Time Has Changed and Thrill of It chief Acumen has emerged as one’s of France’s shining lights in the house & tech domain in recent times. His selections as a label head of two highly respected imprints and his individual productions (spanning the likes of Get Physical, KMN and Dessous) have been simply top quality. We couldn’t resist tracking him down for chat. We talked the early days, music appreciation, technology and more. Check it out!
WWD : Acumen, thanks for joining us! You’ve come a long way but lets start off at the beginning. Tell us about the early days!
Acumen : I started djing and producing in 2000.. I was basically a fan of music since young age. It is a bit amazing because nobody in my family home was especially into music. But I always bought and listened to records. I was fascinated by inxs, gainsbourg, or the clash…a lot of influences indeed in every genre.
WWD : What do you personally consider to be the biggest moments in your artistic career so far? What’s given you the greatest satisfaction?
Acumen : I think there are two big achievements in my career. The first one was when Richie Hawtin elected me best breakthrough producer of the year in 2009. It was a real surprise, because I was a label owner but a young producer. I sent him all my demos. And he played theme a lot. It was also surprising because it was a bit far off his musical spectrum.
The second one was my gig at panorama bar. Playing a live set there is absolutely amazing for all the reasons that makes this club one of the best in the world.
WWD : How do you rate yourself as a DJ and producer? What are your faults? How would you like to improve?
Acumen : Oh my god! I have a poor impression of myself. That’s surely a problem, I know. But I feel that there are so many good musicians and producers around! I have always been under the impression that I have to stop music when I listen to a very good track. So it’s always a battle with myself…
But with my regular work all the day…it is not easy to improve my skills sometimes. Although I do feel sometimes that I could give better and push harder myself with a bit of time. That’s the key.
WWD : Did you immediately love dance music or did it take you a while to appreciate what it was all about?
Acumen : No! Actually, I would say that I hate dance music in the beginning. I was a punk rocker, with blue hair and doc martins, listening to a band called NoFX, the name says all…only “true” instruments and no software in the music. But things have changed, and I began to like this music since 1998 and I never left it since. Even if I like to listen every kind of music. Most importantly is the moment and the quality…
WWD : How do you choose what music you’ll play at a gig?
Acumen : Right now, I only do live acts so the selection is limited to my own tracks. I don’t want it to be the same experience all the time, so with every gig I imagine what could work in the club or the place where I will play. It’s not easy sometimes when you don’t know the country, the club and the audience… but it’s exciting at the same time.
WWD : How has it been a challenge for you? Many great gigs? How does it differ from DJing for you? Are they very different experiences?
Acumen : Yes I am only playing as a live act. It is quite a challenge to tell you the truth. Because producing music is a not so easy sometimes, you must find a good inspiration and feeling all the time. So show your own tracks to a crowd is like being naked in front of them. If it works it is magic, otherwise, you feel a bit ashamed! That’s why it is quite different as a dj…
WWD : Is access to technology a good or bad thing when we take the quality of modern electronic music into consideration?
Acumen : I think it is a very good thing. Making music now is really easy. It was not the case when I begin many years ago. Of course, there is a huge amount of music released every week. There is simply much more bad tracks but also much more good tracks! But it is a serious challenge to find the right music in between all that mess.
WWD : How do you see the balance between giving the crowd what they want and treating them to something new?
Acumen : The balance is hard to find because when I think about a gig I imagine the crowd and what I could play for them. Totally different maybe between Rome and Berlin, for example. But at the same time, I think you have also to play what you really like and bring people into your universe. So I am trying to do that with my live act: to play my common “hits” but also fresh, new tracks that I am teasing them with…
WWD : What are you most excited about in 2015?
Acumen : The most exciting is managing my two great labels, Time Has Changed (which is one of the biggest tech house labels in France) and my new baby, Thrill of It. There’ll be incredible releases on that one from jules and moss, igor Vicente, phonique, atapy , butane and many more. And I will also try to write my second LP, so 2015 seems to be a good year!