Q&A: Five minutes with Crayon

French multi-instrumentalist and producer Crayon is an artist inspired by worlds outside of his own. Openly embracing explorations not only into music styles, but disciplines across art forms, he’s developed an artistic vocabulary that allows him to produce genre bending electronic music. This distinctly bohemian approach found him transforming the home he shares with pianist and collaborator Bastien Brison into a weekly jazz club, an underground space that welcomes collaboration between artists across mediums. Finding inspiration in jazz and through improvisational work with dancer Leo Walk, his latest two-track EP on Erased Tapes Misplaced / Ithinkso synthesises these influences into pieces of future focussed R&B, drawing from the harmonies of jazz and hip-hop and fusing these with UKG style electronic production. We caught up with the producer to speak more about his multidisciplinary approach, and on how jazz is fundamental to his craft. 


Misplaced / Ithinkso, Erased Tapes

So you recently signed with Erased Tapes last year. How’s the experience been?

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to meet yet in real life but Rob’s insight and passion are definitely refreshing in this industry.


You released your EP, Misplaced / Ithinkso with them. Let’s get into the music. It’s so lush! Could you tell us a bit about what influences the direction of your sound?

Thanks! I’ve spent a good part of my childhood and teen years being a rock fan, mostly post-punk, new wave/no wave, and folk music. But then at 16, I started to DJ and got into electronic music and the culture. I think my current sound is the direct consequence of having had all these various tastes in music. I like precise sounds and textures, but I also like that raw feel. I’m a fan of chord progressions, but I also try to use them efficiently, which probably comes from my love for rap music.


The two tracks are quite diverse in style. Misplaced has this slow burning R&B energy, while Ithinkso is this blend of jazz and garage. Do you think much about genre when you create music, or is it an organic process?

It is definitely an organic process. In fact, I let the genre find me instead of going for a genre. I think jazz is predominant in everything I create though, mostly for its harmony. So to me they’re actually both jazz tunes. 


Tell us about your work with Leo Walk, I know he was a major influence during the process of making this music.

Leo definitely pushes me to go further and always has, because that’s who he is. I think because dancing is not only an art but also a discipline, a sport if you will, and he comes from this breakdance background, deeply rooted in hip hop culture where pushing your own limits is part of the mindset. Also the fact that I was able to create or finish this EP while being in a room together has allowed me to see the direct effect my sounds have on the body. I used to take music for what it was, forgetting the fact that music has many other functions. 


What is the value of play and experimentation for producers? How do you access your creativity through experimenting with other creatives?

Well, I’m a fan of experimental music myself and achieve anything mostly through experimenting, even by myself. It is forever relevant that I experiment with other musicians, visual artists etc. I love finding bridges between disciplines. It ain’t for nothing that producers call their craft “cooking.”


There’s a massive jazz influence on Ithinkso. What are the connections you find between jazz and electronic music?

Well the jazz harmony is pretty much at the core of many genres, the most obvious one being hip hop. Ironically, enough, I started “Ithinkso” as a rather dark, hostile tune with very little room for lighter, more airy vibes. After I spent nights at mine jamming with jazz musicians, I realised the idea of freedom is as present there as it is within a trance or rave night.


Download & stream Misplaced / Ithinkso here 


Jeff Mills recently released work that was inspired by jazz. Do you think the improvisational nature of jazz opens up new possibilities for other forms or styles of music? 

Of course, and even the more traditional aspects of jazz are still very present and relevant in modern music. Take James Blake or Billie Eilish for instance.


What are you currently working on? Are you able to share the details?

I produce a lot of french music, our industry and culture is thriving at the moment, whether in the rap scene (where Gracy Hopkins is from) or other genres. I spend a lot of time in studios doing that. At the moment my own stuff sounds somewhere between score and r&b. 


What’s on your current playlist and who should we be listening to?

So I’m listening to a lot of that French music that I just mentioned. Josman is my current favourite, I’ve actually produced the opening track for his new record, “Intro.” Feu Chatterton is, to me, France’s most interesting alternative act as of late. Outside of this little bubble, I’m also a big Sault fan, the new Joy Crookes album is a masterpiece. I’m loving Mustafa The Poet’s project a lot too. 


Thank you so much for your time!

Thank you so much. 


Listen to Ithinkso featuring Bastien Brison from the Misplaced / Ithinkso EP below. 



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