The name Fabrice Lig has been synonymous with Detroit influenced, funk infused techno since the mid 90's. His fifth album "Galactic Soul Odyssey" has just been released on Carl Craig's legendary Planet E. We caught up with him for a chat about life and music.
The new album is a perfect continuation of your sound, with your trademark funk and knack for embellishments. When did you start work on it and did you always have it in mind that it would be an album?
Yeah, I had the idea to record a new album, I like it cause the purpose is not to make dancefloor hits but to tell a nice story to the listeners, and sometimes dancefloor bombs appears, but it's never a purpose for me. I started for real 18 months ago. But like I always say, the starting point of an album is never the moment you turn the first knobs into the studio, it starts earlier in your mind...
My personal favourite on the album is "Super String Theory". It's got a perfect balance of 80's melodies paired to a disco-ish bassline and percussion, yet still sounds contemporary. Can you tell us the story behind that track? What is your own favourite track on the album and why?
Oh, funny cause it has a special story, and I like tracks with a real story… I started playing notes on my midi keybord using Ableton live on a corner of my desk next to the living room… Just for fun. I found the main chords and then the rest came really fast. I was making too much noise for my wife! She was asking me to stop, on and on… But I couldn’t… Inspiration was there… So I was disturbing her work, having fun, it's something I’m not doing usually, the studio is my place, not the living room, ah! ah! And that track turned into a techno disco style, it's something rare into my discography, but I love it cause it's not just a disco track, it has a melodic techno flavour too, in fact its a real hybrid track, that's what I like.
Another favourite is "No Judgment", because I finally worked with Ann Saunderson, and it was a long time we wanted to work together, but also cause I like the instrumental of this track, a particular way to play the strings, specialy for a 'techno' track. That's exactly what Ann liked into that track and inspired her for the lyrics. I love all the tracks for different reasons… "Galactic Soul Odyssey" cause it's all my electronic and funk music roots mixed in a track, "Lux Stealer" cause I think it's a real house/techno hybrid tracks, etc…I can say I’m happy with all the track, it's important for an album.
There's always a lot going on in your music but the tracks don't seem overloaded. How do you approach the process of mixing? You use a Midas Venice mixing desk, does that help?
Hmmm… It's sometimes overloaded, but I always trying to follow that rules; if a sound is not 100% necessary, don’t use it… It helps. The structure of a track is really important too… I have to say, I wonder sometimes myself how I was able to make a good structure on some track because they were really complicated. So that's why lots of my tracks have few totally different steps into the structure. Regarding the Venice, it helped A LOT! I really found the mixer I was waiting for a while. It gives me a chance to have a real hybrid studio where analog and digital sources were more friends than enemies :-). And it changed totally my workflow, honestly, I’m not sure the album would be the same without it. (And I promise, Midas didn’t pay me for promotion, unfortunately ;-). I was talking to Tiger & Woods guys last week and they bought it too, for the same reasons… I know lot of people who bought it. I’m even surprise Allen & Heath and Midas are the only one to produce that kind of mixer, that's the future.
The Roland SH101 has been a big part of your setup for years. It sounds like it is in full force on the album. What is it about this synth that you keep turning to?
Ah ! Ah ! I think it has 2 essential qualities for a synth: the sound, and simplicity to use. But, even if it's a simple synth, if you are taking time to know it, use it, experimenting, it can be a solid beast! That's why I love it! It's hard for me to make a track without it. But I did some without the 101 on the album. "Dwarf 2703" has a 101 style bass inside, but coming from a Logic synth, "No Judgment" hasn’t a 101 sound, "Superstring Theory", no 101, "Galactic Soul Odyssey" has no 101 sound, "Celestial Love Rising". So finally 50% of the album which is not a lot for me ;-)...
You started out as a teacher, eventually music took over and became a full time job, and now you've started teaching again and are not necessarily dependent on music to survive. Was it a tough choice to take up teaching again? Did you always have a plan that you would pursue music for a certain amount of time and then return to teaching?
