Q&A with Para One: Slice & Soda, technology & music, the future!

June 15th, 2011 | electronic

Recently we noticed a podcast getting a lot of traffic. It was a mix for Sixpack France by Slice & Soda, a project of San Serac and Para One. Since they’re about to drop their album very soon (June 20!) we decided to have a little chat with electro-producer Para One.

The Slice & Soda release is June 20. Can you tell a little about how the project originated?
Yeah, it was back in 2008. I was working on my second album at the time, but it turned out to be a very different sound and it also sounded more like instrumentals waiting for singers. So I asked around as I was looking for featurings and Etienne Menu (from Institubes, and now Marble) introduced me to San Serac’s music. I said “this is it”, San Serac was the perfect fit.

We started discussing it over the internet and soon booked plane tickets to get in the studio together. It took us a year to do it, in Paris and Boston. They were pretty intense jet-lagged and highly caffeinated studio sessions. San Serac would come up with a vocal idea and send it over, then I would re-arrange the instrumentals etc. We did a lot by email too.

You just described the collaboration as a band… Do you plan on performing ‘live’ together for a tour as opposed to DJ sets?
At first we were supposed to play the album live, yes. We did it actually, in Printemps de Bourges, once as a test, but then San Serac decided to stop touring for music and it appeared less and less realistic to put a tour together. So there will be no live shows, unfortunately.

Is he more of a creator than a performer?
No, he’s a crazy performer! I love playing live too. It’s just a matter of time and organization. At the time it was possible, but we had to wait because Institubes was dying and it delayed the schedule a lot.

You’re releasing your album via Sixpack France as a 300-copy limited edition. What motivated this choice?
After the end of Institubes, I realized that I didn’t want to get involved with a traditional record company to release this album, so I decided to do a digital release by myself, with the help of Grand Blanc (my managing company). And then Etienne Menu, who had suggested San Serac in the first place, suggested Sixpack. I worked with Sixpack a lot lately so it made sense and instead of putting a lot of CDs on the shelves in the traditional record shops, we thought it’d be a good idea to play it differently and release a limited edition disc. There’s also a tee shirt since Sixpack is mainly a clothing brand, so it’s a collaboration between them and us.

There will also be a digital release of course, out next week: June 20th!

So, as we’re a platform where we bring tech together with music.  You spoke earlier about using the internet to create this collaboration. The impact of the internet on entertainment has become quite a political topic…Do you see the internet purely as a blessing, or also as a curse?
I personally see the internet as a blessing. It would be unfair to hate it, since it pretty much kickstarted our careers through forums, then MySpace, etc, a while ago. I’m from this generation that didn’t really know what an actual physical sale was. I have nothing to regret from the past era.

On a personal level, internet can become overwhelming at times though haha, but professionally, it was a revolution for us. The ability to work and share through it, and also promote, bypass the major companies…

Just to get back to the thing you said about the internet being overwhelming… There are some people that warn artists about social media, that it can be a timedrain. Do you actively apply social media to connect with fans? How do you find a balance?
I’m connected all the time, so there was a time when it was an actual timedrain, but with the rise of smartphones, iPads etc it is less of a nerd thing to stay connected. You can be on tour, or out in the woods, and still stay informed, or share data.

Of course when I’m in the studio I’m connected, like right now, but I don’t feel locked to a computer screen anymore. The only problem with the internet is that it killed boredom or created a new one. I kinda miss being bored sometimes. Online, there’s always something to check, but if you’re alone in an empty room without internet, you can experience realtime boredom, which can be good for the spirit… introspection is good!

Let’s talk more technology. If you had your own army of talented nerds… is there anything that you as an artist would make them develop or improve upon?
Interfacing. I think that’s the next thing to improve. The computers got so much better lately, a Macbook Pro is an amazing tool. The way to handle the tools are still limited. Using a mouse or even a touchpad is still very limiting. I’d like to draw the notes in a sequencer for example, as I would write words on paper. Not having to deal with point & click.

Do you think the rise of tablets is a significant step in terms of interfacing?
Yes it is. I tried the Lemur when it was still manufactured, it was an interesting step. But now the iPad is here, and I’m waiting for developers to create really cool apps. For example, I’d like a plugin interface that would allow me to control plugins like compressors, delays, eqs, by hand, multitouch. Something that would expand to all existing plugins instead of having a pop up with a compressor skin that I have to point & click.

Do you think as a musician nowadays, you also need to be a nerd?
Yeah well, for the kind of music I’m making, yes you need to. Time is now running faster. We call it blog time. If you don’t know anything about the music around you, it’s hard to bring interesting new ideas. On the other hand you could refuse to know, like some Detroit techno artists did. James Stinson from Drexciya refused to listen to other people’s music, but isn’t that nerdier? haha

You mentioned that time is running faster… Do you think this is also portrayed in your music?
Yes, I hope it is. I’m from the first nerdy generation that got access to making music in this online world, so we all have overclocked brains in a way! Faster learning, sharing, processing… so we can make music that reflects that. Extreme drum patterns for example, or overprocessed synths, fast arpeggios, without sounding too weird.

It’s normal to make extreme music now. There are some very extreme sound or visual effects in the media, the internet, the movies, television. People are used to that. You could have an Autechre sound in a ad nowadays and it wouldn’t be shocking. People don’t expect actual musicians, drums, saxophones anymore. Electronic music is accepted as it is, not as an imitation of live music.

Someone submitted this question for you: do you ever dream new songs?
I did. I dreamt very often of solutions to a problem in a song. When you dream the mind is free, it solves stuff without your ego being stuck in between. Most of the times the ideas just show up, and I’m whistling something or muttering something in my head as I walk the street. The ability to translate that into an actual song is what makes you a musician.

I did that for the riff of “dudun dun” for example, I had it in my head for 2 days. I was walking the street and I was like “dudun dun, dun dun, dudun dun”, like it was a song I knew. And recently I had a solution in a dream but that’s for my next album! The one I’m working on now much more electronic, and experimental than the Slice & Soda album. Closer to my first album, because it’s my “Para one solo project”

People are asking about TTC… Are you working with them on anything new?
TTC is still a family. We’re all close friends and we make music, sometimes together (like I did with Tekliatex on Marble recently). We collaborate a lot with Sound Pellegrino, or Cuiziner, too. But, as TTC, I don’t know. Maybe some day! If we have the ideas to go further and bring something new, then yes, definitely.

And actually some questions we had were about physical releases… One was about a DVD release for “It Was On Earth That I Knew Joy” and the other if the Marble releases will be on CD instead of just download?
Haha, this CD and vinyl thing, it’s funny.  Everybody asks us to release vinyl. Well, we’ve been doing that for the past ten years and nobody bought them! Fans just downloaded everything illegally, so it’s a bit ironic. Now that we’ve stopped making them, everybody’s complaining. The key to maintaining our business with Marble is to not make expensive objects, because of the economy. If we get the opportunity, through a partnership for example, to release vinyl cuts, we’ll do it. However, it delays everything a lot also and we need to be fast.

As for “It Was On Earth”, I don’t really know. The concept was to give it away and share it through the internet. We’ll see.

“It Was On Earth That I Knew Joy”

A movie directed by Jean-Baptiste de Laubier (Para One).

Anything to wrap this up?
Watch for the next Marble releases, and also my project with Tacteel (an EP is out early July) then the next Birdy Nam Nam album that I just produced… my solo Para One album is gonna be ready soon, and out early 2012!

Para One and San Serac’s “Slide & Soda” will be released on June 20 and can be purchased from Sixpack France as well as in digital stores around the web.