LWE Podcast 179: Anaxander

PODCAST-179-1

Up until a little over a year ago, Anaxander was, to many, an ancient Spartan king about whom little is really known. However, in more recent history, Anaxander is the name of a French producer residing in Marseille, or as he affectionately terms it, “the dirty south” of France. His releases on labels like Local Talk, Love What You Feel, and his own Got2go Records show all the hallmarks of an experienced hand. Indeed his select brand of deep house, acid and techno is not the first excursion for the producer, but since adopting the Anaxander guise he seems to have really hit his stride. His tracks are increasingly in demand, while his Got2go label and newer imprint Point Of No Return are home to music from his like-minded contemporaries. LWE caught up with Anaxander to talk about his production methods, his penchant for the little silver box, and to find out where it all began for him. Not only did he grace us with a solid hour of house and techno for our 179th exclusive podcast, but he also kindly made a new track especially for us to give away with this feature — what a guy!

Download LWE Podcast 179: Anaxander (65:35)

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Tracklist:

01. Kyle Hall, “Fuse N Me” [Wild Oats]
02. DJ Sprinkles, “Kissing Costs Extra” [Kolour LTD]
03. Saint Germain, “Percussion” [F Communications]
04. Bridge & Tunnel Kids, “Omnii” (W. Burns Remix) [Echovolt Records]
05. Angora, “Enchantment” (Original Vox) (Underwater) [Prescription]
06. The Gherkin Jerks, “Space Dance” [Gherkin Records]
07. Delroy Edwards, “The Fast Lane” [L.I.E.S]
08. Funkinevil, “In The Grid” [Wild Oats]
09. Steven Tang, “Heat Burst” [Smallville]
10. Innerspace Halflife, “Outer Path” [Finale Sessions]
11. The Parking Attendant, “Mask Of A Thousand Faces” [Creme Organization]
12. Jason Fine, “Bang” [Love What You Feel]
13. Omar-S, “U” [FXHE]
14. Steven Tang, “Disconnect To Connect” [Smallville]
15. Santiago Salazar, “Espacio Profundo” [Love What You Feel]

So you first appeared as Anaxander on an artist sampler for Love What You Feel records. How did this come about? Did you know Thomas already before this?

Anaxander: I didn’t know Thomas before. I was seeking a cool home for “Moons Of Jupiter” and a few others. I sent the tracks to very few labels; but at the same time, I heard Disco Nihilist’s record on LWYF, so I focused on Noleian Reusse’s LWYF-001 and it was enough for me to try to convince the label to listen to my stuff and get me into the family. When I finally received positive feedback, I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I really couldn’t, I read the email several times and stuff like that. At the same time I got another positive answer for the same tune by another very good label. I am not sure they knew that part of the story though. So yes, it began with LWYF-003 together with Disco Nihilist (crazy story, huh?) Kevin Reynolds, and PTA!

You had some previous releases under different names though didn’t you? Will you continue to use these other aliases?

True. I don’t know yet if I will use those names again but I still continue to use several “avatars” for my music, I have to be schizophrenic, a bit!

You are also recording as John Red Hawk. Where does this name come from and what is the distinction between that material and your tracks as Anaxander?

Well, I love the rhythm of the three words together and how it sounds. I have always felt concerned by the Indian American nation since my childhood. I’ve been fascinated by them and their history and the way they lived in harmony with nature. John Red Hawk is the musical personification of this, I guess.

About the differences musically speaking; primarily the music I make for the Anaxander project is more arranged and much more edited. A John Red Hawk track would very often be a “one take” hardware jam, with no editing and no arranging — but it’s not always true. The Local Talking EP and the Aniseed Lollipop EP are under Anaxander and they both include non edited jams, for example. The boundaries are quite blurred sometimes, even for me. It is also about the global ambiance of the track — I can feel it, but I think I can’t really explain why this would be this or that name, you know…

I understand that you grew up in the north of France but you are now based in Marseille. Where were you living when you started getting into music and how were you hearing new music at that time?

I was living near Lille, in the region called “North.” My family is big. I’ve got a lot of sisters and brothers. I am the youngest of the siblings, so I have literally been immersed into a very eclectic environment. It was a good surrounding for the curious child I was.

At the end of the 80s I used to go to the Loft Club near Lille, it was one of the only French clubs around my home that played new wave, krautrock, AB, ska, new beat, and a bit later some acid house, techno and house music with absolutely no romantic slow music breaks (well, old story, isn’t it?)! So we used to start there and then to go to Belgium where the club culture was absolutely killing it. My favorite place from that period was the Club 55 (owned by Peter 55, the man behind Fuse in Brussels) in Kuurne, Belgium. When I think about that club my heart pushes a smile on to my face. Later in the middle 90’s (’94) I worked in a record shop (Music Line in Lille) for a while and as I already had a small collection of records, I started to DJ. I then used to go to London quite often and bought records there.

