Interview: Vitalic

Jasmine Phull cathces up with electronic aficionado Vitalic as he gets ready to take control of the decks at Lyon's Nuits Sonores festival.

Jayne Robinson

Date published: 21st May 2010

Jasmine Phull cathces up with electronic aficionado Vitalic as he gets ready to take control of the decks at Lyon's Nuits Sonores festival.

Pascal Arbez aka Vitalic is in Lyon, France for their 8th consecutive electronic indie music festival Nuits Sonores. He’s one of the first of the night and will be playing tunes from his 2009 Flashmob, the highly anticipated follow-up to his 2005 debut Ok Cowboy. At a Vitalic gig a punter can expect high energy head-bangers that may induce nose-bleeds. He mixes techno, house, electro, rock and italo-disco and his music is only an evolution of its former self. It never stops growing. Stagnate is not something on the ‘To Do List’ of P. Arbez.

His dance-floor staples have included 'Poney', 'La Rock 01', 'No Fun', and 'My Friend Dario'; understandably expectations are very high. The internationally acclaimed electronic aficionado is tall and slim, and his inconspicuous attire aptly complimented his humble nature. Before beginning, we assessed the language barrier; as a Dijon-based producer of Italian decent, the artist's English was laced with eastern-French inflexions. Naturally, I leaned in closer, decreased the tempo of my voice and we began chatting. 

You played just as much of your old stuff and your new at this year’s Nuits Sonores. There seems to be quite a distinct difference in sound between the two.

Yes, my older stuff is more aggressive whereas the new stuff is a lot softer; the first album is more rock and the second one is more disco, but it is all still synth based.

What was the motive behind the shift in sound?

For the past four years it (the music) was quite hard and I just became a bit tired with it all.

So tell us about your most recent album Flashmob. Have you kept any of the same ideas? I read that you were against sampling music.

For the second album I kept the same ideas, but there are some small short samples you can’t notice. Whether it’s Michael Jackson or Justice, I take inspiration from everywhere; composing is about taking small parts from everywhere and making it your own.

Is this growth also reflected in the set-up of your live shows?

Well, we’ve got a new set up with mirrors and LED screens because I think it’s a bit boring with just one guy on stage. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while and it doesn’t feel as lonely when I’m on stage.

You started up in 1996, so you’ve been doing this for a really long time. Is it still exciting?

As long as you evolve and as long as you take risks; invest your money in good shows and studios and try to find new tracks and new techniques. Then you don’t feel like you’re working in a factory. But when I first started it was way more difficult to create music.

How so?

Ten years ago, you had to buy all the studio equipment and then you had to learn how to use it. Now you can easily make a track sound really good, in less time and with less money and because music is pre-chewed (pre-made), creating it is a lot like making a puzzle.

Do you think it’s cheating or do you feel that’s how technology has allowed music to evolve?

In the end, the ease of technology makes no real difference. The talented ones will always stand out, even with all the new technology.

Have you embraced social media as a way to connect with fans?

While I’m tour I think it’s fun to tweet with the fans.

When did your passion for music start?

When I was 8, I learned how to play the trombone.

Oh wow, do you think that’s something you would integrate into your music?

Ahah, no I don’t think it would fit.

What’s one of your favourite places to play?

Panorama Bar in Berlin. That place is fucked up; an absolute freedom place.

What do you think about guys like Justice and Boysnoize?

I really like Justice and Boysnoize when they do the quieter stuff. I’m not a fan of the harder stuff.

How about Lady Gaga?

When I saw her on TV she seemed like a fragile bird in a big zoo. I think she is very arrogant to compare herself to Madonna and all this shit; it sounds a bit stupid.

It seems she’s a fan of shock value in order to get people’s attention.

Shock appeal worked in the 70s and 80s with Madonna etc but now saying you’re a lesbian doesn’t work anymore. Nobody cares anymore; it’s very difficult to shock people. But even without Lady Gaga the music would be a success.

You don’t seem to be a fan of the marketing aspect of the ‘artist’, would you ever delve into something similar to Justice, who collaborated with design agency Surface2Air; creating jeans and jackets.

I would do it if I liked the idea and I will be doing something like that soon, but I can’t talk about it.

You can tell me I won’t tell anyone. aha

I’m designing a Coca Cola bottle – because I like the idea.

Similar to the Ed Banger crew?

Yes, but just one design – to be everywhere is not my style. But I prefer to talk about the music and the set-up and not my personal life.

So who are you dating at the moment?

(Whispers behind his hand).

Do you enjoy playing other people’s music?

For 10 years I said I would never DJ, but last year I wanted to do something different and I started to DJ and I loved it. It was really fun to mix new tracks, old tracks and my tracks.

So why were you against it before?


At least you’re honest.

No, maybe not arrogance but sometimes you’re just a bit closed. Also when I say something, two years later I do the contrary, because if you keep with the same ideas you never evolve and you never change. 

Interview by Jasmine Phull

Read Jasmine's full review of Nuits Sonores here



Catch Vitalic at London's Coronet Theatre for Together Presents... Vitalic on June 11th. Buy your tickets below!

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