Interview: Divergent Ways [DW]
In light of the completion of their first EP, released on self-titled music label Divergent Ways, the French duo were kind enough to speak to us about art, impression, and techno. The new project is among a handful of exciting techno and electronic music outfits to emerge from Paris and surrounding provinces, set to put the capital back on the map. The incipient Parisian electronic music scene boasts historical stalwarts such as DJ Deep and Laurent Garnier, but the city has lain neglected and stale as its European counter-parts have stormed ahead over the last fifteen years. Shackled to the zeitgeist of the era-defining work of Daft Punk, Paris has not moved far since. Despite all this, the city’s reigns have now been commandeered by a new breed of artistic initiatives that are intent on making their voices heard.
Read the EP review and listen to it in full here.
We were both making our own music and began to talk about it, share some sounds, tricks… After having found some similarities we tried to work together and it works. We both tried to work with other artists before but it didn’t work for us.
We did a first project and signed for an EP with a German record label without having any control of the visual and the remix. When we received the remix we were not happy with the result so we cancelled the EP and decided to launch our own record label. It took several months to create and discuss but here we are as you would say.
/ Do you all come from varied musical backgrounds or have you all progressed from a similar place?
We grew up with a similar musical background, maybe one of us listened to more punk stuff and had more music lessons. But we both progressed in various different genres (Punk, Garage, Electronic music, Concrete music, Hip Hop…)
/ You’ve decided to release music as a collective (Divergent Ways), choosing to omit artist names from tracks. I think this is a great idea. What made you decide to operate in this way?
We chose to promote the music itself more than the artists. We prefer people to listen to our music without knowing who made it, to let them focus on the real vibes and not the artist’s image.
/ Do you feel working in this way has its disadvantages as well?
Yes it could be, when you don’t have a name on an EP it slows the promotion process, connections are harder to make and sometimes a new label without well-known artists are not “trusted” or yet credible in people’s mind.
/ The collective has a very strong aesthetic – the material is very cohesive and sounds as if it could have been written by one artist. Do you spend a lot of time together both in and out of the studio?
We used to work together a lot, spending days and nights making music or working on graphics, but now we are both working in different cities. Working afar has taught us many things, we learnt a totally different way to produce music and designing. We now have a mutual sight and hearing on what each other does.
/ So how did you put this EP together (First Light Part One): Did you all meet together first to decide what the EP would be about and then go off to write a track each? Or are these three tracks a shortlist from a larger number of tracks that you’d already written previously?
We worked on many tracks before finding the sound on our EP. We did a lot of research together and finally we defined what First Light EP would be and worked on them separately for a few months
/ The EP is an exciting start for the label. How long did it take to write?
We began research in 2013 and the production six months ago, and sure all the other stuff that comes with creating a label. We did several tracks…
/ The first ever release always sets the tone for the label. Can we expect to hear more material like DW001 or will you be taking the sound in a different direction(s) over future releases?
We have not planned what the Divergent Ways sound will be for future releases. We enjoyed designing that tone but we would like to explore other territories without losing our essence and trying to be coherent for sure.
/ The label has a pretty holistic approach to art, uniting the sonic and the visual together as one. Could you explain a little more about this relationship and how you are incorporating it into the label’s creative process?
We are both fans of Graphic Art, Video, Cinema, Painting, Photography. The visual aspect is very important for us. We love to implement mental images through our productions but it is important for us to add a physical support, something which pleases the eye and represent an extension of what we produce. The relationship with the work of art is paralleled with the production process of the tracks to keep us in its visual madness.
/ You see “music as a visual manifestation”, do you see sound and vision as equals or does one dominate the other?
We don’t believe there’s a balance of power between visual and sound, they are complementary, they both give strength to each other and are more powerful when added together.
/ You cite and quote American artist James Turrell. How integral is his work and philosophy to the conceptual forming of the Divergent Ways label, and in particular this EP?
