It’s been a good fifteen years now since Vitalic (aka Pascal Arbez-Nicolas) took it upon himself to redefine techno using his native French sensibility, mixing energy and melody to forge his own recognizable style. Many of those tunes, like “Poney”, “La Rock 01”, “My Friend Dario” and “You Prefer Cocaine” went on to become club classics, blurring the boundaries between techno, disco, rock and pop, and profoundly inspiring and stimulating a scene that had been struggling since the end of the ‘French touch’ to find something a little more refreshing than filtered disco house. It could be said that Vitalic ushered in the French Touch 2.0, masterfully bringing bangers back into fashion and putting France back on the dancefloor map. With his first production signed by tastemaker DJ Hell for his Gigolo imprint, Vitalic paid scant regard to genre boundaries and concentrated on simply knocking out some killer tunes – a mix of irresistible melodies, stampeding synths and pure energy. Within a few years, French electronica had changed direction, eschewing the dancefloors for which it had originally been conceived and starting to tour, live. A revolution was born – Vitalic opened the way and Daft Punk, Justice and Etienne de Crecy followed. “Voyager” is a record that has forgotten nothing of the cosmic disco heritage of the 1980s. It perfectly brings together the three elements that have always composed Vitalic’s strength: a touch of experimental folly, killer melodies and a joyful overabundance of energy. It’s this magic formula that makes “Voyager” the ideal disc to listen to with your feet on the dancefloor and your eyes fixed on the stars. Or vice-versa. Dark Beauty was invited to his live performance at club Mezzanine in San Francisco and it was quite the experience. Vitalic’s custom built controller is the center piece bringing together a few external instruments. It’s purpose is to have a more organic/analogue reliable tool with faders and knobs as well as a screen. Our ears were blessed with a synth sound only he can produce: raw, dirty, analogue and unique. He is an important artist of our time with classic songs that will live on forever. You can see him in his home studio in Paris as he explains all his unique musical toys and live setup CLICK HERE.
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Dijon, a medium sized city in the east of France but I set up again in Paris 5 years ago. After the crazy 80s Paris became boring for some time, but the city is very exciting again and I am having a great time there.
Do you use an abundance of musical instruments in your Paris recording studio or do you take a more minimal approach?
I have an interesting collection of instruments but I’d rather pick 3 or 4 pieces and make the record with them. This prevents me from losing myself in loads of presets and I think it gives the record some consistency with the same sound colours to the different songs.
You worked with Joachim Garraud on the new Voyager album, what did he bring creatively to the mix?
I may use too many effects like long reverbs and delays and over processed things. Joachim is a a guy that goes straight to the point. He is also very good at processing voices, which is almost a science. I am alone most of time at the studio, it was also interesting to have his view about arrangements. GET HIS NEW ALBUM VOYAGER HERE
We love the sound of the album and that you went back to the style of Disco Bass used by the great Giorgio Moroder. What was your inspiration behind this?
I think I had the need to get back to the basis of my project, giving more space to both melodies and synthesizers. Very often the result is a disco song with new wave vocals on top. My previous album was focusing on the energy more than melodies. My tastes and will are constantly evolving so I just follow them.
You are a master at creating and capturing a poetic magic with the singers you work with, David Shaw on “Waiting For The Stars” is the perfect example. Could you share with our readers a bit about that night when laying down the vocals:
I didn’t know David personally but I loved his stuff. I was back from Mexico and invited him to my place to introduce each other testing a good bottle of Tequila. It ended up in the studio a few hours later and we did the song over night. It’s very pleasant when things are fluid like this when making music, just because the energy is there.
Thank you for doing what you do and being one of our favorite music artists. What exciting things do you have coming up?
Thanks for your nice words! I am releasing soon a techno record under my alias Dima and also finishing a post punk album with the singer of Sexy Sushi. So a bit less of Vitalic for some time but some new stuff on the way!
PHOTO CREDITS VOYAGER, 2016
Direction Artistique: Charlie le Mindu
Photo: David Hugonot Petit
Assistant lumière: Adrien La Chappelle
Maquilleuse / Bodypaint: Sophie Fauquet