Times & Tunes with S3A

Parisian House and Disco maestro S3A aka Sampling As An Art has been a force to be reckoned with for many years now, racking up releases on Hold Youth, Dirt Crew, Phonogramme, Lazare Hoche Records, Times Are Ruff and his own S3A Records, as well as being a resident DJ at Concrete before it’s closure and now holding a residency at the infamous Rex Club. Here alongside his new EP on Cinthie’s new 803 Crystal Grooves ‘Collective Cuts’ label he talks with us about his influences, times of the past and present and shares some tunes…


Hi S3A, thanks for taking the time talk with us, for those people who may still not be aware of your work could you please tell us who you are, where you’re from and what you do?
Hello BB team!!!, it is a real pleasure to talk to you again! Hope you are all well and everything will get back to normal quickly now, all of this has been already too long :/ … So, my name is Maxime and I am French, from Paris. I run a musical project called S3A (like Sampling As An Art) since 2011. The main aim is to assume our (electronic and urban music I mean) roots like Disco and Funk. On this basis I make dynamic and musical house music. I want to be as diverse (I made an ambient album recently for instance), energetic and musical as possible.

Your name S3A is an abbreviation of Sampling As An Art, could you tell us a little more about what you mean by this and how influential you feel sampling has been on your art as a whole?
Even if « Sampling » is the basis of the project, I want to change the purpose of the samples and stay plural. That’s why I love, using the Jazz Funk melodies and harmonies, taking them somewhere else. Moreover, those harmonies are really different and complex (because they come from Jazz), those are so inspiring! The process is often the same, I listen a LOT of music at any time of the day and sometimes I spot little parts of songs I really love. So, I take and transpose them into « new themes », from acoustic to electronic music in other words. I add groove, melodies, dynamic and a lot of « sound ». For me the « sound » in itself is a part of the melody. So, Samples are for me, at the same time, really important in front of the mix and invisible like foundations in the grooves. That’s why I take a lot of time cleaning / dirtying / layering the samples (and my sound) to make my own material. I used to use an MPC (3000), for its excellent groove and sound, but it was nearly impossible to use with long samples and I preferred to keep my workflow up with Ableton and treating the audio with a strong audio chain.

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Could you talk us through your history with electronic music, based on the wide array of styles you play, which reach from 90’s rave era House and Techno through to early Disco and Hip Hop, I presume you’ve been collecting, listening to and playing music for quite some time?
Well, electronic music is the common theme of my life. It made me discover all the musical universes I’m inspired by. I’ve always been really curious about music (digging who made this, who produced that, the bassist of this record…), and I think all the music is linked by the inspiration. We’re all inspired by others. That’s why I want to make tracks with their own personalities, not only edits… And that’s, why I make tracks from scratch too. But let’s get back to the story ahhaha 😊 . My musical origins are Jazz funk and Rhythm and Blues from the 70s… In 1992 I crossed the road of two English teenagers. They gave me a tape recorded at the rave event called ‘mind body and soul’ at « The Universe » during the second summer of love… There was only written DJ Tanith and DJ Producer on it… From there I never stopped to look for this planet alignment, everything seems to have a sense now… So, when I opened my TV on the same year, and I saw the video clips of Sven Vaeth « Accident in paradise » and The Prodigy « Out of space » my mind was definitively converted to Electronic music 😊… After that, eclectic labels like F Communication or Force Inc or Rising High Records became very important for me. Not only for poum/chack tracks but for meditation music or extreme music too… To conclude on this, yes, all my productions are influenced by those … and it permits me to go everywhere I want (sometimes it is a problem when I have to make a very specific track ahahah)

Are there any particular records or artists you would cite as heavily influencing you and your work over the years? Could you please share with us three in particular that have been important to you over the years?
Oh yeah with pleasure, Wagon Christ / Luke Vibert: he is the real master of the samples. He can do everything he wants, and he was there since the beginning on different styles… I am so respectful for his works… For instance:

Akufen / Todd Edwards: Ok I know those are two different guys, but their work on samples and the emotions that emerges from their works are close. The grooves of Todd Edwards are my definition of house music. The emotions of both are why I believe in this music. I love their works : For instance :

yeah !!! I know the last one has never been released and was only done for mixing… Please Todd, release it!!!! One day I will use it as an intro for one of my mixes… Laurent Garnier: Ok, I don’t know where to begin with him… Spiritual Father, friend, inspiration source since « Go to sleep » … Somebody who is accessible and brilliant, fun and hard at work at the same time… It is really hard to find artists as good at Djing as Composing… The guy we are talking about is clearly one of them. Every time you hear him on the decks, you go back home with something: Moment, track, technical highlight… Clearly, I love this guy, he is so inspiring and high skilled at the same time so for me.

