Q&A with retro superstar Gabriel Seize

We sat down with Gabriel Seize, the multi-talented French composer, producer and visual artist to talk about his music, creative process and debut EP Prologue released on May 10th via his own label Gabriel Seize Music. In the 6-track EP, Gabriel dives into his arsenal of vintage synths, as he explores themes associated with old 16-bit video games and electronic music loops, while he draws inspiration from French Touch, classic Sci-Fi aesthetics and electronica. With his previously-released single ‘Falling Softly’, the Brussels-based musician received praise at the Belgian Music Video Festival VKRS. With 50k streams across platforms, airplay on multiple National Belgian radio stations such as La Première, LN, Jam, he has also wowed audiences at concerts in Belgian clubs Botanique and Reflektor, as well as festivals such as Francofolies de Spa, Botanique-Brussels, and Reflektor-Liège.

With a tour planned for Belgium this summer and a series of showcases in France and the UK this autumn, Gabriel Seize is on a roll, and is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In the focus track ‘My Video Game’, he samples an Atari race game which was a cult classic in the 90’s. The track is akin to Daft Punk’s futuristic sound, with Gabriel’s voice taking the lead and the synths creating a captivating atmosphere. ‘My Video Game’ is a hypnotic listen that gives the audience a peek into the limitless and ultra-fascinating universe of Gabriel Seize. The EP will undoubtedly be enjoyed by fans of Daft Punk, Kavinsky, M83, and MGMT.


Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Since I was a child it’s been the only thing that I never get tired of. I’m a bit lazy when it comes to everything else in life, except when it comes to the arts.


Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Most of the time, the idea. I begin most of my songs from a melody that I hum while doing something else like cooking or walking in the street. But, sometimes it’s the other way around. The songs I create with a specific direction are usually more “pop” and melody centered (like ‘Falling Softly’ and ‘Beautiful Lie’), and the songs I started from a sound or an instrument are more electronic or instrumental like ‘My Video Game’.


Does your material feature any collaborations? 

Yes, sometimes. Especially when it comes to writing lyrics. The song Beautiful Lie’ was co-written with multi-award winning Belgian writer Adeline Dieudonné. Also, I always collaborate when it comes to the final mix because I don’t trust myself on this :-D. Sometimes I collaborate with other artists on their music, and these artistic relationships have a strong influence on my work. This is the case with producer Marlon B (whose worked with Sébastien Tellier, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Juliette Armanet), as well as French pianist Albin De La Simone (who played with almost everyone in France from Vanessa Paradis to Iggy Pop), these two people really opened the doors of the synth world for me.


What’s on your current playlist?

A lot of synths of course. Kid Francescoli, Kavinsky, AIR, French79 and Goldfrapp. But, one of my latest discoveries is a very strange and great song by French electro artist Jacques. It’s called ‘Absolve’, and really sounds like nothing I’ve heard before.


Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I like to invoke as many feelings at the same time. For me, a good concert is when you feel the energy of the beat, the poetry of vocals and harmonies, the melancholy, the sadness, and the happiness of being together in that moment. It’s a party, a space trip and an introspection, all at the same time. That might sound totally incoherent, but it’s what I like, and I hope it’s what I do.


What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

I try to limit myself to a very short number of synths. I think it’s the first rule when you start creating electronic music. The possibilities are so wide that if you don’t do it, there is no chance of finding your sound. On stage and in the studio, there are only four synths. Always the same bass synth, the same strings, the same SH-01 for the high notes and arpeggios, and of course, the king of this clan: my Korg Prologue. I also like to experiment with some weird stuff like passing my instruments through an old cassette recorder, or my voice through a cheap harmoniser.


Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Firstly, it’s very rarely a day, more often than not it’s an entire night :-D!  I have this small studio just above my apartment, where I put the baby monitor on one side of the desk, and a synth or MIDI keyboard on the other. I include some pads, find an arpeggio I like, play a bit with filters, record a very bad vocal track, and in this way I put the pieces together like a puzzle. I always have YouTube on a second computer, so I’m able to listen to a lot of things from other artists. I just check how they manage their bass, or a snare…etc. I like to create music and 3D visuals exactly the same way. Almost like you would do with Lego – putting pieces together, then remove them, trying another combination…etc. It’s a lonely and long process.


Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

These moments happen mostly on stage or during concerts. When I get off stage after a good show, it really reminds me that I love it and I feel very lucky to be able to do this. 


What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

You mean like a lucky charm? Nothing. But, I always keep my Ableton very close to me because you never know what issues might come up or what unexpected bug is going to ruin your show 😀


Any emerging artists on your radar?

Jacques (FR), ML (Belgium), Grand Soleil (FR)


Stream / download Prologue EP below


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