Jean-Patrice Rémillard aka Pheek has been reinventing techno for about fifteen years in his Montreal studio. This extraordinary artist has always cultivated a mathematical and scientific approach of electronic music, giving a very important place to concepts that he applies to both his own productions and his renowned label Archipel Musique. As a real architect of sound devoted to organic sonorities and a minimalist aesthetic, Pheek sculpts textures and composes ambiances with a great sense of detail and a fierce perfectionism. Therefore it seemed necessary to ask this character about his music and philosophy, the result is the following interview which accompanies the exceptional podcast that Pheek recorded for us.

- Version Française -

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You are known for being a man of concepts, so can you tell us about the one you had in mind for this podcast ? Was there a particular story you wanted to tell through this mix ?
Yes, concepts are for me important as they are a used as a lever to bring my creations to a place that wasn’t planned in advanced. I believe music, as a true free form might become a routine and there’s then a possibility to fall into stagnation, which as a musician, is the thing you absolutely want to avoid. This is why I often write down ideas of music ideas which are used a canevas. The label Archipel Soundtracks is purely about concepts that are thrown at artists in order for them to get out of their comfort zone. That said, for the podcast, I focused on 2 ideas: storytelling and mainly working with unreleased music that had been sent to me as promos. I wanted a mystical, mysterious mood with a pure hypnotizing effect that would come towards the end as the mix creeps out on you. Playing with tensions, again, is a must.

How much space do you leave to improvisation in your studio sessions ?
I come from a theater training, where I studied and practiced experimental approaches for years before doing music seriously. Improvisation had a serious place in there as, in the spur of the moment, you let what is there be. No filters, just ideas and later you can decide what to keep and analyse the meaning of that of that. When I make music, a song or a performance, it has to come from a session where I played and tested things. I’d say that 90% of my music is purely just arranged improvisation.

I feel that your sound and aesthetic have much in common with the Romanian electronic music scene, which is booming at the moment…
It’s hard to hide my excitement for the Romanian movement! I believe this is the most exciting thing that has been happening to techno since the early 2000′s as there was a lot of music coming from Berlin and Montreal. The 2 cities had the spotlight and a lot of quality music was poping out. It was very nice to see what was coming next. I feel Berlin has lost a lot of its focus it used to have in the 90′s as there’s so many people who moved there and there’s a lot of different music being made; it’s not necessary a bad thing but it is not a group thing anymore. This is why the Romanian techno is amazing to me as they embrace a very particular aesthetic, mainly influenced by Villalobos’ deeper material. That can only be a good thing and I don’t know why this hasn’t been happening before already but it is oh so welcomed!

How do you create the textures and elements that make your music sound so organic, does sampling play a big role in your production process ?
What makes music organic is not a simple process nor a technique, It is an ensemble of ideas that are brought together. It’s a mixture of effects, arrangement techniques, tweaking and modeling. I would like to refer to Chef Gordon Ramsey on that one: »if you want to cook good food, you must first eat and know what good food tastes like. » Same thing for music, if you want a particular aesthetic, you must listen to that style a lot, as a reference for your ears on a sound you would like to be part of. Then comes the selection of sound, that must be correctly tweaked to give the idea or illusion they are real. Organic music in club context has always a really powerful effect on people.

Repetition has always been a key element in your work, what are its importance and role in music according to you ?
It is mainly the tool of hypnotism and tension building. Just like in classical music, it is through repetition that you build your crowd to a hungry state, where then, the slightest change will create emotional feedback. It is also extremely mathematical. Through years, it’s really interesting to see that certain equations will always work.

What’s next for you and Archipel ? Do you feel inspired to start composing a new album in the near future ?
The label, for me, has always been used as some sort of non-stop evolving DJ set. Each released is released at a specific timing and for a reason which is hard on artists sometimes, as they need to wait for their release for months. But I like to build something that has a sense, a direction and it’s fun sometimes, when I meet people who understand what I’m doing… or meeting people who don’t get it or disapprove it. I’m always amused how people think things are always on the simple/easy side. Our main focus is the 100th digital release that will feature 20+ artists and our return with vinyl releases.

As for an album, I’ve been starting and restarting for about 4 times now. I have many many tracks, enough to do 3 albums but I just can’t decide how to assemble the project so I will take my time. I’m excited by my new EP on Climat that will be on vinyl. There will be other EPs too and so, that will be an album, released through a year. The one thing that interests me the most in that project is the collaboration with other musicians, which is something I want to do more and more nowadays as I need to get out of my shell.

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Download here : (TAL102) Pheek – 09.02.2013

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