Whether it be trendy sunglasses or Hawaiian shirts, Vitalic is a man who genuinely wears – and does – what he wants; though he has one of the most instantly recognisable signature sounds in dance music, he decided to make a “disco album” because he was “fed up” with the rock sound that had become synonymous with his music, and so we have his second LP Flashmob.
We caught up with him just before he embarked on his European tour to discuss his new album, his influences and some huge screens that are mirrors – but also transparent…
Did you have a specific theme or idea in mind when it came to making your album ‘Flashmob’?
I didn’t have any precise idea, in fact. The only thing I had in mind was that I didn’t want to re-make the same album [OK Cowboy] again, with the same techniques, the same sounds. I wanted to really change a lot of things in that way. For example, I used to be popular for my tech-rock thing and I didn’t want to make anything too rocky, because rock was everywhere and I was a bit fed up with it, so I wanted something fresh.
So you decided to go down a bit more of a disco route with it?
Yes, because I’m mainly influenced by disco and rock. The first album was strongly rock-orientated, I decided to move to disco.
Would disco have been the type of music you listened to growing up?
I have always listened to any genre of music. I was recently really into Major Lazer, for example. Dancehall is very different [to the music I make], so I’m not close to any genre, but when I make music myself, disco is one of my main influences.
Are there any specific influences you would cite on this record?
Of course you can see Giorgio Moroder in one of the tracks, but the other influences I had are not that obvious, like Metro Area from New York, for example. But you can’t really hear that; it was just before I started to compose the album I was listening to a lot of stuff from them, and it changed my way of thinking and my way of making music also. Also, you can’t hear Mr Oizo in it, because we really don’t make the same music but he really had an influence on me also because I really like the short tracks on his last album [Lamb's Anger] so I decided to make short tracks too. The influences I had are not that obvious in the end.
Are you conscious of the trends in music or do you operate completely separately to all that?
I don’t know if I can think when I make music “I want to make something that’s trendy.” When you make music you are at least conscious of what is happening at the moment, I think, and what I want to do is to take what I like from the current sounds – the techniques, the main things I like – and get rid of what I don’t want. If I had an idea, I’d kind of just take my idea and go a bit further with my little thing to improve and find some new directions. I’m really obsessed with new stuff, and finding new sounds and new techniques. It’s a really important part of making music for me.
I read that you bought an entire new selection of equipment to use on this record.
Yes. It’s important to re-start something from scratch; it’s also good to re-start with a new computer, new synthesizer and drum machine. It’s a way to not to repeat yourself.
Do you think dance music is moving away from the minimal, techy sound that’s been so popular for the past couple of years?
I’m not sure, but I’ve heard that minimal is less popular than it used to be in some places. Also it’s a long time since it has been the number one genre of music in Spain or Germany, and maybe at this time it’s repeating itself a lot and people want to have something fresh.
Can you tell me about your new live show?
The idea is that because the music is disco, I wanted to do something very consistent with the music and the live show. Disco music is represented in the image of the disco ball, so the live set is like two huge mirrors that are also screens and that are also transparent, so they’re like two three dimensional screens. They reflect each other, and reflect the audience so it can see itself in the screen or the mirror, and they can see also what I’m doing with the synthesizers and other machines. So it’s very open, it’s more than one dimensional, it’s a bit more complicated… and also quite difficult to explain.
Are you heavily involved in the visual concept yourself?
Yes. I work with two architects based in Paris, and I see them on a regular basis, maybe once or twice a month. I update the music, and together we update the visuals also, so it’s all updated altogether. The first version of the live show in June is very different from what’s happening now; we want to improve it little by little until next year for the big festivals. So if you see the show twice, they’re two different shows – no two shows are the same every week.
I’ve heard the term ‘augmented reality’ used in relation to your shows.
Because of the reflection of the screens, and the audience, and myself, and behind the screens and all that, if you are right in front of the two screens it creates a sort of a fake room: augmented reality.
What equipment do you use for your live show?
I use a bit of everything. I use Ableton – but it’s like a super-mega sampler and a sequencer – and my drum machines also, and different synthesizers, a vocoder and I think I might add some other equipment later, and a big traditional mixing desk, because I really need to have an impact on all the sounds and all the sounds are separate. But this is the way I’ve played live from the beginning, so I didn’t change that too much. I’m very confident in the way it works so I didn’t really want to change it.
Vitalic plays the Academy on the 27th November, tickets at €33.60.
Words Lucy Watts