Maud Geffray: “Making music is a daily struggle”

Along the lines of “Polaar”, his first solo album released in 2017, and after a recording hiatus in homage to Philip Glass, producer Maud Geffray, the female half of Scratch Massive, is now drawing “Ad Astra”. A second album of twelve dreamlike songs with pop accents, with rave and its influences in the rearview mirror. Meet.

Backed by over twenty years of joint experience with Sébastien Chenut at Scratch Massive, Maud Geffray is now charting her own course. In 2017, she launched the icy Polarfruit of a two-month trip to Lapland inspired by his collaboration, a year earlier, with Jamie Harley on the soundtrack of Kaamos. Barely recovered from her expedition, the producer threw herself head-on into the Still lifea hybrid reinterpretation that mixes classical and electronic music from the work of minimalist master Philip Glass.

Unveils this Friday, May 20 Ad Astra, decidedly electronic album, tinged with a pop that doesn’t say much of its name, always with that vaporous voice as the common thread, shredded, distorted and in the end used as the best of instruments. Although overwhelmed by the preparation of a new live, we were able to catch the musician on the banks of the Ourcq, at the time of one or two coffees. The opportunity to discuss with her the genesis of this second LP, the future of Scratch Massive or the tribulations of a rapidly evolving electronic scene.

After five years, you are following your first solo album. How do you live with all this?

Maud Geffray – You have to think about many things. Parallel to the release of the album, I am preparing a concert. My days are very busy. And then there’s something I notice is that every time one of my songs comes out, it immediately takes on a different look to me. My perception of this is different. All this changes a bit depending on the reaction of the people, the yields that we can have. Especially since today, I find that albums can take a little longer to be received, heard by the public. People no longer necessarily listen to the album in one go.

For Polar, you left to isolate yourself in Lapland. What was the context of this second album?

This album was, like many, created during the lockdown period. It was a record that I wanted to do for a long time but I never found the time, between my tours, my projects here and there… The lockdown finally allowed me to free up this precious time and maybe also more concentration to do all this A bit like a writer, I started from a blank page. But being locked up allowed me to be more focused, I saw each day as a new creative exercise. Especially since I had set up my studio very well, I was like in a cocoon.

Where does this rather assertive pop spin that you take on the album come from? Is this a direction that you wanted to take from the beginning of creation?

It wasn’t intentional at all. I listen to many electronic pieces but also and above all with voice. Nowadays, the word pop doesn’t mean much anymore, it’s a very broad concept. Naturally, I wanted to write tracks like that. Nothing was calculated. And then I get very attached to the format of the song where there are verses and choruses, not necessarily all the time with lyrics, but it can also be musical. In short, for me it’s an electronic album in which a voice is embodied, it’s not really pop in the classic sense of the term.

In fact, your voice is still very present in the songs. What relationship do you have with her?

already on Polar, there were voice formats and some pop. On this album I accentuated it even more because I find it to be interesting material, although I consider that I am not a great singer. You have to be aware of your limits. (laughs). I always made sure to use it as an instrument. I have a fragility when I sing and I try to create various identities with all that. There are pieces where my voice gets angry, others where it is very high-pitched, others where it sounds like a choir. When I create a piece, I start with the bass, the melodies, but very quickly I hear a voice; brings presence and emotion to the pieces.

You discovered electronic music quite young, during a wild rave. Does this album still borrow from the rave world?

Yes, clearly. Already, Fur, in the middle of the album, it’s a bit longer and has a techno sound to it, but a bit toned down. There are reminiscences. the same for the song PLUS, which is kind of a rave anthem. PLUS it means Peace, Love, Unit, Respectwhich is the quintessential rave message.

You sign a collaboration with Rebeka Warrior on the album, I fall into and at the beginning of the year you released the EP Freefall on his WARRIORRECORDS label. What draws you artistically?

We respect each other a lot artistically and humanly, he is a great person. It’s something I always prioritize when collaborating with someone. I’m a bit tired of the ego stories, so I really pay attention to them. For once, Rebeka is someone I really like working with. We have a common sensibility. This is also what is beautifully explained in the song she wrote for me. I sent her a piece of music and gave her free rein, telling her that she could sing in any language, scream, whisper… And finally, she released this hyper-sensitive, hyper-fair piece, all in three days. I found the text so fair in relation to our common stories, with difficult things and a common relationship with life. We come from a fairly tough city historically (Saint-Nazaire, editor’s note), very proletarian, with a particular architecture and that was not well seen at the time. In the region, it was somewhat considered the city of losers. We have in common come from the city of losing (laughs) and at the same time, it is a city to which we are both very close.

