"I try to play around it, create surprise, explore possibilities"
© Gaétan Clément
Christian Coiffure creates music that works in all settings and transcends genres. We had a chance to talk to him, so enjoy your reading and check out his latest releases. Read our interview below to find out more about Coiffure’s wide-spanning influences, creative environment and studio methods.
Hi Christian! How’s it going?
Hi ! I’m good this morning. Thanks for having me and for showing interest in my work.
What was your first foray into the world of electronic music?
Well I’ve got a sister which is 8 years older than me. I remember when she told me about jungle & IDM stuff like Aphex Twin, Venetian Snares or Amon Tobin but this was super weird to me, I was a teenager playing drums in rock bands. I went into these sounds much much later.
At that time I had a huge french touch period. Then I discovered Skream and dubstep sound in a TV show, it became a huge deal for me, it was my first contact with the UK dance music culture and it gave me enough interest to dive into this world. I was also into electronica/indie projects like Caribou, Archive, LCD Soundsystem etc.
In and out of the electronic music circle, who is an inspiration to you?
Well there’s many people I admire. But one person checking a lot of artistic & human aspects is definitely my friend Myako. We made a track together for a compilation on Comic Sans Records and even with distancing it was super easy to work with her.
What was the last record store you visited and what did you keep there?
My last gig before isolation was in Nantes at Macadam club. I had enough time on the afternoon to visit a record shop called Wood Records. I found some trip-hop, psychedelic krautrock & a nice Chicago house record by Screamin’ Rachel produced by Marshall Jefferson.
Are you particularly permeable to your environment, creatively speaking? If so, how does it influence your DJ focus? And producer?
Sure. But it can be a double-edged thing. Depending on the context, I can be more sensitive to a particular genre, if I’m having a great time at a party or a festival and I hear something I like, even something very brief like a build up, a FX shot, a drum pattern, etc, ideas may pop in my mind making me want to launch my ableton session right away.
But I also see it as a bias on my own creative process. For example, if I know what a label want, I am more able to produce something that will fit their taste (little wink to my friends owning labels). I know what they’re in so I try to explore around that.
As a DJ, it’s more difficult for me to get creative outside of selecting process. I only have vinyl turntables at home and I mostly play digital at gigs so if I try things, it’s happening live.
Prolific seems a little bit of an understatement when it comes to your musical output, so do you have any processes or methods to keep you inspired and productive?
The main thing for me is to keep experimenting.
I have some projects where I run random sounds and effect chains in order to record it into audio and have some raw stems and looping material. Usually when I don’t know what to do I start with this. For the near future I’ll try to do this to design drum sounds. I have a lot of textures and ambience stuff I’ve made this way.
I also like to watch some youtube tutorials about sound design, there’s a lot of good ones.
And then I try to not repeat the same production techniques. I usually don’t keep any presets of sounds or effect chains I make, I like moving forward to see what’s next.
You have a really eclectic sound when mixing, what has influenced you to be so musically varied in your approach?
I think I tried the most as I could to avoid genre identification and think about the aesthetics of the tracks I’m listening. I keep my folders & playlists ordered by genre, but having in mind the overall mood & aesthetic of a track helps to find connections with others.
What makes a good mix to you?
Well, it may seem obvious but a good set to me is a set that falls within the space and time it is being played. When all the factors are here to have an intense moment to live. Not only the DJ, but also the crowd, the lights, the sound, the spot. But I’m quite demanding, and it’s very subjective. I think it’s even more subjective when it comes to podcasts.
You seem to occupy all realms of the dance electronic music genres. What makes each genre stand out for you as a producer? Does working with each, offer you something different – like appealing to a different mood and emotion?
I get bored easily so having whole worlds to explore let me enough time to not getting tired of something and step back to what I like in it. I think there’s good ideas and things to get inspired by everywhere.
These days I’m definitely into pieces that will focus and work on the sound, mainly experimental stuff. And of course it deals with moods & emotions. Experimental and ambient music fits well in these isolated days because I have time for introspection and deep listening.
What is your criteria for selecting tracks?
The first thing is to like it. And I think it’s the only criteria to have. I like a lot of tracks so it’s always difficult to make a choice. Maybe I try to avoid playing the same tracks over and over, but sometimes I can’t help it, I like them too much I want to hear it again. For some tracks in my back catalogue, I’m afraid to delete them because you never know, it’s not really your thing these days but maybe some day etc etc. But if I don’t feel anything by listening to something I’ve totally forgot, I get rid of it.
