Le Loup (Léonard Perret) represents a generation of artists that today make up a wave of House producers who are re-defining the genre for the next. It’s House music, influenced by the soul and grooves of Hip-Hop through sampling; channelled through the multicultural scope of clubbing since electroclash; and distilled into House music’s deeper hemisphere, where melodies and harmony bring a new depth to this functional music. The Parisian producer and DJ shares these traits with peers like Moomin, Seuil and Genius of Time, while bringing his own unique dimension to the music through melodic and harmonic elements that favour an upbeat temperament and lightness to the music. He’s released music on labels that operate on similar designs, labels like Eklo, Concrete and Half Baked – the event series and label that, like Le Loup’s music, infuse the music with colour and atmosphere, most perfectly summed up in his “Manimal” EP of last year.
It was on the Half Baked ticket that Le Loup would come to Jæger last week and when our artist host, Ivaylo mentioned there was a empty a seat in the car, I decided to tag along to ask the French DJ and producer some questions. The ride from the airport to the city centre can be quite uneventful, but with Le Loup’s close relationship with Half Baked and Concrete and the flourishing Paris scene on my mind, there was enough to talk about to make the journey a short one and get us in the mood for the Saturday night ahead.
What’s Paris like in terms of clubbing at the moment?
I think we are in a good period. In the last four or five years it’s changed a lot and now we have a lot of parties and a lot of demand. People are going out a lot more. Maybe there’s too much sometimes, and you don’t know where to go. When you make music of this kind, more underground music, you often get 2 or 3 promoters working in the same style going to war, because you have a little community and it gets more complicated to bring people to your party with so many other parties.
So there are a lot of venues catering to events like these?
Yes, there are a lot of venues, and there are a lot of parties also outside of clubs. You really need to bring someone to bring the people. It’s really more complicated to reach your community or your crowd without big names today. It’s getting better and better but it’s really complicated.
When you were just starting out, what was clubbing like and what sort of music or scene was influencing you at that time?
I was really young when I started going to clubs, like 14. I started going to posh clubs. I was playing at the time, but I wasn’t really going for the music because I was going for my friends and my friends were not into House music, they were into Hip-Hop and commercial music. Around 15 I started going to Pulp – That was a really special club. There were DJs like Andrew Weatherhall, Ivan Smagghe and Chloé, you know the Kill the DJ crew. It was really special to me, because there was this melting pot of people. It was a gay club, but you had people from the hood, people from more affluent neighbourhoods, everything was mixed for the music.
Was there a lot of Hip Hop influencing you at this time too because I can hear strains of it in your work?
I was really into Hip-Hop, I still am. I listened to a lot of French Hip-Hop, but also like J-Dilla, Dr Dré, Nas and Tupac, the west coast stuff. When I started going to high school, I started listening to more House music. Bob Sinclar, around Africanism, was some of the first House music I heard. It was really House music with Hip-Hop roots.
Did you start DJing around that time too?
Yes, around 16.
And it was mainly Hip-Hop?
I never really played Hip-Hop. My uncle bought me some turntables, and then I started buying records. My first records were House records like Abé Duque “What Happened” and John Tejada “Sweat (on the Walls)”. It was during the electro-house period and it was not a prolific period of music to me now, but I started with this type of music.
Do the Hip-Hop influences seep into your production today?
Yes, because I’m really influenced by old school hip-hop. I’m a really big fan of J Dilla. The way he sampled the tracks, it was all about the groove and it was hypnotic. It was really interesting to me, because although I wasn’t producing Hip Hop, the approach was the same.
It gives the music a very human element.
Exactly, there’s that human feeling to the music because it’s not that straight.
Q-tip once said the reason he liked Dilla so much was because each element had it’s a place within the production.
That’s the thing to me now when I produce I want every element to have its own place. You don’t want to have too many elements, because sometimes you can have too much and there is no use for some elements. When you don’t need something you remove it, and you only keep what is really essential to the track.
There are a lot of melodic elements to your music. Does that come from a musical background?
My family listened to a lot of music, like Jazz and Classical music and my uncle who bought me the turntables, was a big fan of Jazz. This is really my style of music – fusion Jazz. Its very melodic, but the groove is important too. I try to maintain a balance between melody and grooves.
You mentioned Concrete earlier when we were walking to the car, and you’ve had an EP out on their label recently. How fundamental is Concrete to an artist like you and do you see a scene evolving around it?
To me everything started around 2009/10. At this time Paris was a bit dead. A friend of mine started a party on the river called Le Sundae. It was a new beginning, when we started to play there. It was really fresh. Before Concrete, there was twisted with a new venue for each event. They eventually found a boat, and started putting parties together there. At that this time everything started to change because people were enthusiastic and excited to go to parties because it was something new. Concrete brought a new dynamic to the club scene there.
You are very close to the people there?
It’s quite all encompassing, but what brings it all together?
Brice (Coudert), the artistic director and he really likes music and he likes a lot of different things, like me. He wants to bring different styles of music to the Parisian crowd with a focus on quality. It’s complicated to do only one thing, you can get lost.
Do you think it has shares some similar ideas with “Kill the DJ” where there was a focus on a broader range of styles and audiences?
Yeah, but it’s also about trend. Music is always evolving and those guys were really big when Electroclash was big, and dark music prevailed. It was a mix of everything with this dark feeling. I think it simply changed with the evolution and fashion of music. Those guys were into a type of music and it changed, and people moved on.
And concrete is a bit more open.
They are more open and they can switch the music, and they can bring different kinds of people, because it’s also a business, you know. So when you want to bring people to the club all the time, you need to bring different people because the same people can’t come every week.
We should also talk about Half Baked, because that’s why you are here. How did you get involved with them?
It was 2009/10 when they contacted me to play. I had a connection with those guys early on, through the French connection and our similar age. We started doing more things together and became like a little family.
There seems to be personal touch to everything they do.
Yes, to me the spirit of Half Baked is Bruno (Ciaramicoli). Bruno really is the soul of Half Baked. He’s always after a good spirit to the party. He’s not all about the fame, he’s also about the vibe and the energy of the people.
I find that you translated that exact idea very well in your Manimal EP you did for them.
What went into the creation of that EP?
I came to London with Seuil and we went to Robin’s (Ordell) place and decided to make a track. The first one was released on Eklo. I was producing a lot with Alexi (Seuil) as Hold Youth and when Robin came to Paris afterwards we decided to go to the studio and just see what happens. Bruno had also been asking us to make a track, so we tried to make something together and made these five tracks over two days.
It sounds like it was a very inclusive affair with Half Baked perhaps also influencing the outcome. When you play a set at a Half Baked event does it put you in a certain frame of mind?
I always try to bring my sound, and in general I always think about the party. I want to play the music I like but I also want to entertain the people. I want them to have fun. I don’t just want to play music for myself, I want to create a party.
I think you couldn’t have chosen a better day for it then…