Interview: Five minutes with St. Germain

Image credit: Ken Davis

We’ve been venturing into the world of nu-jazz blended with house music recently and naturally, one of the first names to stand out was French-producer St. Germain. His well-known album, Tourist (which sold over 4 million copies worldwide) recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, with the occasion marked by the release of a series of reworked editions of the songs. Compiled together under the name Tourist 20th Anniversary Travel Versions, the new album puts a light on musicians such as Nightmares on Wax, Osunlade, Black Motion and Jovonn, to name but a few, as each musician provides their unique reinterpretation of the St. Germain’s music.

With over 26 years in the industry, Ludovic Navarre (aka St. Germain) has proven he has a keen eye for rising artists – particularly keeping tabs on the music scene in Africa. Naturally, we were curious about the musician, his selection process for the remixes and what plans he has laid out for the future. You can catch it all below – in the exclusive interview with St. Germain:

Your latest album of remixes marks the 20th anniversary of Tourist, an album that was “a wildly successful hybrid of dance music and jazz”. How did you decide on which artists to work with to recreate your sound?

I wanted to invite the artists I used to listen to in the 90’s – people like Ron Trent US, Jovonn US,  Nightmare On Wax UK. I would have loved to ask Louie Vega, Kenny Dope, Moodyman, Kerry Chandler to be part of it as well but unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to make it happen. So in the end, I was very happy to collaborate with Atjazz UK, Terry Laird Reunion Island, DJ Deep & Traumer FR, all of them had already worked on my previous « African » album released in 2015. Black Motion (from SA), Julian Gomes (also from SA) and Osunlade (from the US) have joined me on that trip.

Which remix has stood out for you in particular and why? 

Every remix has its own world, its own sound, and at the same time, every one of them is so different from the other that I cannot answer your question. I invited every one of these Musiciens/DJ/Producers for their personalities and the fact that they were unique to me. And by the way, I am very thrilled with the result

Which track should your fans pay extra attention to?

It depends on what kind of music they like. There are afro house version, deep house versions… 

While Tourist was released 20 years ago, you’re also approaching your 30th anniversary of creating music in the industry. Do you intend to celebrate this noteworthy occasion in a similar manner?

I don’t think so. Actually, no.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

Since the beginning, I’ve always had the same way of working. When the music is done, I record the session with the musicians one by one. Then I add the voices on the track and in the next step, I work alone on the final version. That final part takes a huge amount of time because I am very seldom satisfied. And when I finally am, I mix the work.

For a long time now, you’ve had a big respect for the afro-house scene from South Africa and Mali. Who are the artists you keep an eye on over there?

Kabza de Small, Black Motion  Jullian Gomez, Blaq Owl, Cuebur, Culoe de Song, Da Capo…

As your original album name suggests, you’ve had a well-documented love for travel. How has the lockdown and covid impacted your creativity?

Quite frankly, I do not feel a big difference in my way of life. Aside from when we are on tour, I’ve been confined since I was born! I very seldom go out, I pretty much work all the time, I listen to a lot of music, I’m a big fan of softs… time flies (when you’re having fun).

Looking to the future, can we expect more original work from you in the upcoming year?

I recently listened to my « Tourist » Album again while making the Travel Versions and I can tell that I’m willing to come back to my roots. I mean working on mixing Jazz Soul Blues Latin Dub… along with Africa of course. I’m on my way.

One last thought to share with your fans?


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By Sarah Britton