Hello Folks! I’ve been in touch with Nicolas AKA Volfoniq for few weeks now. I really enjoyed discovering his musical world and I wanted to introduce Volfoniq to you all. I believe this is really cool project. Check out (end of the page) the exclusive track he’s giving away for FREE to you guys. He reworked the mix especially for you, so please leave a comment to thank him and if you visit his website, you’ll discover he offers to download for FREE a great album named “Ernest”.
Hello Nicolas, can you tell me more about yourself and your artistic project ?
I’m 37 years old, and runing Volfoniq since 7 years. I’ve learned musical therory and practiced clarinet when i was a kid. Classical scores and stuff always annoyed me a lot, so i started to compose elecrtonic music when i discovered trackers software on atari in the late 80s. I soon went into Djaying as it was the techno movement birth in France. I founded several electronic music bands in the following years Volfoniq being the latest and the only one still active.
What drove you into Dub music ? And why is your Dub so different ?
I guess i came naturaly to dub because of two things : my taste of eclectism, and the like of experimentations. These two points are what define dub the best for me. Dub is more than a musical style, it’s a whole way of musical conception, a state of mind. If you look closely to the modern musical history, you realise that dub and jamaican music culture shaped almost everything that has been made in the last 40 years. I realised a few years ago that almost all the bands i liked in my life were somehow related to dub music in a way : might it be thru mixing, effects, or rythm.
I got from my early Dj years the habit to mix electronic music with funk, new wave, world music, soundtracks, movies bits… i kept this like when composing. When you put in the same track tango and ska, or Banghra and dubstep, you have forget everything you know and think music from scratch each time. It’s both very exciting, and a lesson of humility.
On your website I can read “After 7 years of travels and encounters, tons of collaborations and gigs, Volfoniq let you discover his first personal album.” Please tell us more about this 7 year long musical period ?
As I just said, all my musical path is filled with encounters. I started touring first out of France in 2007 and i met a lot of people thru these travels. Volfoniq is a solo live act, but involving people i met depending on the tracks. I’m more comfortable in this way of working, as for me each tune deserves a new approach. We can say it’s a virtual geometry band, and even if i’m alone on stage, there are often recorded parts that came from other musicians or singers around the world. Working this way makes the process of creating an album a difficult task ! I had to stop the stage for several monthes and gather an intimate team of musician friends to set a group of tracks that could fit together. The album is described as a travel diary, i could not imagine better words : there are collaborators i met thru these seven years, and some tracks are from my early works, so it reflects the evolution of what Volfoniq is and has been.
During all these years, a big part of the adventure has been possible thanks to my home label “LibreCommeLair” (http://www.lclweb.org). This place is a real incubator for creative eumlation ! They do brilliant work on promoting artists thru creative commons license.
You are giving away your album “Ernest” for FREE on the internet. You have also set a BUY link for those who want to own an HQ version of the album (WAV track, not MP3) or just to support you. Why don’t you sell your album ?
Sharing my music has always been natural. From the time i started making music, i used to put my tunes on the internet. We were not much to do so by this time, so i quickly connected to the creative commons licenses movement.
When the question to sell it came out, it was obvious for me that you reach more people by properly promoting your music online than selling it.
There was no convenient way to sell digital files in the early 2000’s, and producing a CD costed money and energy i prefered to invest into making music and networking. So when the first digital music shops were set, i always had a good network of people and website and didn’t see the benefit of selling my music. Gigs are where you make real money, and i could tour in several countries, and even play at major events such as Sziget festival without having a single commercial release.
You choosed to give away a track called “Phantomaton” on electro-swing.com exclusive tracks. Anything you want to say about this track ?
Sure ! As many of my tracks, it had several lives. The original is from one of my previous band, the only thing remaining being the guitar intro. It was by this time an electronic ska. I rebuilt it for Volfoniq in 2008 adding the bossa nova touch and the glitches. The mix you can hear now was specially made for ElectroSwing ;)
What’s in your studio ? How do you make music ? You see yourself more as a musician, a producer, both ?
Basicaly, i see everybody as a musician and as a producer. No one has the right to keep the knowledge in a closed chest ;)
I have a very basic setup : a laptop, a 4 chanels soundcard but with good converters for acoustic recordings, a pair of microphones, a midi keyboard and a midi controller with a lot of knobs. Not much more than any bedroom composer indeed.
The most important part for me is the software, i use Ableton Live that is in my opinion the only musical soft able to put ideas in form as they came. I can get back hours on a track, but i need to catch things on the right moment. I construct tracks in a very jamaican way : as long as i don’t have a good riddim (drums & bass) i stick on the basic. I use basslines as a rythmic element, so the rythm is really what defines my tunes. When i’m okay with the riddim, i go on with melodic parts, that can be home made or involve guests.
How do you transpose your studio work on stage ?
Again, jamaican school ! I write a basic score of my tracks with an intro and outro, and the inbetween is mostly looping. That let me plenty of room and possibilities for the live stage ! I follow Mad Professor advice for younger dubbers : no risk, no dub ! Having powerful tools can tempt you to setup a maximum of things in advance.
I do the exact opposit, almost nothing being written. While playing on stage i constantly have to shape the music with the mixer and effects, but also synth parameters and Dj tricks. This permanent state of intensity is so exciting, i think i would get really bored without it.
A good memory of your artistic life you want to share with us ?
I’ve got so many, here’s one of my best : i produced a few years ago a lullabies EP for children, remixing traditionnal children songs from around the globe with a dub approach (see here http://www.lclweb.org/audio_ep_lcl12.htm) . I used by this time to play one of these lullabies at the end of my liveset. So i was finishing a gig in switzerland with “Bonne nuit”, that i only knew as a piano or music box tune. Suddenly the whole audience started to sing alltogether, because there are german lyrics for this lullaby i didn’t even know. Imagine a crowd singing a lullaby with a smile on their face in response to your music… pure magic.