Interview with LA PESTE
LA PESTE, owner of the Hangars Liquides record label, is an electronic music composer/producer who's works comprise of experimental sounds with Hardcore-esque elements. A true musical artist, La Peste defines his work as 'Flashcore', opting for his own brand of noise which he releases through his Hangers Liquides label in France. With his recent performance in Glasgow casuing such a stir we tracked him down to ask the man a few questions on what it is that he does so well....
1. So La Peste, how long have you been making music for and where did this fascination for experimental sounds come from?
As a child I was singing to myself kind of 'violent' ritournelles inspired by the Atlantic ocean, war aircrafts, or thunderstorms. I followed the Conservative courses, but it ended in depressing me by realizing it'd take so many years to have an orchestra playing my imaginary works. With the democratization of electronic music in the early 90's, I realised I could hear the soundscapes I dreamt of with no intermediaries, and this was a true revelation. By the end of 1996, my 1 Gb macintosh hard drive was mostly occupied by files generated on sound edit... But my very first solo published track was released two years later. I am fascinated by unexpected sounds, since I believe the only way to reach a contemplative state is to feel detached from the object of our thoughts. If something is integrated by our representation schemes, however, we cannot freely let our mind fly. That's what happens when you hear a voice in a track, if you're high - you can't stay.
2. You've been quite bold in your choice of musical direction by tackling the often discredited styles of Hardcore and Experimental Electronica, what is it about this kind of music that appeals to you?
There is a word used to describe sounds from which you cannot tell where they come from : acousmatique. To me it's like the gravitationnal force of a black hole, there are no lights at all around it, and I am attracted into it, absorbed by the energy of the unknown.
3. Do you feel an attachment to the European Hardcore scene or would you regard yourself as more of an experimental artist?
I feel european, from a socio-historico-psychanalogical standpoint, but that's all, I have nothing to do with the "European Hardcore scene". What does this mean ? I don't know. Two weeks ago I was told that sometimes in the UK, Hardcore refers to something I'd personnaly call fast dance. In France, what they call Hardcore has become a big fluffy cheesy gabberised shit, with pseudo dark (very funny imo) anthems. 10 years ago I remembered moments during parties where people were wondering what the fuck was happening to them, because of the audio waves reaching their virgin souls, it was then used to say : "that's hardcore". Now this word is overused, as is breakcore btw, it refers to anything that is supposed to be harder than something else (?). This is well too vague for describing things. The word experimental is generally used to qualify a scientific procedure, I'm not in a computer science student approach. Call it avant-garde or anything else, it is an artistic CHOICE - even if the sound results are sometimes far out of my expectations. As a live musician or a composer, each second I must wonder what is my intention.
4. I'm sure many people ask you this but could you maybe explain to us what is 'Flashcore', and what would you like people to take away from your particular brand of music?
Flashcore is the name I'd give to a sound art that relies on the computer’s increasing speed to go beyond the idea of musicality with the ambition of moving air molecules to widen the field of consciousness. Music is thought as a mental/spatial experience, experimenting the possibilty to travel multidimensionnally, opening or closing spaces which do not necessarily fit with an euclidean representation. Also, whilst the aesthetics of power electronics or sound installations rarely integrate the time factor, duration is an essential dimension in flashcore. I tried to tell it with my words at the HL website opening page. I believe the Universe itself is a miracle, there could have been nothing instead. Being astonished by the infinite complexity of the universe is, to me, the best way not to fear death. I want the music I release to celebrate the beauty of that complexity. If it works on people, then I am really happy. Flashcore is made to be wasted.
5. Your label, Hangars Liquides, has made quite an impression on people around the globe, where would you like the label to progress in the next few years?
Horizon is too wide and complex that it would lead to mistakes to follow one only direction. HL has not any marketing plan.
6. Are there any producers/labels that are impressing you just now?
My masters are : François Bayle, Bernard Parmegiani, Iannis Xenakis, György Ligeti...
7. What's your opinion on the European Hardcore, or at least the Speedcore, scene at the moment?
To my ears, most speedcore is definitively too basic. I'm not interested either into pseudo-arty broken bits. It's a pitty when the audience is getting trapped into poor music sequences.
8. Your performance the other week at The Big Joint here in Glasgow was (IMO) amazing. How important is performing live to you and what do you use for your sets (hardware/software I mean)?
Live is essential to me when comes a moment music is broadcast on a big sound system, with people gathering to celebrate the emergency of life. At that specific time, I think it's a an imposture to "play" something pre-programmed. I feel it as an existential obligation to give a real live performance. To do so, I use Ableton's live that I configure so that it allows me to really play it, as a meta-patch packed with audio and midi data feeding customised plug-ins and virtual synths. I like to use flexible softs, such as bidule, which allow me to have a tweakable matrix with extensive modulation capacities. I spend quite a lot of time designing patches to turn my live set into an instrument I can 'fly' with the ambition of going at the place I dream of at specific moment in time. Everything fits in a powerbook, a firewire audio interface and 2 usb controllers. I have never brought kyma on stage, but I plan to do so at the end of the summer.
9. I hear you're staying/working in Glasgow at the moment, how are you finding life in Scotland? What do you think about the electronic music scene here?
I was in Fort William in fact. I wished I could have had time to at least climb the Ben Nevis, but I did not. When travelling from there to Glasgow by train, I discovered how beautiful those landscapes are. I would really like to come back and play at an open-air concert in the Highlands! I've seen much more of Loch Line's marine life than the pubs, in fact I can't tell you much more... I expected the weather to be much colder, in fact I found it quite warm to be honest, in comparision to a winter in the Pyrennees - where I live. I have no idea about the Scottish electronic music scene, I guessed it's mainly a club scene, isn't it ?
10. Have you tried Buckfast yet?
I did not !
Big thanks to Monseuir La Peste for taking time out to answer my Q's ;) For more information on La Peste you can visit his label's website @ www.hangars-liquides.com
Interview by Flood, March 2006
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