Interview by Toby White
LUDOVIC LLORCA began putting tunes together on his Commodore 64 at the age of 11, drawing on his mother’s penchant for disco hits and his father’s experience as a programme analyst. Since the mid-90s he has been producing tunes with a finesse to match any of the major record companies…from his bedroom. In ’95 he formed the group Les Macons de la Musique, with fellow Parisian producer, David Duriez, and began his career as a DJ and has since played hundreds of dates in Ibiza, Berlin, Montreal and Japan.
His debut album, ‘Newcomer’, launched in the UK in October after a sizeable run of 60,000 sales in Europe. An impressive blend of jazz and soul moods over computer-generated house riffs it looks as though we’ll be seeing more of this guy in the current climate of club music.
PHASE 9 catches up with him backstage before his first London gig at the Café de Paris one rain-soaked November Sunday evening…
LLORCA: D’you speak French?
LLORCA: Good, can we do this in French?
LLORCA: Never mind. Go ahead…
Right, well, first of all, I looked you up on a website and it described your music as electronica. Would you agree?
LLORCA: No. It’s not.
So how would you describe your music?
LLORCA: It’s always difficult to describe on your own music…err…I don’t pretend making avant garde music or even electronic music because I’m conscious that I’m using acoustic sounds and also most of the album was recorded with real instruments, recorded at home and then on computer so, yeah, in this way it can be called electronica.
So you get your source music, you record live artists because there’s a lot of jazz and soul elements, then once you have everything you go back to your computer and put everything together?
LLORCA: No, not even…what happens when I do a track, I record all my ideas into the computer and if I feel like I need a bassist or a sax player then I call a sax player but most of the time I go and get some pieces of sax for this track or…
Ah, so sampling and mixing?
LLORCA: Yeah, but not in the usual way. It’s not only about recording loops and using a bit but sourcing stuff here and there…
Okay. So in terms of other French artists, I’m thinking of Air and MC Solar, where do you see yourself in comparison with those guys?
LLORCA: Very far.
(Laughs) Yeah, I was going to say, I heard your CD…You’re very much part of an increasing trend of DJs as musicians and musicians as DJs. Do you see yourself more as a DJ or a musician?
LLORCA: Err…not a DJ. First, I’m a producer, which means that I can’t call myself a musician because I don’t have any musical education.
Oh, wow…no musical training?
LLORCA: No, I never went to music school so when people say I’m a musician that’s cool, but to me people like John Coltrane are musicians but I’m not, I’m only a producer writing today’s tunes by computer and then after I’m a DJ because I love it but it’s not vital to me.
You’ve played a lot of interesting places, like Tokyo, and you’re soon to play in Finland and Portugal, what’s the most unusual place you’ve played?
How was that?
LLORCA: It was incredible because they’re the funkiest people I’ve ever seen. When you go to Prague you’re expecting some cold people, people who don’t know about music and are not very informed about what is happening everywhere and it’s totally wrong.
How do you find the English then? What do you think of English music?
LLORCA: There are a lot of interesting things, the house music today and music in general but there is also so much crap, like trance. We don’t have it in Europe, maybe a little in Germany, but in France we don’t have this. The new trance era, I find it very boring. I don’t understand why English people are interested by this music, I mean you have this reputation for good taste and good music so why this?
Quite….on the album, ‘Newcomer’, your debut album, love features as a strong theme – are any songs written from personal experience?
LLORCA: What do you mean?
The ideas you get, where do they come from when you write the tunes and lyrics?
LLORCA: I don’t write the lyrics. The singers write the lyrics. I prefer them writing the lyrics. I’m not a good writer, my English is not good enough and I prefer them coming at me with their own lyrics…
…and you put it all together?
LLORCA: …yeah, and because it’s their own experience. If you ask them to come along and sing your own stuff, like, here’s a microphone, sing it, bye bye. No, I don’t like that. So we take time and talk about everything, the music, the lyrics…
So how did you meet the members in the band?
LLORCA: I was looking for a singer…d’you mean the live act?
Yes, and the people that feature on ‘Newcomer’
LLORCA: When I was doing the album I was looking for singers so I just went here and there to hear some people and I got to hear Ladybird and Nicole Graham and others live and I saw they were good and really liked their work so I went to them and asked for a collaboration…and I’m very happy of the harmony between everybody. Because even if there are people I haven’t seen again after the album, like Julian Lourau [saxophonist], we have a very good vibe, good communication. When he came back home and he heard the album, we talked a lot, it was really nice and he understood, at a first hearing of the track, he understood what I wanted. So they’re very open-minded people, they’re not like “okay, we just want to do soul or jazz”…
I must say, it works really well…you work from your bedroom. Two things I was going to ask: what is the view from your bedroom window?
LLORCA: I live close to the Pere Lachaise cemetery where there is a big park where old people walk around and people jog so the view is of nature…and cars, so not very romantic.
And what’s your average day like when you’re working on a track?
LLORCA: I wake up, have a shower, then have a hot chocolate with a lot of bread and croissants with butter and jam, then I check my emails…and then it depends. Sometimes I’m working on a track I’ve been working on all week long, working the sounds and the effects, a small reverb on voice, tiny stuff that you wouldn’t hear but they are details that are important to me. Sometimes I start a new track and I have an idea with a beat or a bass line.
D’you work late into the night?
LLORCA: Usually I wake very late, 1 or 2pm and work through till 4 or 5am. I don’t do music in the day; the main ideas come by night.
A true artist.
LLORCA: No, no, just that in the day you’re never quiet, there are always interruptions. So in the night everything is quiet, no sounds, no telephone, nobody, just you and the computer.
Speaking of computers, has your computer ever crashed and you’ve lost a whole track?
Have you ever got frustrated with your computer?
LLORCA: Of course. Everyone who has a computer has trouble with it. But I’m very safe.
You mean you save everything frequently?
LLORCA: Yeah, I’m very careful to check for viruses and internet stuff. When checking emails I never open the attachments so that my computer is safe.
Is there anywhere you want to play?
LLORCA: USA. I’ve never played in the USA and I think it would be a very good experience.
This is your first London gig?
LLORCA: Yes, I’ve been twice before though but as tourist.
What’s Ibiza like?
LLORCA: Yeah, crap. People don’t give a damn about the music, they just want to get loaded and sorted and want to hear a beat, like “boom boom boom”, and that’s it. I really don’t like that place.
Just a couple of little ones now. Firstly, describe yourself in three words.
LLORCA: Egotistic, spontaneous and…everything but elegant.
Okay. So your top five favourites: movie?
LLORCA: Oh, my god…err…a recent movie? BEING JOHN MALKOVICH.
Yeah. Your mother’s cooking?
LLORCA: Actually, it’s my father’s. Duck with green peppers and cuvee de pomme de terre.
LLORCA: Bacardi and coke.
Your favourite part of Paris?
LLORCA: I would say my area, my district. It’s safe, it’s beautiful and there are a lot of parties.
Finally, your favourite part of a woman’s body?
LLORCA: (laughs) This area [gestures to his lower back]…in French I know but I would say the back.
The lower part? The lumber region. What’s it in French, maybe somebody can translate…
Leran? [To the rest of the band in the room] Anybody? Leran? En anglais?
Keyboardist: The ribs.
Ladybird: The lower back.
LLORCA: Yeah, the lower back. Exactly.
The lower back. Good, excellent. Llorca, thank you and I hope the gig goes well tonight.
LLORCA: Thank you.