Fool's Gold Q&A Vol 1: Lifelike

Posted on Aug 26th, 2008 in FG Q&A by Mr. Goldbar

We’re kicking off a new series of interviews with folks in the extended Fool’s Gold family: THE FOOL’S GOLD Q&A. It’s like Charlie Rose with swagger on a hundred, thousand, trillion, Nightline for electro nerds, 60 Minutes minus everything but Ed Bradley’s awesome earring. Our inaugural edition features the one and only Laurent Heinrich, aka Ferris Bueller, aka Lifelike, French producer/remixer extraordinaire. You can hear his signature touch on Treasure Fingers’ “Cross The Dancefloor” single (download the remix here and buy the whole single here), and read his full Q&A after the jump. More email interrogations coming soon!

Where do you live?
I used to live in the center of Paris (7th district), and I still have part of my studio there, but now I moved outside of the city, better air, and less noise 😉

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the east of France, in city called Strasbourg, it’s like 1km far from Germany. I lived in a middle class suburb, which had been recently built, and looked like an atypical french suburb – it looked quite American in fact, like individual houses with gardens, very quiet.

What is your studio setup like currently?
Lots of different gear, hardware and a couple of Apple Macintosh computers. I’m an Apple maniac, I still have some old Macs in a corner that I could not get rid of! Some old Mackie mixing desks, a little rack with compressors, and some analog/hybrid synthesizers (mainly Roland, but I got one Casio and one Yamaha). I used lots of hardware a few years ago, but these days I’d rather do 80% of my production on the computer, its much more flexible and leads to new ideas quicker.

There’s rumors about a “magic” Daft Punk compressor…
Haha! Could it be ? Well lets keep the “magic” then :-))))))))))

What was the first electronic record you fell in love with? When did you decide to make music of your own, and how did you start?
The first record i felt in love with was I think New Order “Blue Monday.” My father used to buy lots of records, and I could do little tapes with them, from ’80s compilations to full artist albums. He bought this New Order record that was looking like a big floppy disc. I liked the funny design so I jumped on it, and I accidentally played the B-side (called “The Beach”) which was a instrumental mix of “Blue Monday” that started with human synth voices. I still have that record full of scratches, but these synth voices, this record is an absolute genius production on every plans…!

Who are your influences today?
Mainly pop synth from that late 70’s & 80’s era, like Human League, Giorgio Moroder, New Order of course, Talk Talk and many others, I dont have that many influences from today’s composers. The only recent artists that had huge impact on my way of producing music are Daft Punk and Alan Braxe.

Are you self-taught in production? Do you have any musical training?
I made some piano classes, like 3 years when i was a child, but otherwise im self-taught.

Describe the making of “The Soul Of My Love”
Oh very old memories…! I produced this record with a french artist called Crusz, for a label called “20000 ST”. They just had this hit with Demon, “You’re My High”. We recorded the vocal in Copellia studio in Paris with the singer Mandel Turner (an ex New Yorker from the Paradise Garage), that studio was quite cool as they were producing lots of hiphop records and had good experience in recording vocals. We produced the definitive mix of the record in Crusz studios in the northern Paris suburb (Enghien in the 93 departement). We had quite a huge amount of gear and it was hell to finalize that record, due to all this stuff we had to program around. We had a 32 track mixing desk from Mackie, without any recall possibility and he had a wall of compressors. We used a Macintosh just for Midi sequencing. We didnt had any audio track… even the vocal was totally cutted in the samplers and arranged in the sequencer. And I think we made around 20 final mixes, we couldnt even choose which one was the best in the end, we just took the first one on the digital tape and went to mastering. I still dont know why we took 3 weeks to produce the single, where it could have been only one, but Crusz was a production maniac, and wanted things to be perfect. I learned a lot from him. I was more into “we go fast and release the record”, you know without having the need to think if we would put +1.5 reverb on the snare or +1.8 :-))))) I was used to working like that until “Discopolis.”

When did you first notice other producers and DJs taking notice of your work?
After my second EP on the same 20000 ST: “The Cult”, kind of anti “Soul Of My Love” project, not pop at all, more like a confidential record. We met Pedro Winter and he told me that he liked the record a lot and wanted a remix, and that DJ Falcon was playing it. We then checked the playlist, and the A-side of this record (“Blackchess”) was the first record Falcon and Bangalter played on their “Together Tour 2002.” I think you can still download their mix from ADE in Amsterdam on the internet. It was so cool to hear from producers you admire, that they like your music.

