Filed under: Interview
Lucien Nicolet, aka Luciano, has been actively involved in the dance music industry since the ripe old age of sixteen when he deserted the constrictive world of punk rock for greener pastures. However, before reaching Nirvana Luciano had to plough through the barren wastelands of anonymity as he struggled to make a name for himself in Chile during the 90’s. Luckily for fans of minimal techno everywhere, he was able to valiantly ward off the Mafia and irate cigarette wielding rock n’ roll roughnecks to finally find himself in Switzerland producing some of the freshest and most sort after sounds.
Now that his career is in full bloom Luciano faces new challenges as he tries to juggle the responsibilities of fatherhood, producing a second album and touring to all corners of the globe. Amazingly this South American son seems to somehow keep it all in check and even finds time to dine out on fine Japanese cuisine before his uber cool DJ sets. We were lucky enough to catch up with Luciano momentarily as he took a breather before riling up the crowd with his Latin influenced minimal beats.
Interview & Introducion by Nick Lawrence (HigherFrequency)
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Is this your first time to Japan ?
Luciano : No it’s my third time. Once visiting and two times performing.
HRFQ : How do you like it ?
Luciano : It’s pretty hard to say. Both times have been really positive but during two weeks it’s really hard to tell what I think about the place. Last time I was here for a week and this time is a week so each time I am trying to understand a little bit more. Of course it blows my mind because culturally it is so different.
HRFQ : A couple of months ago you were going to perform live in Tokyo but the gig was cancelled, what happened ?
Luciano : At the beginning of the year I had a back problem from traveling too much so I had to cancel the gig.
HRFQ : In the 90’s you were promoting in Santiago with the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Dandy Jack, Senor Coconut…
Luciano : Ricardo and Martin (Dandy Jack) are Chilean but they have been living their whole lives in Germany. So basically they were coming just for holidays during summer. So the things I was doing there were with other people. Like Dandy Jack’s younger brother Adrian Schopf and we used to do a lot of parties together. Then when Martin and Ricardo came over at the end of the year we used to do a party with them. Then Martin and Ricardo came to Chile for six months. So there was a good friendship between me and Ricardo. We decided to do parties together and to do our project Sense Club. Which is like rhythmic electronic music. I was promoting parties through the 90’s up until 1999. Then in ’99 I left Chile and then I think, not because I left, but there was a change musically. Chile was really interesting until 1999. Then you had all this trance, progressive and tribal come to Chile from Argentinean DJs and it destroyed everything.
HRFQ : Do you still keep in touch with all the guys from Santiago in the 90’s ?
Luciano : Yeah of course. My best friend from when I used to promote parties, Adrian, when I left he stopped DJing. Basically the little group from back then has dissolved. Everytime I go back during the year we hold a party in the summer. The whole little group from the 90’s is back and it’s amazing.
HRFQ : Was it really hard to get the scene started back in Santiago ?
Luciano : Yeah, in the beginning it was a nightmare. The first four gigs we had were at La Batuta which is a really popular club in Santiago where they play rock. All the guys had leather jackets and long hair and all the rock n’ roll people were coming and putting their cigarettes out on the decks. The funny thing was that the owner was really cool and believed in us a little bit and one and a half years later all the long hair guys had cut their hair and were raving. Another time I arrived in the north of Chile by myself. A really Mafiosa guy picked me up and took me to the club and there was a DJ booth and tables everywhere. Then he goes away and comes back and gives me some tickets, some big headphones and a microphone. And he says, “Ok while you are playing I want you to invite the people up and give them some freebies and some free drinks”. I said, “Man this is not what I do, I play techno music”. So he kicked me out of the club. So I remember I was on my mobile phone sitting on the highway with nothing around but dunes and mountains. I was talking to my wife and telling her she had to get me out of there.
HRFQ : So now you have less problems in the music industry do you find it less exciting ?
Luciano : I don’t know if it’s less exciting. With the party level I’ve experienced in the last year at clubs like Robert Johnson or in Berlin or London it is hard to go back because the parties are so good. Sometimes now when I go to a club and the sound system or the conditions aren’t so good I remember what I went through when I started and think that years ago I would have considered this a great party. So now it is sort of getting higher and higher but I try to control it. I try not to have too many expectations.
HRFQ : You started DJing at sixteen and producing in 1997. Would you now consider yourself a DJ or producer ?
Luciano : I think I’ve always been more of a producer. I came into music and DJing because I was a guitar player in a punk band at school. I always liked the producing thing. The reason I suddenly fell into producing electronic music was not only because of DJing but also because I was tired of the band. With the band all my inspiration and all the music I wanted to do was depending on the drummer, or the bass player, or the other guy. If the bass player or the singer wasn’t seeing the future of music then it became a problem for me because I couldn’t really realize what I wanted to do. So a machine was the perfect solution. There was a band called Berurier Noir, which was a French band. It was a punk rock band that played guitars but they had drum machines. I was playing along with it like an imbecile. Then suddenly all the harder music I was doing became slower.
HRFQ : So was guitar a big influence on your music ?
Luciano : Yeah I still play it now.
HRFQ : In a band ?
Luciano : No, I use it exactly the same as all my other equipment. So for example in the studio maybe first I’ll do the drums and I look for a riff on the guitar or the keyboard or the bass. So I’m always using instruments.
