Marc Leclair aka Akufen has come a long way in the four years since the release of his now-classic debut album, My Way (Force Inc. 2002). In that time he’s garnered a reputation as one of the planet’s most in-demand DJ’s – not to mention one of the scene’s most talented – delivering prime-time sets to exuberant crowds all over the world.
He’s started his own label, Musique Risquée. And bucking all expectations, his follow-up to My Way was not another Akufen mission statement, but an altogether different beast, Musique pour 3 femmes enceintes (Mutek_Rec, 2005), released under his own name, which showcased a more experimental bent to his restless sense of artistry.
You could say that, true to his credo, Marc Leclair still does things his way.
For a lot of producers, the Akufen way has simply become the way to assemble tracks. After the release of My Way, Leclair was humbled by the unparalleled accolades and legions of admiring peers who began paying homage to his micro-sampling aesthetic. And yet, for Leclair, like any true artist, making music has always been a matter of where to go next, to find those stones still left unturned.
“The aesthetic for the Akufen stuff is changing a lot,” he explains. “It’s become much more old-school, funkier and more downtempo, with a bit more hip-hop favour”. To be sure, no matter which way you break it down Akufen is still in the business of making dance music. As for now, he’s meticulously composing his next attack and looking to show us new ways of dancing. He’s gauging the temperaments he culls from the world’s dance floors while DJing and then crafting his response.
Rest assured Marc has seen more of the world’s dance floors in the past four years than he has daylight. “I’m touring like crazy. I’m gone three weeks out of every month.” Every stop is like a tutorial for him, every dancer a lesson. For those who show up looking for a whirlwind micro-house extravaganza, along the lines of his monstrous Fabric 17 mix (Fabric, 2004), walk away knowing that Akufen is a DJ who shows up not fulfill expectations but to trump them. Give him half a chance, and he’ll fuck with your head.
“My DJ sets are getting more experimental, more technological dance music than techno, with still a little bit of house thrown in. Actually, I’m even clearing out the house records to create a more mental experience from the DJ set, by playing more electronic music with an edge.”
When he’s not DJing, Leclair considers himself a conceptual artist first and music producer second. Perhaps his most considered artistic statement of late has been his least recognized. In 2005, Leclair issued a second full-length called Musique pour 3 femmes enceintes, a boldly experimental meditation on the cycle of pregnancy. He has performed the piece at London’s Tate Modern and across the world.
In 2005, at the prestigious Ars Electronica festival, Leclair debuted an audio-visual version of Musique as part of a project called 5mm, which includes fellow Montrealer Gabriel Coutu-Dumont, who handles the visual component of the performance. The pair will be presenting the audio-visual incarnation of the ever-progressing work at the 2006 edition of the Mutek Festival. A CD-ROM release of this performance will soon follow. Then he leaves for China, where he will spend a month working on his next audio-visual project, which will focus on ancient Chinese music.
And yet, when not recording music or traveling around the world’s nightclubs and museums, Leclair finds time to remix other artists, run his own label, and even work on side projects. These days, he’s remixing Mike Shannon and Radiq, two more names to add to a reputable roster that already includes Richie Hawtin, Cabaret Voltaire, Yello, Massive Attack, Thomas Dolby, and Thomas Brinkmann, to name but a few.
As for Musique Risquée, Leclair’s boutique label, its catalogue continues to swell with new and respected talent alike. Whether it’s the latest whim from his own studios, or the work of artists like Atom TM, The Rip Off Artist, Philippe Cam, Crackhaus, The Mole, Stephen Beaupré, Trendsetter & the Followers, or Bruno Pronsatto, Risquée records live up to their namesake and go a long way toward lining the Akufen DJ bag.
Leclair has even released some new music on the Perlon label’s popular Superlongevity 4 compilation, as Horror Inc. And this is what he seems most excited about at the moment. “The new Horror Inc. stuff is totally cinematic, jazzy and really dark”, he says. Whatever he has in store for us, we’re listening.
Akufen is now working finishing some new material and the new album to be released during 2008.