Making Pop Music Sound Natural: Q&A With French Pop Artist Yuksek

Making Pop Music Sound Natural: Q&A With French Pop Artist Yuksek

Image courtesy of Quentin de Briey

You would’ve thought Yuksek‘s set at our New York event this past October took place in the wee hours of the morning, judging from the energy of the packed and dance-y afternoon crowd. But that’s merely a testament to the French pop virtuoso’s contagious new album Living on the Edge of Time and vigorous live performance.

We hosted his European album release party last summer at our Paris event where Yuksek debuted the new tracks flanked by a brand new drummer and keyboardist/bass player. Now, with his US release approaching, we caught up with the reigning prince of pop to talk tours, technology and how it feels to be Living on the Edge of Time.

The Creators Project: When we last left off, you were premiering at La Gaite Lyrique with a three-person ensemble and a hot new record on sale in Europe. Since then, you’ve released an original video for “On a Train” alongside an EP for the single. Has your sound evolved over the course of the past six months, and has it affected your live show at all?
: Well, the live show is changing a lot during the tour, we’ve changed the set list, running order, and we find new little things to play here and there within the tracks.

Speaking of, us Americans are a little miffed we had to wait an extra six months to hear your newest album. Why the wait?
I really would have preferred to release everywhere [at] the same time, but my French label, who owns my copyrights, had long talks with the American one, and they had many releases planned. So we had to wait…

Record labels, gah! So, do you at least plan on backing your album release with a US tour? And if so, will it be with the band?
Of course, we’ll come for SXSW in Austin and our agent is currently organizing a tour around that in March. It will be with the full band.

Oh, we’ll be there. So, a lot of what we talk about on The Creators Project has to do with the intersection between the arts and new technologies. As we discussed with Justice at our New York event, however, a lot of this new technology has to do with sounding as “non-technologic” as possible. Where do you find the balance between classical musicianship and technological capabilities?
Well, I only recorded a few real drums on my last record, for example, but I wanted every drum part to sound “real.” It’s a work of arrangement, a sound engineer’s work too, and everything’s been like this since the studio sessions of The Beach Boys or The Beatles—making pop music that sounds natural with more technology, and having more technology happens to help.

We’re always interested in how the visual arts inspire sound (and vice versa). Do you have any favorite visual/digital artists at the moment?
I like photography. I like to go in galleries to look around, but I don’t have any artists I’m especially crazy about. I appreciated the Maurizio Cattelan exhibit, All, at the Guggenheim and I like Dada, the French surrealists, but I’m really not a specialist in contemporary art… not enough time apart from music!

Haha, well, in that sense, who are you listening to at the moment?
Mainly old music, early Todd Rundgren, Al Stewart, Sparks, B-52’s, but this year, I really enjoyed The Horrors’ last record and Beach House too.

We’re with you on that. Thanks for speaking with us. Looking forward to the tour—these new tracks are incredible!

Below, “Always On the Run,” the newest video from Living on the Edge of Time. [Semi-NSFW]