As a follow-up to our L'indecis Ring The Bell album review, we had the pleasure of talking to Arnaud about the creative experience and how the album came to be. He was also kind enough to craft an exclusive mix which "contains some of my favorites songs with vocals" for us!
- Hiatus Kaiyote – Sip Into Something Soft
- quickly, quickly – Come Visit Me
- mndsgn – slowdance
- CARRTOONS – GIMME YOUR LOVE!
- Taylor McFerrin – Chance to Say My Piece
- Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper, 9th Wonder – From My Heart and My Soul
- Daniel Caesar – Loose
- Mac Ayres – Never Let Me Go (ft. CARRTOONS)
- Tom Misch & Yussef Dayes – What Kinda Music
- Thundercat – Innerstellar Love
- Domo Genesis, Cam O’bi – Faded in the Moment
- Devin Morrison – L.O.V.E
Hello, Arnaud! First of all, congrats on Ring The Bell! It’s an awesome project! Can you tell us about how it came together?
Hey, thank you! It started with short beats videos that I shared on my socials. My brother visited me and we made the last beat video of the album (MILES). At this point, I realized I had enough material, and started to polish the tunes, added new ones then blended them together.
One of the first things I noticed is how impressive the production on the album is. I had the pleasure of listening to the album on a couple of headphones and I gotta say, it’s truly special when you can hear every single tone, harmony, and beat in such a crystalized way! How important is production for your projects in general?
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I’m very pleased to read that as I give a lot of attention to my production. Mixing skills always improve as you keep learning new things and affining your hear time over time. I want a new project to come with the best level of production I can give at the time and an album is a way to encapsulate it.
Your music is classified as “chill-hop,” “lo-fi hip-hop”, etc, but there is so much going on in each track that it’s impossible to label them with just a term or two. For example, there are a lot of jazz and blues influences in all of your projects so far. Do you consciously strive to include them, or is it something that happens naturally?
Yea I think a large amount of lofi/chillhop channels, labels, and playlists have contributed to the fact that artists are over-labeled under these few specific genres. Anyway, I was really into jazz and blues when I was learning guitar and it kinda forged my way of playing. I would say it’s mostly something that happens naturally as I don’t intellect my music too much.
Speaking of jazz and blues, we should mention that you are a guitar player yourself. How much attention do you pay to the guitar as an instrument and how important is it for your creative process as a composer? How often do you practice?
Guitar used to be a huge part of my production and was most of the time the start of my creative process. That being said I think it changed over time and particularly in the last years. At some point, I was getting into the same chords and melodic ideas over again and switching my habits was a good way to feel creative again. Lately, I didn’t practice guitar much as I spent playing with synthesizers or working on my production. It became more like a support instrument than the actual base of my music.
Back to Ring The Bell, one of my favorite moments is the only vocal feature on the album - “LETGO” with Mary-Grace Dineen! It’s really an awesome and refreshing beat and the vocals add so much more to it! Do you plan to collaborate with her in the future?
Ahh, Mary is amazing. When I met her about a year ago I really thought that would be dope to collaborate but she’s living in the UK so we couldn’t really meet during the pandemic. I’m glad she posted that video of her singing because I suddenly felt inspired to create something around it. I really hope I can work more with her in the future as she’s an amazing singer and heartwarming person.
There is perfectionism in every single project of yours. Everything, from the artwork to the composition to the production, looks and feels thoroughly planned and precisely executed. Can you tell us more about the way you approach making music? How much in advance do you plan? Do you leave anything to spontaneity?
Thank you! I’m still trying to find the balance between perfectionism and being a maniac about every little detail (haha), but I feel the new album made me progress on that side.
I won’t say I plan a lot in advance. I just try to constantly make music until it makes sense to release it as a project. My other releases were a bit more anticipated as I was working with a label; there are more people involved and you have to fit the label’s agenda. Ring The Bell wasn’t a project until a month before it came out. I think it’s a more spontaneous project as it went from concepts to the final thing real quick.
Tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to make music professionally? How hard, or scary (or both) was making that decision, knowing all the uncertainties and risks that follow it?
When my music started to grow I was still working in IT. At the time I wouldn’t leave my part-time job because it kept me financially stable and motivated. I had enough time to make music and I wanted to keep it as a hobby. Then late 2016 I was doing my taxes and saw that I made exactly the same amount with my music than working in IT 27-hours a week. That’s the moment I really realized something was happening. At the time I was working on my album Playtime and it made sense for me to quit. I wanted to have more time to work on this release. I’m glad I did because this album worked out super nice for me.
Did you ever have to compromise with your music? If not, what could make you do it (if anything at all)?
I’m happy I didn’t have to compromise with my music. I heard of a situation where labels refuse tracks because they are “too much out of the spectrum”. I’m glad Chillhop Music were always open to what I could propose musically, as I did in Plethoria for example. I never want to compromise the musical aspect of an album as I think it’s the first step to strain creativity.
What makes you feel inspired? Is it music by other artists, literature, movies, or everyday life?
This will always be a mystical question (haha). Obviously, any form of art such as albums, movies, paintings, live shows... makes me curious and inspired. Having socials interactions or adventures then find myself alone at home is another one. Traveling and biking around is very important to me as it’s the best way to clear my head. And a clear head makes good music :)
Speaking of inspiration, what is more important for you - feeling inspired or having the self-discipline to sit down and produce music no matter if you feel like it or not?
I think both are important because sometimes you need to trigger your creative self and you can’t if you’re not sitting and producing constantly. On the other hand, I try not to push myself too much if I don’t feel inspired and just do something else. I’m glad I’m able to do that. I’m not in the situation where I have to release something to be financially stable and that's a situation I don’t want to deal with.
I am curious about your favorite producers and musicians. What do you listen to right now? Who do you consider to be the “hottest new thing” in today’s scene? And conversely, who are the artists you think are the all-time greats?
I listened to the new quickly, quickly album The Long and Short of It quite a lot recently and I’m amazed by the level of production and creativity this project has. Kaellin Ellis is also a big influence as he presents creative beats and videos. The new single by Moods, Music Saved My Life made me excited about his new album. Ahhh so many dope producers that I can’t list everything.
About the all-time greats, Bill Evans will always be a special one to me. His music is timeless and it’s like I am constantly rediscovering it. Michael Brecker, D’Angelo, J Dilla, James Blake, Mac Miller, Flylo... also some of the goats.
Finally, it’s a bit of a cliche, but I just have to ask it! The 5 albums you would take with you on a lonely island, thanks in advance! :)
- Bill Evans - Portrait in Jazz
- D’angelo - Voodoo
- Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
- Kaytranada - 99,9%
- Jan Jelinek - Rock In The Video Age
Last, but not least, tell us about the vinyl edition of Ring The Bell, as well as what can we expect from you in the future?
We just finished the vinyl campaign on Diggers Factory so the production will start soon. Those who missed it can check out vinyl digital, hhv, or my Bandcamp to get a copy in 2022.
I’m very excited about the future! I want to release a few projects in the next years where I really outcome myself. I want to push my music to the next step and I hope people will support it ♥