Part 1

Name: Malik Djoudi
Nationality: French
Occupation: Producer, Songwriter
Current Release: Tempéraments on Cinq7
Recommendations: Les clochards célestes, Kerouac; One painting of Turner’s art; Tadao Andō: japanese architect; Amy Winehouse: Rehab.

If you enjoxed this interview with Malik Djoudi, visit his homepage or facebook profile for more information and current news on releases and tour dates.

When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?

I started writing at the age of 13, with the piano in my childhood home, without knowing music so much. I began to produce music at the age of 19, when I first earned money with music, I bought my first home studio.

My first influences are love and travel.

When I was a child, I used to sing on countryside roads with my mother. I always had melodies in my head.

For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?

I always lived with artists by my side and always sang with bands, produced music for dance shows … Then, one moment, I decided I wanted more … to make music by myself to find my voice.

What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?

I never learnt music and when I compose, I prefer not to listen to music because I’m afraid to create a transfer between what I listen to and what I create.

My biggest challenge in the beginning was to trust myself and to trust my ability to compose and produce all by myself. Now, as I trust myself, I need to focus on always evolving in my own project.

What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?

It was a friend’s dirty bedroom with two beds, lots of guitar pedals, synthesisers and in the middle, a computer.

The only thing that we changed is the sound card which is an Apollo. The most important thing that comes with me live is a Prophet synthesiser, my Fender and my guitar pedals.

How do you make use of technology?

I only use what is necessary, since I started producing. I just use the software as a sequencer. Today I could work with a software from 1990 and the music I'd make would be the same.

In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?

Technology doesn’t create, because creativity comes from the heart. But it can help. To me, creativity and technologies are evolving together.

Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work?

Since the beginning, I always use the same tools. Now the only thing that I can say is that maybe, the better I’m at producing sounds, the better technology is going.

Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?

Sometimes I have surprises because when I try to find a sound or an effect on a sound, an accident can happen so it changes the feeling of the track.

Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?

Collaborations open doors. Firstly, it’s a feeling. Sometimes we meet then we share files. The thing that I like about collaborations is that each one can bring something to the other. It opens new perspectives, you can take a step back, and it offers you a possibility to take the creation as high as possible. For this project I worked a lot alone. Confronting others helped me discover different experiences and brought more light to my music.

Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work?

I always wake up at 8 am, I take my English tea and my eggs, I take a good shower while listening the piece created the day before. I get dressed. I take either my bike or the subway, headphones on, to my studio in the 11th district in Paris. I leave my studio only one hour in the day to eat. I can work there until sunset because it is a place where I feel good. I create new sounds, movie music or some synch works.

How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?

When I’m around family and friends I try not to think or do anything related to music, I really try to disconnect. But my music is very much inspired by my private life.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

As each human, and I think that it’s the same for all artists, I’m in a search for love. Sometimes it’s here, sometimes it’s gone. I’m always inspired by desire and absence, fear, a lack, love: these are limitless sources of inspiration to me, especially at night. To live under and without guarantee.

Each source that I just quoted is a note in my brain that ends surely at the tip of my fingers to deliver its echo on my keyboard. Everything begins on that keyboard, melody first, followed inexorably by what makes life beat: drum and bass. When I start composing a song, I create a void in my head. I reset my mind. I feel free like a newborn; I try to be a virgin from everything that I previously did. To me, composing is like a conversation with my instruments.

Ideas always come from my head and I put them back on my computer. I’m obsessed by the idea of copying the melody that’s in my head.

There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you?

Work, danger, emergency: ways of living, almost surviving. Friends and love are dangerous but also crucial. Creativity is an act of resistance.

How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally?

Working in the studio is study work, it’s my laboratory. I’m always thinking about how it will be played live when I am creating in the studio. A live performance is like a celebration of what was created in studio, it’s a gift after studio work.

How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition?

For me, improvisation doesn’t have any limit. It’s a way to be free and I take pieces of the improvisation to put them back in the composition.

How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?

The sound aspect is really important for the composition aspect. A different sound will change the composition.

The recipe is always the same, I internalise and intellectualise my music, then the elements are the same as in that quote earlier (keyboard, guitar and bass). It’s just by the time of preproduction or mix that I play with sound, to create the music that is at my word’s service. Even if my music is pop and electro, the lyrics aren't any less important than my obsession for music. 

Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?

Let’s talk about sex baby, let’s talk about you and me (hahaha)

All I need is love,

So my head gives to my heart, my heart to my fingers , my fingers to the skin, The skin to the eyes, the eyes to the mouth, the mouth to the head, the head to my heart.

Desire make life and life is a perpetual movement.

It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?

Music is always evolving. The future is already there with artists like Tyler, the Creator and James Blake. I imagine that artificial intelligence will bring creations that can’t be imagined today and this is very exciting to be projected in that way.