In an interview with ‘Vehlinggo,’ French House artist LIFELIKE talks about working with Electric Youth and using Kickstarter to realize his ‘Electronic Dreams.’
Want to be a part of something great? French House and disco artist LIFELIKE is crowdfunding the release of upcoming album Electronic Dreams, offering fans the chance to participate in a project that features collaborations with Electric Youth, Chromeo, Oliver, A-Trak, Yota, and Audio District. Today, Vehlinggo interviews the influential artist about his project.
LIFELIKE (AKA Laurent Ash) says that with Electronic Dreams he wanted to make a project that would feature collaborations with his friends that would deviate some from the character of sound we’re used to from his project.
“Basically, I wanted to do a pop album that would keep that French Touch feel we all like,” Ash told Vehlinggo, calling the album a “friends project.” Given that he’s set his sights on getting fans and the greater community involved in the album, it’s even more so a friends project.
For his Kickstarter project, Ash is asking for 25,000 Euro (or about $29,000) to help fund some of the key parts ensuring his art gets its due, including vinyl and CD pressing, merchandising, DJ promo, public relations, the album launch party, and marketing. The campaign is all-or-nothing: if the goal isn’t reached by Dec. 3, the campaign isn’t funded.
Releasing a landscape-shattering album isn’t easy, and the type of rewards he’s offering are pretty great: everything from a free copy of the album to writing a song for you and even DJing at your party.
In the interview, Ash talks about the new album and his decision to use Kickstarter to help release it, in lieu of record labels. This new endeavor is just his latest intrigue. Ash — part of the extended French Touch family that includes Daft Punk, DJ Falcon, Pedro Winter, Alan Braxe, and so many others — has played a major role in building a synth scene that mixes nostalgia with contemporary methods. He’s remixed for everyone from Giorgio Moroder and Daft Punk to Empire of the Sun, Moby, and Sia, among others.
But all of that doesn’t guarantee success for an album, as you’ll learn below.
Vehlinggo: What is the character of this album’s sound? The Kickstarter page makes me think you’re going to tap into the spirit of your work from back in the Valerie Collective era — the vibe of the songs David “College” Grellier and crew would share on their blog years ago. What sort of life inspirations are you drawing from?
LIFELIKE: The album’s influences are like somewhere in between Daft Punk and Alan Braxe — a retro-futuristic electronic pop album. The inspiration is that the music has got to make people feel good. I love black funk music and white synth-pop, so it’s somewhere here — maybe with a more sexy approach.
“I’m not here to sell low-cost dance music.”
Electronic Dreams will have some exciting collaborations. I realize these people are largely friends of yours, but I’m curious how the collaborations came about? (For example, I know you’ve known Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin of Electric Youth for years — I recall edits and such they did of your work back in 2010.)
Yes, they are friends. Chromeo and A-Trak are very old friends of mine. We met in NYC and London back in the day. They are very good people, besides being super talented musicians — they’re actually Canadian/French-speaking; it makes things easier :-).
Electric Youth are certainly the greatest electronic pop band of the decade. They are so talented in bringing that emotional thing into pop music.
To collaborate, we worked from a distance. I sent over the project, the different artists added vocals, instruments, and worked a bit on the lyrics. Then I produced everything in my studio.
“Electric Youth are certainly the greatest electronic pop band of the decade.”
What’s the importance of collaborating, especially with people you know and trust? What do you get out of it? And what do you think your fans get out of it?
That’s what this album is all about: it’s a friends project. I decided to depart from that French House scene and collaborate with more eclectic artists — opening the horizons, and getting out of the club scene a little bit. Basically, I wanted to do a pop album that would keep that French Touch feel we all like.
You mentioned on your Kickstarter page that both big and small labels have their faults and that a friend said you should try crowdfunding. You said, specifically, “I wanted to keep control of the sound, the image and the promotion, so I could be sure it was the best it could be.” And you also say you want the fans/contributors to have a sense of ownership over the project as well.
Exactly. I had really deceiving experiences with major record companies. They don’t respect you as an artist and try to dominate your artistic vision and goals constantly. The worst is that they are totally lost today when it comes to promoting your music. They don’t understand the digital market, and understand streaming even less.
“… They are totally lost today when it comes to promoting your music.”
One thing they are really good at is distribution of physical CDs and vinyl in shops and selling them fast. Other than that, in my opinion, they are totally painful to deal with. Clearly, they aren’t needed anymore to promote and release your music.
It’s better we gather our fan community, involve them in the process of the making and release of the album, and keep total control over the sound, production and promotion. It gives all of us some responsibility, and somehow it’s a bit like pre-ordering the album: it’s a nice way of getting closer to your fans and bringing them into your artistic world.
Building off that, what do you want your fans to get out of this campaign?
I hope they will like the music. I know they understand the importance of supporting artists they like. Not only by clicking “like” on a Facebook post, but by getting engaged in that fight for better music getting released out there that we as independent producers have to face every day.
The market has changed. While irresponsible behaviors like downloading everything for free had its time, it seems that now people have understood that if they still want to hear good music they’ve got to support their favorite artists, and that’s very positive and encouraging.
The album is totally completed. It is ready to be released. A mini-mix/video teaser will be posted on Kickstarter next week, where you will be able to hear more clearly the music. (You can actually hear most of the tracks of the album in the campaign video.)
Before we sign off, I’d like to ask you about something. I think French, particularly house, artists are responsible for a fair amount of the 1980s nostalgia we have in music today. I believe it goes back to, at minimum, Daft Punk, but later on I think you contributed to this. How do you feel about it now?
Yes, I think so, too. The 1970s, 1980s, and even 1990s, will remain as the golden age of music forever.
“We’re really creating the music of the future.”
But we don’t try to copy: we are picking up some of the musical codes of those eras and are really trying to bring something new. We’re really creating the music of the future. Daft Punk are incredible musicians and producers, while still keeping quality and artistic integrity at a very high level. That’s what here in the French scene we are all trying to do; myself included.
Daft Punk are definitely our guiding light in the music industry, since their album Homework. Everything they release has this magical touch. Only they know how to do it, and I’m totally fascinated by it.
(This interview was edited and condensed for clarity and house style.)
For more details on the Kickstarter campaign — the rewards, the background behind the project, and the history of LIFELIKE — check out the official page. I, myself, gave some money to the campaign and I think you should, too. Or, as Ash puts it: “You can turn it up and listen to the music, knowing that you helped bring these electronic dreams to life.”