We quote Turrell in this EP, not really as a reference for the label. Each EP adopts the work of an artist translated to a musical form.We produced this particular sound thinking of his work. For example we declined the same pads, synths and soundscapes in the three tracks because James Turrell uses most of the time the same media. His light research really influenced us. What we like about him is that he speaks about the first light, the morning light and what we can imagine with it. We can think of so many things with few clues or even only one. Through a single beam of light, we can already establish a narrative. Imagination is his thing. How do you create art or a story and with what? Viewers have to project themselves into their own imagination which can inspire the work of an artist. We do not want to dictate what that the auditor should think. Everyone is different and reacts differently to what they see or hear.
/ Techno has a long, illustrious history and a huge body of work to draw from. Could you name some key influences to your sound?
Aphex Twin for sure, Monolake, Minimal Wave (it’s not really a techno label but is a big influence in the techno scene for us), Surgeon, Substance, Vainqueur, Sleeparchive, LFO, Oliver Ho for the first things we listened to.
And today… The investment of Regis in the techno scene, Semantica, Voices From The Lake, Voiski and his project Polar Inertia, the last work of Eduardo della Calle (ex: Quasi Calligraphic), Blacknecks and many others but these are the first that came to our mind.
/ Also, are there any specific pieces of visual art that have influenced any of the music or the conceptual aspects of the label?
No not really. We have many influences which might lead to the visuals we did but not really directly.
We did some research sure, before working on the label imagery, but we prefer to draw a parallel with art more on each EP, having different influences for each EP. It’s also how we work for the music production. Keeping for sure an identity and consistency.
The work of Akihito Takuma, Andrei Tarkovsky, Arthur Harfaux, Clemens Jahn, David de Beyter, the illustrations form the book “A Thousand Plateaus” written by Gilles Deleuze, Ian Pedigo, Jean Dubuffet, Matthieu Pernot, Max Ernst, Nicolas Samori, Philippe Decreuzat, Richter to a name a few have influenced our label.
/ Furthermore, techno has long been integral to cities such as Berlin, Detroit, and more recently the UK. Why has this movement only just begun to start growing and what makes the scene in Paris unique?
But never mind, as they say, better late than never. We tried, well not me, the previous generation, but maybe less than the other cities, and politics were not really into the rave scene hehe. Although they managed very well to check and prevent the development of this movement which did not help its growth. Maybe we were less persevering but the fact is that we were more lucky than these three other cities in terms of the financial and social situation: techno rose after big crises and hard situations in the three cities.
In the last few years you can now notice a huge motivation in France. Not specifically in Paris but also in Lyon and Bordeaux. It’s really pleasant and it’s only the beginning. The most interesting thing is now we start to see more and more abstract and more electronic, experimental live performances in clubs. People tend to be more open minded and it helps a lot.
/ Do you see the city becoming a more affluent region for this type of music?
Yes. Really. I think Paris will be the next city. But you know also Lyon is becoming more and more affluent in the underground scene. And not only in clubs but also in more original places or even for underground raves.
/ What’s the idea behind your logo?
The ideology behind our logo is the same of the way we work the sound. A brotherhood starting with the same rough matter diverging and going on their own journey to find aesthetics and new substances to inject into our project.
/ Will DW be looking to transfer their aesthetic to live DJ sets or is the project purely production-focused?
We are actually working on two live shows: one will be more experimental and another more techno made for clubs. And DJ sets yes for sure, it’s always a pleasure.
So will you work in the same way as you do with your productions, ie. collaborate collectively on DJ/live sets?
For our live set we will work on the visual part but without drawing any evident parallel with an artist. I mean not yet but maybe later, kind of a “Tribute to…” can be rad but we need more time for this. We’ll also communicate soon on this. We are currently working on the visual part for our performance and on our first video clip.
/ What else has DW got planned for this year?
First Light Part 2, includes an exclusive track iltarand and two remixes from our dear friends Renart and Weirdd. We planned this release for October. Otherwise we’ve also planned another vinyl for the end of the year or the beginning of 2015 with the same principle: inspired by the work of an artist with a different musical background for each of the tracks keeping them coherent. And we will release two or three special tunes for our buddy from Brother From Different Mother who will launch his label in October.
/ Thanks and look forward to your next releases!