Recently celebrating our 10 000th subscribtion to our Soundcloud page, we got a very special guest who generously accepted to make a very special mix for our listening pleasure. We’ve got the man with one of the most appropriate monikers out there for his craft , Sampling As An Art (aka S3A) (soundcloud), dropping a new mix for our MIXED BY/ series. With the goal of communicating his love for house and soul and the influence these and others genres have on his work, his productions have made people lose their mind on dancefloors all over there world. If it wasn’t enough, Max (S3A) also travels the globe performing live shows where he gets to make his audiences dance till the break of dawn. With a high energetic style using sampling as a core of his work, S3A has the unique ability to energize crowds quickly and effectively, almost getting them into a state of trance, where he controls his audiences and makes them experience what he wishes them to experience. In this mix, the Concrete resident and label owner of Sampling As An Art Records makes us take a journey into ambient, jazz, soul and neosoul, disco, funk and obviously, house music.
While enjoying the journey, you may want to read what S3A had to tell us. We had a few questions on our notepad for him, which he kindly accepted to entertain.
Could you tell us about your beginnings with electronic music production? (and your introduction to the genre).
I’ve always loved electronic music. Even when I was young, I recorded music on my Amstrad, or on other consoles in order to record them on cassette. So, when I started listening to electronic music, of course I wanted to make electronic music … It was instantaneous. On the other hand to arrive to a natural result took me a lot of time. I started on Cubase, with rather technological sounding productions, I had to start by mastering the all in the box, before getting to the machines. So today I feel the most comfortable with a mix between machines and computer, I think my favourite thing is to make them all work at the same time, and that all of it gives a coherent and synchronized ensemble. Kind of like a magician a bit.
You already had a strong knowledge of different genres on which you based your music production on. Who were the artists that you loved (or still love) picking in their discography to do sampling?
It’s true that I started with more aggressive music, like hardcore or techno. But even in those times I bought a lot of Masters At Work or Todd Edwards for example. For me, techno is the sound, and house is the notes … And with age, I think I was naturally orienting myself to the notes. So it’s sure that artists like Akufen are references for me: Combining technique and musicality with something that we often forget in electronic music: Emotion.
How did your time in Paris with Zadig go? (Tell us about your collaboration and experience)
I am from the Rouen region at the base and I spent my first twenty years there. Zadig was a DJ already known in the area, and I spent my time going to see him play with my little scooter . We became friends, and we developed our relationship around music. So when I went to Paris in 2005, Zadig and I took a recording studio right next to that of Matthieu Berthet (the person who masters and puts vinyl into compliance with much of the current French electronic production). This place was where a lot of experimentation and very good moments took place between Zadig and me. For example, we made a disc: Friendship Connection (Paname 01), and we really spent a lot of time combining the sound of machines with the practicality of the computer. I keep a lot of tenderness of this period, and I would never have done S3A If I hadn’t gone through this studio.
What piece of equipment can we find in your studio now?
In terms of drum machines, the classics are of course there: 606, 707, 808, 909. In terms of samplers, the MPC3000 is there, and for the synthesizer I buy and sell a lot to test. But what I have always with me: the Juno 2 Alpha, TX 802 Yamaha, and especially the M1 that I particularly like. I could add sound expanders that often serve as U220 Roland. Though I admit to being really a fan of the Roland boutique series, I think I have them all (laughter). I like the transportable, transport friendly aspect and the simple concept of something that does a specific thing very well.
Favorite piece of equipment? Why?
For live sets, I do as when I’m in the studio, that is that I keep the computer to do the role of conductor, it sends the MIDI clicks to the drum machine and other synthesizers.
So I often take the 303 in Rolland’s shop, the 909 in the same format (I was tired of having my real 909 repaired).
The computer also has another function . Something that the 3000 cant do for example: it reads the long and “tuned” samples. To keep a dynamic on the short samples I always have an SP 404 too.
What is the advice you would give someone who’s looking to take their first steps in music production?
Unfortunately it may be advice that seem a little vague . First we must know what we want to do. Either we want to move towards a style and at that moment the codes are not the same, or we will simply make his music and start from a blank sheet where everything is allowed. The important thing is to arrive at a mature sound, and not forget that the electronic music is principally studio music, where the sound counts as much as the notes or the harmonies.
Do you like keeping tabs on what else is going on in the electronic music scene? Does it influence your work? Which artists do you follow with interest?
Indeed I still listen to a lot of electronic music from all styles. I may have dropped techno a little, because honestly since 2006 I think its biting its own tail a little. I really like what Antigone does, and also Abdullah Rashim, But I confess I’m not running after the newcomers … On the other hand I inevitably keep myself informed about the House scene and quite a lot. Mostly now the ambiant/drone scene, jazz and neosoul.
So the artists that I am into a lot right now are Moonchild, K15, Ruby Rushton, Dimlite or Altus (last piece of the podcast).
What are your expectations regarding the North-American public this time around? Also, what aspects of your public do you take notice and allow you to draw nuances or differences between public/audiences through the regions of the world you visit?
My goal on the North American continent is to make myself more known. For example, I remember seeing Josh Wink in New York in a half-full venue (which shocked me). I think this culture is more European and not necessarily represented here …
It’s totally different from Japan, for example, who really has a jazz disco base, who’s very attentive to House music.
Yes there are clearly differences between countries, and I am very attentive when I play certain titles, to see how the audience reacts. According to their response, I adapt myself and stay very reactive. The goal is that everyone has fun, with a colour of sound that I want to convey. Anyway, for me Canada is a little different from the United States, because depending on the city, there is a real craze for this music, and all the better !!!
Your three favourite nights where you were performing and why?
First one I think I can say was my first live show at the weather festival in 2015, Second, my back-to-backs with Laurent Garnier (Rex / Concrete), And then I have a lot of very good memories on the decks at Concrete.
Your three favorite songs and why?
(Laughs) It’s not easy to get out just three songs …
So here are four tracks I currently listen to often in my walkman:
Horror Inc – Briefly Eternal (entire album)
Stellar Eider – wave (2nd title of the album “1”)
Fink – Resurgam
Altus – Session 7
How is it going with the Canadian cold?
Honestly, the weather is really more enjoyable than the weather in France right now. In Paris we have a kind of autumn thats been lasting for months, strewn with small descents of temperature. In Canada things are much clearer, we have felt for example here -24 (celsius) these few last days, and I liked discovering Montreal with this temperature and this weather. The last time I came to play in Canada, it was in November if my memory serves my right and It was a beautiful 22 degrees with full sun. I hardly recognized the city when I arrived here a few days ago! (laughs)
I would of course like to thank Adrien and Erwan from Kizi Garden Records (Montreal based) who invited me to play at their night here, and I would also like to thank Florent from Bolting Bits. We had been talking for a very long time and finally recently met.
I would also like to thank the people who came to see me at Groove Nation (Montreal venue). It was a really nice evening!
In any case, the Canadian experience is always very enjoyable, and I cannot wait to come back and play here again!