Basile3: contemplative club ballades and dystopian pop sensibility
A few weeks ago, one of the most brilliant and confidential projects of the French electronic avant-garde came out. In the continuity of No Extra Territory (Paradoxe Club), Ciel Rouge by Basile3 proved once again (if any proof was needed) that club music can be more than just beats. By integrating the DNA structures of various forms of dance music into compositions that stretch without repeating themselves, Basile composed a form of arpeggio poetry, where the chimes of childhood respond to the kicks of adolescence, to give birth to a mature work, rich in textures and experiences. Club music becomes a story to tell, the bpm of an auditory experience, halfway between the candid and spontaneous emotions of pop and the methodical doubt of techno that has long given up all hope for the future.
Victor Dermenghem for Couvre x Chefs | You have moved a lot in France, tell me, why are you so restless?
Basile3 | So I grew up in Rennes until I was 14, then headed for Malakoff in the Parisian suburbs where I spent my teens and youth, then I did a master’s degree in regional planning in Grenoble (… but I have never worked in this branch for now).
At the time of my master’s degree, I felt a little cramped and not necessarily comfortable in Paris. Living in smaller towns has helped me a lot. They are less stressful cities, where you often find the same people. After my studies, I worked for a while with the fanzine Audimat / Les Siestes Electroniques in Toulouse…. Then I migrated to Marseille for a while to try to live the life of an artist but it didn’t really suit me, so I came back to Paris last January.
It seemed interesting to me to come back to Paris, for a few years now, great things have been happening in terms of musical programmation, it’s a city where you can more easily be stimulated by going to exhibitions, performances, concerts, etc. Unfortunately, these reasons have been largely canceled by the health crisis for the moment: /
If I’m not mistaken, you started producing at the beginning of 2010, and you went through this decade of revival of electronic music, a super rich moment in innovation and mixing. Your music testifies that instant well enough I think. What are the highlights in your opinion?
Yes at the start of 2010 a lot of things particularly stimulated me. Being in Paris, and having come to be interested in electronic music mainly through Justice a few years before, I gradually discovered labels that revolved around. And the moment when Club Cheval emerged, then Sound Pellegrino and Clekclekboom, but also on Night Slugs and Fade To Mind and LuckyMe was for me a moment when a lot of possibilities opened up, in terms of music genre crossover, to combine hip-hop / R’n’B sounds with a stranger and colder atmospheres. It was also a return to more airy and less brutal melodies as had been the case with Ed Banger.
Personally, I had the chance to get in touch via SoundCloud with the Pelican Fly label who had released Richelle’s first EP which is for me quite emblematic of what was happening at the time. Belgian fans of crunk who made it something more strange and instrumental. I was barely 18 and I spent some time with these people. I had the honor of playing for one of my first times as a Pelican Fly opening act at the Social Club with Sinjin Hawke, Zora Jones, Dj Slow, Mr. Tweeks, Canblaster, and Sam Tiba too. It was crazy how excited I was back then about everything that could be mixed at these parties: Jersey Club, Uk Funky, R’n’b Anthem, Grime, Footwork, etc … There were other great musical evenings at the Social Club, although the management of the place itself made me very drunk. I also vividly remember an evening with Oneman from London and French Fries it was on fire.
At the beginning of 2010, it was also the beginning of the trap, of Mike Will Made and Future and all those hits that really marked me.
Obviously, the first projects of Jam City and their album Classical Curves are for me big refs, I find myself a lot in his way of trying to make quite different references hold together and always with a very dreamy vibe towards which I feel close to.
Even if I have always been interested in many other styles of music, it is true that what was happening from my point of view as a young listener in terms of electronic club music at the beginning of 2010 was a great opening of the field of possibilities in terms of Bpms, rhythms, sounds. And for a lot of people of our generation who have been receptive to all of this, I think it will inevitably mark us for a long time.
What are you listening to and watching right now?
I listen to radio shows a lot first and foremost, I don’t have any favorites or lots of them, but I listen to NTS stuff as much as Rinse France or Lyl Radio.
Otherwise, in terms of projects the very last thing that spoke to me there is the new EP of Shlohmo which is very powerful and dark, I think I have a tendency to get a little closer to what he does lately. Similarly, Salem’s new album is in the same style, with a little wall of synth and distortion, I like it :)
Tre Oh Fie and his club music from Florida is super exciting right now too. More generally, we’ve been pushing the tempos a bit in club music for a few years now, as much in techno and bass music as in stuff closer to rap and it’s super cool rhythmically.
I like to listen to Bktherula, a high-quality cloud rap with a little phlegmatic voice, I love it. I had a good crush on Elysia Crampton’s last album, there is poetry behind what they do that I find super contemporary and right. It’s both musically super diverse, sometimes daring and radical and at the same time, there is a consistency that makes sense to me even though it’s chaotic … because life is chaotic anyway.
