Le Spectre is Paris-based drum and bass and advertising music veteran Yann Levasseur‘s newest identity – a return to the fray after a decade of commercial work.
There’s little obvious trace of his previous musical projects, although he claims that in some way it’s a reaction to them.
These analogue creations definitely belong to the John Carpenter tradition of atmospheric electronic music, but without his recent flirtations with guitar solos. Even within the tracks there’s a range of styles and moods. While they have dark moments, these are maximal rather than minimal tracks, more concerned with making a strong impression than staying within the limits of fashion or genre. Sometimes they verge on melodrama, but they’re executed with such charm and skill that it’s possible to accept these moments as part of the overall blend.
Codex Europa spoke to Levasseur to try and understand what informs these highly characterful tracks.
How did your drum and bass background influence what you’re doing?
I think there are no traces of my D’n’B past in Le Spectre, but it could be something that has to do with groove and snare drum love.
What’s the philosophy behind Le Spectre?
Simply trying to be creative and dark!
You seem to blend several different styles – are you deliberately trying to avoid genre definitions?
Absolutely, I’m trying to avoid musical genre and being predictable. I like the idea of doing something coherent track after track without doing the same thing again and again . The only self-[imposed] limit is to use vintage analog synths, modular synth, beat boxes, but no samples or virtual synths.
Would you say there’s a specifically French element to your sound?
No I would not say that. I don’t really understand what [the] media call “French touch” nowadays. 15 years ago it did make sense with house music. At that time you could easily identify a French production, house beat and disco/funk samples looped and filtered. Now it’s not so obvious. The Ed Banger guys have that “No Hi-Hats” style that is some kind of signature, but not all French producers do that. There is also a French dark movement in which I could be classified with guys like Gesaffelstein or Zombie Zombie, but that’s not French touch, is it ?
What kinds of scenarios did you imagine for these cinematic tracks?
You may know that I work as advertising sound producer, so I make music and sound design for videos, that’s my job. That might be why my tracks feel cinematic. To be really honest, I make this particularly dark and melancholic music to clear my brain from my work, those positive major scaled tracks they ask me to produce. But no I don’t begin to work with scenarios in mind, I’m just searching for something that will astonish me, trying to make something new with the sound.
Can you tell us something about your set-up? Analogue seems to play a major role?
The title of the EP talks for itself, Analog Monolog: self project with analog synths. The EP was produced with vintage synths only, an analogue modular synth and beat boxes. I really don’t want to use digital synths or virtual synths. I also prefer no memory synths, for example I have a Prophet 5 whose RAM memory is gone so there are no pre-set sounds in it, I could easily fix that but I really love the idea of starting from scratch, making my own sounds. Pre-sets are boring, they have no identity. Making music with pre-sets programmed by another guy sounds very strange to me.
Finally, what are you planning next?
I have some tracks ready, some with punk band singers, other instrumentals so a new EP will be out soon !