MUSIC RADAR | April 25,2018 | EN

François X burst onto the underground house and techno scene with 2009’s Future Roots Vol 3 on the much respected Deeply Rooted label. His star continued to rise rapidly with a further two releases on Deeply Rooted before he co-founded his Dement3d imprint, which has served as a hub for his production work, collaborations and solo releases. Releases like 2013’s excellent Untitled EP and the following year’s Suspended in a Stasis Field have cemented François’ reputation as a techno producer par excellence, while his remixes and in-demand DJ appearances have assured his standing as one of Paris (and beyond)’s keenest exponents of electronica.

Irregular Passion is something of a love-letter to the nightlife of clubs and the people and places we explore in the small hours. François X journeys into more cinematic realms than he has previously explored. Tracks like the brooding, atmospheric Blurry Lust and Under Your Spell, and bass-driven juggernaut Rachael reveal a producer keen to stretch his palette and follow his muse in new directions. In parts, Irregular Passion could be the perfect electronic soundtrack to some dystopian-future movie. A lot of love and experimentation has gone into its filmic grooves… while successfully keeping one eye discreetly on the dancefloor that’s provided him his plaudits thus far. Literally just returned home from a successful promo trip to Japan, François X kindly gave us access to his ergonomic Parisian studio space and, stoically fighting off jetlag, talked us through his methodology and the musical philosophy behind the making of Irregular Passion.

Irregular Passion is a darker, more cinematic journey than we expected; how long has the album taken you to put together?

“To be honest, I couldn’t say for certain, because, at first, I wasn’t aiming at doing an album. I was playing with music for a couple of months and ended up with two or three tracks. At that point, it was more about diving into sounds – not really making music but building up sounds and being inspired by the movies I was watching and the surroundings.

“Normally, I’m known for making techno and more straightforward tracks, but at the beginning of this album, it was more about spending nights making atmospheres, playing with sounds or building pads. After a couple of months of experiments, I thought maybe it would be cool to make some music that wasn’t just aiming for the club. From then, it maybe took a month to create the music, then a little while longer to mix it and get the sound right. I spent 12-13 hours a day in the studio to do it all.”

Is it important to take time off from making music to make a pool of sounds to use later?

“Good question, because, if you knew how my production process works, you would possibly laugh. I’m not messy but… [laughs] I don’t have a regular set process. For me, I believe in fate and sometimes luck, so I let myself drift into making pads or whatever, but not necessarily to build a pool of things to use – it’s more just to get ideas flowing. Sometimes I’ll have a pad idea or maybe a drum structure and I end up not using either of them. It’s more about finding a direction then deciding which idea to follow.”

There are some familiar drum sounds on the album and some not so familiar. What’s your beat-making process?

“For the new album I used classic stuff at the beginning, like the 808, that I would filter down or resample. Sometimes I’d put a reverb on a drum, then resample the reverb, and that gave me quite a liquidy sound. Some of the percussion sounds were done that way too, and that gives that nice, blurry sound. So, it was mainly 808 along with some additional percussion from the Goldbaby libraries. It was really about resampling and resampling… sometimes the sounds are recognisable as 808 sounds, but sometimes I’d make them completely unrecognisable from the start.”

There’s a Roland TR-8 in your studio – did that get fired into use at any point?

“Sometimes. As I said, this album was mainly 808 samples and sometimes I sampled the structure of the drums and put some Goldbaby stuff on top. So, there’s some TR-8, some 808, and the Goldbaby 808 and MPC60 samples.”

Do you get swamped when you’re looking for drum sounds and samples online?

“At the beginning, when I started to use those sample libraries, yes, totally. Now I know what I want and my rule is to stick with one library – for example, the Goldbaby MPC60 library has 909 samples in it and other stuff, but I now stick with one folder or library and those are the tools I use. No more digging in other libraries because, for sure, it’s never-ending if you get into that!

“Something else I did on this album – when I had unfinished tracks and maybe if I was a bit stuck with them – sometimes new ideas would emerge and I would then have two track sketches. That’s another reason I wanted to use similar sounding drums and have a more coherent atmosphere across the album.”

Does having your own label, Dement3d, give you complete artistic freedom to make the music you want?

“It’s funny, because a few days ago I was chatting with a friend and told him that, in a way, I was lucky to have my own imprint and don’t have to go through the process of having to please an A&R guy. On the other hand, I never really think about it as I don’t really know what it is to have to create a release that fits for another label that has its own artistic direction and criteria. So, in one way, of course I’m freer.”