French producer Melokolektiv has already released an arsenal of tracks on heavyweight labels such as Crosstown Rebels, OFF, Sincopat and Moodmusic, as well as heading up his own label AZZUR. Ahead of his remix on Constant Circles, we invited him for an interview and guest mix.

Tell us about your background – how & why did you get into music?

Originally I’m a deejay, I don’t have a specific musical background. I started djing in my bedroom, it was bad, really bad (laugh). Quickly, I felt the need to play my own tracks and I started to produce my own music. Having the help and advice of my former partner and now from Konvex & the Shadow has permitted me to progress quickly, but I still have a lot to learn… 

You have just finished a remix of ’The Night’ by Mr Herbert Quain & HedUbble, on Constant Circles. How did you approach the remix and what direction did you take it?

The original track was really inspiring, it has many original elements notably in the drums that I absolutely wanted to keep.

I found the track very pleasant to listen to at home but quite hard to play in a club so I decided to do something more adapted to my dj sets. Thus, I have increased the tempo from 110 to 115 bpm and I have done what I call a “dj friendly” arrangement with no real breakdown. I have kept the amazing drums recordings they have done which give to the track authenticity. Recently I have decided to focus on producing music I can play in my dj sets and this was my main direction… 

What is your production process? Is it different for each project?

My production process has evolved a lot recently. I’m currently taking lessons to get better in composition, arrangement and mixing. Before I always started by writing down a great groove (drums, bass) but now I tend to focus more on the music and composition. But you know sometimes it feels good to let your instinct drive this process. Finally the most important for me is being able to write down my ideas as fast as possible to catch this magical creative moment of experimenting when producing. I currently use lots of live recordings elements in my tracks. It permits me to bring more humanity and groove to my drums and there is nothing faster than recording your own drums….

What is your ‘go to’ piece of kit in the studio & why?

Previously I told you that what matters to me is catching the creative flow the faster possible. So I don’t have any gear to produce my music. The only external things I have are a Midi keyboard, a Subpac “S2” and simple microphone (“Rocco Summicophone”). I don’t need more elements to develop the music I want to even if sometimes it’s very tempting to buy more equipment. Currently, all my money goes into lessons which will for sure help me to really improve my sound…

Where do you find inspiration, for your music, & in life?

Humm to be honest I don’t know. I listen to LOTS of music everyday and I realised that for me the best tracks are the ones which drive my emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I also play and listen to what I call “dj tools” but I only remember tracks which develop real emotions in me. My friends from the AZZUR crew (Konvex & the Shadow, Nandu) are also a big sources of inspiration. We constantly challenge ourselves and it affects my way of producing music. I feel that have improved a lot recently thanks to them, but the road is long… 

You have released on some huge labels including Crosstown Rebels, Get Physical & OFF. Which is your favourite Melokolektiv track so far?

My favourite is definitely my last one “Between Us”. I have produced this one with my friend and vocalist Inma Gomes and I like it because it’s different from my other tracks. It took me a while to find the right combination and I’m very happy about the result. I still like my Kindisch ep also. I have produced it with my former partner and a sitar player, it has been a real challenge and it’s still the most played Melokolektiv track on Youtube, so I guess that many people liked it also. 

If you could give 1 piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

I would definitely tell him to focus on giving emotion to people… Whatever the music you to produce, emotion is the only thing that matters. I know producers less skilled who succeed to drive more emotion in their music than I do, and they have more “success”. I would also recommend him to keep challenging his/herself everyday to get better and surprise people… 

You are also one of the founders of the label AZZUR, can you tell us a bit about that? What is the concept & does it have a music policy?

We believe that our artists will produce their best music if only they take some risks in their production process. However, most of the existing record labels are risk adverse and are not very interested to release original music.

So we decided to create AZZUR to give to our small family of artists a complete freedom and an adapted platform for releasing their music. To be more concrete, if one day Nandu wants to produce a complete reggae album, we will help him to achieve that on AZZUR even if it’s not a “classic” club electronic music. We don’t care about sales, we only care about seeing our artists growing and developing their skills. We also wanted to create a intimate record label which make things differently. For instance, we don’t send promo via large promo campaign but we send individual emails to the artists we want to reach. I know it can be very long sometimes…

What is your top tip for anyone wanting to start a label?

Well, my advice would be to only release the music you really like and play. Developing a label takes lots of time and cost lots of money and you can quickly regret the adventure… We created the label because we had no other option to release our “strange” music but it requires lots of efforts and financial sacrifice… If you do it with honesty, things will work and good artists will stay loyal…

What is coming up for Melokolektiv in terms of releases and gigs?

In term of release I have a couple of things coming out soon. I have three remixes which are going to be released on Compost, Plano B records and of course Constant Circles. Then I will have an ep on Galaktika and one more Ep on AZZUR later. In term of gigs we have lots of things in the pipeline with AZZUR notably a showcase at Sisyphos Berlin, La Dame Noir in Marseille, and one in Avignon that we will announce very soon.   

How did you put together your guest mix for the radio show & what have you included – any exclusives or surprises?

I recorded the mix few weeks ago already and I included lots of promos and new vinyls. I like playing unreleased records. In this mix I particularly love the two firsts records from Kann records. I love their music and I have bought lots of their vinyls. I would also recommend you to pay attention to the Konvex & the Shadow remix for Family Name and my new track “Name Your Enemy” which has been released this week.  I’m quite tricky when recordings my mix, I try to find the perfect combination and it can take long time but surprisingly this one has been recorded very easily.  🙂