For over twenty years Sébastien Léger has meticulously kept dance floors moving. To this day he continues to imbue his techno and house productions with as much soul as possible, and it is for this reasons that Sébastien remains one of Frances most outstanding exports. With every twist and turn of his career he seeks to push dance music past the standard French house clichés and innovate the genre rather than imitate his predecessors. As the label head and owner of both Mistakes Music and Temple of Lions Sébastien remains informed by his experience, and it is for this reason that we at Blueprint think he is the perfect fit for Deep Down Inside at M.I.A.
For those who have yet to experience Saturday’s #DeepDownInside at M.I.A. the night is unrivalled by any other in Vancouver. It is a musical movement based on a true love of house, good vibes, and an intimate atmosphere largely allusive in this day and age.
Tonight, Sébastien Léger graces #DeepDownInside at M.I.A. with his unparalleled insight is humble artistry—before you step in to his world, this is his story:
Blueprint: In a recent interview you stated: “so much of the music I hear around me is just poor loops, with a terrible lack of originality and creativity.” Overall, do you feel the industry is working towards healing itself or is it getting worse?
Sébastien Léger: If you know where to dig, you will still find very good music. But, luckily at the moment, the trend is more melodic than it used to be, so you can find some music that is a lot more interesting than simply DJ tools you’ve heard hundreds of times before. It seems to me also that the good old long break with the big build up isn’t working like it used to either, I think people are looking for something more challenging. So I would say at the moment, the scene is getting a bit healthier.
Blueprint: More specifically, with techno, how can the scene aim to infuse soul back in to the genre? Why is it that so many techno artists are currently lacking in creativity and pumping out copycat tracks?
Sébastien Léger: When I hear some techno tracks today, most of the time, like 98% of the time, it sounds like something that could have been made 2 years ago, if not 10 years, etc…It just all sounds the same, the only difference is it has better mastering than before. It’s missing something for my personal taste, if I want to play some techno, I will play some old classics rather than the new tracks.
Blueprint: This January you crossed the twenty year benchmark and released a retrospective compilation entitled 20 Years — what was the experience of revisiting your entire career like?
Sébastien Léger: I chose the ones that I still like or think they should be known more today. Some of them have never been released digitally; some have never even been released at all! I could have chosen the biggest hits etc…But, in my opinion, this was not really an interesting process, and it did not give the best result.
Blueprint: How has experiential wisdom changed your perspective towards the dance music scene as you now pass twenty years in the industry?
Sébastien Léger: The older you get, the more mature you are – nothing new here! I think the way I play music and produce it is a lot more careful. I take my time now, before I used to be a machine, producing track after track, playing music very fast etc…And just in general in life, it’s pretty much the same. I even moved from my flat in the centre of Amsterdam to a house in the countryside in France.
Blueprint: After so many years in the scene what keeps you inspired to continue such a draining lifestyle? Do you ever see a time where you no longer pursue the life of a global dance music act?
Sébastien Léger: There isn’t anything else I would like to do as my job. I’ve been doing this all my life, nothing else. A really good night with a fantastic vibe is just what I need to keep going. It’s the same when I do a new track and get great feedback from it, either on the dancefloor or from other producers/DJs.
Blueprint: Can you share with Blueprint readers a bit about Temple of Lions?
Sébastien Léger: I wanted to create something that reflected the more musical, sensitive side of my house/techno. Mistakes Music is more DJ friendly – essentially tracks for dancefloors. Temple Of Lions is really for my slower grooves – elegant, mysterious vibes – the sort of music you could play on the beach or in a tropical forest. There are no big build-ups and big drops in this music, just soul, chords, and melodies. I named it after a couple of trips to Bali, I was there DJing – there are lots of temples on the island, one of them had lion statues at the doors – the atmosphere suits the music well.
Blueprint: What separates a Sébastien Léger set from other artist’s in the dance music community?
Sébastien Léger: I guess it’s the versatility. I can adjust my set to any kind of situation or crowd, without compromising my sound. Some people just show up with their usual techno set, and they just play what they want to play without caring much. They would not be able to switch to something more housey if the crowd wanted it. Or vice versa. I can play for a small intimate room with sexy and slow grooves with melodies or I can play straight banging stuff for 10000 people.
Blueprint: Has mixing live become too easy for those just breaking in to the scene?
Sébastien Léger: Technically yes, it is a lot easier to do it. Basically, my cats could DJ if I wanted them to do so. But beat matching tracks together does not make you a DJ. Far from it. Knowledge is everything. Experience is key. A newcomer beat matching like a boss two (or even worse, four) tracks together could ruin a night.
Blueprint: Is there a story behind your first official release and that moment you finally decided that DJing and producing was going to be your full time job? Daft Punks brother plays in to it right?
Sébastien Léger: How do you know this story? Then I guess you can tell your readers so I don’t have to write it again ;)* But I was a DJ way before my first release, so I didn’t have to wait for my first release to confirm that I wanted to spend my life DJing. I knew it already. But it is clear that making my own music helped a lot in terms of getting noticed and known.
*Note: We know our stuff…anyway…Sébastien decided to head out to Paris to where Paul Johnson was meant to play so he could give him his latest tracks. Unfortunately Paul Johnson didn’t show up but Sébastien ended up giving the tracks to Play Paul who is the brother of Guy-Manuel from Daft Punk. The next day Play Paul called Sébastien and said he had a friend who owned the labels Black Jack and Rivera and they wanted to release the tracks properly.
Blueprint: Top five timeless dance tracks…
Sébastien Léger: Rather than giving you a specific track, I will give you some full French albums that are timeless to me:
Blueprint: What can fans expect from their upcoming Sébastien Léger DJ experience this Saturday at M.I.A. for Deep Down Inside?
Sébastien Léger: Expect the unexpected. It will all depend on the crowd more than me.
Tonight what better way to kick off the last weekend in June then with the soulful beats of Sébastien Léger. Tickets are still available, #DeepDownInside and M.I.A. are waiting.
– Ryan Hayesget tickets