Jacques Lu Cont unveils Tracques in exclusive SPIN interview
Thin White Duke, Les Rythmes Digitales, Jacques Lu Cont, Tracques. It’s not a boy band — it’s a series of aliases for the man born as Stuart Price. For someone who has produced for some of the world’s biggest pop stars, won three Grammys, and DJed himself for more than fifteen years, he’s managed to stay incredibly under the radar — but maybe that’s just because no one can seem to keep up with what name he’ll be using next.
As Tracques, Price channels his darker motivations with an album full of raw and punching techno. Forget Madonna, forget that Röyksopp remix you danced to in your college dorm room — Tracques is Stuart Price unchained. Philip Sherburne had the chance to sit down with the man for SPIN to discuss his internal evolution, Swedish House Mafia, the state of the dance music union, and Daft Punk.
Much of the album is off-time and often counterintuitive to our adopted mainstream dance sensibilities, but that’s intentional:
I wanted to make something that you had to bend over and look at it and go, ‘What is this stuff? What’s going on here?’ [D]ance music today can be a bit rigid. It’s kind of, ‘OK, here’s the intro, it’s going to consist of one chord that’s going to build and build. Here’s the first drop, big melody. Snare drums come in…’ It can become quite formatted. And your ear, subconsciously, has learned what’s going to come along next. So to make music again where you don’t know what’s going to happen, that’s not in eight-bar loops any more — there might be a six-bar loop or there might be a 14-bar loop, or something like that. It’s about that idea of wanting to peer into the speaker and wonder what’s going on.
Not only is the goal to redefine what your ear expects to hear on the dance floor, but it’s also a personal challenge for him as a producer. He speaks about writing “Click Track” and forcing himself to work around the concept of a metronome. He realized that when he would sit down to sort out themes for a track, his confines were always centered around the metronome so he “started looking at the settings in [his] sequencer, and [he] noticed that there are a lot of different ways you could change the settings of the metronome, different subdivisions. And [he] just thought, ‘For once, I’ll play you instead of you playing me.’
Tracques happened quickly — it was almost a reaction to the pop records he’d been making — but don’t expect him to stay in this techno mindset. Now that this album is over, he “feel[s] like [he] wants to do a really melodic record with Les Rythmes Digitales.” When he speaks about the shifting sands of electronic music today, his statement encapsulates exactly what he himself has been able to achieve –“one thing I know is that the true artists shine through. You can’t hide good music, no matter what the genre is.”