John Talabot: I could go three days without leaving the house
They say that house is a feeling. To John Talabot, however, it is many. Over the past two years, the Barcelona based producer has assembled a number of loopy, sample heavy and effusive house productions for labels like Munich’s Permanent Vacation, as well as his own boutique outlet, Hivern Discs. They are tracks that take cues from all over but pay homage to no one scene or sound in particular: they aren’t deep house, they aren’t underground pop, they aren’t futuristic nor revivalist, but somehow Talabot’s sounds tick all those boxes (and more) simultaneously.
February will see the release of the mysterious man’s debut full length, ƒin. It’s a frayed collage of rough-edged samples and dishevelled late-night beats that wallows at times, soars at others, all the while dealing in a very palpable sense of human emotion. The most inventive and resonant house album since John Roberts’ 2010 master class Glass Eights, ƒin is the work of a real sonic craftsmen.
How do you feel about the album now it’s done and dusted? Did you enjoy the process looking back?
At the beginning I enjoyed it but later I started getting a bit stressed about it. I was working at home all the time, waking up, working at home, having lunch, continuing to work… Maybe I could go three days without leaving the house and I was not used to it. There is a moment at the end that I was unable to make more music, I was tired and I felt I was going mad because I was having conversations with myself of what was good or not in the album while I was listening to it. So I decided to leave before it got worse.
Did you have a plan for the whole thing from the start, or was it more trial and error?
Well it’s been my first album. I knew approximately what I wanted but not sure how to make it. I knew that I didn’t want just a house or club album, and I knew that I needed to make all new tracks. After that, it was a process of creating the tunes, sometimes baring in mind their function in the tracklist overall and making sure they add the vibe I wanted to the album.
You’ve mentioned before the album is dark – what about it is dark to you? Was it a conscious thing to make it that way or is it just how it comes out?
I want to make an album more relaxed, more plain, without many highlights or any tracks that could get more attention by themselves than the full album, and I wanted to have a more intimate sound, more introspective, more dense, a way of defining all these is with the‘dark’ word. There are some kinds of feelings you only get with those [dark] kind of melodies or vibes.
Where and when was it written? Does your environment have an effect on the sounds you make, do you think?
It was written over the last year in my home studio. I think it had an effect yes. Not sure if positive or negative but it had one. Being so focusedon something in the same place you live and sleep can be hard because it’s difficult to separate your work and life and it gave the impression you have to be 24 hour receptive for a big idea. That kind of pressure maybe is part of the result, but I can’t say now. I need a bit more of perspective.
I read you tried to be more careful with sampling so Permanent Vacation didn’t get in trouble – did that effect the way you had to do things at all?
Not at all. I’ve been used to working with samples and when you work with them the production process is always the same, so I wanted to change my process a bit and challenge myself to make some new things or ideas I always wanted to develop. I think that an album is a perfect excuse for developing the kind of things you can’t in a 12”, and I’m quite happy with the decision I made.
Do you think there is an end point for this moniker?
It will end when I can’t do anything else which I am proud of. At the moment my moniker is the one that can best define the things I like, and it’s a moniker that allows me to do lots of things I want and I feel comfortable with that. I can make a house 12” and later a pop song. It’s always me and it hasn’t been easy for me to find that.
It’s called ƒin because it was the word that best describes that moment that you shut down the computer and say, “I’m done, I have to finish this because if not I won’t be able to do other things I want”. Fin is that solid word.
Are you someone who creatively dashes things off rough and ready and then leaves it, or someone who meticulously works on every tiny detail? It’s hard to tell from the album…
It depends, some tunes on the album were fast, made like in a few days, and others took three months. After having all the tracks clear there was a huge process of treating every sound to get the vibe I wanted, that was a really interesting point, because I wanted an album that didn’t sound too specific, an album that you couldn’t set in a concrete time or age. I don’t think ƒin sounds like 2012 or too current, but neither is it too aged either. It’s sounds just like a mixture of 70’s 80’s and 90’s music.
Where now, what’s next for you?
At the moment I would like to prepare carefully the live show. Electronic live shows are not easy to bring on a stage with a good looking result, so that’s what I am trying with my friend Pional who will be with me on the tour. I’m just pretty excited about having some kind of band and about travelling with someone else. Sometimes it’s hard to always travel alone.Tagged in: House, John Talabot, music
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