Vitalic sets us straight

When Vitalic summoned the spirit of sweat-steamed, full-powered rock riffage and rebirthed it as a rave-seeking 21st century techno juggernaught through 2001’s infamous ‘La Rock 01’, he began a laserlit career that would see him celebrated as one of Europe’s most inspired genre-benders.


Blending elements of rock, italo, disco, electro and pop on his second album ‘Flashmob’ in 2009, the French electro-tech innovator displayed a production maturity that only a handful of today’s electronic producers can claim and produced one of that year’s definitive electronic albums in the process.


We snagged the French producer, known to his mum and postman as Pascal Arbez, for a quick rendez-vous ahead of his live set at this year’s Bloc.


You have always seemed to ignore the current trends and instead focus on being yourself, but what have been your biggest musical influences over the years?


My parents used to listen to disco, as well as rock stuff, Jean Michel Jarre or movie soundtracks. I suppose it had an influence on me, although I can’t really make a solid statement about my influences. But disco can be found in many different genres and it’s the basics of electronic dance music, so I think it’s one of my main influences.


How did you first get into producing electronic music?


In the mid 90s, when everybody was into bad trance, Green Velvet and Daft Punk came with some dirty music mixing different genres, and I thought that was it. I wanted to make that music too so I decided to buy pieces of equipment.

Your track ‘La Rock 01’ from the Poney EP has to be one of the most played techno anthems of all time. Every time I have heard it played out it has taken the roof off. Did you have any idea that you had created such a monster when you finished it?

When I finished it, I thought I had made a very effective techno/rock track… I was happy with it as I spent quite a lot of time on it. My friends were not crazy about it so I expected nothing special.


In ‘Flashmob’ you manage to bring together a huge range of sounds (we can ear elements of techno, disco, trance, electronica, electroclash and much more besides) into something that sounds perfectly complete, uncluttered and cohesive. Was is it hard to bring so many different sounds together without sounding undirected?


It wasn’t hard because all the tracks were made in a short period -less than a year in fact – so the sounds and the techniques are quite similar throughout the LP, even if all the tracks are different.


What is your favourite track on the ‘Flashmob’ album? Is there one that is more special than the others for you?


I think it is ‘Still’. I had something very precise in mind and the song is exactly what I wanted. The song is liquid, kind of grey electronic pop.


You’ll be playing live at Bloc, what does your live show consist of right now?


I’ve heard a lot about Bloc and my English friends are all excited. I’ll come armed with a sort of portable studio, including a sequencer, drum machines and synth, and play my tracks live.


Have you got any idea of what direction your next album will go in? What releases are coming up in the rest of the year?


I have started to work on new tracks and I feel like getting back to rock energy, but still with disco flavour. This time I want to avoid vocoding and use real voices.


What music have you been finding most inspirational lately?


My musical thrill over the past year or so was Caribou.


- Vitalic strolled through woodland with Allan McGrath