Filed under: Interview
“English people are treated like children, everything closes at 2am or whenever and then they all have to go to bed. You also can’t go and see porn movies in the UK. You are too young. Somebody’s decided ‘you don’t have the right to see porn movies’. UK people are a little like children.”
Chatting down the line from his Paris headquarters, Kitsune chief Gildas laughs as ponders the differences between the English and the French.
“The UK is like an Easyjet country, you have to go to the bar and ask for your drink, yourself and you have to collect your own plate. That’s happening more and more in the UK, if you want something more you have to pay extra. And do everything yourself. There is no service.”
The topic’s arisen in response to a question about new illness Paris Syndrome, a condition which affects 20 odd Japanese tourist each year who become traumatised by rude shop assistants. As Gildas points out, shop assistants are rude to French people too, as are waiters, taxi drivers and anyone else involved in service industry jobs.
“People here don’t understand this situation of being at people’s service, even though they could make more money if they were servile,” he says, “French people have this pride thing.”
As well as chatting about cultural differences, Gildas is talking to Skrufff today to promote his label’s hugely hyped compilation Kitsune Maison 3, an unmixed selection of tracks from upcoming bands including Digitalism, Klaxons, Simian Mobile Disco, Fox N wolf and Gossip. Earning plaudits from DJ mag (‘painfully hip’), the Telegraph (‘truly hip’) and the BBC (‘fiendishly hip’) the collection sits squarely on the new rave/ rock/ dance crossover of the moment, a place Gildas is delighted to occupy.
“Some people see commercial as bad and making money as not good, but that’s not my stance at all,” he explains.
“I believe that you can be poppy and commercial and sell records while still doing quality projects. You don’t need to wear a hood and stay in the cave and play music to five people to be talented.”
That Gildas knows about poppy crossover quality projects is not in doubt, given his parallel career looking after France’s greatest musical export ever, Daft Punk. Alongside Ed Banger’s Pedro Winter, he continues to manage their affairs some ten years after first hooked up with the then unknown reclusive duo. Today though, his focus is on Kitsune.
Interview & Introduction by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff) : The new compilation is called Kitsune Maison, how much is that intended as a reference to house music?
Gildas: The Maison is more linked to the fact that we are working more and more towards becoming a proper label, to be like a home for proper artists. Kitsune started doing just compilation albums such as Kitsune Love then we did Kitsune Midnight which involved us licensing tracks from artists we loved. Then we gradually started asking artists to make us special tracks and step by step the CDs worked quite well so we started releasing vinyl. Then at one point we thought it would be fun to do a proper label and we were also more confident about doing it. Having a proper label involves signing bands and developing artists which is a full time job. You tell an artist ‘we’re going to take all your rights and we’re going to make you’re big so you sell records and make a living with your music’, which is a big responsibility to take on. Now the press start to know us more, we also believe in our taste, we’ve seen works from some of the artists we’ve had on earlier compilations such as Wolfmother and Hot Chip or Digitalism. We’ve gone for artists with more crossover potential in a way.
Skrufff : Is it just you choosing which records you release?
Gildas: Yes, just me.
Skrufff : How are you selecting them?
Gildas: There are many different reasons with the first ones being that I like the artists and I like their music. That’s obvious of course, but after there are many factors. For Maison 3 for example the idea was to have a more, er, commercial, selection. For some people commercial is a bad word but for me, it’s not. I wanted music that was more poppy with songs. That’s what we were looking for- proper tracks.
Skrufff : Are you still producing music with Daft Punk?
Gildas: I’ve been working with Daft Punk for ten years and still do, I take care of their production company here in Paris and do a lot of day to day tasks for the company. Kitsune is a side project and is really my label.
Skrufff : Daft Punk’s manager Pedro Winter talked about the difference in Kitsune `and Ed Banger in an interview with Stylus Magazine and said ‘I don’t think we’re doing the same kind of music, I’m pushing new young French artists, Kitsune feeds the big clubs and sells lots of records’, seems quite a harsh quote, are you two in direct competition?
Gildas: Ah yes, that’s what I was talking about earlier, about people seeing commercial as bad, making money is not good. That’s not my stance at all, I believe that you be poppy and commercial and sell records while still doing quality projects. You don’t need to wear a hood and stay in the cave and play music to five people to be talented. Ed Banger are not like that anymore anyway, because they’ve got Justice (chuckling). They’ve got people following them.
Skrufff : Are you still friends with Pedro?
Gildas: Yes of course, we are still working together on Daft Punk. We are not agreeing on everything but that’s fine. Ed Banger and Kitsune are two different views of things, which I think is interesting from the outside. Pedro’s developing artists and trends whereas I’m tending to do more compilations and putting out one-off singles.
Skrufff : Is France going through a particularly creative period right now?
Gildas: No I don’t I think so, I believe we’ve always been in a creative period and two years ago I was reading an article in FACT magazine about how France was thriving, talking about the new French revolution and the new French sound. Then last April I read another article about the new French sound, I think there’s always been good music being produced here, it’s just about media exposure at the end of the day, it seems like there are cyles, particularly in the UK, Six or seven years ago there was Britpop for example, which the majors were focused on but there were always good producers in France.
Skrufff : Why do you think France has never developed a mainstream club scene like the UK or Germany?
Gildas: It’s a pity but apart from Paris it’s true that if you go to Montpelier or Toulouse or Nantes there aren’t any big established clubs of the kind you find in Leeds or Liverpool or Frankfurt or Munich but I don’t know why. I really don’t know, I’ve often thought about it but have never come up with an explanation.
Skrufff : Do you find Kitsune music is more appreciated outside France?
Gildas: We’re doing 95% of our business outside of France. And outside of Paris we’re not really selling any records.
Skrufff : You’re not releasing any minimal records are you?
Gildas: No, I don’t like minimal. I’ve never understood it and I think it’s really quite boring but it’s a question of personal taste. I’m not against anything as such. I think it’s a cycle. I heard minimal is starting to work in the UK more and more. We like some tracks from time to time, that’s it.
Skrufff : A recent review of Switch suggested he’s bringing back hip-house, do you see that as a new separate trend, or new rave?
Gildas: I think new rave is being driven by a new wave of kids who are 14 or 15 years old, who are discovering these old tracks from the 90s, such as the KLF or Belgium rave and I think it’s good. I think it’s definitely a scene though I can’t see where it’s going to go. The Klaxons are very interesting, they’re mixing UK punk with UK happy hardcore and that’s a new style, though at the same time it’s really poppy, with proper songs.
Skrufff : Of all the bands on the compilation, can any of them become as big as Daft Punk?
Gildas: The market is really difficult and different now. Maybe the Klaxons could be as big but maybe only in the UK.
Skrufff : What about Digitalism?
Gildas: Err, I hope so! Definitely. We also have to see whether their album has the same crossover potential that Daft Punk has got. One More Time is really a combination of different things. Also we’re in different times now, everything is moving so quickly so there’s less time to develop bands, it’s much more difficult. But why not it’s been a long time since there have been bands like the Chemical Brothers or Basement Jaxx emerging and we’ve seen from the festivals that they want new electronic bands. Digitalism will be successful live for sure, because there’s a lot of demand from festivals who want new names on their electronic stages. Digitalism have already played some big festivals after releasing just two or three records, which would have been impossible before.
End of the interview
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