Superpoze illustrates the methodology of electronic production [Interview]
Dance music’s second commercial wave has brought unfathomable growth to the genre, with heavy monetization from corporate entities and an explosion in demand birthing a plethora of new sub-genres. Out of this expansion, however, comes a rift.
On one hand, artists like Calvin Harris and The Chainsmokers have propelled their sugary takes on electronic production to the masses, more or less pioneering a new pop movement. Meanwhile, others feel repulsed by what they believe is a homogenization of music toward a generic formula designed for maximum profit — those on that side of the rift have since dug deep under the surface in search of unique elements.
Superpoze is one who prefers the avant-garde, and satiates his craving by by crafting records that go against the grain of standard dance music. He displayed bold and savvy characteristics from the start in his career. In his teen years, “around 18 or 19…around the same time I started publishing music,” he recollects, the French musician launched his label Combiens Milles. “I wanted to make my own label because, for me, it’s natural to just do my own thing without having to wait for someone else to make a final call,” he quips.
Full autonomy over his creativity allows Superpoze to manifest his artistic vision unhindered. It’s a vision that sees him returning the human element to contemporary music by implementing instrumentation and raw melodies and harmonies. He ventures outside the “build-drop-build” box, taking a more organic approach toward production that fosters a more subdued listening experience instead.
This knack for raw, impactful arrangement can be traced in part to his classically-trained past. Before becoming Superpoze, most knew him as a drum student by the name of Gabriel Legeleux who attended the Conservatoire de Paris. He stopped going after turning 14, but his roots stayed on with him: “When I’m making music, I really feel my classical training — especially when I’m using the piano, guitar, or orchestral samples in my productions. I definitely think that sense of “epicness” comes from my time at the music academy.” Funnily enough, he actually learned how to play the piano during his tenure as an electronic composer.
Classical training is merely a fragment of a complex sonic identity, however. Like his music, the ascending talent’s influences are quite diverse. “When I was in high school, I listened to a lot of hip-hop before moving toward sounds like Boards of Canada and Air. I think all of these musical phases brought me to making my kind of sound,” he describes. Despite not writing music at this time, this period of aural discovery played a critical role in where he wanted to go upon making the decision to work as a producer full time.
Diving deeper into what moves Superpoze musically, he advises that “I have different schools of artists that have inspired me the most.” The first he denotes as “90s French instrumental music, like Air.” He continues: “I also like a lot of American composers like Philip Glass and John Cage.” Finally, “The third that inspires me most would be classical French composers, like Debussy,” he finishes. His music certainly reflects this myriad of styles, branching off into various shades of eclectic, emotive, and cinematic. Furthermore, those that he points to as catalysts for his own sound design all share a distinctively timeless appeal — one that he similarly possesses.
Legeleux looks at electronic music in a different lens than most, which further sets him apart as a producer. He considers it a “methodology” of sorts to help realize the full scope of what he sees in a song. “To me, making music is about finding raw emotions through strong melodies and rhythm loops,” he asserts of his core musical philosophy. When it comes to forging new music, Superpoze does so “the same way you’d go about making an acoustic song, where you can strip even the most complex production down to its most basic elements yet still feel something profound.”
His deep connection with his work, paired with his staunch stance of delivering it through an intricate live setup works well for him. Now, with two albums notched on his belt and an accompanying international tour, a flourishing label, and a clear definition of his aural imprint, Superpoze is now ready to put his head down and “work toward making the best album I possibly could.”
Photo Credit: Nathanne Le Corre
What is your musical philosophy?
To me, making music is about finding raw emotions through strong melodies and rhythm loops; essentially, making electronic music the same way you’d go about making an acoustic song, where you can strip even the most complex production down to its most basic elements yet still feel something profound.
I want to be able to play all my songs on the piano, and create something meaningful — even without lyrics.
Another way I look at electronic music is that it’s not a necessarily a “type” or “genre” of music itself, but rather a different tool to make music. “Dance music” is a specific genre, but electronic is the methodology. So, for example, even if I made a song with tons of acoustic elements, it would still be electronic if I had made the song on my computer. It doesn’t have to be dance music, but it can be if I wanted it.
Who are the artists that inspire you the most, and why?
