French techno titan Madben has been a mainstay in the genre and has become a European club and festival favourite, playing places like Berghain and Awakenings. Now, he is releasing his much-anticipated second album ‘Troisième Sens’ on Ellum Audio, we caught up with him to discuss the album, his work in the studio and more.
Hey Benjamin, we are very excited to have you here on Music is 4 Lovers! Where are you joining us from today?
Hey, I’m super excited by your invitation. I’m talking to you from my new house in the south of Nantes!
You are a name synonymous with the French/European techno scene – where did your love for the genre first begin?
My love for techno music began in the middle of the 90’s when I was a teenager. I was living in the north of France, near the Belgian border. Quickly, this genre came to my ears. It was absolutely everywhere there: in the clubs, radios and I directly felt absolutely in love. I did my first dance moves at Belgian clubs and some warehouse parties. At this time, the techno movement was definitely more advanced in Belgium compared to France. Then I moved to Lille for my studies and I put on my own parties there as a promoter and DJ.
In your opinion, how does the French techno scene differ from its wider European counterpart?
Today it’s crazy what happens in France compared to the old days I was talking about before. France is a big country, with a lot of big cities and in each of those there are so many techno/electronic music activists: promotors, artists, festivals, clubs, radio… That means when you’re an artist here you can easily play tens of gigs each year without coming back to the same places in the same year. I think this is mainly what differs in France compared to other European countries.
Over the last decade, you’ve played at venues including Berghain and Printworks as well as smaller intimate spaces. Do you have a preferred space to perform in and why?
I love all kinds of spaces because you can feel totally different energies. But if I had to choose only one kind of venue… I would say playing an extended DJ set for 300 to 600/700 max people on a loud, well-balanced sound system. From my experiences, I always had the biggest goosebumps in those kinds of locations. I guess it’s due to the communion/connection you can get between the artist and the crowd when you play there.
Your latest project is an expansive twelve-track album coming out on Maceo Plex’s Ellum Audio, titled ’Troisième Sens’. What inspiration did you draw on for this release?
I took inspiration from the different kinds of music I’ve listened to recently, from the touring life I had during the past 2/3 years, from general life and from the location where I did this second album. The Parisian’s basement probably had a major influence on the music I did! A little part of this album has also been influenced by the lockdown we were living through during the pandemic.
The LP delves deep into a vast range of sonics, can you take us through your creative process in the studio? What tools were your most important?
I wanted to open the range of musical colours on this second album. I did this by upgrading the hardware in my music studio but also by learning more about sound synthesis and the way play with it. Ultimately, my creative process is and still has been the same for years when I am working in my studio: I start everything from scratch without any patterns! There are no rules; sometimes I can start with a drum machine sequence, sometimes it can be a theme on a synth. At the end, the purpose is to surprise the audience with the arrangement, in the sound’s colour and in particular when you play your tracks during the gigs… it’s always fun to see the crowd’s reaction to your decisions during the creative process.
Did you ever experience writer’s block and if so how did you overcome this?
Of course, it’s a classic when you stay 5 days a week locked in your music studio like I do! My little tip is super simple: I just need to take some fresh air outside to change my mind by doing something other than music. It can be sport, motorbike, visiting some friends or… going to a synth shop! It usually brings me to a completely new mood when back in the studio, with fresh ideas.
Will you be touring the album at all?
That’s the main target when you release a new album, you want to play it on stage! So yes of course, I will be touring as a DJ till the end of this summer, and then I will start to play a brand new live act mainly dedicated to this album after the summer. And it’s super exciting to come back on stage with a brand new live act!
What can we expect to hear from you in 2023 and beyond?
You can expect a new live act as I said just before but also a lot of new music to come after this album release. I moved to a brand new studio a few months ago and it’s inspired me a lot! We are already talking with a few labels I love about upcoming releases.
Madben ‘Troisième Sens (LP)’ is out on 7th April via Ellum Audio
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