HRFQ : So the guitar plays a big part in your music. How about the two very different countries you come from, Chile and Switzerland, what influence do they have ?
Luciano : Switzerland there isn’t really music. The biggest influence from there was my father and mother, when they were still together. My father fixed jukeboxes so he had lots of records and played a lot of music at home. Chile was a big influence on my music. All the music from there was really a big influence. All the rhythms and all the melodies and the groove that the music has in South America were really motivating me to bring out electronic music.
HRFQ : Well you can definitely hear that on your album Blind Behaviour.
Luciano : Completely. Completely. On Blind Behaviour I really tried to make it an experimental thing. To bring not only dance music but also other structures. To try and reproduce not the actual music but more the groove the South American music has with it. I tired to bring that in on the album.
HRFQ : When you moved back to Switzerland in 2000 was that because of music ?
Luciano : No it was for other reasons. In someways the music, but at that time my wife was pregnant and it was pretty hard to be a musician in South America. It is really complicated. It is more difficult to have connections to other countries. I decided that I also wanted to start some sound engineer studies. I didn’t finish school in Chile and when you don’t finish school you can’t do anything. So I had the opportunity to go back to Switzerland to a kind of private school. So this and the baby happened so we decided to move.
HRFQ : Blind Behaviour was produced under Lucien-n-Luciano, was that due to the more down beat sound ?
Luciano : That was because I wanted to split the music. Peacefrog wanted more Luciano track’s which is like dance music. I never did an album. I just did music without thinking. So for three years I just did music because I wanted to make music. After three year I just had all these tracks that were kind of like the same grain. They all had a similar sound. So I got ten tracks and decided to look for a label. Peacefrog was interested but they also wanted more dance music so I said there was no way I could do it. So Lucien-n-Luciano is more down tempo home listening and Luciano is more dance music. Now I am doing a second album. Now it is a little bit different. Now I am making an album. I am working on the music itself. It isn’t going to be like just making tracks and then compiling them.
HRFQ : So are you finding making an album this way easier or more difficult ?
Luciano : More difficult, because now I am doing a lot of dance music so I am enjoying that a lot. So it is difficult to go back to that kind of sound. But for sure the second one will again have a little less energy to it.
HRFQ : Will we be hearing a lot of vocals ?
Luciano : Yeah, I’m trying to do something that follows on a little bit from the first album.
HRFQ : Cassie Britton was on vocals on one Blind Behaviour track. We have seen her name pop up a few times on a single of yours and also in one of your sets, who is she ?
Luciano : Cassie is from Vienna and she used to do a female thing with Electro Indigo and I think Miss Kittin was a part of it too. She just moved from Vienna and she arrived in Geneva and worked on an album with Dave the Hustler who is the guy that produced Felix da Housecat’s album So Cassie wanted to make music with him. But somehow they didn’t really fit and his studio was just near mine so Cassie just appeared in my studio one day. We just tried something and she was totally into it. She was really quick to get the idea. She was also writing lyrics and somehow she just completely fitted into the music. Also she was on Alpine Rocket the track I did with Mathew Jonson. Then Cassie moved to Berlin and met Ricardo Villalobos and also did music with him. Now she has her own release coming out on Perlon which is really good.
HRFQ : Do you also do a lot of vocals yourself ?
Luciano : I try but my big problem is that when i hear my voice… It’s really complicated because the only voice that you don’t hear is your own. So it is very difficult to judge your own voice. So whenever I work with my voice I am never satisfied with my tone. I always try to put too many effects and try to arrange too much. But I like the sound of a pure voice. I use my voice a bit on just spoken words rather than singing.I did some singing in German actually. I did a remix, a bootleg that went out on Mental Groove, of a German band from the 80s called Grauzone. I did this remix which is like simple. I took the bass and used a keyboard. I wanted to try and keep it true so I did the vocals in German.
HRFQ : What is your studio setup like? Do you use a laptop at all ?
Luciano : I used to use a laptop for live sets but I don’t make music with a laptop. In the beginning I was performing with all the hardware but it just become too much trying to carry the machines everywhere. So just before Ableton Live was released I got a promotional copy and just like everyone else I was completely into it. So I used it for about two or three years whenever I played live. I was playing live almost every weekend so I arrived at a point where I was tired of software. I like to touch the instruments. It was too much like a formula because you know your track and you know how it goes. I wanted to get back to the machines. There is also a risk of the computer shutting down so I reached a point and just stopped and I’ve taken a break from playing live.
HRFQ : What about for your DJ sets, what equipment do you use ?
Luciano : I have some CDs and I also try and create some new sounds with a little loop machine. So you can sort of real time remix a track and you can put like vocals on it. I try to rearrange the track just using the record.
HRFQ : Is that something that ever goes wrong ?
Luciano : For sure. That is part of the excitement of doing something live. It is a little something that gives you a buzz.
HRFQ : We better let you get ready for your set but can you just quickly give us a message for your Japanese fans ?
Luciano : My message is I only try to come and do my best to play music. I hope there aren’t any expectations but just people… For me the most important thing is for people to come just to listen to music and not just to listen to what they know. It is very common that people go out and want to hear a track that maybe the heard on the radio. But the most important thing is to go out without any expectations just to go to discover new sounds.
End of the interview
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