You have two labels of your own: Got2go Records and Point of No Return. Got2go is your first label. Can you tell us a bit about why you set up the label and what the difference is between that and your new one, Point of No Return.

After being a DJ for almost 15 years (I stopped around 2008), I was seeking a way to be more involved in house culture. I made a few tracks that my people said I should release by myself. So instead of being passive and wait for some labels’ words, which is probably the more frustrating thing when you start something, I decided to launch a label and see what happen. After the first release, I thought that Got2Go will be devoted to various artists (the Four Seasons series), so later, I launched a new label to release full EPs or LPs and more specific stuff, PONR music. The very first release is a powerful meeting between two UK based producers I have had an eye on for a while, Perseus Traxx and Mantra. Together they are Nite Vision, you probably remember their splendid album, Now Is The Time on Boe Recordings. They wrote a fantastic four track EP in their particular vision of Chicago house. Very beautiful.

I notice that you haven’t remixed anyone’s tracks. Is this a conscious decision, to focus more on your own productions or has the opportunity just not come about?

With Anaxander I did one remix for DyLAB’s Acid Pass One on Council House Recordings and that’s it. I have received a few propositions, I declined some of them and we are brainstorming about the others. So yes, it’s a question of opportunity but also the project itself, and a few other things.

How do you generally work in the studio? Do you jam out your tracks and record or meticulously sequence and refine them?

I start with playing some melodies and writing/recording the individuals parts. After that I jam them out and when I have a precise idea of what I want, I start to record the jamming. Depending on what project it is for, I can spend a lot of time to edit, refine and rearrange the result or not at all. On a PC-based composition, I use Launchpad to jam the parts out and record them before focusing in on things. I very often add some midi synth parts, arpeggios, melodic lines and stuff to polish the ambiance after the main structure of the song is recorded. I go more deeply into the track as the software sequencer allows me to.

To record from the hardware machines and the MPC sequencer, I plug the left/right outputs of the mixer into an old Edirol DA24/96 into an audio editor. I only record the LR outputs in one stereo file. So no editing is possible except on the wave file itself. A lot of my tracks from the real machines are not even saved as project; I simply forget to save the MPC sequence, and so most of the tracks can’t be remixed or edited because they only exist in the form of a wave file.

What are some of your favorite/most important pieces of gear in your studio?

The heart of it is the MPC 1000. Mine is quite old and has got a lot of bugs but I love to play with it. For the synths the DSI Mopho keyboard, the Korg M1 rack, the Alpha Juno II and the x0xb0x are my favorites at my place. I have no dynamic processing except an old Bluemax that I rarely use. I’ve got a couple of good pedals that I use quite a lot and a multi FX module by Boss that gives me 100% satisfaction. I can’t forget the patch bay in the important stuff list — it’s the cheapest piece of gear I own, but it’s the “transmission room” of the all sound paths.

What can you tell us about the mix that you’ve put together for us?

I put together some rough tracks with some deeper ones and mixed the styles. I like that cold/hot thing when it comes to a podcast or radio mix of house music. I very often imagine myself in a train or a plane or a party at some friend’s place with the kitchen full of people speaking and the main room of people dancing, and ask myself what I would like to listen to for house. Technically speaking, it’s a bit rough; I picked out some records of my collection and started mixing them. It surely has some mistakes, especially with tones here and there. I hope the result is pleasant to listen to.

What can we expect from Anaxander and your labels over the next year?

About the labels: Got2Go’s schedule is quite full for several months, if not a year with the Four Seasons family that is growing and I am proud of it. Point Of No Return is on the same road. The next Four Seasons brings Kat Channel, Ike Release, Elec Pt.1, and Affie Yusuf together and is on the pressing process at the time we speak. Lost In The Sound, who was previously on Four Seasons, will be the next EP for PONR music, the date will be announced later.

And about me as Anaxander: one track on the new Boe’s Halal Prepared Vol.2 out in November this year, a few V.A. and EPs I am very proud about with some labels from America and Europe. I am also preparing two or three records with two parallel projects. Sonically, some Detroit techno, acid and house are being released from next month through to the end of next year.

Can you tell us about the exclusive track that you’ve done for us and do you generally have a lot of tracks that you make that you don’t end up releasing?

I am working on some releases in that kind of direction for a couple of labels, and I thought it would be cool to make a special track for LWE in the same spirit. The track was composed exclusively with software synths and drum machines a few days ago.

Dance music is very fascinating and I want to try a lot of things, so I have a few tracks here and there yes, and a lot are not scheduled for releasing at the moment. I like to offer a track from time to time, on my Facebook profile and my Soundcloud, too. If you don’t want to miss it, just come to visit them sometime.

Thanks a lot for the invitation, love from the dirty south!

Download: Anaxander, “From My Earbuds To My Eardrums”

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