Rachael Williams, - on 5/7/12
Ivan Smagghe is one of those artists that has so often been described as a “DJ’s DJ” that it’s become something of a cliché. Scratch beneath that and you’ll find a producer and DJ that’s unwaveringly true to their own beliefs and a staunch dedication to music. You can see why journalists and indeed, other DJs, groping around for words that can encompass this succinctly, will settle on this lazy moniker.
Now based in London, the uncompromising Frenchman is, to the uninitiated, something of an enigma. Having founded seminal electronic dance act Black Strobe in ’97 with producer Arnaud Rebotini (he left in 2006), he’s since worked tirelessly as a solo DJ and producer, as one half of It’s A Fine Line with Tim Paris, and as A & R at the Parisian label Kill The DJ and; he has managed to maintain his integrity throughout. This Friday sees him return to east London’s Dalston Superstore to “subvert the masses” for Techno In My Fridge. Rachael Williams had a brief chat with Ivan about both his influence on music and what influences him…
An obvious question to start with but what can someone new to your music expect from your set at Techno In My Fridge? I try not to plan in advance and not to put myself in boxes so one will have to come.
As one of the founders of Black Strobe, how removed do you feel from the recent Richy Ahmed and Corey Baker remix of Italian Fireflies? Do you still feel any attachment to it being your music? Totally (removed).
Your influence in dance music extends further than your own output with your role as A & R at Kill The DJ. What values do you look for in the music you sign? We sign music that we love from people we could share a house with. It’s a pretty simple method but quite rare.
Who's been your favourite DJ you've shared the bill with so far this year? We saw you were quite impressed with Patrice Baumel and Nuno Santos playing "without concession a mix of shoegaze, lo fi trance and strange disco" I really enjoyed a set by John Talabot in Tel Aviv. And I'm glad that Marc Pinol is finally getting recognition. Also, this kid behind the bar at the Bar25 hotel in Tulum, (I haven't got his name on me) was pretty good.
Is this quality of playing for yourself and not for the crowd one you admire? That is the ideal to look toward. But nightlife is sadly more about compromise than ideals. I try to tip the balance my way as far as possible.
What's the biggest non-musical influence on your work? All my biggest influences are extra-musical: too many writers and cinematographers to mention. You can find some clues on the 'Discipline in Disorder' blog.
Can you talk us through your approach to writing a new track... I wish I could but it is a different process each time.
What was the last album you listened to at home? An audio version of Orwell's 'The Road to Wigan Pier' is playing at the moment... Richter playing Chopin thanks to my partner Tim, and the forthcoming album from Footprintz on a more modern tip.
What reforms would you put in place if you were elected president of France? I would never be elected President of France. The real problems are not tackled by parliamentary elections but caused by the lack of real politics, meaning the complete acceptance of Capitalism as the one and only system. I could go on and on but...
What was the last thing that truly touched you or inspired you? The life, smile and tears of Dmitri Shostakovich, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Sviatoslav Richter through to William T Vollmann and Bruno Monsaingeon.
Ivan Smagghe plays Techno In My Fridge at Dalston Superstore this Friday 6th July alongside Natalie Coleman (Mooch) and TIMF residents Mikki Most and Alexander Parade - Tickets and info here
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