Fergus Holmes-Stanley has a chinwag with the French maestros.
Etienne (Midn8runner) and Valentin (Ak:Hash) from Toulouse based drum ‘n’ bass group, Visages, joined Goat Shed to discuss everything from Harry Potter to 1985 music as they prepare for their first release of the year.
Salut guys, so firstly thanks a lot for doing this interview with us!
Etienne: Thank you too!
So let’s go all the way back to the beginning how did you guys get together as Visages?
Etienne: I knew Valentin for quite a long time, maybe ten years or even more, because we lived in the same region. We all then met in Toulouse where Tom and Kevin lived and we went to bass music events together and even organised some with Dusk DNB and with our partner Miss Leïa. Then we jus started making music for fun and after that, we decided to have a go at it together.
Who were your musical influences when you first started off?
Valentin: A lot man, especially as we all like different things. I’d say Alix Perez or Halogenix or Ivy Lab when they were making drum ’n’ bass were the main three. I think we all fell in love with this kind of drum ’n’ bass, the soulful kind but that’s not cheesy.
They’re definitely sick artists.
As you all started off as individual artists what was it like then working as part of a group?
Etienne: At first it was kind of hard to work together as we had to make a specific vibe for the group and not a mix of all our different influences, so we obviously had to make compromises. Now though I think we’ve managed to do it pretty well as we’ve found our vibe so it’s pretty to make tracks now.
Toulouse is home to other great drum ’n’ bass artists like Monty, Redeyes and Trail and of course the famous club, Le Bikini. What is the scene like there and in France in general?
Valentin: Toulouse is really a special town for drum ’n’ bass. There was a guy called Le Lutin who brought the drum ’n’ bass scene to Toulouse 20 or 25 years ago. In Toulouse it’s really underground, people know drum ’n’ bass and know the artists and the songs. It’s big because people are promoting so much drum ’n’ bass in Le Bikini and in the small clubs and there are people like Redeyes who are old school legends of liquid. There are big nights with big line ups and people love drum ’n’ bass here!
So I guess Toulouse is a real Mecca of drum ’n’ bass in France! Any new Toulouse based artists we should keep our eye on?
Valentin: We’ve got Fakt in Toulouse. Fakt is making good music at the moment.
Etienne: Yeah he is, he’s been making music for so long and now he’s motivated to send his tunes to labels and we encouraged him, we were like ‘come on man’
Etienne: And he’s doing it and it’s really sick now.
So let’s talk about your forthcoming EP on 1985 music. What’s it like working with Alix Perez and the 1985 guys?
Valentin: A dream! Alix is from Belgium so he speaks French and that makes it easier for communication and all the guys from 1985 are cool. It’s a family. There is no stress working with them. It’s pretty cool, man. We have fun working with them.
Etienne: Yeah, it’s really like a family. You can discuss anything with them, you can be transparent about anything. It’s easy to communicate with them and it’s pretty cool.
What have your inspirations been for this EP?
Etienne: Ambient stuff, we really wanted to add this kind of vibe into the EP.
Valentin: Some Harry Potter soundtracks!
Etienne: Shhh it’s a secret… but it is true!
I guess that’s the magic behind Visages then!
Valentin: We went to Outlook last year which was a big inspiration. Five years ago I hadn’t heard dubstep on a big sound system so it was so cool to see artists like Commodo, Egoless, Joker and Rusko
A Rusko inspired Visages track would be definitely be something different!
Talking about this EP what has your creative approach been to making music?
Valentin: We try and create emotions in the listener. Our music is a good compromise between the kind of music you can listen to on the dance floor and music you can listen to at home.
Perfect for lockdown then!
Etienne: And we take inspiration from anything in our lives, any emotion or anything in the world, even covid!
Talking about covid, everyone’s favourite topic, how’s that affected you guys from a creative perspective?
Valentin: At the beginning, it wasn’t really hard because I had so much time at home to make music… but now one year without dance floors and sound systems, it is hard because I need that for my creativity. It is pretty hard.
You’ve done some livestreams, a couple of 1985 ones last year, and then the Hit & Run TV one in January. What’s it been like doing them?
Etienne: It was a lot of work but really fun. The result was really, really cool. We wanted to make something original and deliver a message. I think we did it pretty well. We had to find lots of videos that we could actually use for this kind of stuff and play around with effects.
What advice would you give to people who are making music?
Valentin: Work hard and have fun! That’s the principle for me because when I find something boring I can’t work on it. Having fun is the most important for me.
Etienne: Never give up and just have fun with music, it’s not like a real job, it’s not like a competition. If you do that you’ll be going the right way.
If you could sum up your EP in three words what would they be?
Valentin: Woah… good question! I would say one word: esotericism.
Etienne: Yes, yes, true!
Valentin: The second would be vibe! And…
Valentin: No, please, no, take that back, please, no!
Etienne: Okay maybe not that word.
Valentin: Fun… family fun!
So to finish off we’ve got some quick-fire questions. So, firstly, what’s a song you guys couldn’t live without?
IAM – Demain, c’est loin
And if you could collaborate with anyone who’d it be?
Alix Perez or Freeze Corleone
Which do you prefer: summer festivals or a warehouse rave?
Both! But the vibes in small clubs are incredible/
What’s your favourite movie?
And finally what’s your favourite French food?
Duck confit & Cassoulet
Thank God it’s not frogs’ legs!
So to wrap up is there anything else you want to say to the Goat Shed fam?
Etienne: Thank you to everyone who’s listening to our music and all the feedback is greatly appreciated!
Valentin: Thanks for all the Goat Shed livestreams they’ve gone pretty well.
Hopefully we’ll see Visages on one in the future!