Interview: Exploring various cultures, summertime DJ sets, and life with Cubenx

Artist Cubenx is a true artist’s artist, and we were incredibly excited to talk to the talented Mexico-born, France-based composer recently about all of the work he’s been crafting behind the scenes. Known largely for his work with Infiné Music, the DJ/producer is gearing up for a massive summer, and we luckily caught up with him before the beginning of summer madness…

Hey Cubenx, it’s good to finally speak with you. How is everything going?

Thank you! Likewise. Things are going great, just got back from a few days in the German countryside and now getting back to making music.

Let’s start with the present, how is 2016 treating you so far?

It’s been both good and hard, with the excitement of new music out also comes the high expectations. I try to avoid following up how the album goes so that I can focus on making new music for the projects I have coming.

Coming from Mexico, but now living in France, how would you say the two cultures influence you, not only in music, but in your daily life?

I think both cultures have a lot in common, especially in everyday life. I like that the French love their quality time, holidays, food and drinks. Mexicans too, the difference is that when we do some of those, we go all the way, we can get very passionate about things. Music, on the contrary would be the opposite, for me French music is exuberant; the sound design is ambitious and grand but never too risky. There are only a few mavericks at the moment that push the limits of elegance. Mexican music on the other hand is quite hard to define as one, the country is so big and eclectic that we’d have to talk about cardinal points or cities, but in general I think that Mexican music is darker and melancholic, at least in the techno-electronic scenes. A good analogy would be Versailles vs. the Sonora desert. I'd like to draw a line between both.

Paris’ beat scene is thriving right now, with a number of producers emerging every year, who are some of your favourite artists to have come from the city?

I agree with you, since I moved here I was blown away with the wave of club music. Le Loup, Anetha, Voiski, Zadig, the Concrete label, Club and Antigone are some of my favourites.

Your album ‘Elegiac’ is certainly an intriguing listen, with many peaks and troughs throughout. I hear it took around 2 years to create, what was the overall goal behind making this album?

I wanted to make it different to my first album and EP’s. I wanted it to be a producer album, by that I mean Howie B, Nellee Hooper or Trevor Horn, the guys that could jump from one genre to another, be sensual in a trance track, or raw and sonically weird with sweet melodies, but always having the pop sensibility. It is quite a high bar to set, so it took a long time and I’m still trying to get there one day. ‘Elegiac’ is one-step more into that direction, where I can really produce what ever I want.

My favourite track from the record was “Blindfold.” How did the collaboration with Yasmine Hamdan come together and what was the process for making this track?

Glad you like it! Well, one of my favourite musicians from this era of great producers is Hector Zazou, whose music is represented by Crammed Discs. I mentioned him on conversation with the Infiné guys and we ended up talking about Yasmine’s performance at the Normandoux Festival, so we decided to give it a try and ask her for a collaboration. That was the only indirect move. After that, Yasmine and I developed a friendship, she already knew my girl and we kept working on more ideas and now sometimes on her own songs.

For “Blindfold” we met at my place, had some ceviche and wine, then we recorded percussion jams and voice improvisations for hours into the night. We discussed the lyrics, subject matter and after a couple of days she sent a well-organised, well-written session that I incorporated into the project. It all took just three or four days.

What were some of the lessons learnt during the recording of ‘Elegiac?’

To delete sounds after I finish a song. I discovered I had too much going on at once, and I was loosing the use of silence. So for the next album, prepare for lots of space…

Festival season is nearly here, how would you say your sets on stage compare to your mixes?

My DJ sets are [definitely] inspired by the old guard of club DJ’s where you’d incorporate lots of genres and tempos in a short period. When I play live, I take sounds from my album, some tracks quite similar but others are remixed into long versions, and I try to play with the elements in a trance way, I also play as ynthesiser and sometimes a sampler on stage. The sound of a live set is definitely stripped down and without all the sound design of a studio mix, because the aim is to make it a more physical experience, not just a listen.

You have some interesting videos under your belt, especially for the tracks “These Days” and “Our Fire”. Which visual has been your favourite to make?

Well at the moment I’m very excited about the work with Morgan Beringer on “Our Fire”, and his work in general, his methods are cryptic for me but the results are definitely the way I imagined a video for this album: psychedelic, pure abstraction of natural forms. In a way it is like the music of the album, taking from very classic pop cues, piano songs and melodies, but trying to glue them with bass heavy music and phasing reverbs.

Cubenx – Our Fire from Morgan on Vimeo.

I hope we continue to work with him, I like that his art is not hip, like other glitch video art or sea punk aesthetics, I think his is timeless.

What are your goals for the rest of 2016 and in to next year? Do you have any immediate plans lined up?

Right now I’m working on music under a different alias, I don’t want to keep confusing the journalists so I decided to separate things a bit, and this gives me more creative freedom. This has a deadline already and I’m quite excited about it. I started working on an AV show plan exclusive for a festival, its still in very early stages but this is quite a big thing for me because it involves my one year old daughter, and that’s a whole new territory to explore with music.

Last question, if you’re stuck on an island and you only have one album you can listen to, what would it be?

That’s easy.. Fennesz – ‘Endless Summer’

Written by Parth Barot. Photo credit to Marilyn Clark.

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