After premiering a track from Felix Cartal’s album Different Faces a few weeks ago, it’s time for another exclusive: May 29 will see the release of the Black To White EP on Dim Mak Records, featuring no one less than Clockwork (check out the mixtape he did for discodemons.net while you’re at it), London-based The Loops Of Fury and Jakarta’s very own Angger Dimas on the remix front.
On that occasion I’m proud to not only present you an interview with Felix, talking about vocalists, haters, The Beatles, and of course about his new album, but also an exclusive blog premiere of The Loops Of Fury‘s take on Black To White. Fasten your seatbelts for some Domo-Esque high-pitched synth action!
Let me jump right into it: your new album is titled Different Faces – obviously not a coincidence: In a previous interview you said you “don’t want to be known just as another kid who makes bangers” – and while some tracks are still as heavy as expected, you’re clearly breaking new ground on songs like Don’t Turn On The Lightor Black To White. Where do you see Different Faces? Pop? Electro? In between?
Felix Cartal: For me, the most important thing in music is to keep moving forward. I’ve always loved vocals in music, be it from the days when I sang (albeit terribly) in my own band, or just from being able to relate to a piece of music on a lyrical level. Vocals are something very important that I have always wanted to incorporate. With Different Faces, I had a lot more of an opportunity to collaborate with some vocalists that I really admire and respect. So I think the heaviness still exists in the music on a lot of the instrumentals, but the vocal tracks are the ones that really helped push me into a direction I hadn’t been before. I hate labeling music under a certain genre, I just want people to decide if they like the music or not, and leave it at that. The genre isn’t important to me.
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You also said one of the reasons for the diversity of Different Faces is that you’re “trying to make music that people will remember”. With electro- and dubstep-influenced songs in the billboard charts, electronic music has obviously managed to break out from the clubs – but do you think there will ever be songs that people remind for generations in electronic dance music, as there are in pop music?
Felix Cartal: Of course. I think what causes a song to be truly memorable for generations is great songwriting. I think a lot of dance music is obsessed sometimes with the actual production of the track (which actually makes sense since a lot of dance producers are just thatâ€¦ producers rather than musicians — [although on that note some of the best music is by people who aren’t great musiciansâ€¦ but that’s a whole other debate]), instead of writing a song that is amazing in its own right. I believe a truly great song can triumph over any so-called “production-flaws,” examples being, The Beatles who tracked things on a 4 track, to Crystal Castles who embrace a truly aggressive sound, to Arcade Fire who recorded their first record in their apartmentâ€¦ In order for a dance song to last for generations, it just needs to be a great song. I fully believe that 100%.
The new album is highly polarizing: While some old fans seem to be alienated by the new sounds, you’re on the other hand clearly reaching a lot of new fans by widening your musical horizons: In times of Facebook and Twitter, artists are closer to their fans than ever – and while lots of artists seem to have that kind of “all for the fans, fuck the haters” attitude, you actually reacted to both praise and criticism. How do you deal with feedback – do you learn from it, does it influence you?
Felix Cartal: Haters. Well I mean I’ve only recently started to get them, and I mean, I think anything that causes a strong reaction (negative or positive) means you’re doing something forward-thinking. I’ve never really understood the mentality to follow someone on Twitter to tell them how terrible they are, and I think retweeting comments like this is just my way of laughing at it, and sort of bringing people who like my music in on the fact that this is happening. But I don’t take “sellout” comments seriously or am influenced by them because I’m happy with what I’m doing… and doing what I want. To quote Henry Rollins, “Selling out is when you make the record someone else tells you to make.” I have never made a song that wasn’t something I wanted to.
With the album clearly on the pop side of things and some recent remixes standing out with heavy sounds, how does last year’s Joker / Riddler EP fit in (or vice versa)? Will there be similar EPs in the future?
Felix Cartal: I still play Joker at a lot of shows, I don’t disregard this as part of my sound, and who I am. I still love those tracks. As for making music that is the same as that EP, I can’t really speak to that, I never try and make a record that sounds like another one of mine. Sure it can be influenced by it, but if I tried to make a 2nd Joker, I guarantee the critique would be, “sounds like a shittier version of The Joker.” I don’t want to analyze and try and recreate why that song worked.
As for most electro/techno producers, the typical workflow when writing music is working on tracks in the studio – mostly alone. What was it like having to share the studio with other artists, especially vocalists for full collaborations?
Felix Cartal: Oddly enough we did all the vocal collaborations over email and Skype. I’ve been on the road so much it’s been hard not to do it any other way. So my workflow was very similar, still being alone in the studio.
Speaking of vocalists: If you could pick any artist, dead or alive, to collaborate on a song, who would be your choice?
Felix Cartal: Lead singer of Muse.
You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that your musical background is punk rock – a common phenomenon among the big names in electronic dance music: Heavy metal, indie, punk rock, – electro definitely draws a lot of influence from other genres. What non-electronic artists do you like at the moment, what music influences your work? What was the last song you listened to before we talked?
Felix Cartal: Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of different things, I’m all over the place. Beach House, The Weeknd, Colin Stetson, Fun., Paul McCartney. The last song I listened to before this interview was Practice by Drake. It all influences me in different ways.
If you could play one single song to the entire world, which one would it be?
Felix Cartal: Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. In its entirety. With my back to the crowd. While texting.
Thanks for your time man!
Felix Cartal: Thank you!
Photo credits: Jenelle Schneider