Professor Inc. is one of those characters for whom music has always been life. From a very early age, Frédéric Poix was exposed to all manner of musical fashions, sounds and styles, from rock’n’roll tapes in the car to playing drums in his father’s own jazz band. It was his passion for punk rock however that led him to explore electronic music, starting with the Detroit and Chicago traditions and gradually working his way through. MEOKO caught up with the Professor to discuss his unquenchable love of dance music and just why France, and especially Paris, are just so damn hot right now.
Hi Professor, thanks for talking to us. Unlike a lot of your peers, you didn’t grow up in Paris. Tell us about your earliest musical experiences, playing drums in jazz and rock bands in your hometown of Arras.
Hello everybody. I’m very glad to be able to communicate and share a podcast of my tracks with Meoko, I’m very much looking forward to experiencing the London scene. I discovered electronic music through radio and magazines, buying music every week and also through the Amiga-PC tracker scene, which was a way of seeing how the music was made. Playing jazz rock with my dad and punk rock with other different bands led me ultimately to pure electronic music and got me deeper into the dance music culture. My first record was on a UK label, I think it’s owned by Peace Division right? Low Pressing? It was in the early 2000s and back in the day my mates and I would get all got excited having our track played by Pete Tong and all. Week after week I got deeper into the groove, going back to the early days, finding bridges between genres. That’s maybe why I release so many different sounding records.
How did you then first encounter electronic music? What specifically were you drawn to in the music that playing drums had never managed to satisfy?
When I was a baby, my parents were playing vinyls of every kind of music, watching concerts on video and listening to radio, tapes and cds in the car everyday. When the first Rage Against The Machine album came out I listened to it all the time and from there I’d always approach music from a more obscure, mystical point of view. To compose with others is marvellous, but as for the lonely nights, being a one man band with electronic music turned out to be a passion and I think I made something like five albums during my teen years of various genres of electronic music. Of course, it wasn’t the best quality but it’s what motivated me to dedicate my life to it. I even sampled one of those tracks recently and included the sample in a dub track I’m making right now. I’d love to get back to recording some acoustic instruments, especially drums and percussion with proper professionals.
Is the scene structured in such a way in France that you ultimately felt compelled to move to Paris if you were to pursue music full-time?
I was living near Lille for nearly ten years and suddenly wasn’t really into the musical exchange anymore. I definitely needed some fresh air. I moved to Paris primarily for work. I was coming here and there to the city and really liked the culture, the history and movies, the Parisian culture is something that is very particular to France. Eventually I was able to move here and I now can’t get enough of it. Every day presents you with something new.
How did you first hook up with Varoslav and Rue de Plaissance? What is it about what they’re doing that you attracted you to the label?
I met Varoslav for the first time at Syncrophone Distribution, where we were all stamping vinyls together. Djebali was there too, we took a photo and kept in contact. After building a folder of several tracks, I wanted to be with people around me of the same generation who were championing the “pro-experience” philosophy and not necessarily just after pushing super hard for instant, fleeting recognition. It’s the same with Syncrophone – it’s all about physical contact, enjoying the real life aspects of making music.
To Listen to Professor Inc’s exclusive mix Click here
Paris seems to be going through a particularly vibrant period party wise at the moment, with a specific emphasis on transforming new and interesting locations into clubbing spaces. How would you describe the way Parisians consume electronic music? Is their relationship with it different to people in London and Berlin?
For years the city suffered beneath the shadow of politics. The government’s attitude towards free parties and electronic music was terrible, except for Acousmatic & Concrete Music who have always been supported and well financed. This really changed recently with the rise of the new generation of electronic fans. This is happening not only in Paris but in a lot of cities in France. We played in Lyon two weeks ago, the club was rammed and the atmosphere was amazing. In Paris house and techno is simply everywhere now – in little bars, the bar/clubs, the clubs and at all public and private events. Parisians really like it underground at the moment, which means there are also more opportunities and jobs dedicated to the cause. At the moment it’s more the parties, every week is a new adventure. It’s really getting back to what it was and it seems to be only the beginning of something amazing. I guess Berlin has been a raw model for the past 10 years after London in the 90s – now it’s Paris’s turn!
There seems to be an especially strong sense of unity within the French/Parisian scene, arguably more so than in other countries/cities. You have Lola Ed, Apollonia, Phonogramme, Rue de Plaissance – all examples of collectives where French artists work closely with one another to produce consistently good music. Would you agree? Has it always been like this or is it a more recent development?
I think it’s important that we look to each other for strength. We all communicate and appreciate each other a lot. I’ve been blessed to receive support from pionners like Djul’z or second generation guys like DJ Deep and Dan Ghenacia. The ‘resistance’ is growing rapidly because people are really into working together to produce the best results. This Saturday gone for example there were 30 of us DJs at Nick V’s Mona the Party, playing early disco and funk to deep house and more avant-garde stuff. People were enjoying themselves so much, it was a true sign of the open-mindedness of today. As you say, it’s great that we support each other in everything we do. It’s a great pyramidal-type structure where everyone benefits from the dedication of others.
Tell us a bit about what you would classify as your ‘sound’. Judging by some of your recent mixes, you really go in for that tough, groovy dance-floor style, but then a lot of your productions go a lot deeper.
I spend a tremendous amount of time listening to music and all the various sounds. For years I tried to hone in on the sounds of specific labels but now I mostly do my own thing and impose my style on others, although I have to say I’m never really satisfied 100% with my output. In terms of influences, Berlin, Detroit and Chicago are of course the main sources. From the UK I’ve always loved Aubrey, Schatrax and all the late 80s/early 90s acid house stuff. I’ve spent literally hours these past weeks listening to ‘Sabres Of Paradise’.
In terms of my own style, I’m not sure. It’s just about the way I programme things I guess. I spend a lot of time exploring the possibilities of sound and the way different elements react with one other in the mix. It’s very exciting to get into harmonics and the ‘hardcore’ details that make a track catchy. Tyree Cooper once told me: “Once you feel it, then everybody will feel it”. I really love this philosophy.
Your latest EP sees you hooking up with sensual house vocalist Lady Blaktronica on Phonogramme. How did that partnership come about? Did you have to alter your mode of production in order to suit her vocals?
I contacted Akua to make the track ‘Music Box’ and we continued corresponding until one day I had this vibe going on, then I saw Lady Blacktronica on Skype and after a few takes we came up with the track “Jewel Classic”. The voice is an instrument, it sings in the same way as I try to make my sounds sing, it’s the same mode of production. I’ve received a lot of support from Frank Roger recently, we’re talking with Mandel Turner about doing a track together for ages, so watch this space.
Tell us about your Live show. Why not DJ instead? Are your sets made up of strictly your own music or a mixture?
I sold most of my DJ gear years ago, only keeping a few vinyls. I’ll get back on the turntables at home soon and start buying records again of course. I started very young making electronic music with a computer to work with so I guess it was a natural progression to performing Live. I love improvising and trying out fresh material on an unsuspecting crowd, that’s where the real excitement lies. One day I’d like to improvise in the way the blues and jazz musicians used to, but with electronic music.
The Live is 100% my own music. There are still elements of tracks I’ve collaborated on with people, which I sometimes play. It just depends on whether how I’m feeling when I’m playing. Like I’ve just remixed DJ Kyros from Berlin, who has a Saint Germain vibe mixed with that Kater Holzig feel. I hope to play it at Renate in two weeks and see how the crowd reacts and see if it’ll feature in my future live sets. It’s all trial and error.
You’re playing Live at Cartuli’s Day in London on Saturday 16th February. Does your set change much from place to place? What can the London faithful expect come the weekend?
Each time I prepare my Live set differently. Today I’ve just got back to finishing an edit of a track and will add it to my set for my next gig. This week end it’s going to be dubby, deep, deep tech, even a little trancey in a ravey early 90s sort of way and some very big tech house sounds complete with tweaked voice samples, reverb/delay automation and hopefully a great vibe to go with it. London here I come.
Professor inc is next at Cartuli’s day 16th February along side Chris Carrier, Kasper & Roberto Amo. For full event details and to purchase tickets click here.
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