5 Minutes With… débruit

It takes little more than a glimpse at the introductory video to his upcoming album to recognise that Xavier Thomas, otherwise known as débruit, is not a conventional artist. “Throw me back in the sea I said, I had reached a shore I thought was the one I left” the voice behind the image groans. “I heard a synthetic accent, rhythmical as a drum, of an unknown present, I hadn’t swum“. débruit is on a journey of musical exploration, the next product of which has us intrigued. 

Hi there, how are you and what are you up to today?

Hi, I’m good. I’ll be up to a lot of things today; the sun is coming in nicely through my windows.

To those not familiar with your sound, how would you describe it?

My sound at the moment is a bit like if synthetic music had existed in ancient West Africa a long time ago and somebody from New York in the 80’s was influenced by it.

What are the 5 albums and artists that have influenced you the most?

I can talk about scenes rather than artists or specific names as I can’t narrow things down that much. The punk funk, post punk scene of NYC in the 80’s, tribal music from West Africa, experimental electronica from the early 2000’s but also people like Serge Gainsbourg, Gary Bartz.

Which other artists are you into at the moment and why?

I like Dean Blunt, Konono N°1, Paul White, Mo kolours and Funkineven. People who develop their own sound so that you can feel their passion coming through.

What are some of the key pieces of gear you use to write your tracks?

I’d say my head and my imagination. I don’t worship gear at all. I think I could translate my ideas into music with any piece of gear, I love the research process, the thinking before even sitting in front of an instrument, that’s most of the work for me.

 You/your sound is described as “afro-beat surrealist, spaceshipearth spine funk, synthetic grooves”. Can you explain what you mean by this?

I think I mean that it’s hard to put me in one box but I heard from others my sound is distinctive. I’ve got such a wide interest in different genres of music and art that I couldn’t put just write one short description down. I’m just saying I do electronic music with a human feel in the rhythm when people ask me.

You say that you are creating and combining elements that have never existed before? How so?

Well, that’s easy. If I tell myself I’ve never heard a talk box (Zapp and Roger’s synthetic vocal effect) on an afrobeat tune, with tribal percussions, I try it. These are things from different places in history and in space and combining them can make something new. That doesn’t mean it will sound good, sometimes it doesn’t work.

What can people expect to see from your sets that you wouldn’t from other DJ’s?

That I play live and there can always be a surprise coming at the next turn.

What’s the best gig you have ever done and why?

It’s tricky cause there are a lot of bests for different reasons. I can name a few it’s always a question of location, promoter,  crowd, line up and atmosphere. Sonar 2009 had a special flavour because that’s where, for the first time, I saw a big crowd who didn’t know me reacting to the energy of my live set.

What’s the worst gig you have ever done and why?

Long story, but it was with Joy Orbison and Kode9  in the middle of nowhere near Swindon. No roads to get there. Bad organisation. No one came because no one knew about it and it was in a middle of nowhere with no roads so technically, no one could come?! When I say no one, I mean no one. I managed to escape in the end with difficulties. How? I can’t really tell.

If you weren’t a musician what would you be?

I don’t like to describe myself as just a musician in life. Lots of interesting people around me don’t care that I am a musician. I’m ok to be something or anything else depending on when. I’m a spectator, a basket ball player, an art lover, a bad chef, a good friend, a cyclist, a fan… being too much a musician can sometimes cut you off from society and wider social interactions. It’s important to not just be that. I like art and architecture, I wanted to be an architect when I was young so maybe I would be that. Maybe I’d be fishing sea bass in the Atlantic Ocean… not that I don’t do that already, I mean professionally.

Do you have any information regarding upcoming releases, projects, DJ mixes or collaborations in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

I’m finishing my album called “Outside The Line” that will be out before summer. This year I’ll be doing another album and that will involve travelling, I’m also working on a really special live show (with different art forms) and collaborating with people.


To keep up to date with débruit, his journey and his releases, click here.

Written by Maya Radcliffe.