What’s your favourite “save the dancefloor” song?
If I went too far, I like to play a Charlotte Bendiks tune. They are driven by repetitive patterns of classic drum machine sounds so it’s super nice to layer another track on top of them. ‘Aurora’ and ‘Bon Sexy’ are often my picks, I love them. If I’m playing at upper tempos, I like ghetto-tech/bass flavored stuff, there’s a lot of energy in these.
What would be your advice for someone to make it as a DJ? Especially for beginners.
I still consider myself as a beginner (I mean having things to learn) but one of my biggest regret is to have not been curious enough sooner. So yeah, maybe extend your musical knowledge. The History and the evolution of musical genres is something fascinating.
Do you think about the emotion you want to convey when producing or playing a track? Or is it more intuitive or a reaction to the crowd?
When I’m digging stuff I like to imagine in what context I will enjoy it the most. There’s always a part of intuition in a DJ set so it’s maybe more difficult to pay attention to it. Regarding production, it comes later in the process. When I have all my principal elements with the sounds I like, then I’m gonna look for what can I do to increase a particular feeling or emotion (but I think it’s what arrangement means).
What are your favourite spots to hang out in town?
There is a lot of great alternative spots that have a good artistic and social philosophy in Lyon and we’re lucky to have them. I think about Superposition, Les Halles du Faubourg & Grrrnd Zero. I’m also worried for the bars & clubs I played and spent time in, Terminal Club, Super 5 are places where I had great times!
Some friends organize small Warehouse parties in off the radar places, Spiral Dance crew and Everybody Trance organize it really properly. Super nice parties everytime I go.
For people that have never heard you play before, how would you describe your sound to them?
I ask myself about it everyday and it’s still not clear to me yet. But I try to keep an eye on a future and have a contemporary approach to the styles I get into. Even when I’m DJing, it depends on what context you catch me. I try to play around it, create surprise, explore possibilities.
So what music are you currently obsessed by? Have you picked up any records recently that you have been playing in every set or have been listening to every day?
I listen to some abstract, experimental stuff. Labels like Mille Plateaux, Raster-Noton or Sub Rosa are part of my quarantine routine.
Would you like to share a set? Can you tell us more about it? When and how was it recorded?
This one was released in match. It took me some time to build it properly. Started to think about the tracklist in early January. The challenge was again to blend styles but with a brighter mood than the things I played or listened to lately. I’m really happy with the result because the tracks come from distinct worlds of music. I wanted to include some of them so bad that I’ve listened to a lot of things to find connections and links. I like to see it as a forgotten summer mix from the mid 90s.
What is the craziest party you’ve ever been to?
Positive Education Festival’s after parties are quite intense. Les Fils de Jacob, founders of the festival and Worst Records owners always close the festival. Everybody knows it’s the last set until the next edition so it’s mega intense. Won’t miss it ever again. De School’s Het Weekends have also an incredible atmosphere. I don’t travel that much so I still have a lot to live.
How do you deal with C19 confinement with your work?
I produce a lot. I switch between creative moments with a lot of music and more introspective times without social networks. There’s no temptation of going out on the weekends so Ableton is opened quite often. At the beginning I was planning on doing an album (or at least a bunch of tracks), but the requests to be part of some compilations were motivating and I spent some time on them.
Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
I try to improve my workflow process and avoid obvious mistakes. Usually I send a demo to my friends for feedbacks and to comfort me but I know the track isn’t over. The worst about it is that I already made changes on it even before they listen to it. Sometimes I manage to delete the soundcloud link and convince me it’s pointless, but sometimes no.
As for the future situation, it’s really blurred, I’m afraid for all my friends working with passion and implication in the cultural sector. But solutions and resilience have to emerge at a local scale. It’s important to help the initiatives around you.
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
There’s always a moment for a new-wave/dance-pop song from the 80s, there’s a great energy and they are super melancholic. Talk Talk, Tears For Fears, Kate Bush, Cock Robin and Sandra are the top tier to me.
What makes you happy?
I like to think about the crazy amount of good music that is released these days.
What pisses you off?
That I have no time to listen to it all.
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects? Where can we continue to see and hear Christian?
I have my monthly LYL radioshow going on till the summer break. I have several releases planned. One solo EP to be released in June on Comic Sans Records. I’ll also being featured on some digital compilations: Worst Records, Electroménager, Décalé. And I’m being part of a huge charity compilation to help homeless people and alert about housing issues for the most precarious people in the isolation context.