quickly : Akai MPC, E-mu Emax, Akai S-950, Roland TR-909, Yamaha TX16W

What do you think about the analog vs digital debate ? 

I think it’s not worth anymore to debate about this, we need digital recordings, digital environment and analog devices, the digital makes recording and editing fast and the analog makes it sound smoother with a wider stereo image.
I like the agressivity you can get out of digital distortion, i think it sounds better than the analog one.

If you could choose an artist to collaborate, dead or alive, who would that be? 

Maybe Thomas Bangalter just because he got the best sound ever, that cool approach of mixing sampling with composing, all his records sounds
Huge, even 20 years after, his way of mixing record still remains a mystery.

How do you think that the city you live impacted in your music? 

Paris got me into house music. I remember being out in the streets in june 97, 
We have something called « la fete de la musique » a night when everyone can play music in the streets or anywhere, that year every single DJ was mixing that funky house filtered sound, and so many great records were released, it definitely influenced me, it convinced me that i could try to do it as well, but my way.

Tell us a little about Parisien scene. Which are your favourites places in Paris? 

You wouldn’t believe it, but i almost never go clubbing, when i do, its because im Djing sometimes.
If i would have to go somewhere now i would say i would probably go to Les Nuits Fauves, an eclectic place in the south east of Paris where you can listen to the best current DJ’s every weekend.

What do you think about piracy and streaming platforms? 

It destroyed the record industry in the last 15years unfortunately.
Since 2005, basically the physical market started to decline at a very high rate every year, 2007 they stopped doing CD single (which was driving the industry and the worldwide charts) and got replaced by the digital  sales but at a much lower amount, it destroyed the independent labels economy totally and partially the major label economy.
And because the music industry head of office are run by people who don’t care about cultural content and impact of this culture on the economy, they have let this crash while looking at it, doing nothing, focusing on short terms projects, like ultra commercial dance and pop music, instead of signing development artists with integrity and cultural background.
This is terrible, just because there were alternative solutions ready : closing the FTP’s for web providers, stopping the digital market totally and going back to a physical market only, the SACD was there to replace the CD with an incredible sound quality.
On the other hand, the gaming industry is run by far less stupid CEO’s, they understood that if they would go totally digital they would kill their economy, so they move on blue-ray making the amount of data so big that its very difficult to download.
Its only in the last month that we can see our economy going better thanks to streaming platforms, but still they are paying too less royalties for the amount of plays.
The return of the vinyl is as well a great new economy that is back, people finally want to listen to it, to have an object that you can hold in your hand.
MP3 can’t be the future of the sound, the future can only sound better and better each year that goes by, a CD from the early 90’s sound better than any other recent piece of music converted to mp3, if you’re serious about your music, you don’t want it to sound like a piece of crap.

Why did you decide to make an album now? 

Just because i never wanted to make an album earlier. Im more the singles guy, i like to change each singles concept. Each release is different. Doing an album is a much more complicated approach as you need to think about having some coherence.

Do you think that the album concept nowadays is been killed by the digital distribution? 

Yes, mostly because you can buy track–by-track. I think that digital distributors should force the retailers to not sell each tracks separated in a album. You should be able to listen to samples of all the tracks of course, but people should buy the full album, and if you don’t have money to buy it, then buy something else.
I mean when you go to an art exhibition you’re not going to buy only a 10th of one photography or painting of this artist right ? just because you like more the corner of the photography … so why should you be able to do this with an album.
We heard thru the years from many people : « music is too expensive, an album is too expensive, thats why im downloading songs on the internet for free. »
Today the same people are paying 9.99Euros to stream music they don’t even own, 9.99 is the price of one digital album, this mean people spend actually money to buy one album per month per subscribers.
Here is the irony of it and this is actually the most stupid thing ever, they now spend more money into music than before, when they would buy 2/3 albums a year, and still they don’t have any music in their pocket, they only rent it !

Why did you choose crowdfunding and how it impacts on the album? 

Well i had three options : first one was to sign this on a major label like Universal or Sony, but my past experience with major label is really that its better to avoid them, unless they ask you to produce a band for them or to remix someone.
Its better to avoid them because those days, they are completely lost when it comes to promoting your music, social medias etc… and you lose the control over the final product, they never keep deadlines, releases dates, it’s catastrophic.
Second option was self financing, but when you know that a short dance video, like Discopolis cost around 20000Euros, you can imagine how much 2 singles, plus promotion plus pressing vinyls would cost (over 400000euros) and i didn’t want to risk that much money in it.
Third option was crowdfunding, this could lead us to an average video plus promotion plus vinyl pressing that could be kept, in some was crowdfunding is a bit like asking your fans to pre order the album, this gives then a kind of money advance to pay for the release of your album, its less risky and you can connect to your fans a better way.

In your debut album, “Electronic Dreams”, you worked with A-trak, Chromeo, Oliver, Electric Youth, Yota, Benjamin Dante and Audio District. How was the creative process? 

Those people are friends of mine, so we spent some time over the phone, exchanging a few emails and started to work on each track for each artists.
I wrote some parts, they sent back vocals, wrote the lyrics, i added some stuff, they re-added more stuff then i finalizing everything in my studio in Paris.
I mix and produce everything myself.

What is the most weird, annoying or funny thing that happened on a gig? 

I think our very first gig in Belgium, with Kris Menace, back in the days, a security guard came to tell us to stop Djing, because the promoter requested us to stop mixing, before the end of the planned timeline, i told Kris « don’t bother, continue, they must be wrong » and the guard took off the record from the turntable, this ended up, us shouting at the promoter using nice bird names.
This was the only time this happened, this guy was probably crazy.

What are your favourites acts right now and what do you listen at home? 

Recent act ? I do like The Weekend a lot, Jay-Z latest album,

What’s next? 

The album gets released in March 2018, followed probably by a tour

What are your dreams?

That our market would focus only on vinyls
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