Filed under: Interview
Making his name around the French filtered house scene he helped pioneer in the mid 90s, Alex Gopher became a bona fide dance star though more recently he’s been reinventing himself as a cutting edge electro producer, firmly centred on the underground club scene. Old school friends with French band Air and best mates with fellow French luminary Etiennne de Crecy he contributed 2 tracks to the latter’s seminal compilation Super Discount, more recently collaborating on Super Discount’s Fast Track (one of the biggest club records of 2005).
In the present, he’s working on his on (mainly) non-dance album, while continuing to drop electro dancefloor gems for both Kitsune (his upcoming Washing Up style anthem (Motorcycle) and before that his Spam EP, three tracks of impressive calibre.
Interview by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff) : Starting with the Spam EP, what was the idea behind it?
Alex Gopher : I’d been working for a long time on my album, which is very different in style from this EP, it’s a song based album with a lot of acoustic instruments and guitars, and because I was touring with Etienne De Crecy with Super Discount that meant that every weekend I was in clubs so I was really frustrated by the fact that I wasn’t making any electro music. So I wanted to have some recreation making some new electronic tracks. We’re already working with PIAS for Super Discount and one day we talked about making an EP on their dance label Different. They asked me if I wanted to make one as Alex Gopher and I said ‘of course’. So I made several tracks and the PIAS guy chose which ones he wanted. The idea for me was to simply make music that I could play as a DJ in my sets.
Skrufff : When you’re DJing and making artist music too, which is your main priority, which role do you feel the most enthusiastic about?
Alex Gopher : It’s impossible for me to answer this question. If I took more pleasure in making my own album then I’d never come back to electronic music, but instead I felt obliged to make these club tracks. And it was the same when I decided to make a song-based album; that was because I was fed up to be only listening to electronic music. I like to be versatile. If I was obliged to choose I’d go for songs, because in songs you can put in electronic music. But I like to make instrumental tracks and to find good energy for the clubs.
Skrufff : You were heavily involved in the French house scene of the 90s when it suddenly took off, and today there seems to be lots of talented French producers suddenly emerging, does it feel similar now, is there another wave breaking through?
Alex Gopher : The main difference is that in the 90s the scene was very important in France in terms of producers but at the time the nightlife scene in Paris was a disaster. The people who were making the music weren’t the same people who were going to the clubs then. Things have changed now and the producers are in the clubs and they’re close to the promoters who are organising parties. That’s the main difference; the producer scene is much more directly linked with the club scene. Perhaps that’s why there is less commercial music coming from France. The music is made a little less for the radio and more for the clubs. The music in France at the end of the 90s was changing and when the producers understood that they needed to find a link with the clubs and clubbers, the music got better again.
Skrufff : Are you recognised the same in France as elsewhere?
Alex Gopher : It’s quite different. When I had my first period of success it was quite overground with my music being on the radio and me on TV so my audience was more mainstream them. But those people have mainly forgot me- it was a long time ago- and now I’m going back to the club scene where some of the young clubbers view me as an old school French house producer. I’m here to prove that I’m not only living in the past (laughing). It’s true that in England and Germany people believe in us more than in France where people are still thinking of us as old producers.
Skrufff : Do you still play much house music; do you like it?
Alex Gopher : I play more electro. There’s much more interesting production in electro than house music now.
Skrufff : Looking back on your earlier house music records, do you see them as still having a life, I’m curious whether you consider dance music as disposable?
Alex Gopher : I was listening to my first album just the other day after not playing it for ages and I was very proud of it. Perhaps when you do an EP for clubs it’s music that’s for one moment and one period because the trends and the sounds in clubs is changing every month. Sometimes if you’re making real club hits then a track like that will survive and become a classic but it’s not every time like that. But when you listen to lots of club tracks, say one or two years later, you recognise the sound of the time and sometimes it can be old fashioned.
Skrufff : Are you still friends with French band Air?
Alex Gopher : Of course, I just mastered Jean Benoit’s album, he’s doing a solo album. I was a mastering engineer and I still do it sometimes. I’m also a good friend of theirs.
Skrufff : Are French electronic producers generally all friends, are you all one big happy family?
Alex Gopher : Not really, it’s more like lots of small families with cousins linking each family. My family is Etienne de Crecy because we share the same label Solid and have studios next door, and Air because they are old friends from school. They are my really close family and after that I’m friends with Motorbass and Cassius, and people from the label Kitsune, I’m going to release an EP for them at the end of summer. This is a new link in the family.
Skrufff : Why have you called this EP Spam, is it as Monty Python or internet reference?
Alex Gopher : It’s from the internet, I was talking to Etienne about the track ‘Big Is Better’ and he said it sounds like the title of one of those spam emails.
Skrufff : Paul Oakenfold talked about falling off the stage once when performing, have you had any similar odd moments when performing?
Alex Gopher : In LA during my first DJ tour for my first album I was playing with a friend in a club in LA and half an hour into my set two girls came in the DJ booth and they tried to undress us and they tried to, er, make some indecent actions. But the funny thing was that they were accompanied by two cameramen It was very difficult to say no because they were very pretty but I knew that if something happened it would end up all over the internet. It was typically American. I said to the girls, ‘I’m sorry, but me and my friend, we are gay’. They left.
Skrufff : Have you had any problems travelling?
Alex Gopher : Of course we’ve had luggage troubles from time to time, we had to cancel a Superdiscount gig in Dublin recently because the equipment never arrived. So Etienne had to do a DJ set, which was good, but that’s not as good as the live show.
End of the interview
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