DMCWORLD checks in with legendary French touch producer Guillaume Atlan aka The Supermen Lovers ahead of a busy end of year release schedule including his EP of remixes ‘Requiem for a Bitch’ off his forthcoming new album ‘Body Double’ and special re-release for the 20th Anniversary of the hit ‘Starlight’. A perfect opportunity for a big DMCWORLD exclusive…!
What would you say was the biggest achievement of your career so far?
There is no definitive “achievement” for me. Nothing can really be achieved in music. But I lived some moments that can make you feel happy and give you hope to keep on going on. I did a live 2 years ago for a French festival called “INASOUND festival” at “Palais Brongniart” in Paris. My live act mix disco, funk and electro. The set up has an electronic base with sequences, samples and I play keyboards, vocoder, pad and sometimes bass. Some great musicians, as Thomas Naïm (Guitar player), Gilles Wolf or Pierre Baslé, join me and add their vibes. This gig for INASOUND has been recorded for Arte TV channel and selected few months after by Quincy Jones to be broadcast on his TV channel: Qwest.TV. I am not gonna lie … I was a happy man!
In 2018, the label Voyeur Music proposed me to release a remix pack of “Rebirth”, a hypnotic growing house track I have produced & released in 2003 which has been played a lot in club at this period. The remix pack contains an edit of Anthony Toga which is brilliant. He succeeded to take the original track as it has been released and just added at perfect moment some arrangements who made “Rebirth” sound as it has been produced few weeks ago. Then I heard during all 2018 summer, huge DJs as Marco Carola, Jamie Jones, Villalobos and many others play that rebirth remix in every set they did on the island. That makes you proud, believe me. And even more when you have released the track 15 years before.
How would you describe your sound ? What are you going for when you sit down to make a track?
It is hard to describe your own sound because it would mean that I found my sound. But not at all (lol). I know what I do not want but I have no idea what I want. When I say, “no idea”, I mean that I have no idea in a tight area. I know I want to sound electro, funky & disco with a touch of hypnotic wave but more you’re getting precise, more it is hard to know what you exactly want. Most of the time I let life (even hazard) drive me to the point!
Anyway, I think you do not decide how you sound finally and there are too many different points of views. For example, some people prefer my vocal production and will say I sound as a modern disco-pop producer. Some others will prefer my underground tracks and will say I have a hypnotic house music sound in my production. And all that change with years because my work and my goals are changing too. Forget it, it’s a mess in fact! Ahahahahah…
Can you tell us a bit about the new remix EP for “Requiem for a Bitch” – what do you think of the remixers involved?
I feel super good with those 2 remix packs because all remixers, Fell Reis & Lord Funk for “Requiem for a Bitch” and James Curd, Flabaire, Neumodel & Isolaa for “Summer Love” (will be released on august 31), are friends or people I am musically closed.
It is always heavy when you prepare a remix pack for a single because you are trapped between “find some big name” who will accept to remix your track for a fee that will always be less than what a major or huge label can offer them, and “I want to enjoy this record and make it with my heart and with artists I follow and who understand my music”. I have decided during the dark Covid period to enjoy every single step I will do in the music world.
So, for the first remix pack (Requiem for a Bitch) I just picked up my phone and call my friend Fell Reis. We know each other for 7 years and we became good friends. He was DJ at Cafe del mar (Ibiza) and resident for other clubs when I met him and naturally, we knew we will work together. We did not even need to go in details. Everything was good vibe. I have released 3 EPs of Fell Reis on my label Word Up Records in 2017 & 2018 and then life made us go our own way. We did not see each other for almost 2 years and half, and I was excited to hear his version of my track. BIM! Just an incredible remix!
Lord Funk is the bro, the guy that even if you don’t see him for a long period, you know that when you will met him, it will be as if you just had a drink the night before. He is the funky daddy of Paris City and as Clinton used to say: “If you got funk, you got class”. He did a perfect old funky style remix with the modern tools that make this remix brilliant.
In the second pack (For Summer Love) … I won’t talk about it, I will let you discover it. But I can tell you all remixes are massive!
Tell us a little bit about your studio? Is there any particular gear or software you use all the time?
My studio is a mix of analog and digital. I used to be an analog radicalism until I have finished the first version of my 4th album in 2015. I did the production of this album (this version I mean) only with analog machines. It sounded great. Really comfortable, smoothie, classy… but when I left for Ibiza during summer 2015 just after I have finished this new album, I just realized my sound was “done”. It was nice! but no dynamic, no precision. I was destroyed and sad. I went back home. Looked at my studio and sold all my analog machines in 2 days. I just kept few things that are part of me as a minimoog, a Mackie 16/4 VLZ pro done in the 90’s (preamp are crazy), a TR808. All other stuffs as DP4, Urei, Reverb, ect etc…goodbye. I gave to myself 6 months to know how to use all softs. I did it and began to release records with this new set up. Then …. I missed analog! So, I began to buy some old stuff I used to make love with ;). Now the studio is a mix of both.
