Over the years, few names in electronic music have gathered such an impressive portfolio while staying truly dedicated to a standard of quality as Olivier Mateu. Known by his stage name Rodriguez Jr., the French maestro has established himself as one of the top acts in the world in his career spanning over twenty years, whether that be with his impressive live shows or his stellar productions. We caught up with Olivier to reflect on the past year, talk about the various collaborations he’s been revealing to the world lately and more. Enjoy!
WWD: Hi Olivier, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Where are you in the world right now and how have been things for you lately?
My pleasure! Like a lot of people I have been staying home for the past 12 months, focusing on music production, studio work and also enjoying quality family time for the very first time in my life. The positive side effect of this terrible situation is that I finally had time to do things I wanted to achieve for the last past 10 years such as reading the manuals of all the machines I bought this past decade, sorting my samples, and listening to music which has been such a gift and an inspiration.
WWD: You’ve been among the most sought after remixers in the world for some time now. Do you have a general philosophy when remixing a track? How do you find the right balance between keeping the right amount of elements and adding your signature to it?
Each remix is different. It’s all about looking for the right angle, the right perspective. Sometimes it’s easy and obvious. Sometimes it’s unexpectedly painful. There is no trick, it’s a feeling you get with each individual track.
WWD: You’ve recently released a remix of Hicky & Kalo’s ‘Un rêve étrange’ featuring the violin of Seth Schwarz, can you tell us a bit about the process that led to it? Did you know where you wanted to go right away?
This one was not easy! The original was so good, well balanced and already successful. So I decided to shed a new light on it by keeping the vibe and Seth’s strings but creating a different drive. Let’s say that I did 3 or 4 different versions and I was almost at the point of aborting mission but then I had this wild idea of bringing in a disco-ish bass line on the AR\P-2600 and then it just worked really well, like a perfect cinematic match.
WWD: You also quite often find yourself on the opposite end, with other producers giving their take on your music. What are you looking for when considering remixers?
When I’m looking for someone to remix my own work, personality is definitely what I am looking for. I like to be surprised. For my last album BLISSS, the remixes brought a special light to my tracks such as Steve Bug with his minimalist and addictive groove or Floyd Lavine and his delicious South African flavors.
WWD: You’ve also recently unveiled a partnership with Arturia for the release of their brand new PolyBrute synth. What was it like to be among the first artists to play with it? What do you think about the features that have been implemented in the unit?
Developing an analog polysynth is a huge challenge in terms of development and engineering, and I think this new flagship synthesizer is the perfect achievement of those years of hard work. The PolyBrute is an awesome instrument with lots of character and playability. It sounds really lush and offers unique modulation options and the morphing feature is not a gadget, it actually works. This is the first time I try a machine that offers a morphing feature that is not a gadget.
WWD: How do you think the PolyBrute will integrate into your studio setup?
The PolyBrute fills a gap in my studio. I already have a couple of very good vintage polyphonic synths such as the Jupiter 6 or the Elka Synthex, but the PolyBrute has a different flavour thanks to its two filters – it actually get quite close to the old Yamaha CS series’ range of sound.
WWD: In the past year, you’ve also collaborated with Eric Horstmann’s Immersive Lab on the Dolby Atmos mixes of your album ‘Bliss’ and EP ‘Hydra’. What was that process like? How does it feel to have the ability to experience music in a truly three-dimensional way?
I have always been into immersive experiences in music and art but never had the opportunity to be on the creative side of things. The process is the following: Eric did the majority of the spatialization work in his Berlin studio and I just had to export each individual stem of the album and conceptualize how I wanted my music to be expressed within a spacial field. The Dolby Atmos technology is mind-blowing. The vertical axis makes the experience really physical, it’s really like being underwater, it’s something you can almost feel on your skin. For the time being, I don’t think I will adapt this processing consideration when beginning a project from scratch because it is truly overwhelming, but I will definitely continue converting and translating the upcoming releases to this format.
WWD: There have been loads of talks about the fruitful relationship you’ve nurtured with the legendary Laurent Garnier while still a young artist on the come-up. Generally, what do you think a master-apprentice connection can bring to artists? Over the years, have there been opportunities for you to mentor a young musician?
That’s right, I’ve learned a lot touring with Laurent during my FCom days. Hanging out in the DJ booth next to him was one of the most fruitful experiences of my life. Understanding a crowd, creating a story… I learned so much.
I had the opportunity to give back some of my knowledge through my masterclasses that I’ve been doing in music schools all around the world, and at the moment I am preparing a music production master class with Aulart which I’m very enthusiastic about!
WWD: As 2021 sees the return of live shows in the industry, do you think there will be major differences compared to the so-called ‘Pre-pandemic’ era?
I don’t really believe in ‘pre’ and ‘post’ pandemic eras. It’s not the first time humanity is facing tough challenges and our instincts will always be the same. We need music. We need to dance and celebrate with our tribes. It will happen again at some point. I have no idea about what’s going to happen in 2021 though. The situation is still constantly evolving and a lot of things are unclear.
WWD: And to conclude, what can we expect from you in the coming months?
I have stopped doing remixes at the moment in order to focus on my original material. Lots of new tracks are being finalized. We are also working on a full album with Liset Alea. After the success of our previous collaborations, we wanted to push our boundaries and create something new. Something that is beyond what either of us does in our individual musical paths, a new destination.
On a more technical side, I created a sample library for a well-known sample provider. It will be announced soon. And last but not least, I am filming the masterclass for Aulart.
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