Your new EP entitled ‘Pages Epilogue’ we’re told concludes the story of your half acoustic half electronic album ‘Pages’, could you tell us a little about this album project, how you went about constructing it. What instruments were used for the acoustic and electronic elements and how you see this EP concluding the project as whole?
During 2017, I was been invited to the Red Bull Studio to make 5 tracks for them. As I could use the studio for one entire week, I decided to experiment with recording acoustic instruments and we searched for a band. We decided to make a majority of semi acoustic tracks. In this band we had a keyboard player (Pierre) for the Rhodes, Wurley, prophet 6…, a bass player (Raphael), and a drummer (Nicolas). Those guys were really important because as they usually tour with Leroy Burgess, they completely understood what I wanted to do. It was a living dream for me, composing, letting them play/jam, sampling from those studio sessions…the best life for me. This album was thought like a semi acoustic playable (on the grid) album , and everything worked so well !!! even one year after the release, I have messages from people who just bought it, and it is exactly what I wanted : Staying after the « news wave », good things last over time and it is the case here fortunately.

This new EP will come via Cinthie’s 803 Crystal Grooves Collective Cuts, although the album was released on Dirt Crew, could you tell us how you began working with Berlin’s Cinthie as you featured on the label inaugural release also. Have you been friends for some time and planning to work together or was it more of a spontaneous happening?
I loved working with Peter from Dirt Crew, he is very professional and kind. He always has good experienced thoughts. We made the album and a remix EP together and they worked very well. I still had two acoustic tracks to use because we wanted a 10-12 Max tracks album.
I know Cinthie for may be 6 years now, we met most of the time in train stations or airports on gigs transportation. Each time was a true pleasure, like meeting an old friend with common tastes 😊. I have a massive respect for her works and activities. She is talented, hardworking, kind, funny, and persistent: A true one, in other words! So, when she told me about her new sublabel « 803 Crystal Grooves Collective Cuts » and the first Various artist Ep, I sent her the « 92 Anthem » track. It worked pretty fine 😊, so we talked about making a complete EP. When I told her about the acoustics I still had and the other tracks I made since (at the origin they were only for the dancefloor), we decided to close the Album project together with this Epilogue. I like the idea of exclusive moments on the dancefloor so I often make tracks or edits, only to play them (not for releasing it like my France Gall Edit  for instance). I am so happy about this story and releasing these tracks now!!! True people speak to true people 😊.

How does Paris feed your inspiration?
It’s a city with a long history in the arts both in the contemporary electronic music scene as well as being a haven for artists and creative people for centuries.

Are there any particular places that you go to regularly to become inspired from record stores and clubs to parks or places to drink/eat?
I love this city, It gave me my chance, and the mood was clearly boiling in the 2010’s thanks to my family at Concrete … So much great new artists, labels, collectives, parties… It gives you strength and inspiration!! I am most of the time in the 11e district where Synchrophone, Heartbeat Shop and not so far off Betino’s shop is… I really love Japan and I often go to eat in the 1st and 2nd district where all the Japanese restaurant are. But to be honest, there is so many good restaurants in this city… I could not be exhaustive 😊

Could you please share with us one or two of your own productions that you feel would be a good introduction to the world of S3A?
Of yeah of course, but I will not go on the first releases because they already had good coverage. Here you go :

« Something more », which was played at a Dekmantel Boiler Room by my friend Byron The Aquarius, it’s disco, easy to play and a dynamic banger 😊

« 92 Anthem » is the UK hardcore track I told you about earlier here … It is my second side 😊… For the little story, the real name of this track is « My answer to Stahil ». It was my response to Kink about his track :

As I know him and I used a little part of his « Boiler room » intro (with his authorisation of course) to make a track for Redbull. I made this little musical reply 😊 … Cute isn’t it ??

What’s next for you, have you been embracing the current global situation and spending time in the studio? Any particular projects on the horizon we should know about?
Yeah!! Home School for the kids and studio… During the two first lockdown weeks all was great with lot of inspiration. I made a lot of streaming live mixes for friend’s clubs and structures… But during the second month of lockdown I felt a little unmotivated, may be because I realized that I would not play at all for a long time…for the positive points, we all had the time to think and spend some time with our closest…. We saw the real part of the artists during those lockdowns, everyone communicated on the real part of them… It added a truth lightning on our communication … finally It made me realize that without you (public / promoters… who became sometimes good friends) I felt a little pointless, I must admit it …😊… I really can’t wait to get back on the stages and in the DJ booths to see you all again!!!!

Lastly could you please recommend something outside of music that you feel the world should know about, maybe a book, a movie, a painting or anything else that you’ve discovered recently?
During those lockdowns we watched TV shows and we had two highlights: Peaky Blinders, and Tiger King… This last one was so intense… It is true that I did not had this view of the USA. We all know The West, The Est but not the real middle of the US… I do not want to do any amalgams, but the characters are unbelievable… and sometimes it can help to understand why Trump, why guns, why, 2nd amendment…) … If any would come to see producer with those characters, I am sure he would decline …ahahaha… The sad point is Animals… All is so out of this world that we nearly forget them… But it is so heartbreaking … Animals should not be involved at any point in our craziness… This said, I want to believe that all of this crisis will help us to build a better « after world » (for all species).