We know the story behind Louisahhh’s rise to her role as First Lady of Bromance Records. Her journey beginning with a strong musical grounding from childhood, which transcended to performing in nightclubs in New York City well underage. Throw in a meeting with French techno figurehead Brodinski, which would lead to a solid friendship to be followed by musical collaboration. Fast forward a couple of years and two significant club anthems through ‘Let the Beat Control Your Body and ‘Nobody Rules the Streets’ and we have a talented force in techno.
Maelstrom, a French music maker hailed as one of Europe’s leading underground producers and label compadre has been well entrenched in electronic music since his attendance to European raves at the age of 15. He’s released a three-track EP on Zone which has been described as tough and menacing. A firm participant in what seems to be a renaissance of French Club music. Put the two together and you can’t be anything but excited about what their latest collaborative EP Translation has to offer. New material in the form of Bromance #15: Traces featuring two tracks is released on Monday, March 17th.
Both were gracious enough to allow us an interview together after the first ever sanctioned Bromance Records Tour of Australia touching on how the bromance really started, NSW’s recent ‘lockout’ laws, the Bromance Family Running Club and more.
With the first ever sanctioned Bromance Records Australian Tour completed – How did each of you find the receptiveness of the crowds? How does it compare to the last time you were here?
L : My first Australian tour was a solo endeavor in April 2013, so it was pretty recent. The vibe of the crowds this time was vastly different – they knew what we were there for and showed up for the gigs really educated and open minded and hungry for what we are doing. I wasn’t expecting as big a leap of notoriety as we got, it was a pleasant surprise. With the exception of one night that was a bit rough, all of the shows were pretty exceptional. It made a big difference, also, to have Mael there – travelling is more fun with another person, and it was cool to feel sharper and more keyed in to our sets together as the tour progressed.
M : I have been touring Australia a few times already, and have noticed there was a growing interest for the kind of techno we are playing, but this tour has gone beyond all my expectations. I’m amazed at how far the crowds followed us, as we’ve been sometimes pushing our sets in extreme territories, playing industrial techno, old-school electro, and everyone seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. It’s also been amazing to tour with Louisa, I’ve gotten used to be on my own on most of my travels, but it’s so much better to have someone with whom you can share the joys and the frustrations of the everyday DJ life, and of course playing back to back for 3 hours, 8 nights in a row.
Louisahhh you’ve previously said that you’d received a ‘divine sign’ that you and Maelstrom were ‘musical soul mates’. What is the story behind the introduction to each other? Describe the dynamics behind your musical collaborating.
L : I had been working on a single for Bromance since January 2011, from LA. After about eighteen months of countless tries and rejected tracks, I was basically given an ultimatum by Savoir Faire (the management company behind Bromance): move to Paris or find a different path. Part of this move was an opportunity to collaborate with Mael, mostly because I was a fan and Louis thought it would be a good fit, that he could help me focus my ideas and express myself musically in a way that I hadn’t really clicked into up to that point.
We exchanged some ideas via email that eventually turned into ‘In My Veins’, but basically I showed up on his doorstep in Nantes last February a complete stranger and what happened was better than I could have possibly imagined.
I believe our collaboration is divine in that what we do together is greater than the sum of the parts – in this case, 1+1 does not equal 2, but something bigger and more profound than that, in my heart and mind and work, at least, to risk sounding grandiose. Personally, I trust him implicitly and am so happy to call him a dear friend; creatively I am inspired and driven and overjoyed and strengthened by what we make together.
M : Despite having grown up in very different environments, we quickly found out we had very similar tastes in music, and the same approach to the creation process. It’s been a flawless ride and I can’t wait to see where the future will take us. It’s the first time I collaborate so closely with anyone, and we’ve come to a point where there’s so much respect and understanding from both ends that it now feels as if we’d worked together for years. I actually can’t believe it’s only been 12 month since we met !
On the production level, we’re always exchanging ideas, even when we’re touring different parts of the worlds, we try to keep in touch as often as possible. Then when we have something we both feel is going in the direction we want, we’ll sit together in the studio for a week or two and finish it together. Sometimes, everything starts with lyrics coming from Louisa, sometimes it’s a 1 bar loop that will get us excited, and then everything builds up organically into finished tracks. As we’re both DJs, we also road test the music a lot, which means there’ll always be 4 or 5 different versions of any track. After you’ve played something on various sound systems and to different crowds, it’s easier to know what works.
I’m not sure if either of you have been well informed of the NSW Government’s Lock Out Laws, but as you might know that the night you performed with the Motorik crew at The Basement was one of the last nights to party before these new regulations took effect. Would either of you like to comment on it and the potential side-effects (if any) in terms of music culture?
