Songs Within the Sounds. Interview w/ Yuksek

photography by Quentin De Briey

“I admit, mentally, I needed to get away from the new just-for-the-sake-of-being-new trappings of dancefloor culture. The saturated synth noises, the crunching beats or distorted mayhem; these songs asked for different things, like melody, for instance!” – Yuksek, Pierre Busson

French music maven, Yuksek, serves up new sounds in his latest work, Living On The Edge Of Time. And with his new work he alters his direction from electro DJ spin-sensation to full-blown singer-songwriter. With his ear to the dance floor, Yuksek, aka Pierre-Alexander Busson, collects the energy and the movement within sound club capitals to channel a new mood by strengthening his vocals and leaving a few plugg-ins behind. Though synths and chords are still an integral part of his product, Busson is more attuned with the musical impact it leaves on listeners, not restricted to serving the moment (like 3:30 am on a Saturday in an overstocked warehouse).

From a long hall in Sydney to a corner in Moscow, or a studio off the Seine, Pierre has lived the ins and outs of the industry’s epitomized version of an all-star club DJ. And although it has lead him down new music rues, the sound blaster still holds tight to his roots in grooving a crowd and bouncing venues. But this go around he’s pleasing new ears on a mission to perfect the sound of communication beyond pulse and beat, past the crowded headspace of clubbers and into the micro-music thinker who is actually paying attention to what he hears. The electro-pop rock flavor of Yuksek, delves into “an affinity to artists such as David Bowie, Gary Numan and The Cure, but also a devoted love for Lou Reed circa ‘Transformer’, Serge Gainsbourg, early West Coast-rap and the Warp label.” And traces of classic rock to electro-emo, seep through his other tracks, On A Train, and Always On The Run. An extension of his recent music video for Off The Wall, flies into some hot spots with his long time pal Brodinski, who spins a tasteful hip-swing to the pop piece. “The synths are still there, but now they are serving the song, and much less the DJ”

We caught up with Monsieur Busson before his San Francisco debut at Mezzanine to extract some insight on what keeps him moving and building fresh music. In an up-close interview below, the suave sound icon laces up for his tour and unravels his roots in music and edge for creating buzz. If you missed him in SF, catch his next appearances here. Or, grab  a piece of him in his tour trailer on YouTube and music samples below + on soundcloud >>

photography by Quentin de Briey | courtesy of Girlie Action

AG: Living On The Edge of Time came to fruition after being wired with electronics and searching out the “song” of music today. How much of your audience (cultural and social) response to your work prior to this album was influential in exploring a new direction? And how crucial do you feel the role of music is within social and cultural growth today?

PB: Music has always been central in culture. I was really into skateboard as a teenager and music was really part of it! That was my vector to discover punk-rock, West Coast hip-hop on videos… for my album I don’t really feel like exploring a new direction, and I don’t have a real view of my career… I just spend most of my time in my studio or at home in my “musical room” writing songs or experimenting things on instruments and the result of it is songs, instrumental, musical pieces and some of them are chosen to feature on an album. It’s easy like this!

AG: Has media influenced the way you approach your music over the years of musical work you have produced?

PB: I don’t feel the influence of media on my music, but “Yuksek” as a musical project grew up with the first blogs that posted my remixes and tracks, it was a part of the success for why I played everywhere so quickly, in Australia for example, without even having a label!

AG: What were some of your greatest challenges breaking into music and locking into a direction?

photo courtesy of Girlie Action

PB: I started music so early (age 6) that I never really thought of doing anything else in my life. It was the easiest choice for me, being a banker would have been much more complicated for me.

AG: From where do you draw your artistic inspiration for sound appeal and are there other so-called categories of music you see yourself exploring? 

PB: I always loved many genres of music, I practiced classical piano during 10 years at the french “conservatoire”, then I had many different non-professional college musical experiences (rock + pop band), but I was listening to American hip-hop at the same time and I discovered electronic music around age 20. Music is something global for me, and I like to use electronic tricks and instruments to make pop songs (for example).

AG: What keeps you going in an industry saturated with indie bands, and what do you feel sets your music apart from the pop-rock scene?

PB: I don’t ask myself that kind of question…I don’t want to think about it! I think my background is my force, I like to write dancey/pop songs with electric, electronic and acoustic sounds and I grew up with classical music, so maybe it created my musical personality.

AG: Where were you when you first heard your work on the radio (or have you yet?!) and what was that like if so?

PB: I think I was driving my car and I was really surprised but I’m not a “#1 radio hit” maker, the first single of each record had serious airplays but not massive, not 100 times a day…

photo courtesy of Girlie Action

PB: I think we’re not in a period of interesting messages in music… Even most of hip-hop artists are not really concerned by society, but music has always been more a feeling than a message. I never really liked music with messaging saying you have to cry now, or fight for your rights or whatever – I prefer storytelling or poetry, and also instrumental music with more emotion than that of lyrics. With my music, I write little stories, and I try to make music with the word. If one day I decide to send serious messages to the world, I’ll write it in French of course.

AG: Can you speak of you view on the music scene in France (Paris) today and how it has changed over the years? And what you feel sets it apart from perhaps Berlin, London, New York, Los Angeles music circles?

PB: Honestly I don’t know, I’m not in the center of the Parisian scene, I leave in a little city called Reims (the place of Champagne) and have contact with the Parisian scene when we play together abroad most of the time… except for my close friends or label mates. I think the main difference between Paris and the other cities you mentioned is the fact that Paris has few interesting, cheap and trendy new neighborhoods like Berlin or New York’s Brooklyn for example. Paris is really closed, expansive, and really conservative in a way, it’s really about history, fashion… not so fresh. But I do like it in a way.

AG: How has it been collaborating with Brodinski, and working with his intensity as a DJ?

PB: It was fun, he is a really nice guy and in a way he grew up in my studio where we produced his first remixes and tracks. I love his energy, and he is a really talented dj and entertainer!

AG: What are you most excited about with the release of Living On The Edge of Time?

PB: I’m really happy that the album release is now in the US – We had a bad experience with the first one and I was so frustrated that I didn’t even wanted to come to play. But finally, with this release we have come for four great shows in NY (for CMJ) and we’ll be playing some shows from the 23rd of March. I was supposed to play at SXSW but I had serious health problems so we had to postpone.

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About Angela Gleason

visual designer | writer | pianist in the basement | painter in the night | fashion critic | lush | Italian savant check me out: www.taxisandwalnuts.com