Members: Camille Camara, Simon Pasquer, Emmanuel Bretou
Current release: Jaberwocky's new EP Feeling Dancing Tempo will be released on Fait-Maison.
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What was your first studio like?
The first studio was a small spot in Camille's apartment, with hi-fi speakers as listening system. The setup was composed of a Moog Sub Phatty, a Novation Bass Station, a Nord Stage 2, a Microkorg, an electric guitar.
At the time we didn't know how to get the best of our hardware, we had these for a live use. But in the end we didn't use them in the composition process as we do now. Instead, we used mostly plugins and presets.
How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
While composing the second album with the help of Julien Galner we started to get interested in hardware. He had a lot of old analog synthesizers, obviously we wanted to put some in our tracks. It's by tinkering with them that we realized how interesting hardware could be, the inspiration and the inimitable sound that comes from it. We started to improve the setup and bought the Prophet 6 by Sequential, which turned into a central piece of our set up.
We then moved to Paris and hardware has taken more and more importance in our studio and our way of working. This is because each synth has its own sound and its own way of working. This gives us new ideas each time and boost our creativity.
We do buy and sell gear a lot, depending on the feeling we had with the different machines. The pieces we did keep and use in most of our productions are the Prophet 6, the Juno 106, the Analog Rythm, the Korg Mono/Poly and Novation Peak, Mooger Fooger Fx pedal, Oto Bim Delay and some pieces of our modular eurorack system.
What motivates you to buy new gear: The curiosity to try new things, a specific function, something else entirely?
It’s a mix of all of the above … We are both looking for the best workflow that will save us time and give us energy in production and the good feeling with the gear itself. It’s also looking for the sound or the very particular functionality that can take you to fields that you've never explored before, thus giving you new ideas. A machine often corresponds to a period of your life. You will put it in all your productions for a while, get tired of it and look for a new favorite.
It’s important to have machines at the heart of your workflow that you keep and that allow you to be in an environment where you feel at ease. But it’s also important to make your setup evolve regularly in order to renew yourself and to get out of your comfort zone, to renew your "recipe".
How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work?
Technology and creativity are deeply linked, especially in electronic music. Synthesizers, drum machines, samplers and software are the main tools we use and each machine has its own workflow, its own technology. You need to understand how they work and how to make them interact to get the best results for your creative process.
In fact electronic music was born with technology, evolving with all the connections you can now use between each machine and a computer. And that is the first step of the creative process: Which tool are we going to power on? What could we obtain if we plug this and that together?
Also, because some machines are iconic from a certain type of music and a period in the music history, you have to keep in mind the technology they used at this time when you take these references to reproduce. If we want that kind of 80s bassline, let’s power on a Juno 60!
You can literally create a sound from scratch with a couple of oscillators or any sample. So it’s your job to be creative with these tools to shape the sound the way you want it, add textures, add sounds from the real world, mix it with traditional instruments … So in a certain way creativity comes at the very first step. But it keeps on growing after the next ones.
With all the gear and software available on the market it can be difficult to know where to start sometimes. Also you have to «listen» to the technology: More and more software delivers you some presets that can be actually really inspiring. Because you won’t have thought to use this effect that way or because you didn’t expect how this sound could react when affecting by it. Sometimes you just have to let the machines talk together and look for the «good» accident that makes you say: «Hey, I like how it sounds! Let’s now change the rhythm or some notes to go further.»
How do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?
We have a set up with several synthesizers and midi controllers always plugged together. It’s useful to organize the tools in your studio but also your software: When you organize your plugins and effects, select the presets you like and often use, it allows you to work quickly and it optimises your workflow. This kind of landmark makes you feel at ease to achieve some specific results.
Historically speaking, there has always been a close relationship between technological and artistic progress. Accordingly, there have been musical paradigm shifts accompanied by technological innovation. Which of these shifts do you rate particularly important for your own music?
If we had to choose one, probably we would say the MIDI process (Musical Instrument Digital Interface). This technology was born in the 80s, it has completely changed the way that music is produced and is the basis of the modern «home studio».
This new capacity to make several synthesizers and machines communicate, sending and receiving information about any parameters and control them by a digital interface on your computer (with the powerful software we know now like Ableton Live, Pro tools, Logic …) has opened new doors for creativity in all kinds of music. It allowed musicians to use their tools in a more compliant and universal way, to control and record a lot of parameters easily. It has also given new possibilities to play your music live with the tools you already use in your studio.
Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Our way of making music has never really been frozen and we started in the early 2010’s. So there hasn't been a major technologic revolution in music since we began.
One tool that we really appreciate and allowed us to create everywhere is Sonaworks. You don’t need to have the perfect room to get the mix ready.
Generally speaking, making music has become increasingly accessible, requiring less financial investment.
To some, the advent of AI and intelligent composing tools offers potential for machines to contribute to the creative process. Do you feel as though technology can develop a form of creativity itself?
The way artificial intelligence works today, by the analysis of a huge database, doesn’t make it creative in the proper sense of the word. Simply put, its process is too different. Even if it’s able to create a track by itself, it can not «invent» and needs matter that already exists in its database.
But there are some steps in the composition where it can actually be very useful today - like mastering and mixing.
Is there possibly a sense of co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
Like we said before, we think AI is still a tool today, there’s no real exchange with it.
It’s true that the tools can sometimes take us in direction that we didn’t imagine at first. But choosing your tools and the way you use them is a core part of the creative process. The tools don’t take decisions, it’s the human being who remains the author.
But in the future maybe there will be a new art form with the AI.
Do you personally see a potential for deeper forms of Artificial Intelligence in your music?
Some plugins can now make some artistic proposals depending on what you have already recorded, refreshing the results each time you make a change: Some can deliver chords progression depending on a couple of notes you want to use, they give you several option for the «best» chord matching with the previous one. Or they can create a bass line according to the tone of your demo, create a random drum pattern in the style you want …
Some of these tools can be useful to quickly start something. But they are not powerful enough to make a whole track by just doing a couple of clicks. It can be good for feeding your inspiration and supporting your creativity.
But we can easily imagine how this kind of tools can evolve. Maybe one day you will select a few tracks as references and say to your tool «I want a bass line like this and chords like that but changing twice slowly.» - and the plugin will open one of your synth plugins and a preset, change some parameters to make a bass sound as you wanted, play notes that match with the chord progression you had in reference etc … But we don’t think it would be such an interesting tool in the way we make music.
What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?
We have seen a video of a studio where they have automated all their hardware and you can simply access by Internet to every synthesizer, every effect rack, tape machines … and push every single button in real time! This is a great idea because it can give you the opportunity to use some very expensive machines, hard to find on the market.
Can’t remember the name of this studio. But it's a nice project for analog lovers.