Monsieur Adi is a 25-year-old Parisian fashion design student turned producer – with classical training in piano, violin, and voice – his sound is a sonic clash of cinematic orchestration and futuristic synths, and his ability to craft epic electronic soundscapes has led to comparisons with other french acts including Daft Punk and Justice.
We managed to grab 30 minutes with Adi earlier this week where we spoke to the Parisian about his collaboration with the UK singer A*M*E, when we might be see his debut album, why he demanded full creative control, and why he’s chosen to hide his identity so far.
HBF: Hello Adi, how are you and what have you been up to today?
I’m great. Well I have just finished a remix of ‘What’s Go On’, as my manager wanted me to do one, but you know what it was really strange as I can remix other people but remixing yourself is really odd as I’ve heard it one way and did not expect to reinterpret it in this way. It turned out really well, actually, my manager said it sounded very anthemic and big. So I tried to pull back on the classical parts and then maybe the kick up a little bit more of the electronic parts. I think it sounds fun. To be honest I did not want to listen to it when I was up at 2am trying to finish it. I think it will be part of the single promotion, alongside a load of great remixes which I’m really happy with.
HBF: So ‘What’s Going On’ is a cover? How did that come about and how did you end up working with A*M*E?
It was very very interesting we went through all the clearances to use the lyrics and melody from a Soul 2 Soul track, it’s a fantastic track which I can remember really well when I was a kid. At first we were going to use the studio acapella version but we decided that maybe it would be a bit fresher if we got someone in to sing it. So we went through a load of different artists and eventually we got to A*M*E, who I knew could bring some of that old-school energy with her soulful voice. She just came in to the studio and started singing and I knew then she was going to be great, you know, the vibe in the studio in London was really good.
It’s a cover of a Soul 2 Soul track ‘Back To Reality Back To Life’. It was a big hit a while ago. Originally I had the instrumental at first, and then I thought it would sound great with vocals on it. In fact it actually started out as remix. I think I made it in 2009 or 2008, around this time. So my manager said to me send me some tracks across and he said he thought it sounded really cool. He suggested that maybe we could release it as the first single as it was still my style but maybe a bit more pop than usual – which I’m not so afraid of nowadays, I think what Daft Punk did with Pharrell is really great, so I am no longer afraid of more pop stuff these days.
HBF: So will you be working with A*M*E again the in future? And what have you got planned in the future? An album maybe?
Yes, I am writing some music for her album, too, it won’t be so EDM focused which I’m not that into it. It will probably be more pop with a bit of funk maybe, a bit of nostalgic 90s era. Right now we have an album in the works, we have the second and third single ready and 8 songs on the album finished. And we’re constantly working towards new things so there will be more collaborations and some more remixes. We’ve also got a track with MNEK that will be really fantastic – it’s a little bit overwhelming at the moment. But it’s a really great place to be so I can’t complain.
HBF: So you’re not a DJ and rarely play out live – why is this, and will it change in the future?
That is something we are starting to think about, I have two dates coming up in November, in the London. It’s something that I have really been curious about but I wanted to concentrate on the production side of things before I started performing. It expect it will be a mixture of a live set and DJ set – we’re still trying to work out everything so I am a little bit nervous of it, but I’m sure it will great, haha.
HBF: So would it be fair to say that’s why you’ve mainly focussed on remixing over the last 18 months?
For me I love remixing as it’s like a way to entice different artists as if I was the producer, at the moment I am living off remixes but eventually I want to perform live a lot more.
HBF: So when did you start producing, and who got you into making music originally?
I have been producing since 2008, I studied the violin and piano since I was 8 but I never really wanted to do music as a career as I am a designer by trade. So I had my design work online and I would make music for it. Then eventually a friend sent me a demo of his music and I told him give me a few hours and I will chopped it up and make a remix for him, I think I added harpsichord and few other things and gave it back to him and he said it was really good, I then begun entering loads of remix contests. So basicallly it started from my friend and that’s how I accidentally fell into the music world.
HBF: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I see myself with a album out – maybe two. I would also love to produce for other artists and obviously be doing more live shows. I think that is something that I will really love. You get to connect with crowd and reinterpret the music in a different way, and it’s always fun to have one big party.
HBF: Who’s really exciting you from the French scene at the moment?
You know what, I would say Gesaffelstein, he has this great edge to him, it kinda reminds me of when Justice came out with their abrasive sound. I haven’t heard the album yet but I am sure I am going to love it.
HBF: What are your thoughts on EDM?
You know is it very strange, technically I am little confused by it: to me it’s all dance music but for some reason these three letters make me feel strange. It seems that there motivation isn’t the music all the time. I completely understood what Daft Punk tried to do with their new album, you know the creation of the music being at the forefront, but with EDM it is more like a popularity contest so then the music doesn’t matter so much, it seems to have put music at the back when it should be at the forefront. It’s a weird thing that I don’t really understand too well.
HBF: Would it be fair to say that’s why you’ve avoided DJing?
Yes. I wanted to make sure the music is there first, you know when I first saw Daft Punk live I had already heard their music, then the rest fell into place perfectly: the lights, the pyramid, it all came together in that order – so that’s why I want my music finished first, then the lighting and costumes and the live show will then add to it. There’s obviously an art it DJing but nowadays there seems to be less people are doing right. That’s why I would like to play live pianos live in my show, I guess I want to be more intimate than just a DJ set.
HBF: How important do think blog coverage has been for you?
I would say it has been the number one thing that has promoted me, I think it is really important as they’re like the new verison of music magazines. People are constantly reading and listening to them – obviously the music has to be right but it has been very important for me. But yeah they’re the reason for where I am today.
HBF: So are you now signed to a major label?
Right now we have joint venture between my managers and Sony Relentless, we then setup a publishing company to release some of my music. So it’s half major half not – but the reason they did this for us is so we can have more control – I don’t want to turn into this person I’m not – so they made this way for me. That’s why the video looks like it did, we were really trying to make sure the image and brand is the way I want it. Over the years have seen a lot of people who have been guided in a certain by majors and they have follow it as they need to keep that record deal alive. I want to present myself in a way that is 100% me. At the end of the day the label doesn’t have to live with it day-to-day, so it’s all about integrity – it may not give you the money straight away but in the long run if you make sacrifices in the short term it will benefit you in the long term.
HBF: You’ve chosen to hide your identity wearing a helmet and not really performing, what was the reason behind this?
I think it’s more of a design thing I feel it’s more fun to put that mystery there, and I don’t want my face all over the place, haha. People have said that I don’t need the mask and that’s why you actually see a glimpse of me in the new video. Maybe when I get older you’ll see more of me. But you know what: when I played in New York last year, I was really hot and then I felt really disconnected from the crowd – I could couldn’t get over how Daft Punk actually did it. So now we are moving away from the mask/helmet thing but we don’t really know what we’ll do in the future yet.
HBF: Will the album be a set of collaborations? That concept seems to be working for a number of other artist these days.
The album will have some collaborations, but you know what, I feel like that concept works but I don’t want the album to turn into a giant features album – so I said to my managers I wanted to make sure there are some really great instrumental tracks on there. I think if you have too many collabs its becomes too pop and a bit messy. So I want moments where the music will really shines through so I don’t want too many collabs where you need someone else to sell the track. Of course it works, like Duke Dumont’s track with A*M*E, I thought that was a really great track, I wish it was mine to be honest. But yes the album with be a balance between both.
Remixes for ‘What’s Going On?’ come from Belanger, Max Sanna & Steve Pitron, KRY$CHN, TKNIK, and ShockOne. Out November 17.