For example, I am using a sub phatty for very low frequencies of my bass line. I make it sounds really dirty and I had some plug as Nexus, sylenth or others for everything up to 90Hz which play exactly the same bass line. I can put some 3D effects on the nexus and only a light chorus on the sub phatty. And I do that for other instruments when it is possible. I also still use the 16/4 VLZ pro. Channels of this table give you so beautiful low med.
For EQ, I am using only some Softube plugs and from Soundtoys. At a moment I was using the Mackie 16/4 as a somator, without touching any EQs. But I did it only on few tracks. The Stereo was not so large as I wanted.
You have had some big hits in the past, but which is your personal favorite track from your back catalogue?
Damn… what a terrible question ! There are tracks I did I like to listen as you can listen to a playlist, or a cool DJ mix you put for a diner. You hear those tracks, but you do not listen to them in fact. Most of the time, it is tracks with a sample loop that never ending. I was good to fall asleep on a sample 15 years ago LOL. So, in this kind of case, it will “Drunk at the Gate” (2003), “The Mission” (2004) or “Howling session part 1” (2002).
There are tracks I did; I love to play live as “The Bridge” (2002). It is a slow disco loop with a kind of old break beat style in it. I enjoy so much to play weird and long solo synth on this song! I am using an aggressive disco lead that makes people going crazy!
And, I have to admit, that even if I look grumpy every time I am going to play it (Live or DJ set), to see the crowd becoming mad when they hear the very first note of the intro of “Starlight” is always a huge moment of happiness. Yes, it is a popular Hit. Yes, even your grandmother can love it. Yes, your little sister when you were 25 years old was making choreographies on it…. But you know what? I am proud of this track man! And if you feel cool to say to your mates “Come on, not Starlight” because your girlfriend loves the song, admit that when this bloody song has been played at your wedding and that your wife jumped on you to kiss you like hell, you were …. HAPPY!
If you could go back in time, and give one bit of advice to your younger self – what would it be?
Do not change anything. Music is life & life is music. Live as you compose. Behave as you create. And make love as you play.
I made a lot of mistakes, a lot. And because of them, I learned who I was, what were my limits, where I was good and where I was less good. Those mistakes made me; they are part of me. To go back in the past to say to myself not to do some mistakes I did, even if I would win time & earn more money, would be the biggest mistake I could do in my life!
Where is the best place to play a gig? Do you have any interesting stories from previous events you have played at?
The best place to play is the one where people are coming to share with you and where the vibe is connected to your energy. So, it can be everywhere! A small club with 80 people in it, a huge festival where the crowd need a happy & disco-electro vibe because they just heard 8 hours of tek-house or just heard many hours of chill music with only “snaps” and no “snare at all”. The best place is where you can share your music and where people trust you.
I have so many crazy stories. 21 years playing all over the world. So, yes, I have stories. I am going to tell you a strange story I have lived.
In 2012 a promoter in Georgia contacts me for a live in Batumi, the Georgian “Saint Tropez”. I decided to travel with Romain, my agent, and singer Gerald, a funk artist who mix a lot of jet set attitude when he’s drunk and street behavior when he’s sober. Gega, the promoter, picked us up at the airport. He informs us that there is 5 hours’ drive to do to Batumi but before we must go to the bar of the Hilton where the Georgian Fashion Week takes place. The event is sponsored by a brand of Cognac and Gerald begins to drink several glasses of this very, very strong cognac. At 11pm he can’t walk anymore. Gega invites us to board the minibus which will take us to our destination.
Then begins a 5h30 trip through the Georgian mountains. The driver, who won’t say a word during the whole trip, drives at 160km/h on a snowy, winding road and above all without any lights. We just can see huge, illuminated crosses placed every 20km on the road. We hold on to each other, praying the Lord to arrive alive in Batumi. Gerald turns to me (he was in the front in the minibus), shows us his phone and says: “There is no network, and I cannot find the city names indicated anywhere on the map. As soon as he slows down, I will jump off the bus. We are clearly in the process of being kidnapped. I have a Twix; I can stand all night before I will find help”. Romain and I started to laugh and could not stop. Gerald, too proud and too drunk to stop his panic attack, stops the minibus and claims he must pee. After 2 meters he falls into a small 3m hole on a metal plate. We bring it up and put him in the back part of the bus to prevent him from escaping. Farther, Gega stops the bus on the side of the road where a small refreshment bar gets out from nowhere. Happy we jump out of the minibus and run towards the light! but the disappointment… a woman explains to us that she only has garlic, garlic bread or garlic water. Aren’t there vampires in these mountains?
The next day we go to the concert venue (open air) to do the soundcheck. It’s not bad in fact Batumi. A little under construction but ok. This seaside resort is designed to attract rich Russians and all new and energetic Georgian jet set. The concert begins and the crowd is there. I explain clearly to Gega that I do not want dancers on stage during the show, but it is Georgia. So, 2 beautiful Georgian girls with dark & long hair appear like angels (almost naked) and start a totally unsynchronized choreography. Gerald, to whom we had forbidden all alcohol consumption before the concert, runs like a tiger off the stage when the concert ends. He jumps on Gega and yells at him: “give me vodka!!”. I swear it’s true, he threads half a bottle of chacha (the local vodka slightly stronger than traditional vodka) in few seconds. Drunk a minute later, he began a passionate discussion with a girl who was squatting on the side of the stage. Don’t ask me how they communicated… I don’t have a clue.