Right now I’m trying to watch some nice movies …. if possible? I’m still struggling to find it… Lately I’ve watched several Leos Carax movies, it’s really good. I like this kind of film that is both realistic and totally over the top for the real. And there are some super beautiful shots.
Are you are completely self-taught ? What are your biggest trials and errors?
No, I am not completely self-taught !! When I was 14/15/16 I took some jazz piano lessons. Basically, my goal was to play in a group like Hot Chip and Metronomy … but there was no one around me who was into it.
I didn’t have a piano at home so I was practicing the Reason software first with a midi keyboard, that’s how I started producing, it’s already a bit of an accident.
So when I compose I often have chord reflexes and slightly jazz melodies, even if you don’t necessarily feel it as you go along.
Frankly, I don’t know what my biggest trials and errors are, but today it’s 100% part of my process. It’s essential I find having moments of letting go, of doing anything with the software or with any gear, of recording everything and then resampling.
On your last two projects, the level of production, the sophistication of the compositions, as well as the range of emotion displayed, testify to real artistic maturity. I see your music as a succession of musical ideas assembled on a rhythmic grid, then embellished, or even obliterated by a whole touch of sound epiphenomena which bring substance and complexity, but which above all come to nuance the sometimes more spontaneous emotions of your synths, pads, sequences, etc. How do you work?
Yeah I know what you mean it’s kinda like that, in fact, most of the tracks on this EP start with a single loop, kind of like an instrumental rap / R’n’B track. Then as the piece is being built I start to imagine small accidents that bring the stuff to life. I’m replacing the basic kicks and snare and 808 with squeaky door sounds or river recording etc …
In general anyway the melodies / emotions are the first 10 minutes of the song, it’s very spontaneous. And after that there is 95% of the job to do…. Make sure that the little idea of this moment is developed on a piece. And at the same time you have to avoid overproducing, keep it simple in terms of your basic idea, that’s the hardest part sometimes and I think I can still improve on it. Even if you listen to your song 10,000 times, you have to manage to listen to it as if you heard it for the first time.
Then you also have to make sure that a project has sonic coherence, with elements of one song coming back into the other, sound design and specific little sound tricks / synths that are used for one project only.
I like that each project has a pretty strong sound identity through small details, it really is the last essential step for me that makes a difference. Especially since on the latest projects, each piece is in itself quite different, so you have to succeed in creating a link so that a common narrative/universe can develop itself.
Because at the end that is the goal of my work I think, to create alternative realities where the listener can fit in.
I feel like your music is a critique of advanced capitalism, what do you think? (laughs)
Mmh…. I think it would be very presumptuous to say that. Right now what I’m doing is primarily releasing music in very conventional and de facto capitalist formats… let’s be honest. Even if profit is not at the heart of my project, it is true that I will not spit on the idea of being able to live off that.
I have doubts whether the visual or sound arts are capable of issuing a real and complete critique of a globalized economic system today. It seems too narrow to me, and it is easily recoverable by the biggest vultures of this world, whereas a real criticism would necessarily be complex, written and would be experimented in the establishment of new systems of collective organizations and management of resources, common goods… it is less spectacular.
Afterwards, of course, artists are able, through the aesthetics of their project, the references they offer, to project their listeners / spectators into universes that can make people think about the world in which we live. And I think there has been a lot of positive things in that direction there in our circles, although there is still some way to go.
In my latest projects there’s a bit of this superposition of pretty catchy and pop melodies and sounds with some weird and awkward sounds, and it’s true that it’s pretty much what I want to hear today. When I listen to pop, rap or r’n’b there is something very satisfying and seductive and at the same time I am quite realistic about the fact that all of this is quite fake and that in real life the way in which we live is a little fucked up.
And I think that our generations are deeply in this dilemma, both seduced by hypermodernity, cosmopolitanism, the liberalism of mores and at the same time very aware of the destructive, unjust and irresponsible character of these lifestyles.
So I’m not really trying to be critical, but rather to offer a navigation in what we live, or at least what I live.
And visually, I felt a bit the same with Camille Soulat who offers very attractive images and at the same time that brings back to a nostalgia for a very sweet and human moment spent together, and this kind of feelings speaks to me a lot in what I do I think. The covers reflect these somewhat abandoned and post-apocalyptic territories, where you can still catch a glimpse of scenes of love, celebration, exchange, friendship that would have happened in these places.
At the same time in the end I theorize all this, but a lot of things are done on instinct, on pure feeling, even if it is necessarily the fruit of all the visual, textual, sensory, musical information that I have digested..
Ciel Rouge by Basile3 was released on InFiné on October 23 and is available on all platforms.