French musician Yuksek talks to Swide about playing on the music scene with friends, how he accidently fell into being known as a dance music artist, that making music videos isn’t his thing and how being a Dj has its health risks. Ben Taylor investigates...
It is going to be a busy Summer for the musician/DJ who is hitting the festival circuit and getting crowds of dance music lovers raising their disco hands high!
After being told his flight was fully booked and having to convince the staff to let him on the next flight by proclaiming his love for them, a taxi cab of confusion and set starting times being stalled, Pierre Alexandre-Busson, a.k.a, Yuksek arrived at Milan’s Tunnel Club. Yuksek was there to play a DJ-set at club night Le Cannibale, which invites some of the most well known, sought after talents on the scene to come and tear up the dance floor.
Pierre is a trained pianist, has taken part in several bands and is now known globally for his work as a producer, his remixes and projects with other French Electronic maestros such as Brodinski and The Magician. With his second LP ‘Living on the Edge of Time’ released under his moniker Yuksek, Pierre has been touring the world and playing as a live act with two other musicians. Swide’s Ben Taylor caught up with Pierre and here is what he’s got to say for himself..
‘Living on the edge of time’ was released last year, has been very well received and since then you've taken on the road. Why the choice of title and how do you think your sound has developed from the other records?
It is the first time that I’ve had to make the second album. Since the first one, I've done different projects with bands, djs etc and I'd just made one record. Then I decided to do something else and there was not much success or whatever but eventually it was time to make a second Yuksek album because there were people waiting for it to happen. I was like, 'ok, I have to make a second record but I can not do the same thing twice. If I start to work like that it is just the end of it, how could I make music anymore'.
During 2006/7/8, it was a really exciting time; we were in a group of people, fighting with French Touch Music for this sound, all done in a nice way of course, but it was exciting to make this sound and to be a producer, not singing on the track... but if I did, modifying my vocals. Whereas this time, I’m not really into the banging stuff and I really wanted to sing all the songs by myself. First of all, because I wanted to try something new and, second, I wanted to create a proper live performance. I’ve actually only played 10 times as a DJ in the last year but performed the live set around 90 times. On the first record I was doing live sets alone but there were a lot of people who featured on it who never managed to get or even get together at the same time; I mean, Chromeo are living in New York and then there’s Amanda Blank, the guys from France and so there was no way to have just one show in two years with everyone. It happened once with Amanda and once with ShitDisco but never everyone and I got pissed off that I never managed to play how I wrote the record live and so, this time, I’m singing everything by myself and it is much easier.
How did you get into the dance scene? Have you always been into French House and Electronic music?
It’s difficult for me because I feel like I am in the dance scene by accident. I mean, I've had a lot of bands, I am a pianist, I play the bass and, so, I am also a musician. I don’t like to say that I am a dance producer or musician but I don’t feel like I have that 90’s house background and I also feel like I don’t have a vision of what dance is now. I mean I’ve got my friends, like The Magician, for example, is one my close friends and I am doing his production and we're working on a project together. Then, there is Brodinski who is another friend, also Gesaffelstein, and so on, and the scene, for me, is just my friends where no one thinks they are famous and so I don’t know if they are really on top. I don’t know,
So, French House has those that are classed as its purveyors; Daft Punk, Etienne de Crecy etc... David Guetta?
I’ve no idea about that. It’s modern pop music, it isn’t my taste and so I find it difficult to have a reall opinion on that because it is not my culture, it’s not what I listen to. I mean, it’s not shit because he is doing something for people but I don’t actually know who is producing for David Guetta and or if it is still himself doing it… or just some tall blonde guy, who knows? But, he's part of this modern sound. The only thing he has to do is find something new to do in music videos… the poor guy can’t just stay behind the decks in every clip.
People practically pass out with excitement at the thought of you and Brodinski working together again as The Krays. What is it that whips up so much excitement?
I don’t know. It’s like beauty and the beast, but I don’t know which one the beauty is. It depends on the time and it depends on the night. I suppose he’s young and fresh, well not that fresh any more, and I’m like the older guy, the big brother.
Does that piss you off? Being the 'big brother'?
That’s difficult. No, it doesn't. Fake! Fake fake fake… I have a lot of opinions and sometimes I’m not nice hahaha. But, I am not fake, I don’t talk shit and I am not playing someone else.
Dance artists and music videos. You've worked with Skinny, Cédric Blaisbois and, more recently Romain Segaud for 'Off The Wall'. Your music videos are very interesting, particularly for your current LP. Why are they so important for you?
Hmm, it’s not that important I don’t think. Honestly, I’m really more focused on the music and I am not one of those kind of artists who really have a vision of what their image is, their record covers etc. I’m just focussing on the music, my brain is full of it and that’s enough. So, I’ve got people around me taking care of it and I have to admit that I am quite bad at it myself, so I prefer to be too involved in it. They are guys who are heavily involved in their own videos; Para One directs his own videos and just completed his video for ‘Lean On Me’ which he shot in Tokyo. Then there is Woodkid who creates his own videos and is a part of his story, Daft Punk etc…. But I don’t get involved. Sorry, am I just saying ‘no’ to every question?
No no no, you’re still answering them for me, even if there is a ‘no’ involved. Let’s see how you answer this one. Tonight, you’re performing as a DJ and taking everything into consideration, what is it that you get the biggest kick out of when you DJ?
For me, it is more of a question of fun. Having fun and giving it to the people and, as I told you, I don’t really play as a DJ anymore. This is something that I will return to as of September onwards, so at this time, it is just for fun. Actually, in Italy, we didn’t play the live act this year and so it is a good time for me to recreate the DJ situation without the six fucking guys that I’m touring with. You know, seven guys together all the time, in the hotel, the backstage, in the restaurant, off-stage, on-stage and, man, I just want to play some records… They’re great, honestly hahahaha.
Is being a DJ a health risk?
I had to stop smoking 3 months due to problems, which meant I had cancel shows and spend a week in hospital with… well, disgusting stuff. And so, I had to stop. I am a really stressful type of person and I’m always tired all the time, smoking became my vice. So, you push and push and at one point something eventually breaks. I had to cancel anything and everything for one month and rest. Everyone has their limits but, sadly, people rarely know their own limits.
Is it a case that you forget yourself and get too involved in the music?
Well yeh, you’re travelling all day, you arrive at night, you maybe practice, you do the soundcheck, then the show is ending and you want to party and drink. You go to sleep for two hours and then the next day is just the same. You pay the price one day.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
I don’t think I’ve even been given bad advice. I’ll think about it whilst I’m playing and if I think of something I’ll let you know over the MC. Let’s stop the music… I have the answer!!
Yuksek's current LP 'Living on the Edge of Time' is currently available on Savoir Faire records