Lazare Hoche: Hot new talent from Paris…

Marcus Barnes

Here’s an introduction to someone who is one of my tips for the future of the ever-fertile French house scene. Lazare Hoche is a young Parisian artist with plenty of ambition, business acumen and, most importantly musical talent. He caught my ear earlier this year with his excellent double 12″ release, ‘I Don’t Sync So Vol. II’. As per usual, I got in touch with him to speak about his past and some of his recent projects. Here’s our chat… and an exclusive mix!

Lazare Hoche Mix For The Independent UK by Lazare Hoche

What’s your earliest memory of house?
As an MTV kid, I think it’s probably Daft Punk and the ‘Revolution 909′ video clip, what a great video clip! Directed by Roman Coppola I think. It’s so rare nowadays to see great dance music videos on TV. During this period, 1996-98, house music was big in France, my older sister was listening to the French station “Radio Nova” and they played a lot of good stuff, DJ Deep was hosting a show on there if my memory is correct.

Which DJs/producers inspired you in the beginning?
The very first is David Moufang (Move D) actually, and also the French producer Ludovic Navarre (St Germain) these are two guys I have admired since I discovered house music.

What is it about those guys that inspired you so much?
Well, they are simply killers. When you take a look Move D’s discography you can just say ‘respect’, he released one of the greatest IDM/ambient/down tempo or whatever you want to call it albums ‘Kunststoff ’ back in 1995. He has a unique point of view and makes a lot of varied stuff. He is still active and doing great today, without being a rock star or following any trends. With regard to St Germain, he is in my opinion one of the best French producers. A track like ‘Thank U Mum’ is one of my all-time favourites. Talking about French producers I can also name drop Gregory Darsa and Thomas Bangalter.

Was music always your dream job?
In some ways yes, because I really wanted to be Michael Jackson when I was a kid.

What else did you dream of doing with your life when you were younger?
Except being Michael Jackson, I really wanted to be a footballer player like most of the French kids, but I was as bad as a shrimp.

Did you have much musical influence from your parents as a youngster?
(Laughs) I just remember that a lot of Lebanese music was playing at home back in the days and also my dad was playing some well known soul anthems in his car and my mom listened to a lot of classical music, and it sounded crazy to me at that time because my hero was Michael Jackson, as you probably noticed, and he still is actually.

Do you think any of the Lebanese music has had any influence on you at all?
(Laughs) I don’t think so. Even if I love Fairuz and Ziad Rahbani among others, I never tried to close my eyes and say, ‘Okay, let’s do a funky Lebanese tune today!’ It could be funny to try it actually. But, speaking about this, you reminded me that my buddy Larry De Kat released a great Middle East Disco track on my label earlier this year, check it out it’s ‘Larry De Kat – Enta Habibi’.

Have you ever visited Lebanon?
The civil war ended when I was two years old, so after that I went every summer to visit my family. I used to spend two months a year back then, so if you compiled all the summers spent there, I lived in Lebanon for more than two years on and off. But lately I don’t go there very often – I heard that some great parties are happening in Beirut, never had the chance to play there. I would love to.

What was life like for you growing in Paris? Which part of the city did you grow up in?
I grew up in the suburb, in a city called Boulogne Billancourt and in a street called… Rue Lazare Hoche. I was a big football fan, and the Paris Saint Germain stadium was just next to my place so I went to every football game my team played. School was not my thing before I went to university but then I really got into studying when I was there actually.

And how about your friends? Did they also listen to house music?
Yes some of them, I met a lot of friends through music over the last few years, but they are not necessarily house nerds, we are open to everything. My best friend produced a great rock/pop album last year and a soundtrack for a French movie and my older brother works on pop and more mellow music based projects. It’s very interesting to speak music with those guys for example, how a six-month recording session with a band and stuff works… And on my label, guys like Larry, Malin, S3A, Samuel and me are really into jazz, hip hop, IDM and all kinds of styles beyond just house.

How did you manage to get the equipment to start producing/DJing?
Well my brother is a professional musician keyboard/lead singer, he already had a studio in his bedroom so I grew up in this environment. Then I started DJ before producing music, I was a turntable nerd back then, I watched a few tutorials to learn how to fix a Technics turntable, restore it and so on. I was really into buying dusty turntables in order to fix them and sell them. I saved enough money to buy some equipment, my first sampler was an Ensoniq-ASR 10, a lovely sampler that I sold few years ago but I’m looking forward to buying it again actually. And yes I am always looking to try new gear and having fun with it – it’s almost like an endless video game. But I don’t only use hardware, I’m making all the final arrangements with a computer and I don’t participate in the “Hardware vs. Software”. And I can tell you, as a label owner, that people can produce amazing tracks with the cheapest gear and some cracked software.