How did you meet Alan Braxe?
Thru his manager back in the days in at Vulture, Delphine Queme, she introduced me and Christophe (Kris Menace) to him.

What was your recent tour like with Alan Braxe? What did you think of the North American crowds?
It was really the best gigs I ever did, wihtout any lies! Top gig goes to Boston, where the crowd was so nice and friendly, and we met such good people there. But San Francisco and New York too were really amazing. There’s really a passionate thing about America and French House. You can really feel that people have the need to hear good music, and some people we met even flew from Alabama to come to the gig…. in opposition of when you play here in France, people are really spoiled and have a really bad attitude. We used to make that joke with friends that if you want a party to succeed in France, you have to fetch the crowd at their house in a limousine, they might then be nicer to you and maybe you’ll have a big night :)))))))

Describe the making of “Discopolis
It was done mainly in one night, we had all the elements. Mainly due to one glass of vodka with Kris, we produced the track in Germany in his studio. I had this idea to make a kind of cheezy disco record, so we used like old tape echo effect, it was a lot of fun to do.

Did you know it would have the lifespan it did as a club track?
No at all, I know it sounds weird, but there’s unfortunately no method for having a club hit. The record had a good DJ support and start, and then after the Ibiza season it suddenly went off and everybody played it, I think it was 2005 best selling vinyl record or something like that, our distributor was in heaven:-)))

What’s the most surprising place you’ve seen or heard about “Discopolis” being spun?
The French national radio NRJ, its usually a radio I totally dislike, because they play the worst commercial music available, and we heard it in our car as we went from one channel to another.

What current projects are you most excited about?
Oh a lot of projects. I got one with David from Chromeo on the way, kind of a single we are trying to produce together, Got a few remixes on the way (Van She in September on Modular), I also finished a new record for Vulture that Alan and I expect to release this Fall if everything works well. And i might be producing a electronic act for Virgin, nothing is confirmed but the recording company approached me recently for that, we’ll see…

Your remix discography is pretty varied – any particular favorites, and why? Any songs in history you would love to have remixed?
I love to remix, its such a great work,, you can turn any orginal track in any kind of style you want if you know the thing. My favorite this year goes to Chromeo “Needy Girl” and The Presets “Are You the One”, because they are in some kind of opposite style, as Chromeo is more funky. The Presets is more like a cold wave. Chromeo, because I knew this band since their first “Needy Girl” release, and it’s really good music and their absolute sense of humor in their videos, also because they had the best recorded audio track I had heard since I’ve been in this buisiness – top notch sound, that made my remixing work so easy in a sense. The Presets, because it reminds me of some old records I liked, they have this typical Factory vibe, and really good music too. If I could, I would love to remix a New Order track, whatever they do is always good to my ears!

Did you already know about Chromeo when Dave asked you to remix “Needy Girl”?
Yes, totally, I knew the video from “Needy Girl” since their first release, they were well known already at that time, I couldnt believe they would ask me for a remix, I dont know why but I hallucinated when Dave asked me to do it. Maybe because they were already like superstars for me.

Some people find the current European DJ/party scene very fashion-driven. How would you describe your personal style?
If I say that I’m absolutely un-fashion driven, would you believe me ? I’m not that much into clothes and style, so about my style I dont know, I just can tell you that I like Ray Ban sunglasses :-)))

For people just discovering your music, what one record should they seek out for “the Lifelike experience”?
That’s a funny question! Is there any Lifelike experience out there… ? Maybe I would say that “Discopolis” and “The Cult” are two records that suit me well.

Do you listen to much new electronic music? Are you active in the current music scene or do you just do your own thing?
More recently I do yes. But like 1 or 2 years ago i couldnt find that much interesting things out there I could listen to. I prefer to stay with my old records, despite the fact that I do listen to the other artists in the same scene, like Justice or Alan, or Kitsuné’s production. I do my own thing, Lifelike is my only musical project at the moment. I’ll try this year to collaborate with other artists, because it really makes your music and life better, it’s not good to stay too much with yourself as the only judge of your art, you have to share with the others. I’ll try to go that way now.