Name: William Rezé aka Thylacine
Nationality: French
Occupation: Producer
Current Release: Thylacine's 9 Pieces is out via Intuitive.
Gear Recommendations: I don’t even have time to discover all the new technologies that are being made right now to help creativity to be honest!

If you enjoyed this interview with Thylacine and would like to find out more, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram, and Facebook.  

What was your first studio like?

Two little monitors on a wooden plank in a small student flat. But I mostly used headphones because of the neighbours.

And I actually started making electronic music on an MPC 500 because I was scared of DAWs.

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?

It’s only recently that I have an all-plugged set up where I can professionally work at home.

Before that, as I was moving a lot, I had a very light setup that I could always bring with me, and sometimes went to a professional studio to finish a track. But it was sometimes very frustrating to have to build a setup at home each time I had an idea that would include recording a synth or an instrument.

So now, I would say that the most important pieces of gear are all the cables, soundcards and microphones already plugged and ready for creativity ... rather than an amazing synth waiting under your desk.

Some see instruments and equipment as far less important than actual creativity, others feel they go hand in hand. What's your take on that?

I believe they are very good tools, they can obviously shape your sound and have a big impact on your art. But they are not the key to creativity for me. I think real creativity can be expressed on any device, and I often prefer a cheaply made track with honest emotion in it rather than a perfect sound but meaningless music.

But behind that question is also two ways of seeing music, and especially in electronic music. Some will write melodies that could still work played by different instruments, others will shape sounds and textures to create unique melodies. I am a bit in the middle, but probably closer to the first group.

A studio can be as minimal as a laptop with headphones and as expansive as a multi-room recording facility. Which studio situation do you personally prefer – and why?

For me the environment matters a lot. I would probably prefer a minimal setup with an amazing view rather than a cave with great speakers but no sunlight. In my experience, a good mood is the best equipment ever.

But discovering new instruments is also something really exciting. I could then spend days in that cave, if there is an old organ that I could play for the first time.

From traditional keyboards to microtonal ones, from re-configured instruments (like drums or guitars) to customized devices, what are your preferred controllers and interfaces? What role does the tactile element play in your production process?

I really like to work on customized controllers, it helps me find a way to express myself the most naturally as possible. And I believe we all have different needs and ways of accomplishing our goals, even when we use the same equipment we mostly do it in different ways.

So I think it’s important to not be afraid to appropriate and modify any kind of device we can use if it can help the process.

In the light of picking your tools, how would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

It doesn’t really work for me to make music with a specific goal. Each time I had a direction in mind, I mostly ended up on the other side. Which is something I really like in music actually. I love accidents, jokes, and experimentation. And the best tracks ever produced are mostly full of it.

So, making music with guidelines is not really creative in my opinion. I myself just try to make music that makes me feel better and hopefully other people too.

Most would regard recording tools like microphones and mixing desks as different in kind from instruments like keyboards, guitars, drums and samplers. Where do you stand on this?

I understand how for certain artists they can be more than a technical tool.  

In my practice, I don’t feel like I spend too much time on the technical part to be honest, each time I do it I feel like I’m losing the creative process. I prefer intuitiveness and emotions than technical experimentations. I don’t mind using a cheap microphone, if it allows me to be creative.

How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work? Using a recent piece as an example, how do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?

I come from classical music and jazz music, and electronic music has been for me a way for me to have some freedom in composition, structure, sounds or influences. Technology has allowed me to compose alone, to follow an idea deeper, and to have a variety of sounds on hands quite infinite.

On another level, the mobility of nowadays technologies have allowed me to compose in extraordinary environments such as the Trans-Siberian train or deserts in Argentina.

So, in many ways technology has been a liberation of possibilities for me, and that’s how I want to continue seeing it.

Within a digital working environment, it is possible to compile huge archives of ideas for later use. Tell me a bit about your strategies of building such an archive and how you put these ideas and sketches to use.

As an example, right now I’ve only got 3 unfinished ideas. It happens when I feel like there is something really interesting, but I don’t have the time or the equipment to express it.

But most of the time when I’ve got something good going I can’t really stop myself and I’ll continue working on it, I can take some breaks to have a better overview of it a bit later but I’m not archiving it. So actually, most unfinished ideas are shit really …

Production tools can already suggest compositional ideas on their own. How much of your music is based on concepts and ideas you had before entering the studio, how much of it is triggered by equipment, software and apps?

Sometimes being able to try different kinds of already made rhythmic patterns quickly is interesting for me to have a better view of the composition, but I don’t really use them as final elements.

I’m not really convinced by those kind of easy-production tools, but the sampling process is something I like, and some banks are really interesting.

Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?

Not really, there are a lot of little steps, but I can’t find something that particularly made a big change.

To some, the advent of AI and 'intelligent' composing tools offer potential for machines to contribute to the creative process. Do you feel as though technology can develop a form of creativity itself? Is there possibly a sense of co-authorship between yourself and your tools?

In contemporary art, most of the biggest artists don’t put their hands on the sculpture or installation, they have big teams of apprentices and engineers handling all the technical part. But they are still the ones signing it and the full authors of the piece. I believe in music it could also be like that.

No matter how much the machine will help you in the process, you’ll still have to make the right decisions at some point to have an interesting piece.

I think the more technology evolves, the more that good technicians lose their value, unfortunately. But it can also help artists, who don’t have the same access to education and equipment, to express themselves.