How much of an influence was your brother on your musical journey?
Let’s say, indirectly yes, because he used to play (keyboard and lead singer) in a lot of different groups and he performed a lot of shows in Paris: gospel, reggae, soul, jazz and lately folk and pop. Thanks to him, I grew up with all of this around me, that’s the point - the musical environment - it means records, synths, wires, recording sessions…

When did you decide to start your own label? Did you find it easy to do this?
In 2011, I decided to create my own imprint Lazare Hoche Records… and, well, I did it – just like that I founded the record label with my friends Thomas and Alex, then Nick (Malin) joined us. It’s a very cool output to release music from my friends and I. I have learned a lot while running it, but to be honest running a company in France is not the easiest thing to handle. Yes it’s like work, but it’s still very fun to do, this is what I like so I’m doing it. Sometimes it’s hard to manage studying, running the label, making music and DJing. And yes, good music and the exciting projects have come via the label this year so I’m very excited every week with good news or new ideas and projects coming in, that’s really encouraging. Obviously the electronic music scene is big today, it’s pretty easy to have access to this music, and every day some new guy appears with ideas and stuff and that’s nice actually. But talking about running a label, you have to be a filter, as you can see the Lazare Hoche Records catalogue is quite varied – if you take Larry De Kat EP and the Nimbus Quartet EP you can feel the difference, but it’s not a matter of which “sub-genre of house” am I representing the idea is more building a catalogue with stuff you simply love and this stuff has to reflect your aesthetic. We are creating a new label named ‘Oscillat’, the first release will pop out in January 2014, and I’m deeply crazy about this project also.

There’s a strong feeling of ‘old school house’ in some of your music, what inspires this sound?
Well, yes maybe. But as you can hear on ‘I Don’t Sync So Vol.II’ there is less ‘old school’ inspiration than there is on the first one. A lot of old school joints really inspired me and it’s very hard to beat them but I’m not stuck in the past either. I’m playing lot of new stuff when I’m DJing. Actually, here is an example, the forthcoming release on my label is Nimbus Quartet – ‘Later Lover’ EP, these tracks were originally released in 1995 on Sounds (USA), they are 20 years old and they still sound modern actually, so yes it’s old because it’s 20 years of age but I wouldn’t say it’s “old school house”. So many records with different vibes in them have inspired me, now the trick is to make your own using all those influences and interpretations that got you into this music.

Tell me more about the Nimbus Quartet EP?
A friend from Amsterdam, Bobby Andrews, helped us discover those tracks. I was amazed. Behind the name Nimbus Quartet you have: Woody McBride and Dave Stevens. Woody runs a legend label called Communique and this label has more than five sub-labels, and Sounds (where the tracks for the LHR06 were originally released) is one of them. I must admit that reissues are not really something we aimed to do with Lazare Hoche Records but in some cases like Nimbus Quartet I was just crazy about it and I’m just as excited as if it was my own release. The original records are quite expensive and rare so I’m happy to give it a second life, simply because it’s great music.

When I say old school… I mean, it has a more ‘traditional’ feel to it than a lot of the more contemporary styles of house. Which of today’s artists are you really feeling?
Okay, maybe more traditional in the way that I’m using some old drum machines and synths to produce along side modern effects and software. Since we have great software, you can really tweak the sound to make it interesting and personal, then you can sample the shrimp out of it in a sampler and play with it, it’s very cool to use these traditional methods mixed with the contemporary feeling, as you said. These machines are great fun they are very simple, very straight to the point, so a quick jam can be something, just push record and see what happens. I’m feeling first all the artist signed to my label of course, but I also like Fred P, Makam and Floating points to name a few…

Tell me about your album, ‘I Don’t Sync So Vol II’…
‘I Don’t Sync So’ is the name of the collaboration series between Malin Génie and myself. We made the first one more than a year ago now, and the second one just popped up in the stores in September. It’s an eight-track album, and it’s very healthy. ‘I Don’t Sync So Vol.II’ was recorded between Christmas 2012 and July 2013, Malin traveled to my place in Paris several times for recording session and eating some terrible junk food. But it was fun, we ate the same bagel constantly during all the recording sessions. During this period we met Samuel André Madsen, a great Danish producer and DJ, he had some great ideas so we decided to collaborate with him and form the “Mandar” project, the last two tracks of the album ‘Fouad’ and ‘St Eustache’ are the result. On the first “I Don’t Sync So” we had the track ‘Pressure Baby’, on which you can hear the great talented singer: Mar (from Full Crate and Mar) – he also features on the track ‘Follow’ on IDSS2. People have shown some great support for this one, we are happy that it went well. It was quite a risk to release a double 12″, but it was worth it.

What are your plans for 2014?
More music, I’m working on a lot of things. Some solo EP projects and also music for my side project Mandar, the production trio comprised Samuel André Madsen, Malin Genie and myself. We will drop two EPs in the first few months of 2014 as Mandar. I’m also working on the new label I mentioned, called Oscillat, which is for more dubby stuff… And of course Lazare Hoche Records is still doing great and there’s a lot of cool stuff going on with that, I’m very excited to see it all evolve.

For more information on Lazare Hoche Records, click here.

Marcus Barnes’ first book Around The World In 80 Raves is out now, pick it up here

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