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Interview: John Talabot

It’s been two years since John Talabot released his debut album, ƒIN, and he’s still confused as to why the record received the universal reception that it did. Looking back, he feels that whilst it ticked the boxes conceptually – there wasn’t enough depth sonically. Speaking of the possibility of future output, he isn’t looking to produce anything self-indulgently. “I want to be sure my next steps are interesting enough for other people to be interested,” he explains. Talabot’s music is about creating an experience or recalling a memory, without the danger of stretching or diminishing the initial impact of that feeling.
With festival slots throughout the summer, the live show has been retired until Talabot finds the concept for a new album, so he’s solely playing DJ sets including appearances at Unknown, Primavera and a small European tour with his own label, Hivern. “You have to invest a lot of imagination, people send you the music but you want to give a proper identity to the band,” he says, reflecting on that decision. Throughout our conversation, we talk DJing, being asked to contribute music for film projects and the future of his own music.

Planet Notion: You’re playing a set at Primavera on your home turf, do you have any kind of A/V show or is that something that’s limited when you’re playing festival slots?
John Talabot: It’s going to be fun! I don’t play too much in my city. The gig in Barcelona [DJ set with Jamie xx] is in a night club. But yes, sometimes it’s a bit limited because you have to play for an hour or hour and a half. It’s more difficult to play a one hour set than a nine hour set because you have to be really selective and picky with the tracks, you can’t do any long transitions or whatever you want to do. I don’t like to mix too fast, I like making long mixes.

PN: That’s apparent in your recorded output too. There’s an emotional depth to your music, which is not that commonly found in a lot of electronic music at the moment. I’m guessing this is why it resonated so much with people.
JT: I don’t listen to so much pop music now. Sometimes when I hear some more mainstream electronic music or pop bands, I feel there’s a lot going on in one song – a lot of melodies, ideas and production. But at the end, the main idea gets dissolved. What I tried to do with the album is to stick to one clear idea –explore that in the best way I could.

PN: What are you learning at the moment?
JT: Actually, I’m in my studio. I’ve been trying a lot in the last three years. I had to set up a home studio but it was complicated to connect everything I had, then I started live shows. It’s been a messy two years of my life; it was really hard to sit down to do stuff because when I was getting off tour and DJing, I was so tired I couldn’t do anything! Working with my laptop is quite hard for me, I can work on ideas but I can never finish anything. I’m really a perfectionist and I want to make something I’m happy with. The one thing I wasn’t really happy with ƒIN is that I feel it sounded really flat; ƒIN doesn’t have much deepness in its sound. It should be organic but at the same time, it wasn’t organic enough. I want to give this physical experience to the audience too with the next album. To get that, you need to find a proper process – being able to make your sound deep.

PN: There’s a cinematic quality to your music, have you ever been approached by any people to soundtrack a project or a film?
JT: Yeah I have been approached on some occasions! If I wanted to do a proper soundtrack, I want to be sure that the project is interesting enough to me – I have had other offers to work on short films. It was a Spanish movie. At the beginning, it was supposed to happen but I had so many troubles with production and contracts, at the end I got really tired of it. Even when I’m thinking about stuff for the album, I’m already tired!

PN: Have you come any closer to thinking about the follow up to Fin?
JT: I’m thinking about it all day! There are people who want to do an album to seize the moment and have more gigs because their manager has told them. When I do it, I want to give options to my production that I wasn’t able to get into 12”s. I’m not going to do an album because I need to, only if I have something to say or explore that I can get people to enjoy and explore with me. Until I find that, I’m not going to do another album because if I don’t have anything to say, it won’t be a good album. It would be a filler album because I might have tracks I like but not a concept and that’s what I feel was the difference with ƒIN.

PN: You’re going to Unknown in Croatia; do you get a lot of flexibility with DJ slots at festivals?
JT: If I can, I try to get the longest slots as possible because I like to develop a proper trip.

PN: Apart from DJ slots, what else are you doing during the summer?
JT: I’m going to a coast town in Catalonia to try to do some music in the studio, that’s it! I’ll probably be in the studio a lot because summer in Barcelona is quite hot and I have air conditioning in the studio so that’s the perfect excuse to go there.

See john Talabot at Unknown Festival in Croatia from 8th – 12th. For more information please visit www.unknowncroatia.com

- Aurora Mitchell

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