"Back to basics, music and partying and less business"
Minimum Syndicat: The syndicate was born to help bringing back the fierce euphoria / weird energy of no-nonsense rave music. With this leitmotif, Minimum Syndicat intends to put energetic and meaningful music back on the agenda. Founded after a fortuitous and alchemical encounter during an evening in Pigalle, the duo have been incubating their love of rave since the 90s, and have been producing themselves for almost 10 years now on the eponymous label.
We had the opportunity to speak with the producer duo, so enjoy your reading and check out their latest projects.
What was your first foray into the world of electronic music?
Jmi : I discovered electronic music with albums like LFO-frequencies, Black Dog-bytes, then a bit later FSOL, Autechre and the Warp catalogue... Meanwhile, for the dancefloor side, I dived into this universe via the first illegal rave parties in France.
David : “Oxygene” album by Jean-Michel Jarre as a baby, all the synthetic sounds of eighties pop as a child, New Beat/belgian techno of the early 90s as a young teenager.
Could you give us an insight into your collaborative process? Who does what when it comes to composing tracks. And do you ever have any conflicting opinions, or do you both tend to share a singular vision for your sets/lives?
Jmi : We have a pretty accurate view of the MS sound and conflicts are really very rare. On a creative level there is no leader or assigned positions, usually everyone comes with material developed at home, and we put everything together to create our tracks. Most of the time the tracks or live parts are mash-ups of our various ideas. Only the purely technical part of the mixing is not done in common because it's a rather solitary work.
Was Minimum Syndicat born out of a certain nostalgia for this 90s sound, period, overall aesthetic?
David : Definitly. It was a reaction at a time all things “rave”, “acid” and “hardcore' (not in a gabber sense) seemed to have been put out of the picture. That german minimal sound was everywhere and it was all trendy hedonism and hipsters attitude. We prefer sweaty ravers not giving a fuck about fashion.
What about this name, Minimum Syndicat? What does it mean to you?
Jmi : It has many means and no mean in particular. It conveys a sense of militantism, resistance and “back to basic” spirit.
It’s safe to say you’re in a position of authority to comment on the evolution of “raving”. Don’t you sometimes feel that ‘rave’ has become some sort of generic, catch-all term for parties that are in reality not ravey at all?
David : Sure. Huge festivals where most in the crowd are filming the dj on their phone while waiting for the next drop are not rave parties in my book. More like EDM shows with a big room techno (not to say hardtrance) soundtrack.
Which artists have your interest these days?
David : We won't talk about all our old school heroes still active, because it would be too long. Beside them, our favorites for years are people like Umwelt, Ancient Methods, Cuften, Helena Hauff, 14Anger etc. They're still lots of good tracks and producers despite what is force-feeded to us.
Do you remember when music was first presented to you when you were a child?
Jmi: My parents listened to a lot of classical music, that's what rocked my childhood.
David : As said before, I think my older musical memory is Oxygene by JMJ.
In and out of the electronic music circle, who is an inspiration to you?
Jmi: Tough question, there's way too many things. I listen to a lot of electronica, otherwise I like a lot of psychedelic rock, garage, punk, indie rock, synthpop... Bands like The black Angels, The Cramps, Sonic youth, Boy Harsher to name a few...
David : I listen to a lot of music, virtually all genres. My favorite artists/bands outside the “techno” realm are Blut Aus Nord (french experimental metal), Dead Can Dance, Depeche Mode, Public Enemy, Killing Joke, Slayer, Anne Clark, Siouxie and the Banshees, Skinny Pupp... I could give you 300 names really.
What was the last record store you visited and what did you keep there?
Jmi : Toolbox, because it's our distributor, a french figure of the parisian underground who saw it all. Big respect. We picked nothing though, we shouldn't say that, but most of our listening nowadays is through streaming services and digital files.
Are you particularly permeable to your environment, creatively speaking? If so, how does it influence your live? and producing?
David : I don't think I'm very influenced by my environment. My creative impulses come more from my inner world/mind's eye visions than my direct surroundings. But it has a subconscious influence for sure, you can't escape that even if you believe you can.
Jmi : I guess so, although I think I'm more dependent on my general mood than on a particular place.
What inspires you to produce your tracks?
David : The same feeling that blew my mind first time I hear techno at a rave on a loud sound system, with a green laser glowing in the dark. Pure alien energy, inhuman stomping, underground feel...
Jmi : Partying, listening to good sets or emotional outlet right now !
How did you come to experiment with your own music?
Jmi : I like to set myself challenges, technical or creative, an absurd rhythmic signature, a weird synth patch, an illogical chain of effects, the idea is to reach the unexpected, an accident to be exploited that will give me a starting point. We don't have an established process, usually we start from a blank page.
David : I was always more interested in writing music than to be a dj, even when producers were totally in the shadow and djs had all the fame. I started with very basic gear and zero knowledge, and it became more serious/professional when I met Jmi.
How would you define your sound?
David : Passionate, authentic, a bit psychedelic, slightly moody, and ravey as fuck.
What is/are your most favourite acid/techno record(s) of all time and why?
Jmi : “Acid Creak” by Spokesman. Pure adrenaline rush. It's fierce, stripped down and relentless like a killing machine, but in the meantime very clever. It perfectly conveys the atmopshere of a dirty warehouse party.
Who are your favourite electro/acid manipulators these days?
David : Umwelt, Danny Wolfers, The Exaltics and Cuften.
Now let’s talk about the technical aspect of your craft; what’s your studio comprised of at the minute?
Jmi : We have a hybrid studio, Ableton live on one side as master sampler/sequencer and hardware synths on the other side. TB303, MS20, Elektron Digitone, DSI evolver, Roland SE02 to name a few of our favorites. It's very handy as well for a duo, it allows us to group and merge our projects quickly, the best of both worlds in a nutshell.
What are your favorite places to hang out in the city?
Jmi : There are a lot of places to go out in Paris, I hang out a lot in eastern Paris where there are a lot of bars and restaurants, also a lot in Montreuil on the outskirts of Paris near my place.
David : Cool bars and thai restaurants ! I also walked a lot in the streets recently. I enjoy feeling the change of vibes between districts. But no more since the confinment of course...
How do you deal with C19 confinement with your work?
Jmi : Making music and podcasts. Maybe it's the right time to stand back a bit and hopefully come back with a refreshed mind.
Is it possible another way to monetize magazines other than advertising, events, clubs ...? Should we think of other sources of income?
David : We honestly don't know. Throwing parties showcasing the kind of artists/sound you support is always a good idea. Now, make money with this is another story !
Has this situation influenced your creative perspective? What social and musical implications do you think this situation can lead to?
Jmi : There will be collateral damage, everyone suffers already. On the positive side, we can hope for a reset and a return to something healthier in the techno scene. Back to basics, music and partying and less business.
David : I sincerely hope it will trigger a rebirth of the underground. I mean, it never disappeared, but it could be healthier and on a larger scale. With less big money flowing, maybe there will be more interest in smaller parties and local scenes. Who knows?
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
David ; All Aphex Twin discography. Just because there're tracks for every mental state you can experience during a time like that : meditation, anxiety, dreamlike loneliness, melancholy, inner peace, nervous breakdown and madness!
What makes you happy?
David : Music, family and friendship essentially
Can you tell us something about your current or future projects? Where can we continue to see and hear Minimum Syndicat?
David : We are finishing our first full length album. Pure MS sound but with a wider spectrum than a simple EP. And about our next gig, we have no fucking clue in the current state of affairs.... The sooner the better!