I have different schools of artists that have inspired me the most. The first is 90s French instrumental music, like Air. Then, I also like a lot of American composers like Philip Glass and John Cage. The third that inspires me most would be classical French composers, like Debussy.
Bonus: the Beat scene, primarily those who make tracks for hip-hop, is another class of artists that moves me.
When you entered the scene, you became a known act pretty quickly. What are some of the thing you did that set you apart from others, in your opinion?
I think that when I started, I didn’t know anything about electronic music, so I was playing solely live instead of DJing. I was thinking of my music as more “pop” at the time, even though it was electronically-produced. I’d arrived at a strange axis that really was a mixture of different influences and heavy on the live aspects. This ended up helping me as I was starting out, in my opinion. Now, I get to spend ten hours in my studio per day, making music and doing what I love — I’d say this all worked out for me!
When did you start your label? Also, how did the name “Combiens milles (how many thousand)” come about?
The name actually comes from an inside joke that started when I was in high school. My friends and I began using “a thousand” as a default answer to any number-related question, and it grew from there. That said, I certainly hope to release 1000 records!
I started it at around age 18 or 19, around the same time I began publishing my music. I wanted to make my own label because for me, it’s natural to just do my own thing without having to wait for someone else to make a final call. If I wanted to release new music tomorrow, I could; and that’s the beauty of it. I like the feeling of doing everything on my own, from the music and mastering side to the visual side.
You’re originally classically trained. What led you to wanting to make electronic music as opposed to staying within the instrumental world?
It wasn’t really a proper move, per se. Classical music was my childhood, but I stopped the music academy when I was 14 years old. Then for three years I didn’t make music at all. When I was in high school, I listened to a lot of hip-hop before moving toward sounds like Boards of Canada and Air. I think all of these musical phases brought me to making my kind of sound. When I’m making music, I really feel my classical training — especially when I’m using the piano, guitar, or orchestral samples in my productions. I definitely think that sense of “epicness” comes from my time at the music academy.
It’s definitely obvious, especially since you play piano so well!
Actually, that’s a funny story. I didn’t study the piano at the music academy; it’s something I just picked up as I began producing music. I originally studied different kinds of classical percussion. Though, in a way I sort of had a taste of what piano would be like, since percussion involves stuff like xylophones, etc. Technically piano is part of the percussion family as well! There’s also this nice instrument called a celesta as well; it’s kind of like a piano. I learned that as part of my percussion lessons.
It seems as there’s a “movement” of sorts of French artists that are putting classical, instrumental stuff back into electronic music. Would you agree with this notion? What do you think is causing the move back toward instrumentation?
I’m not sure if there’s a revolution, really, as we’re all not really “connected” to each other, but I guess we’re all from a similar age group and we’re bored of all the big room house stuff that was dominating our country. When you’re young — 13 or 14 years old — there’s a mainstream sound that you either are into or against. When I was that age, I went against the mainstream and began with more melodic stuff. I guess our generation now is finally catching up and making music that is danceable, yet more melancholic. So, I wouldn’t say it’s a “scene,” or sorts, but more of our generation growing up.
Do you ever fear that the ability to play instruments and learn music theory is becoming a lost art?
Yes; I am a bit afraid of that. I’m not the type of guy to say you “aren’t a musician” if you didn’t learn music at the academy or classically, but this is definitely something I’m afraid of. It’s interesting; back in the 19th century, music was something more for the bourgeois; on the same plane as physics and other sciences. Now it’s still in schools, but it’s optional. You can chose music, or sports, or shop. I really don’t think it should be this way, because when you’re young and learning music alongside your other studies, it’s like learning another language — your brain just opens up and widens in a way. So, yeah, I am a bit afraid of this reality, and that music is going to become something that people feel isn’t important enough to take part in, or even learn in a traditional sense.
After creating your second album, running your label, and “doing it all” basically, what’s next for Superpoze?
Ah — the next episode of Superpoze. Well, currently I feel like I’m beginning to master my technique and my instruments (guitar, piano, drums). Now it’s time for me to really hone in on my sound, and work toward making the best album I possibly could. I know how to get to the vibe I want, so the next step is to work on a brand new album that shows off the best sound I have.
Superpoze will be releasing a remix album to his latest studio effort, ‘For We Are The Living’ on December 1, featuring edits from Christian Loffler, Rone, and more. Head here for more information.