With a career spanning almost 2 decades, producer, DJ and previous manager of the Airflex Labs label, PEEV has been consistently active in forging alliances between the cutting edge of French and British techno. Ahead of his Bristol debut at Loose Lips’ 3rd Anniversary party alongside Skee Mask, Loose Lips caught up with PEEV to discuss his varied cultural influences, admiration for the UK scene, and idiosyncratic approach to production.
Hi Pierre, where are you in the world right now? Describe your surroundings.
I live in the beautiful and dystopian city of Paris, in the 18th district between Barbès and Montmartre, which is my favourite place to live in town. Paris is a very stimulating city with tons of things to see and discover, filled with wonderful people and a population density that allows for incredible things to happen on any day or night out. After spending 10 years in Lyon, Paris really felt to me like a bigger playground. I’m also surrounded with such different, loyal and creative friends and I feel grateful for that. But Paris is also a tough city, that suffers from a lot of issues which create a lot of urban inequality. People struggle to pay their rent here, and the town is so grey - I never understand why people call it the city of lights. But, it is also beautiful.
You’ve spoken a lot in the past about links between Lyon and the UK’s techno output, and have been instrumental in nurturing the bridge between the two scenes. How do you see this relationship continuing in the future?
Lyon has always been a playground for electronic music, just as Paris has been for clubbing in the past. I think Paris took back its leadership in the last few years and is now bubbling with musical creativity. People from the likes of Sonotown, 75021, Concrete, and many many more put all their energy into this with heartwarming and solid results. On a more global scale, I really think there’s a bond between the UK sound and the French audience.
The rave culture that turned into club culture in the UK is far older and more seminal than its French equivalent (that is sometimes non-existent depending on the specific genres or movements we would talk about). Now that France has quickly grown an electronic music and clubbing conscience, a lot of people realize how important our relationship with the UK scene is. And the neverending creativity of the ‘UK techno and broken shit’ scene - as I call it - is the best source of inspiration that I’d recommend to any producer / DJ.
When listening to your most recent Medea EP, there appears to be clear connections to the Livity Sound/Timedance sonic aesthetic. Your work has been compared to artists such as Asusu/Batu/Simo Cell in the past - are these comparisons you welcome? Or do your main influences come from closer to home?
I’ve always been inspired by the sound and process of UK producers, labels and bands. From Adrian Sherwood to Radiohead to Objekt, LFO, Pearson Sound, Emptyset, Vex’d, Lee Gamble or Autechre to this new fantastic generation of producers such as Batu, Beneath, Bruce, Hodge, or brother Simo Cell (and so many more). I’ve always felt connected to this never-ending creative lineage.
On a more precise level concerning this release, I’m not sure if it should be compared to the sound of any of the artists you mentioned. It’s more like a blend of post-jungle on the B-Side and power ambient on the A-side. It’s quite a powerful record, and probably the least melodic set of tracks I ever released. It’s the end of a long process I’ve been working on for years that led me to put rhythm-focused compositions out for a long time. Ever since I started playing piano again I’ve moved back towards harmony. I’ve explored more ambient / experimental / neo-classical on my Rinse show and that has been great too. I think I’ll be able to blend both worlds in my own music soon.
The Loose Lips 3rd anniversary will be your Bristol debut. Are there any elements of your sound that you’re excited to explore in a city with such a prolific musical legacy?
DUB and everything in correlation with it! I’ll be staying for a few days to explore the city, visit record stores, meet people... I have a lot of things to discover and learn from the city itself. I’m really happy to visit!
Whilst you’ve been playing under the PEEV alias since 2012, do you find elements of your previous work and projects influencing your current practice? Outside of producing, how does this affect you as a DJ - does one inform the other?
My previous projects have been more heavily focused on melody and ambiences. Also I’m a CTO in real life so I deal with quite massive amounts of code on a daily basis. PEEV has been quite a visceral reaction to these two factors. I felt the urge to focus on process and dig further into digital synthesis tools such as Max and Reaktor and blend the results with analog treatments such as old echo units etc... That was quite a good move on a personal level because I really upgraded my toolbox as a producer and it took me places I would never have explored without it. As a DJ I always love to blend and bend music beyond genres. Deconstructing and creating new links between two tracks is my favourite kind of DJ-ing.
Outside of music, are there any particular artists (from any medium) that are currently inspiring you creatively?
I code a lot, and the bonds between digital technology and arts are stronger than ever. The mindset of code engineering can have a very deep influence on one’s brain. I’ve been using quite a lot of creative coding frameworks - such as P55, OF, Super Collider or Max - for a long time and the community builds incredible things with them. I would recommend everyone to dive into the world of digital art.
I also started drawing recently - I always wanted to start drawing seriously but never did - and it’s like a daily therapy. I draw when I do a work or studio pause, usually for 15 minutes, and it really makes me feel like being in a dialogue with myself. It’s silent and really introspective but in a light and gentle way.
On the “therapy” topic, I try to cook a lot, at least every day. It really helps me taking focus back from a day of logical sequences and brings me back to natural movements, and to putting my other senses to use.
You’re performing at Positive Education Festival for the third year in a row next month. Do you have any stand-out moments from the previous years that you’d like to share?
The people from Saint Etienne and the Positive Education crew are more than friends. They’re family. When I was living in Lyon, I would take a train to Saint Etienne to party with them rather than spending the weekend in my own city. The festival and the people who built it are simply fantastic. The whole experience is genuinely unique, and I feel lucky to have friends like this who put their love for music and their beliefs before anything else. Anyone who enjoys un-compromised line-ups and human experiences should attend this festival and spend a few days there. Do it.
Finally, what can we look forward to from you in 2018?
I have been mastering quite a few records that will come out soon. I absolutely love remixing other people’s music so I have a few remixes coming out too, but no releases planned. I recorded a full solo piano album over the past 6 months, and I would love to turn it into a special ambient project under my own name, Pierre Serafini.
Also, we’re talking seriously with a friend of mine about launching a label. I’d love to do this again, and it might be just the right time.