Even if an artist has the dream of making music till the end of life, since the beginning I was realistic… I’m not a genius. I’m just able to make decent music sometimes, it's not enough to make music a living. So during the F-Comm period, I had to quit my teacher job cause it was too much work on a 24hr day. But I knew then later I had to go back to my teacher job, which is not a problem cause I like it a lot too. Five years ago, I felt the music industry was turning in a direction I didn’t want to follow, so to stay true and to still making music with pleasure, I decide to go back to my teacher job. So now it's still a real pleasure to make my own music. It's not trendy, but since I feel I still make progress and enjoying studio time, I’m happy with that, specially when I sign my album on one of my all time favourite labels. And I have to say that working as a teacher is good for inspiration, to be 100% into music all the time could bring something like a saturation sometimes. So the balance between all my activities is quite good now.
Was it a depressing moment for you or were you relieved that the pressure was off?
Hmm, relieved is maybe an excessive word, but it was a better feeling for composing. The stress is just sometimes coming when I feel really inspired and then I can’t work into the studio but have to do something else. But I learned to manage it.
With a family and a full time job, how do you find time to make music?
Fortunately I found a job in a really great school, I always have a days off a week, so it helps. Also, my job is not stressy, so I can work on music after a day of teaching, I don’t need to recover for hours on my sofa before making music :-).
The music that you make is not hyped or flavour of the minute. It's classic techno with modern skills. Have you ever compromised your art by trying to make something you weren't 100% behind just because it was a popular style of the time?
No, never. Every-time I make music, I need to have fun. So even if I made some side projects sometimes, it was always with fun, never to follow trends or to be popular. To be honest, instead of making "trendy techno" (if it really exists), just to be popular, I would prefer making pop music with my own style and having fun. But I think I’m not a pop artist anyway ;-).
You are curating some of the lineups at Rockerill in your hometown Charleroi in Belgium. Can you tell us a little bit about the concept and the vibe of these parties?
It's simple like a SH 101. Making parties in a incredible venue (old factory), inviting artist we love without following trends too… Just bring good artist, able to bring some good vibes and energy on the dance floor. So, of course, I invite some people I know (Kevin Saunderson, Laurent Garnier, Kenny Larkin, etc…), that's the advantage to be an old guy into the business ;-). But we also invite some guys we love the music or performance like Kerry Chandler, KiNK, Grand Master Flash. It's easy… And I think the people can feel it, thats why they are following us, it's nothing about money, but about music, and sharing a good moment together.
We're seeing a lot of the original figures in Detroit techno still going strong at 50+ years of age. Do you think techno has an age limit? How long do you think you're going to keep making it?
There is not an age limit I think. Inspiration has no age, even if I think there is probably some better period of inspiration when you’re young. So I can’t answer that question, I’ll keep making music as long as I have fun and emotions doing it… It works for musicians into jazz, rock&roll, blues, etc, why it wouldn’t be the same with electronic music ? No reasons...
Who is the most inspirational Belgian producer for you?
I would talk more about a label like R&S, it was a source of inspiration, excitement and pleasure since years. Inside R&S crew ; CJ Bolland, Marcos Salon (Outlander), Frank Dewulf. But I got a lot of inspiration thanx to belgian djs like Trish Van Eynde, Pierre, Deg, Steve Cop (all from Fuse Club). But also some famous belgian artists like Front 242, Telex, Toots Thielemans and many obscure bands and guys from the electro-body period in the 80’s.
Finally, can you list 3 key releases from your back catalogue and can you tell us the story behind each one?
Not easy for me to choose as I made so much tracks ;-)
Today I’ll choose:
My first Detroit label signature, for my hero, Kevin Saunderson, and with an edit (on the remix) made by Mad Mike himself…It put me on the techno World Map, and it was my green card to Detroit area ;-).
- Soul Designer "Walking on A Little Cloud", F-Communications.
My album for Laurent Garnier’s F-Communications. My first big success, and a real human experience with F-Com crew. I really felt so much energy behind me to promote my music with passion. Its a good feeling!
- Fabrice Lig "The track", Versatile records.
Probably one of my best tracks… Just because I was able to find the perfect combination between a great chord suite and a great bassline. It doesn’t happen everyday. And I like it too as it was a really hybrid track, combining a futuristic atmosphere and old school elements…
But some tracks like "Escape from Nowhere" on Raygun
"Meet U In Brooklyn" on Playhouse
"Even Deeper" with Titonton on 7th city are deep in my heart too ;-)...
"Galactic Soul Odyssey" is out now on Planet E: