There aren’t many artists that have experienced, first hand, the early days of Detroit techno and acid house, lived through the rise and fall of early 90’s rave culture and can be credited as one of the very first acts to combine old-schhol rock and electro to create French electro, which then subsequently spawned a whole new generation of dance music fans. We are, of course, talking about Arnaud Rebotini aka Black Strobe.
To say he has seen and done it all would be and understatement. Arnaud took 20 minutes out of his hectic schedule so we could ask him about his new album, the reforming of Blackstrobe, his feelings on performing live and how he came to remix David Guetta.
HBF: What can we expect from your new Black Strobe album? Are you going in a different direction to your last solo album?
It will be really different to my solo work, because there is not only electronic instruments in it. It’s a Black Strobe album so there is a band around me; there will be drums, guitars, bass and obviously a lot of synths too. And the album is gonna sound somewhere between our cover of ‘I’m A Man’ by Bo Diddley and the old stuff like ‘Italian fireflies‘. With the new 12” out in November you can have an idea of the what the new album will sound like; a disco-ish boogie sound.
HBF: Are you gonna have the old members from Black Strobe back? Will Ivan Samgghe be joining you?
Yes, the drummer is our first drummer, but we changed it up a bit now and he’s now playing the synths, the guitarist is from the old band – and now we have a new drummer.
No, I don’t think Ivan will be joining us – we split up because of artistic differences – he’s living in London working on his label and I live in Paris – we’ve been split for a while now so I don’t really need him, he’s gone his way and I have gone mine – there’s no rhythm between us anymore.
HBF: You have a lot of acid house elements in your music – were you heavily influenced by the acid house scene?
Yes, sure – I am a pretty old guy, haha. So I started to listening techno in the early days, so I listened to a lot of early acid house and proper Detroit techno – but for me a new style of music comes from technology and for me early the stuff is always better than the new stuff.
HBF: Do you feel you have got unfinished business with Black Strobe? Why bring the band back?
Probably something like this – I think there was a lot that of people who misunderstood the last album – so there’s probably something like that. You know with my solo stuff I didn’t think that, but now I am listening to a lot of blues and disco – so I want to do this kind of music now. I am happy to be playing live with the band and playing more groovey stuff. I feel as if I want to go even further with Black Strobe this time.
HBF: What are your feelings about the new generation of button pressers – are they cheating and soiling the word ‘Live’?
You know, the thing is with electronic music is there has always been a bit of cheating and a bit of foul play; since the beginning when Depeche Mode played live, all the rock guys would say it’s really easy to make electronic music – all you have to do is just have to press play on the beat box. So this has been going on for ages.
For me I like to play live with vintage equipment without a laptop. There is, of course, some really talented people with Ableton who can do amazing stuff live, but there’s always some guys cheating just pressing play and putting their hands in the air, haha. You have both. Technology hasn’t changed that much for the live approach, especially in electronic music. I think you have two kinds of people – people who have come from indie and are musicians then there’s people who have come from clubbing and DJ’ing – so you will always see differences in the their approach to playing live. For me, I come from a musician’s background, so I am not a DJ – my musical influeces don’t just come from dance music.
HBF: Who’s been the biggest influence on you musically?
Obviously my dad was a big music lover, he listened to a lot of old rock, disco and soul music – I grew up with this sort of music. He was a big influence and you could call him a frustrated musician.
HBF: If your studio was on fire and you could save one thing what would it be and why?
It wouldn’t be any of my expensive synths, but it would be the Roland SH11; this machine really small, made of plastic and is really light. You can a lot of things with it from 70’s side-k sound to more house-y basslines – I also use it when playing live. it’s a great machine.
HBF: The music industry has changed a lot and you seem to have traversed the change well – how do now qualify success these days?
You know now it’s harder to make money from record sales – so now the business in more live focussed. In the 90’s there weren’t that many festivals, but now you can tour all year round with festivals for good fees. It’s changed but I don’t think there is less money than there was before, it’s just moved to different places. With my own label I know all the money we spend on promotion will come back through the live show – and I am live artist so it’s good for me.
HBF: If you were God and you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be and why?
The music industry has changed a lot, but that’s just the way it is now, and it’s how you work with it. If I was god I could always put more success on myself, but it’s not about that, haha. I don’t care about the cheesey people, everyone needs music and there are so many people in the world with so many different tastes which is good. I don’t think I’d change anything, that’s way too much power.
HBF: How did you come to remix David Guetta?
He’s from Paris and I have known him for ages when he was an old house DJ in Paris. It was when Black Strobe was massive in electronic music so he asked for a remix and you know there’s good money for this and I was allowed to do whatever I want.
You know a lot of people hate him, but you know he’s got a really popular taste and I don’t think he cheating people, he makes the music he likes. I am not againt him, he’s really successful in the US and that brings a lot of people into more underground music – so I’m cool with it. I respect him a lot – ok his music is cheesy, but there are people who like this type of music. So I am cool with it.
HBF: Where’s the best place to dance in Paris?
Social Club – it’s not too big, not too small and there’s lot of different types of music there.