Similarly, we find a piece with Koudlam, real bellies, with whom you had already worked on Scratch Massive. Why did you call him again?

It’s a bit the same. I wanted to work only with people I like, whose artistic and vocal contribution I like. We don’t necessarily understand everything about the song, but we’re going to make a lyric video because there are actual lyrics, it’s not yogurt. (laughs). I really wanted super natural features on the album, not complicated stuff.

clip Pause represents a homosexual love story, while that of exit appears to denounce the working conditions of Chinese workers. Do you see this album as a fighting object?

I consider that making music is a daily struggle. It’s something you wear every day, it’s a lifestyle choice that tends towards freedom and expression. The simple fact of making music without necessarily having a message already represents a form of struggle. This is also the reason why I named the album Ad Astra. Music leads to the search for beauty. Similarly, the fight does not necessarily go through hyper-simplistic things with compromised texts. In fact, we can use media, like clips for example.

Are the values ​​defended by electronic music still the same as when you discovered it?

Of course, many things have changed. People express themselves a lot on the networks or others do not express themselves enough. It amazes me how mainstream techno music has become nowadays. A few years ago, what was really scary was underground music, synonymous with drugs in particular. It has now become a pretty impressive source of income for some DJs and collectives. We still feel real values ​​at the public level, inclusion, diversity. But I think it is professionalization that has changed things the most. When I see the cachet demanded by certain installed DJs, with suites in large hotels, compared to what can happen in other places, things have changed, yes. We forgot some essential things.

It’s been ten years since you left sleep night with Sébastien Chenut. Where are you now with Scratch Massive?

We continue to work together. It feels good to do things separately, but it also makes us want to come together to work together again. We’re going to play tracks for sure, we’ve started sending stuff to each other. We just have to find time now.

What did this duo give you in your solo career?

We have very different characters with Sébastien: he is an entrepreneur who is not afraid of anything and I am more anxious. He brought me this desire that I feel now, because going alone requires a strong commitment. When you work in pairs, you get constant feedback, which can be a brake when you don’t want to go in the same direction. But at the same time, it’s interesting, because when you find yourself alone, without an outside perspective, you realize that it’s still comfortable to be together. One must become their own boss.

You also created the Bordel label with him…

Sébastien will release solo material on the label. We don’t push each other because, once again, we have little time for each other. It’s mostly a label for Scratch Massive, because we also wanted to release songs independently. We also have soundtrack productions to come. We will surely support two artists. But it’s really a label without financial pressure, we release projects that are close to our hearts.

Beyond the studios, you also do a lot of DJ sessions. What differences do you see in the way of designing a record and putting together a DJ set?

I work a lot on my DJ sets. There is a story to find and tell. We always alternate between energy and emotion. It is an exercise that requires being quite balanced. The album is another form of storytelling. We see it with the first piece ofAd Astra, All around me, which puts us in a cocoon. There is something almost morning, of the order of waking up. Then we have a whole range of emotions and influences, until the last song where we fall back into something very nocturnal. A bit like the end of a cycle.

Does electronic music fully lend itself to the format imposed by the record?

If you start a record, it’s not to do ten techno songs in a row. I think you have to give a little more than that, with more intimate formats, that resonate more. We are not in a formula of absolute efficiency, unlike DJ sets.

So those are two completely different things…

Yes, totally. I’m just preparing a live album, where I’ll have to transform these slightly pop songs into something more dance floor, keeping the melodic side.

How are you going to proceed technically?

For this I work with Amour Océan, a producer that I really like. We have taken the very essence of the melodies, but we have modified the sounds, the tempos, we have incorporated more pronounced rhythms. In the end we will have a very danceable one-hour set that is also emotional. The concerts will start on June 11 at Tourcoing.

Exactly, was this technical side of electronic music a hindrance for you at some point?

It’s something you have to tame. It’s really not the easiest aspect. It’s not necessarily what excites me the most and at the same time it’s pretty essential. So you have to try to tame him as much as possible, which I’m doing more and more. When I played with Sébastien Chenut, maybe I was too inclined to let him handle that aspect. However, nowadays software helps us a lot, it is much easier to find rhythms that sound good, we have plugins galore; there really is a lot to do.

Interview with Emmanuel Haddek.

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