Some call him ‘the wizard’; Noel Gallagher says he’s a genius; some of his devoted YouTube fanbase even call him ‘God’! By taking remixing and audio editing to new heights, The Reflex has captured the world’s attention and built an impressive army of fans along the way, Barack Obama and legendary ‘Thriller’ and ‘Rock With You’ songwriter Rod Temperton included.
Respected by music lovers and DJs worldwide, The Reflex has also gained the trust of the original artists he has remixed, like music legends Nile Rodgers, Giorgio Moroder, Kid Creole, Kathy Sledge, Bootsy Collins, Jackie Jackson and A-list rock stars Noel Gallagher, Bono and Paul Weller.
London based since 1998, French native Nicolas Laugier’s story is one of determination, drive and ambition. Hailing from a humble working-class background and after many years of hardship, Nicolas gambled his few savings on a professional music career nine years ago at the age of 36, with no plan B: no easy feat to achieve these days.
As a DJ, The Reflex sets are a proper energy-packed workout, full of unreleased material (his own and from his trusted network), often playing the big disco tunes well ahead of everyone else.
Love it or hate it, you’ll know a Reflex Revision when you hear one. By morphing tired classics and sometimes ‘uncool’ songs into bona fide DJ weapons, The Reflex has created a catalogue of revisions that will be played for many years to come.
WWD: Hey Nicolas, welcome to When We Dip… how’s the year been for you so far?
Hi guys, it’s been great, I became a dad a few months ago for the first time, I signed a deal with a major label officialising many of my remixes. Obviously it’s all gone downhill now with the virus, gigs cancelled or rescheduled etc.. but been able to spend some quality time with my little family, which is priceless.
WWD: For the uninitiated, what exactly is a ‘Reflex Revision’?
Essentially, it’s a remix done from the original multitrack and often done only using the sounds from these multis. It’s also a way for people to know that a revision is not an edit (where you only have the song to work with), the type of work I do is night and day with the ‘beefed up’ edits type that anyone can do.
Unfortunately I gave up on the terminology ages ago… most people call my remixes ‘edits’ when in fact they’re not, they are remixes! Or revisions, as I call them. LOL
WWD: How long had you been involved in the music industry before you started to see some rewards for your hard work?
I turned full-time 10 years ago, investing everything I had in a pro career as a DJ and producer at the late age of 36. Before that, I had been DJing for over 10 years alongside whatever day jobs I could find. Once I turned pro, I’d say it took about 2 years to get noticed – basically working on music every single day during that time.
WWD: What was it about edits and remixes in particular that attracted you to production, and why do you think you have such a knack for it?
I’ve always been fascinated by remixing and its contribution to music in general. Edits were fun to do at the start, taking a song and extending it etc for my DJ sets.
However, remixing from multitracks, that’s a whole different ball game and I noticed that very few people were doing it and doing it well. The reasons are that you needed to get hold of multis in the first place but also have the editing / mixing skills to come up with something that works, and that took years of dedication and craft.
WWD: What is it in a song that makes you want to make your own version of it? Are there any elements that it simply has to have in order for you to want to get stuck in?
It is often linked to what I am able to obtain, whether it’s from a label, or directly from the artists. The most important factor is the sound quality and separation of the multis, that gives you room to experiment with creative arrangements and mixdowns. But I’ve often found that playing with the sounds is often the best way to see what you can come up with; it’s not the multitrack that’s gonna make the remix by itself, it’s what you can make with whatever multis you have that matters. Sometimes good results come from the most unexpected places.
WWD: Do you have any personal favourites in your catalogue?
I love the Gil Scott-Heron ‘Angel Dust’, Roberta Flack ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’ with its unheard amazing string section and Earth, Wind & Fire ‘Happy Feelin’ come to mind.
WWD: And are there any classic tracks that you’re desperate to get your hands on?
Of course… Unfortunately not everything is available or has survived on tape over the years.. So more often than not you are only able to remix what is available. Having said that, some 70’s Aretha Franklin would be dope!
WWD: You have some pretty high-profile fans… why do you think legends like Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder trust you with their music?
They like what I do because I was able to surprise them with my arrangements. Nile didn’t believe that the strings in my MJ ‘Rock With You’ revision were in the actual song. Giorgio knew when he heard my ‘Bad Girls’ revision that it was kicking ass J People at that level have heard everything musically it’s hard to surprise them; so when you do, you know you’re doing the right thing.
WWD: And is it true that Barack Obama is a fan… how did you find out about that?
From the (then) White House DJ who sorted some Ipods for him when he was in office. Not sure Trump has got a DJ… but this guy was the official guy to do all the gigs for the White House, having spent years djing for Prince, MJ and lots more. I hope Barack didn’t leave the Ipods to Trump when he left though!
WWD: Another famous fan is Noel Gallagher… you’ve worked on a number of remixes for him and have another one out now… what can you tell us about that one?
Noel is my number one fan, he got into what I do quite early on, he understands the intricacy of it. I think he likes the fact that I keep the song in my remixes (as opposed to a remix that has very little of the song left). The one that came out in March is called ‘Blue Moon Rising’, his latest single. I’ve done about 8 or 9 remixes for Noel by now, 5 of them came out within 12 months.
WWD: What else do you have coming up this year that we should be looking out for?
Currently finishing remixes for Roisin Murphy, Roxy Music, Kid Creole & The Coconuts and a vol.2 of my Salsoul revisions for BMG, amongst other things. There’s also a compilation of my remixes to cap off 10 years of surviving as a DJ / remixer that should see the light of day!
WWD: Finally, for you, what’s the best remix ever made?
Oh man.. that’s a tough one.More than one remix in particular, I enjoy the work of some of the remix pioneers like John Luongo, François K, Shep Pettibone, work that has stand the test of time.