A-Trak Interviews Alex Gopher
Posted on Aug 29th, 2016 in Interviews by admin
A-Trak & Alex Gopher studio photo (2008)
A-Trak and Tommy Trash “Lose My Mind” might be the funkiest track FG’s ever released. But did you know that French production hero Alex Gopher was the song’s secret weapon mix engineer? It’s a musical tidbit the guys are understandably proud of – and to help share it with you, Trizzy hit up the man himself for a little background on his musical roots, favorite synths, mixdown tricks and more. (For even more FG x AG action, peep his remix work on Kid Sister’s “Get Fresh” single from back in ’08.) Read on!
Hey Alex, thanks for doing this interview and thanks so much for working on “Lose My Mind” with Tommy and I. Can you tell us a bit about what you’ve doing lately? I love the Back To Basics EP!
Thanks! I’m glad you like Back To Basics, that’s my last EP and I’m very proud of it. Aside from that, I recently stopped DJing. I simply wasn’t getting the same joy from it anymore. It was too difficult to be alone on the road and on all those flights, especially after doing the Super Discount tour with my friends Etienne de Crecy & Julien Delfaud. So I’m back to my first job as a mastering engineer. I had stopped doing mastering a few years ago to focus on my own music career but I’m very happy to be back! Now I can satisfy my love for music in another way.
Can you describe the Paris electronic scene in the mid-90s when you got your start?
We didn’t think it would become so influential. For us, the idea was just to say “fuck you” to the record companies who didn’t want to sign our teenage bands and to do what we wanted. The emulation was incredible between all the friends, crews and producers. We were listening to each other’s music, and then trying to do it our own way. Everything became possible once we started believing in it and in ourselves.
One thing that is interesting to me is, a lot of people associate you with the French Touch sound which is mostly a house thing, but a lot of your music also incorporates jazz, soul and instrumental hip hop. Can you talk a bit about the genres that you cover?
I’m a music lover. I listen to and love so many genres like indie, new wave, hip hop, funk, jazz, rock… Techno and electronic music might be the last great musical movement that I discovered, but it’s just one more brick in the wall of pop music for me.
Let’s talk about the Super Discount series, your collaboration with Étienne De Crécy. What was the intention behind that, and how has it changed over the years? (Also I love that artwork!)
No real intentions! We had this label with Etienne, Solid, and we wanted to release his own EP after mine which was the first on the label. After his collaboration with Philippe Zdar on Motorbass, I think Etienne wanted to continue collaborating. But he wanted to be in charge of the direction, so he decided to get demos from his friends and add his touch and ideas to the tracks. The plan was to make electronic music but it wasn’t the only music we were listening to, and we weren’t even DJs at the time, so the result was more than club music. That’s why it had such an impact on an audience which was not specialized in techno and house, it was music not only to dance but to listen to.
Some of our readers might not know this but you also mixed a lot of the Carte Blanche records (DJ Mehdi & Riton). How did that come about? I remember Mehdi used to really trust your decisions with those tracks.
I met Mehdi when I mastered and engineered his tracks in the mid-90’s at Translab studios. He was making beats and DJing for hip hop artists and had his own label for instrumental music. Having him come into the studio with his great music, good manners, kindness and smile was always a great pleasure. When he asked me to mix the Carte Blanche tracks it was a great honor, especially with this freedom that you talk about. Mehdi knew that music is an addition of talents, that’s the way pop music works best.
For the studio nerds: I remember visiting your studio space in Paris many years ago, when you and Étienne were next to each other. It was like a dream studio. Can you name a few pieces of equipment that are essential or precious to you?
I remember your visit, and I was not particularly proud of my studio!
I’m really a geek and I love music equipment. I’m pretty sure that my love for equipment made me a producer. But nothing is essential, the best records are often done with restrictions and minimalism. These days i’m in love with my Arp Quadra, I’m a real big fan of synths. But I’m just as attached to my $100 Crumar as I am to my $5000 MemoryMoog or Oberheim.
When you mixed “Lose My Mind” for us, you even added a few production elements to the track. Is that something you often do when you mix a song? I think that is a big difference between French and American mixers. For example my brother worked a lot with Zdar for his Chromeo records and Zdar also used to add things to the tracks!
It’s not an obligation to add anything when you mix a track.
More often I end up removing some elements in the production!
It’s a good sign when you need to add something, it means that the main idea is there but just needs some makeup. That’s the art of mixing, it’s like applying makeup, it’s very good when you don’t see it but when it reveals a girl’s beauty.
Anything else you’d like to mention to our readers?
“Lose My Mind” is a great track !