L : We heard something of this during our travels; on one hand, it’s a bummer and I sympathize – it’s better to make a living doing nightlife when there are more sanctioned hours for clubbing. On the other hand, I spent the majority of the last decade in Los Angeles where everything must close at 2 am, so I am perhaps hyper aware of the fact that sometimes the thing that makes any subculture interesting is the vibe of ‘what we do is secret’. If people are forced to fight to do what they love, seek out something a little bit illegal or dangerous or grimey, to go underground where they can party lawlessly and get good and weird, it can actually be a bolt of electricity to a scene that is possibly homogonized or flavored vanilla by the mainstream. The rave must go on. After that show at the basement, I am quite sure that these kids are unstoppable; they will find a way to keep partying regardless of silly nanny state restrictions.
M : I first started playing music in an environment where what we did was completely illegal, we used to organize raves in abandoned warehouses, or in industrial zones, without asking anyone for their authorization. Although it’s a shame that anyone would think closing the clubs earlier would change anything to the youth’s behaviour and alcohol habits, I tend to believe it can also be a thrill to find different ways to make your music heard, be it different locations, after hours parties, or illegal ones. New ways to bring everyone together. That’s what raves were about in the 90’s in Europe, it had a social, even political aspect, and maybe that’s why this period has had such a huge influence and has stayed with us until now.
You both have heavy touring schedules for the next year, Louisahhh I know you are a prolific runner. Have you recruited enough members to start a Bromance Family Running Club?
Maelstrom, are you the first one ready to sign up?
L : Our ‘running joke’ (literally, haha), is that while I run in every city we play in around the world, Mael finds a place to smoke his e-cig and read without being bothered. So far not a single person has joined me in the Bromance Running Club though Louis has become a gym-rat of sorts. Also, friends and fans have taken me on some great runs around the world, especially in Australia – shout outs to Peter Adamopoulos, Nina Las Vegas and Yimmy Yayo.
M : I hate all kinds of exercise. It’s impossible for me to understand why I should run unless something evil and hairy with spikes and crooked teeth was chasing me. Although, when I’m on tour, I appreciate walking around and getting lost
What’s been the greatest gift from your working together – both musically and personally?
L : I will tell you right now that I am presently watching Boiler Room Berlin, waiting for Mael’s set (with Djedjotronic) because I miss my friend – I last saw him yesterday, after three weeks together, this is absurd – and he is also my favorite DJ.
I don’t have to play because he is playing all of my favorite things anyway, even things I didn’t know were my favorite yet. If we didn’t work together I would have to kill him because he is so good.
I honestly think that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we give each other personally and professionally. It is a unique and unexpected true friendship, the likes of which I have not experienced before. Professionally and creatively, I feel like it’s really secure. Instead of interpersonal drama or conflict feeding the work or (perhaps worse), something super dry and cold, there is a certain simplicity of having found the other side of my coin, the other edge of my sword, my own shadow (or maybe I am the shadow, or maybe we take turns).
M : Exactly, the greatest of all gifts is trust : there’s no competition between us, which helps us move forward and makes both of us better artists and humans. I can’t wait for our next tour together, because these sets have been the best ones I ever played by far.
Can you agree on a favourite track from the upcoming release of your collaborative EP?
L : I actually can’t choose one. I love them both, for different reasons, on different days, and I’m not just saying that. One is like the golden child, goes over huge without fail, is so satisfying to play because the crowd physically changes during the drop, it’s pretty magical. The other is the underdog, a bit darker and weirder and more specific but when it hits right it’s really electric and ferocious. I am curious to see what Mael says.
M : I usually see tracks as a dimension in a larger, more detailed system. For me, each individual sound is as important, and even more important sometimes, than the track it’s included in, so I’d say my favourite thing in this release is the door slam and the cry of terror in “Rough & Tender” It’s hidden in the background, but stays there somewhere during the whole track, and gives it its color>Both Louisahhh & Maelstrom continue 2014 with heavy touring schedules all over the globe. But if you’re interested in more from industry heavyweights, Bromance Records, label front man and co-founder Brodinski is in town touring with Future Music Festival along with Gessafelstein – who’s collaboration with A$AP Rocky has just been released.
For more from France’s finest techno exports, catch them this Saturday March 8 at The Metro Theatre Sydney with support from Jensen Interceptor and The Motorik Vibe Council. Final release tickets available now through The Metro Theater & Ticketek, that or head to Beatport to snap up the latest Bromance Records goodies.
Expect the digital release of the first ever Bromance compilation this Friday followed by physical on the 14th, more details here.