Alex Gopher (Interview)

I’m proud to present an exclusive interview with French musician Alexis Latrobe, better known as Alex Gopher.  After having released two studio albums, Gopher recently stepped back into the spotlight with a remix album titled My New Remixes – which I used as an opportunity to ask him a few questions about his musical past, late singers, and Yves Saint-Laurent.

Disco Demons: Hey Alex, let me jump right into it: Your musical career started by playing bass in the rock a band called Orange with friends from school – including Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin, now better known as Air. As rock music with English lyrics was quite unpopular in France back then, you exchanged your bass for synthesizers and sequencers. In retrospect, are you glad that these language barriers made you switch to electronic music?

Alex Gopher: Of course yes ! That’s true that going in electronic music was at the beginning and opportunity to forget this language barrier. But at the same time the most important thing was the opportunity to be a pioneer in a new kind of music. Being innovative in rock music was a real challenge, but with a computer and a sampler it became much more easy. I made the right choice !

D.D. After the band split up, you’ve been collaborating with Air from time to time. What was it like working with former band collegues? As you spent lots of time making music with them in Orange – do they still influence you and your music?

A.G. It’s always a great pleasure to work again together. We have a lot of musical tastes in common so it makes things much easier. Of course I’m always a loyal fan of their music but they are doing their own thing, and I always tried to stay different. When we split up, it was because our goals were different, but now that we’ve down our own things it’s possible to collaborate again.

D.D. When you’re working together with Etienne de Crecy, what’s the process of making music like? Does one of you just come up with an idea and you’re then building a track upon it together?

A.G. When we work together for a track, we start from nothing, we do everything together. It was not the case for the Superdiscount 1, I did two tracks that Etienne “tweaked” to his own sauce.
But for the new tracks or remixes, we worked like a band.

D.D. Your first album was a huge success, partly thanks to the track The Child, featuring a Billie Holiday sample – decades after Billie Holiday’s death. If you could travel back in time to have one singer record vocals for a track, who would it be?

A.G. Marvin Gaye would be my choice for this impossible dream.

D.D. Back in 2001, Yves Saint-Laurent requested three tracks for his fashion shows from you, an honour that puts you in one line with names like Daft Punk (or later Justice). What was it like producing music for fashion shows? Did he give you a free hand in creating this tracks, or were there any restrictions?

A.G. It was a real collaboration between Hedi Sliman, the designer and myself. I was working on the music, and each days he gave me some indications, asked me for some modifications. It was at the same time really free but like fashion, really precise and calculated. A perfect melt of Art and Handcraft.

D.D. Your latest release is a remix album, featuring remixes for the likes of Kraftwerk, Fischerspooner, Shinichi Osawa and Dada Life – instead of creating an album consisting of your own tracks, you are re-interpreting other people’s music. How does it feel to have an entire album full of other artists’ songs and voices, but with your own sound and style?

A.G. When I do a remix, I really re-appropriate the music. So its true that this album is really close to an album I could have done if I was producing my own club album. That’s why I wanted to compile these remixes, it was important to do produce a conclusion with this compilation, to say “here is what I did musically these last two years”, because in many ways doing all these remixes is the same timing as an album.

D.D. I know lots of DJs and procuers who would never listen to their own tracks (or anything similar) at home. What music do you enjoy at home, in the evening?

A.G. You are right, I almost never listen electronic music at home in the evening !
After a day in the studio, I need some quiet, some cool music. Nick Drake for example is one of my favorites. Serge Gainsbourg also.

D.D. What was the last song you listened to before we talked?

A.G. A new track from autoKratz, ‘Skin Machine’. Good, I will play it on Saturday night ! [note: this track can be downloaded in 320kbps quality for free on Disco Demons]

D.D. I once asked Olle from Dada Life what songs he would pick if he could only save five records from his burning house, and he told me: “Records? I’ll go for the computer to save the whole collection! We aim for the future.” What do you think about the quarrel betweeen vinyl lovers and laptop DJs?

A.G. Technique is just a detail for me in the process of DJing. The most important thing is to give and so to take pleasure. I’m an old school DJ, so even if I don’t mix anymore on vinyls, I use CDs like I used Vinyls : one track on one record. That’s not very safe for the environment, but that’s far more funny than being in front of a computer like doing emails or accounting !

D.D. Out of personal interest: How did your track “Aurora” get its name?

A.G. With this track, I wanted to start something new, to be musically born again. Aurora is the beginning…