Laurent Garnier


29 Monday 29th November 2010

“Music is my life, I’ve used music to express my feelings since I was a child.” It’s a passion / obsession that means when Laurent Garnier shows visitors round his record collection he also takes up flights of stairs and into different rooms. The Netherlands represented on one shelf, Japan on the other. England takes up a wall and it should do.
Garnier made his name DJing at legendary ‘Madchester’ nightclub the Hacienda. Since then he’s realised he love’s producing tracks and what’s more bringing the experience of putting a track together to an audience of 3000 cheering fans. His teammates Benjamin and Stephane take on keyboards, two decks and saxophone to bring the best bassy techno variants and new found love for Jazz. The tour with band LBS is the absolute focus right now so Don’t Panic met him before the big night.
Do you feel a sense of old and new in the music sets that you play?
I don't think you have to do a connection between the past to show the future to people. You just have to be honest and play music as best that you can. I'm only there as a bloody entertainer, people go out because they want to listen to music. I'm aware of the story of how music works. People want to go out because they want to have a good time and forget problems. I don't think we have to be there to teach. I think when the crowd is ready to get things you go with it and push them further.
What’s the live element of the show going to be like?
I can’t call it a live show. It’s more like a DJ / Live show where I am the conductor. I have been doing DJ / Live on and off before but the problems were bringing too much gear into the DJ booth. It was quite heavy and usually I was doing feed, we couldn't handle the sound ourselves and the saxophone was quite complicated... So I just toured fully live with the band for 18 months. Then people came back asking me to DJ.  I felt that after this length of time touring live, coming back to  the 'wheels of steel' made me feel stupid, made me feel like I was regressing more than progressing by just DJing. I thought to myself,  how I can bring what people want – playing records, making people dance and use what I have been doing the last 18 months?
What was the solution?
I wanted to transform the score. Make it much stronger DJing but easier than only live. Just to have Ben and Scan X means it is easy to plug in and a more versatile show. At the moment a trendy thing in France is you get a team of DJs playing records but being 44, going back to playing records on my own, I can't do that. I thought how can I make it much stronger? Bring in musicians, play music live in front of people. Those who want to see can see. Those who want to dance, people can dance.
How come DJing wasn’t enough?
I truly, madly love DJing. Magical nights are very special. It's brilliant to play records to people but I really felt, with all the experiments I've done - especially the  last 18 months and how far we took live show -  that I needed to take further the live shows I've done before. The live band started touring 18 months ago and what we finished with was totally different. We grew up, we changed and each track got richer, stronger and more experimental. We went crazy but we never compromised. We understood each other more and re-explored tracks making them better. With DJing you can touch it once you play but it you cannot alter the track live, which is what we are doing organically to make my music live. I really wanted to bring this to my DJ set and make it more special and unique. We do something at each night that we cannot reproduce.
Is this where your love of Jazz, the variation, comes to play?  
I love jazz, I love techno. On the tour I play with Jazz musicians and they improvise. It’s all about changing every night. It’s not a live like a techno live, it’s more like a Jazz approach to the live, even though it is quite techno-y, it has more of a jazz approach than anything else. All about the improvisation. 
Your new track Kleptomaniac has a lot of Dub-step elements though?
I would say Dub-step is one of the most inspiring styles of music for me at the moment. I've played techno for years, but as something pretty fresh, dub step is one of the new forms of electronic music that is really exciting me.

How do you survive your extended six hour DJ sets?
It's different every night and of course the crowd guides me as much as I guide the crowd.  It's a relationship. You have to be aware of what's happening, look and understand, you go with the flow, with the time. 
Would you ever restrict yourself to only one style or tempo in your sets?
I wouldn't do it. For God's sake it's my job is to express myself, if someone is forcing me to not express myself properly, I wont do it. I'm very lucky because I am free in the job I do and I enjoy it very much, and people enjoy what I do. 
Laurent Garnier plays with Live Booth Sessions this Friday at Village Underground, tickets from

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