I’m super stoked to get to meet you with the world-acclaimed music producer and DJ - Wax Tailor!
Having released six studio albums, he has been recognized as one of the main defining figures of the electro hip-hop/trip-hop scene worldwide. With 6 studio albums, more than 800 concerts in 60 countries and numerous awards, he is an ambassador of turntablism and has even performed with full orchestras, sharing his fresh take on beats and sampling with thousands of people.
The French music-maker certainly has a lot to share about music, after more than 20 years in the industry. In this interview, he talks about the transformation of sampling culture and the music industry as a whole and explains what he wishes he knew when he started back then in the ‘90s. In addition, he shares a bit about his upcoming album Fishing For Accidents. And if you want to learn more about these topics, as well as what’s his favourite gear and which is the most surprising concert he gave, read further.
Hi, Jean. It’s an absolute pleasure and honour to have you on board! I’m so excited to learn about so many things and I'm sure our readers are as well! First of all, congrats on your latest single “Forbidden Cabinet”. Can you share a bit about how it all came together?
Thanks a lot. About “Forbidden Cabinet”: it came with an idea around the sampling culture and how the industry killed it for obvious commercial reasons. I deeply believe that the evolution of rap music and everything around those past 20 years is very linked with this. So I just wanted to make a kind of enigmatic story track playing around with the idea of the sampling as a forbidden culture that survives in the shadow of the police. Of course, it’s more like a cynical joke and soundwise I wanted to create it all with my old sampler ASR10 Ensoniq to give it a stamp.
I know that you decided to go for a different way of dropping a new album and this time you’re feeding us regularly, instead of sharing the whole meal all at once. What made you decide to go for this strategy in regards to Fishing For Accidents?
There were 2 reasons for that. The first one is linked with the concept of this album. Fishing For Accidents is an idea which has always been part of my creative process. I think it’s like a director who captures things that were not in the scenario. So regarding this, I think it was interesting to build it in real-time. Then the second reason is also the paradigm of 2022 with streaming platforms and how people deal with the music. I think we can still be creative and keep the narrative even with those new elements, your own rules in the matrix.
Do you have more collabs planned for Fishing For Accidents?
Nothing planned for now but I work on it and I’ve got a few ideas ;)
What’s your favourite part of being a music artist?
I can’t tell you if I like more studio or live shows, it depends on the period; but I can tell you what I hate and it’s the dark side of being an indie producer, spending more than half of my time working on how to fight against this industry to survive...
You’ve been in the music industry for more than 20 years now, when was the moment you realized that music is your passion for life?
Probably when I was 15, that moment when you realize that everything in your world revolves around music. At this time I didn't think about making a living from it.
What are the things that you wish you knew when you started back then in the ‘90s?
Probably that it could be a job for real to avoid wasting my time at the University ;) More seriously, there are plenty of things that could have helped me but with the benefit of hindsight, it was a process, it took me longer, we had no internet and everything was way more complicated than nowadays but we had a different relationship to time.
What fuels your creativity?
The world we live in, everything around me. Of course, music and cinema are part of it but in another way, I’m very interested in geopolitics and how it affects our daily lives and our near future.
Do you stick to oldschool techniques/devices when you make music or use some modern tech?
I would say that I like the “best of both worlds”. I still use my old ASR10 but not the way I used it in the 90’. There are plenty of tools and plugs nowadays that are really exciting and it would be stupid of me not to use them. But I really believe that whatever you use, it's always a question of creativity in the first place.
Your favourite gear?
ASR10, my old pal since ‘94.
What are you currently mostly listening to?
Not really listening to any new releases, I mean I check the releases every week and I get some good tracks quite often, but really good albums are something else. But I have to be honest, I'm not as curious as I used to be about new things so I probably miss things. I spend a lot more time digging through old records.
Do you have a favourite vinyl?
Probably The Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed from my father’s collection.
You’ve collaborated with a number of renowned artists, such as Ghostface Killah, Aloe Blacc, D-Smoke, Tricky, Mick Jenkins, Adi Oasis, Charlie Winston and more. What is the usual way you pick who you work with?
It’s always about the music, like a scenario that comes first and then you pick the right actor. I don’t really care if the artists I work with are well known or not, but let's say I’m more proud when they’re not and it’s a discovery for the people who listen to my music.
What would be your dream collab?
Probably Billie Holiday, it’s gonna be complicated.
You’ve toured the world! Is there a particular city/location you remember with exceptional delightfulness?
Valparaiso in Chile. Don’t ask me why, probably because it was my first time in South America. But there are plenty of places I could mention, touring across the world is my greatest luxury.
What’s the most surprising concert you’ve had?
I would say a show during my UK in 2010. The show starts, power is cut after 2 minutes, the electricity comes back, we start again, then 5 minutes later it switches off again. This night we tried 7 times before eventually giving up. Later we learned that it was because of the fire safety system of the second venue of the place. It was a big metal band with pyrotechnical equipment. The safety systems of both venues were reversed, those guys had no worries and they owe me one ;)
Where can we see you this year?
I've declined all shows for this year to focus on this album but I’m working on Europe and North America shows for 2023.
Thank you so much for this interview! I wish you lots of fun and inspiration this Summer!