Gega suggests that we go to another club in Batumi for an after party where the son of the Georgian president is celebrating something with all his friends. Ba yes of course we are going. I pass on to Romain my fear of taking Gerald with us who was talking to a tree at this moment. We arrive at the club and the DJ plays my track “Hard Stuff” when we enter the club under applause. We are invited to join the VIP area and we sit at a table next to the president’s son. I grab Gerald by the arm: “No bullshit, buddy.” You contain yourself”. Gerald’s response: “It’s okay !! why you never trust me? “. The two dancers of the concert are also there and one of her wants to offer me a lap dance. Under the screams of friends of the president’s son, I find myself stuck between her legs. But it was the moment that Gerald chose to go hunting in the club, seeing that I could not look at him. I finally find him talking with the other dancer and an old Georgian grandpa. Gega grabs my arm and tell me: “Go save your friend”. I cross the club to hear the conversation. The old guy is in fact the father of the dancer (In Georgia many gogo dancers come to work accompanied by the father or the brother) and Gerald has decided to declare his love for the beauty in front of her father. “Sir… listen to me. I’m serious. I love your daughter and I want to marry her”. The father is delighted and begins to ask him all kinds of questions. Gerald then decides to play fair. He pulls out his phone and begins to show to the dancer and her father pictures of him with his wife and children. Gerald must have considered that frankness as a proof of love. The father turns all red and jumps on Gerald. The dancer gives him a nice slap and I find myself in the middle trying to calm the father’s rage. But the grandpa pulls out a gun and I have a bad feeling about it. I do everything to make the father understand that Gerald is totally drunk, that we are French idiots not used at all to their “chacha”. The old man calms down and puts his gun away. I must have lost 10 pounds in a minute. Gerald, whom I had put on the side, comes towards me and says: “he is lucky that I am in a good mood, otherwise I will have smashed him”. Yes … I have no doubt about it. I grab him by the ear and yell at him: “shut your mouth asshole, I just saved your ass.” You come back to the hotel with me right away ». I take Gerald by force with the help of Gega in the minibus to go to the hotel. There, Gerald repeats in a loop pasting his mouth close to my ears: “But why are you doing that?” “. He follows me to my room and decides to lay down in front of my door and falls asleep. The reception calls me 10 minutes later: “Is it normal for your friend sleeping in front of your door?” “. “Yes … he loves me a lot”. Let him sleep a bit and wake him up in an hour. I saw Antonin the day after at breakfast, a big smile on his face.
You have a big LP dropping later this year, how was that to make? what was the concept behind it?
In June 2018, I decided to start a new album on the musical bases of the one I finished in 2015 but I could not release because the production was out of time. After I have transformed my studio in a more “digital” way, I have released 3 EPs: Absolute Disco EP (2016), Walking on the moon EP (2017) and Clock Sucker (2018). I wanted to start a LP where I could tell something different from everything, I have released in the past 5 years. I knew I had to live some new stories, felt some surprising emotions, but I had no ideas what to do for that. Also, it is not something that you provoke. It must come to you naturally.
In October 2018, I am in Amsterdam for ADE and I decide to subscribe on Tinder and to localize myself in Kyiv (Ukraine). Do not ask me why? I mean I know why; you know why. Anyway. Then begins 2 years of Heaven-Hell-Heaven-Hell etc etc etc. I discover a new world, new rules (or no rules), a place where every moment is lived 1000%, a place where I could live things that I could live nowhere else. I have laugh so much, cried so much, shared so much, and hated so much. I wanted intense feelings; “Monsieur est servi”. So much hope and darkness in the same country. That was crazy. And the last day I have spent in Ukraine, I met my wife who came there for the weekend before going back home in Moldova. All I have lived for 2 years brought me in the arms of a wonderful woman who is now sharing my life.
But I had to tell, to share what I saw, what I discovered and what I lived in this brilliant and dark city of Kyiv. So, I did an album where I tell my story, with my vibe, my availability to take distance and laugh of almost everything, even when bad things happen to me. It is my way to defend myself.
I called this album “Body Double” because I learned that fails and fears create most of the time a copy of us who is more adult, who listen more its brain than its heart. Every step we are making in life make that “Double” stronger than the original, which is only emotions, spontaneity. When you are an artist, you have to deal with those 2 persons. And it is a hard job.
After a crazy year, we hope you have been ok? What are your plans for the next few months?
Yep. It has been a crazy year. I could not imagine it would be so hard to live without sharing music, without playing. For the next month, I will play live and dj set and will think about new set up for my studio. I want to explore new styles and learn a lot. So, I have started to check new machines, new soft etc … It is exciting when you begin a new chapter.
Any final words of wisdom you would like to share with your fans?
Wisdom … Humm. Not sure I am a wise guy, but who knows? Perhaps one day! So here my last words: