'Playing with the band is so much fun, it has that whole rock n' roll gig energy. I grew up listening to rock stars and bands so to me it was natural to want to get up on stage with a band.' Marko Kutlesa caught up with French electronic wizard, Fakear.
Date published: 18th Apr 2018
Fakear aka French electronic producer Théo Le Vigoureux is chilling at his countryside home in Switzerland when Skiddle catch up with him. His relaxed current surroundings are in sharp contrast to the previous evening, when he played a packed, sold out show at The Trianon in Paris, the city in which he lived before his escape 'into the wild'.
But this is a contrast that Vigoureux is now more than used to. A hugely popular performer and music maker in his native France, Fakear has been building a dedicated following for the best part of a decade. He has issued many album length digital releases and EPs containing electronica that takes inspiration from world music, dubstep and house. He has become an incredibly popular live attraction, headlining his own shows and at festivals, which he sometimes undertakes in full live band format, at others solo. It's a performance he's taken on tour across Europe and America.
Originally hailing from Caen in Normandy, where he was a school friend of fellow electronic artist Superpoze, Fakear has just released his second album proper, 'All Glows', and is about to take it on tour again, calling at Glasgow, Leeds, London and on 27 April at Soup Kitchen in Manchester. But, for now, he's enjoying the calm before the storm. The perfect opportunity to ask him about the new album and a little about his background.
Your debut album Animal was inspired by a new relationship and by your move from Paris to live in a village in Switzerland. What has been the inspiration for your new album All Glows?
Well, it's kind of not as easy to talk about this album in such a way, because I took the whole year to make it. I made a few instrumentals in early 2017 and then worked on it throughout the year. I was continuously coming back to the songs, adding stuff. I think it was inspired by all the trips I made, the US, Europe.
To me, 'Animal' and my previous EPs all talk about taking a trip, physically, on the earth. 'All Glows' to me is more about an internal journey, a journey into the self. It's a personal journey to spirituality. I was completely away from all that stuff, I just made my music, talked about emotions and things like that. But last year, with the help of my girlfriend, I discovered all these ideas about karma and spirituality and I started looking into it. The whole album really talks about that.
You mention that the recording process has been different for this album, but I don't want to ask too much about that because talking about 'processes' might be a bit boring. Has this change in process actually affected the sound of your music? How is 'All Glows' different in sound to your previous work?
I tried to be more precise with these songs. Previously, I had been making songs in around four hours. One shot. With the songs on 'All Glows' I tried to go deeper into all the songs, multiple ideas and emotions going into one track whereas previously I might have used only one in each song.
I was really influenced to do that by remembering some of the albums I loved as a kid. And they were the ones where each song told its own story, where an album feels more like a compilation of really great songs, you go in multiple directions within one album. I wanted to make a great combination of all the inspiration and influences I had got from the year.
It's quite a long album, sixteen tracks, so obviously there were a lot of directions you wanted to go in.
Originally I wanted to make a classic twelve song album. Twelve is a good number, you don't get bored. But, at the end, I had these sixteen tracks and I just couldn't remove any of them, so it was just a case of go for it, it is what it is.
There are quite a few vocal tracks on there as well, all of which are sung in English. You're already extremely popular in France, but to me this seems like you're intent on speaking to a global audience.
Yeah, absolutely. I think it's because of the internet, the fact that we're all so much closer now. I've toured the US and the UK and sometimes I feel like France is like an island. We're comfortable with our French artists, French songs. I can tour France for many years, but I don't want to do just that. I do this job partly because I want to discover other countries and cultures. It's actually way easier to write in English than it is in French.
You learned a variety of instruments. Is that you playing the Pink Floyd-eque guitar solo on the 'All Glows' track 'Tokara' and on 'Under The Last Tree'?
Yeah. The guitar was my first instrument. I was deep into it when I was in high school. For this album I wanted to beak all the boundaries I had placed on my previous music, where I'd be thinking “Maybe this track is a little too mainstream?” or “Maybe this track is too German indie techno sounding?”
For this album I wanted to feel relaxed, like, OK, I've made my music, this is me. Now I dare to put my guitar, even if it sounds kitsch, lame or not expected on my kind of electronic music. I'm a big fan of David Gilmore, so let's put that in it and see what happens.
It really reminded me of David Gilmore when I heard it. Which other guitarists do you really like?
Actually I'm a big fan of the whole progressive rock period. I'm a big fan of Dire Straits, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd. A lot of my guitar parts sound very 'classic rock'. It's kind of unusual to put that sound into electronic music, but I have the feeling that people are open to hearing stuff they don't expect.
What other instruments do you play on the new album?
Actually not that many. I played all of the piano parts. I have my saxophone in my room, but maybe that's for another time, maybe the next step? Apart from that, I play all of the sounds on the album, but the guitar was the only acoustic instrument I played on the album.
I recently saw video of you playing live in a cave, L-Ghar tal-Mixta on Gozo, Malta. Does your live set up allow you the freedom to be able to change the music in response to the setting you are in?
Yeah, absolutely. Basically, I use Reason as software on the computer, so it's song by song, it's not like a DJ set. I can therefore totally adapt the set to the environment. In Malta it was a really weird experience, but also very beautiful. It was playing just in front of the sea, no physical audience, nobody around me, but I was conscious that all these people are watching on Facebook live. So, it was like playing for myself but also for a crowd of people who aren't actually there. So, it was a really interesting session.
How different is the experience of seeing you perform alone, like that, to when you are performing with the band? How do you make the distinction, to let fans know if it will be you alone or alongside other musicians? It usually just says Fakear. For instance, I don't think your band came to the UK yet.
Ha! Yeah, even for us it's quite difficult to see the agenda, which date we will perform with the band, which will be done solo, DJ set etc. There are several configurations.
Playing with the band is so much fun, it has that whole rock n' roll gig energy. I grew up listening to rock stars and bands so to me it was natural to want to get up on stage with a band. The only reason the band didn't yet come to the UK or Germany yet is the budget. It's quite expensive to bring all that stuff. Maybe I will speak to my agent and ask them to make it more clear which configuration will be appearing at each show, it's disturbing to think some people might come to a show and get something that they weren't expecting.
The town where you were born, Caen, is 15 kilometres from La Manche (the English channel), yet you can get on a boat in the middle of your town and travel to England. Have you ever taken that journey?
Yep. I took that journey, I arrived in Portsmouth, I think. I only did it once. I was about seven years old, I think. It was a trip with my parents. It was so much fun, as a child, to get on a boat and just two hours later you're in another country. It was like magic. Now, I just take the plane, ha!
Do you think you or any of the youth of the city feel any special connection to the UK because of this famous link between your city and the south coast of England?
Yeah, they seem so close, but actually there are all these people from my region, Normandy, who are very deeply French. It's so different from the UK. I don't even know how to describe that. The French culture, the French cuisine, the people in Normandy are so deep into that, they're completely in it. Maybe it's because the bond between the UK and this region is so strong? Maybe it's partly a reaction to that?
Has Superpoze forgiven you for quitting the band you were in together to go and make music on your own?
Actually, he did that before me! He made the first move. He got deeply into instrumental hip hop when we were around sixteen and he quit the band. He started making beats instead. Then I quit the band in order to make rock songs on my own. We were still very close so we would always meet up and talk about what we were doing, listen to each other's music.
We had a radio show for about a year on the college campus station and we only played electronic music and instrumental hip hop. I started to create instrumental hip hop beats before I released my first EP. He actually taught me all of the machine stuff, how to use Reason and so on. So, he was a really good teacher, a mentor, as well as being a good friend.
Tell us something about him that not many people know?
When we were eighteen we went on a school trip in Italy. He was in the room next to mine. On the last day we got really fucked up, totally wasted in our room. Later, he was hitting on this girl at the party and we were trying to plan all these different strategies for this to have a positive conclusion. At the end of the night, after all these efforts, he actually managed to do it, they went together in his room and he immediately fell asleep. That was it. End of the story.
What's your favourite song of his?
I think the first track of 'Opening', his second album. I listened to it maybe a thousand times. I'm still a big fan of his work, but this track has such a resonance with me, it's such a strong feeling emotionally, connected to a time in my life when I moved from Paris to Switzerland. I was listening to that album all the time and it reminds of of this first step I made in leaving the city to go and live in the wild.
Are you still enjoying life in the wilderness of Switzerland?
Yeah, absolutely. More and more.
Your mom and dad are both music teachers. Which of them has the best taste in music?
Actually, they both have pretty similar tastes. I think I'm maybe closer to my mom's tastes than my father's. My mom kept listening to Sting, Dire Straits and all these classic rock bands whereas my dad, he moved to another kind of music. He likes French music. I'm not really a fan of some of that kind of French music, variété. My father is really into it and sometimes I just don't understand, ha!