Phonic Peace is your first full-length release
as Cell – what was your vision in preparing this album?
I wanted to
do something which could be listened by everyone. I mean,
often, people who are not used to listening to this musical
style (ethno/psy-chill) like it ‘cause Phonic Peace
is not too hard to access as Chill Out Music.
I had worked on two tracks before deciding to put them on
the album (Zaz and Mister Ayatih). These two tracks have been
like a starting point to the artistic direction of the album.
The thing is that I’ve always been touched by ethnic
style; the fusion between styles is very important for me…
The sound is strongly consistent across
the album – what was behind that decision?
right, it’s very consistent !...Too much, perhaps, for
some people, but I wanted the album be very rich, very large,
with a very spacey sound.
I think, my feelings are changing : today, I wouldn’t
use so many effects and so much reverb, but I have no regret
about « Phonic Peace ». I mean the result is exactly
what I want, deep, far and smooth.
Phonic Peace is somewhat different from the
sound heard from Cell on some of previous compilations –
was that intentional?
I had already ethno-chill tracks written for a long time,
such as « Zaz » and « Mister Ayatih ».
As you can imagine, submiting such tracks for compilations
was really difficult, ‘cause they are so long !...Then,
I decided to include them in an Ethno-Chill Out project. That
was a starting point very rich !
But, it was really a bet ! (And I massively thank Edoardo
and Giorgio (Neurobiotic) to trust in me in the project)...I
mean, people knew my work by compilations like « Fahrenheit
Series », which represent exactly my style, but I wanted
something different, more based on the Ethnic feelings.
But, people who have discovered « Phonic Peace »
should know that it’s not really my own style, even
if I really appreciate it…So, now, my work will be more
based on floating/hypnotic Chill-Out, like « Father
», « Hawai Transit » or « Audio Deepest
Night » tracks…
Tell us about your writing methods –
how do you start out making a new track?
I have not
a conventional method to write…in fact, I often start
from a piano sound on my master keyboard and record MIDI parts,
for many many minutes…then, I have very long parts.
After that, I often listen and listen again to all the notes,
by looping the part. That’s my favourite method, in
But, it’s totally different when I use samples. Because
even if I like working on the edit part of samples, I try
to imagine how the sample can be included in the track, and
often, all the track is based on it.
What takes the most time when writing?
Well, I think
my tracks, even if they seem to be simple are really complicated.
I often start by a « Base Session », which is
composed of the rhythmic structure and bass line, with chords
(pads and different waves).
Then, I have a sort of solid structure, where I can write
audio elements. So, I can go in many directions; it will depend
on the arpeggios, effects, leads that I want to put in the
second or third session.
But, the mixing part is really really important for me. I
mean, I work around one week on a mix, to have exactly the
sound I want. I often burn a CD and listen to it on many monitoring
systems, but my favourite check is the DVD player which is
connected to TV…The sound is really really hard. So,
if the track sounds good on it, it's ok !
How do you get production to such a high quality?
I think, as I explained before, I spend lot of time mixing
the tracks. I often use EQ and Comp (not too much !...), with
a visual Spectral analyser, just to confirm that what I hear
is what I see on the graphic . But, before the final mix,
I spend lot of time working on frequencies, which is very
important…For example, when I use percussions, I always
try to grant the harmonics of percussions with the global
chord of the track…It’s better, I think.
So, to resume, I think it’s a very very long work of
mixing...Not too much reverb (even if I think that in «
Phonic Peace » album, there’s too much reverb
time…), good EQs, Compressors (not too much, too !...)
and the most important thing is listen and listen again to
the result on different audio systems.
How would you describe Cell music?
hard to define…Perhaps, I would say that I put in my
tracks all my fears, my love, my questions, my fights, my
thoughts, my emotions, so it’s really complicated. It’s
like I talked to a close friend about my feelings…
That’s quite funny, ‘cause, at the beginning,
when I signed on Fahrenheit compilations, my style was really
dark and hypnotic…Today, I couldn’t do such things,
it’s really different now. I consider music like a sort
of therapy, which could help you to describe your mental state
and open your world to others.
What do you listen to for your own enjoyment?
not a trance addict. I’m nostalgic. I remember the «
golden age » of trance (around 1991-95…). It was
really a brilliant period for this music. Today, I don’t
listen to trance. But, perhaps, there is some good one ?...In
fact, I’m tired of speed BPM, that’s why I like
so much Downtempo and Chill Out music…
I massively listen to Classical, Jazz, HipHop and Electronica.
I’m a very big fan of Peter Gabriel. He gave me lot
of things in his music. I think I have around 30 CDs from
the RealWorld label…
If you could bring any new element into
the music of Cell with cost or contacts being no issue –
what would it be?
My dream would be include bagpipes in my tracks. It’s
one of my favourite instrument. I think, one day I will learn
how to play bagpipes. It’s a very rich instrument, I
mean the harmonics are so fantastic!
But, for the moment, I think I would like to work with a singer.
I’ve so many ideas with vocals that I would really like
to work with a girl who could have a voice such as Hooverphonic
or Morcheeba (first period).
So, do not hesitate to contact Robin (www.triskelemanagement.com),
my agent, if you want to suggest to me collaborations…
What does the future hold for Cell?
fact, I don’t know.
I think I’m tired with ethnic style. I would like
to concentrate my work on the roots of electronic music.
I mean, a very deep, hypnotic, floating style…More
based on the electronic emotions.
We’ll see…But, I’m sure that my next productions
will not be based on ethno-ambient style. I want to come
back to my original sound, and I hope that people who like
« Phonic peace » will appreciate the next releases,
Thanks to Alex Scheffer
for allowing us that interview.