After his acclaimed debut album LA, the multifaced French DJ Marc Mifune aka Les Gordon is back with a brand new album, Altura. For this new release, he’s pushed his own creative boundaries to find a unique and complex sound that proves an evolution from his past work. With vocals from the Middle East, muscle beats and reggaeton influences, he encourages the listener to follow the lead and enjoy the tracks of this album, which in his own words “almost feels like a journey through a whole year and its seasons”. With a trajectory on the rise, we are sure that his name won’t let you down.
You started Les Gordon back in 2013, but when was your interest in music, and especially electronic music born?
My first experiences in electronic music started after high school. A friend of mine gave me some cool music from Warp Records – it was the very first time I discovered great artists such as Boards Of Canada, Plaid, Aphex Twin, and many others. So I opened up to many musicians after that.
What does Les Gordon stand for? Why did you decide to start this solo project?
My very first solo project was in Lyon before Les Gordon. I practised my first experiences in Lyon, with a first solo show called Morning Crash. Les Gordon is the continuation of my solo experience, so I decided to make something a bit stronger and exploring more the electronic way with it.
You’ve received compliments from the press for your releases on the iconic Parisian label Kitsuné. Your trajectory is on the rise, but how were your beginnings? How would you say you’ve evolved these past years?
The beginning of my work was the learning of electronic music, as a debut. I didn’t know where I was going, but for my first official EP, Saisons, I managed to find a music language with vocal cuts, many guitars and some minimal beats.
Your new album, Altura, has a wide range of influences ranging from East Asian and Arabic music, electronic, pop and R&B. With such an amalgamation of sounds, how do you find a balance between all of them to create your own personal sound?
I love sampling sounds. I try to find great voices or melodies, and they can be from any part of the globe, like the gamelan – an instrument – from Bali, which appeared in my first album. For this new one, I found some great traditional voices from Eastern Europe and I did the same. I began with a loop of voice or guitar or piano, and later, I followed the construction of the song by making overdubs. I try to find the perfect loop first, and once the foundations are strong and solid, I can continue the composition work.
The album will be released on the 3rd of April. What does this new work mean for your career?
I’m very excited that people can listen to my second album. It’s the continuation of the first album although I tried to reach new musical targets. I composed with a Juno 106, which is new material since the first album. I sampled new voices as I said before and created some new ways with piano too.
With this album, you wanted to create a unique and complex sound. How was the creative process like? From sourcing all these influences to mixing them together, to deciding when a song was finished.
The second album took me one year and six months. I tried not to make it like the first one. I haven’t changed the way I compose but I’ve tried to give new aspects – the meaning of Altura is in harmony with the sounds of the album. Some high-cut voicing, strong synths, and fast beats.
For example, for L.E.D, you sampled a melody of kids singing. What other ‘unusual’ sounds did you experiment with? Where are some of the place you sourced them – Youtube videos, your own recordings…?
I took the challenge of sampling choral choirs last year because it seemed cool to me to make new tracks using children’s voices and then approach them from an electronic music perspective. I always find cool noises or ambiences. For example, in Morning, I sampled sounds like fireworks of noises from the kitchen.
With such an array of influences, what bands or DJs have would you say had a huge impact on your music?
At first, I always say Radiohead – I decided to try to make music because of them. In the 2000s, I discovered Kid A and my life changed. Other artists like Amon Tobin, Four Tet, Sufjan Stevens, Sigur Rós and many others influenced me in the very first years of my project. I can’t say how many artists I listen to, but right now, I can say that some great collective like Erased Tapes influence my style, just like Ólafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm or Rival Consoles.
This summer, you’re supposed to embark on a series of live shows with your new band. Why did you feel the need to have a band? How do you all work together?
The first time I toured, I was in a solo setup. Last year, I decided to have musicians in my project and it was a good surprise. I needed to feel the dynamic around me. It’s crazy to feel the energy that comes out of music with real musicians.
You’ve said that “reconnecting with live music is recovering the sensations of energy that surround us”. Could you expand more on this?
When I’m composing alone with my laptop in the studio, I feel the energy of my loops coming out of the speakers; the music surrounds me but I’m alone. When we play live, I can find this energy around me with real guitars and drums sounds. I try to recreate this energy for a live set in a different way.
Talking about live music, how do you prepare for live sessions? Any ritual or routine that you follow?
I often prepare my packs of songs that I send to my musicians. Then, we rehearse like any pop band in the drummer’s garage! We have our habits.
A party or a session that you will always remember…
I can tell you about my third show for Les Gordon, it was in Transmusicale de Rennes. I played just before Stromae, a very big artist in France in 2013. Seven thousand people were looking at me. I was very anxious, but I succeeded!
Your album will be out soon, but is there something more you can reveal to us?
You have to listen to the second album and you’ll see what I’m talking about!