In this wonderful age that allows us unlimited access to every kind of music ever made, it seems like there are new subgenres emerging with each passing day.
The thing is, these genre labels aren’t usually coined by artists looking for a succinct style descriptor. Rather, it’s people like us – those with pens in hand or fingers on keyboards – who are largely responsible for the glut of ambiguous categorisation. See, while you could call French original electronic producer Rodriguez Jr a stylistic polymath, his musical exploration isn’t motivated by thoughts of genre.
“Having fun in the studio is the only key,” he says. “Experimenting with my synths, trying new tricks, noodling with my modular synth, improvising or trying to get inspiration in old records, sampling my cat.”
Rodriguez Jr., also known as Olivier Mateu, got his first major exposure as one half of French electro-tech duo The Youngsters. Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, The Youngsters released two full-length records and a stack of singles, gaining support from French techno legend Laurent Garnier’s F Communications label along the way. The Youngsters were largely deemed a techno act, but Mateu again emphasises that they weren’t trying to pin down their style.
“Our sound was definitely more techno onstage while our albums were a blend of house, techno, electronica, ambient – so it was already a mess and a fusion of things. We actually didn’t think too much in the studio. And I am doing the same today.”
Having transferred into solo mode five years ago, Mateu perceptibly relishes the uninterrupted freedom to experiment he’s now permitted. However, with no partner in crime to bounce ideas off, perhaps it’s become difficult to determine how well something is working.
“Sometimes I might feel lost for a moment,” he admits, “but then I take a break, work on something else, and eventually come back to my initial plan. My creating process has always been the same. It has to be as fast and as spontaneous as possible, because that’s the only way to avoid getting lost through possibilities.”
Indeed, when experimenting with electronic production, the possibilities really can appear to be endless. The malleable nature of modern technology makes it very easy to fall into a regressive cycle of editing and re-editing. A tendency to second-guess oneself doesn’t help in evading this hurdle.
“I don’t have any self-confidence, so it can take ages to finish a track,” Mateu says. “With the modern digital audio workstation, it became so easy to recall a track a thousand times and polish every little details for hours. Though I always try to impose a deadline to myself, otherwise you suck all the life out of a track and make it sterile.
“Producing in the studio is like projecting something from inside,” he says. “You have time to draw a background, hosting events and telling a story. Performing live is very different. It’s pretty much like an emotional catharsis – getting naked in front of an audience and letting your most inner personality go out. That’s almost tribal.”
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 @ GEISHA BAR