Sebastien Devaud mixes and matches the last decade in dance.
A French dance music heavyweight who loves jazz and techno, runs a multi-faceted imprint and is famed for unpredictable DJ sets? It's to Sébastien Devaud's credit that he's stood apart from the lengthy shadow cast by compatriot Laurent Garnier. Sure, in a broad sense there are similarities, but as Agoria, Devaud has cut a singular figure, not just in terms of the French scene but electronic music in general. DJing since the early '90s and releasing records since the early '00s, Devaud's style—loosely based in techno but soaking up influences from all over—has always been replete with little idiosyncrasies and melodic turns. This is also true of Infine, the label he co-founded with Yannick Matray and Alexandre Cazac in 2006, but departed from in November 2011 in order to concentrate on his solo career and collaborations.
If you've been following his adventures in recent years, you'll also know that Devaud is something of a mix CD specialist. Efforts for At the Controls, Balance and Fabric were all master classes in molecular mixing—tens of tracks, their component parts stitched together to create a (hopefully) cohesive whole—and he takes a similar approach on RA.299. As we turned ten last year, Devaud was keen to mark the occasion by mixing some of his (and our) favourite music from the past decade...well, we overshot the deadline. But as we creep up on our 300th podcast we felt now was as good a time as any to mark the milestone.
What have you been up to recently?
I just finished mixing the album of North American singer KID A. Finally! It took time! We began the recording last May, and I needed to stop touring to finish it properly. She made the whole composition almost alone, music and lyrics. A few friends have collaborated on it with us like Spitzer, Bachar Mar Khalife and Opti. She was my biggest discovery of the last few years. I made few tracks with her for my last album and a new one will be released on Visionquest this summer. Her voice and charisma are really special. She has her own world.
How and where was the mix recorded?
At Circle Room Studio in Lyon.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
RA approached me to do the podcast in the middle of 2011. I was interested in doing it, but I needed a direction. There were a few ideas, one of which was to make a mix of RA's favourites by looking over the decade polls and the year-end poll from 2011. Wou! That was a big challenge, as it wouldn't be only my own mix then, but also the vision of the website. This had to be a testimony of a period without playing only surefire hits or huge anthems of the last decade, because something like that would have been really hard to listen to. It had to paint a landscape, with different colours of the day, a summing up of the last ten years.
Looking back on your role within Infine, do you think it prevented you from focusing on your own career development?
Not really. But I'm touring so much, producing music, writing for TSUGI, receiving cinema projects, eating like a French chicken every day, it was physically not possible to do it all! I'm a man of challenge, I need to build and experiment. InFiné can continue without me now like Nuits Sonores festival did when I've decided to focus on making music.
What is it about the molecular mixing style that interests you? All of your recent commercial mixes featured tens of tracks and your RA podcast is no different.
Good question. For this podcast I actually use all tools of the last decade to be really into "the witness concept." So I used a computer, but also turntables (you can hear one or two little "mistakes" when I push the records with my fingers... sorry! ), CDs and even old loops from my SoundBITE. I guess that playing just 12/15 tracks together in one hour doesn't excite me anymore alone in a studio. I'm happy doing this every weekend in parties in front of an audience. But alone in a studio, I prefer to focus on writing musical stories, mixing stuff that are not supposed to fit together.
What are you up to next?
I'm developing a project with the brand Courrèges, which is well known in fashion for his audacity, inventing for example the first electric car decades ago! At the same time we are thinking with some close partners about how we could help young artists to develop their career... how we can make them exist nowadays. Obviously I'm still in contact with the club scene, and starting a huge tour which will bring me up to September...that's in my blood! Then I will focus again on my own material, making a new album at the end of the year.