With a combined fifty-plus years experience at the forefront of the French dance music scene, Timid Boy (Damien Almira) and Ohmme (Olivier Giacomotto & David Lecocq) have the productions credentials to match some of the best in the business. Now, off the back of their already formidable individual careers, the three electronic musketeers join forces with long-time friend and esteemed stage designer, Alban Piot, for their foursome’s first collective project and one of the most exciting label launches of 2020 – Sacré Coeur Records. Set up as a platform to champion some of the brightest up-and-coming talents on the French techno circuit – as well as being a home for their own prolific stream of output – Sacré Coeur Records officially launched on Friday with the release of Timid Boy’s three-track EP ‘Ceremony’.
We sat down with formidable Frenchmen to find out more…
Hi guys and thanks for taking time to speak with me on behalf of DMC World about your new imprint Sacre Coeur Records!
Damien (Timid Boy) : Thank you!
Olivier (Ohmme) : Pleasure is all mine.
David (Ohmme) : Hello!!!
Alban : Here we are, thanks for taking time to talk about us.
Let’s begin by introducing yourselves and giving us backstory of how you got into the music industry...
Damien : I discovered rave movement during the early 90’s when I was at highschool. I immediately found in love with this movement & its music. My dream became quickly clear : I wanted to be a DJ. I started to play in pubs then clubs in my hometown. Then I went to Paris to finish my journalism school (then I was a journalist for a year as a music journalist in pop-rock & electro, then Chief Editor of Trax Magazine – very famous electronic magazine in France.) Besides, I started to play more & more in Paris. In 2003 I became resident @ Rex Club for Ellen Allien’s parties, and that opened a lot of doors to play in France & Europe. I decided to focus more on production in mid-2000 and also to launch my own label in 2007, Time Has Changed. I started to have more & more success in the late 00’s and I decided to leave my job as Chief Editor @ Trax to focus on my music career at 100%.
Olivier : Everything started during the year 2000 in London. I was a lucky intern at Townhouse Studios, working as assistant of a Magnus Fiennes (producer of All Saints, Spice Girls, Tom Jones, Morsheeba, Nene Cherry, etc…). Then i came back to France with enough skills to start my own career, so i locked myself with into an apartment in Bordeaux to find my own sound, after 3 years of hard work, one of my demos have been accepted by a techno label called LUPP who signed my first record deal, and that first record have been playlisted by Carl Cox in april 2004. It was the start of a long series of records…
David : It happened in the late 90’s, I used to spend all my nights clubbing in a famous Paris venue called Queen, step by step i got closer with the team and met the artistic director Thibault who one day put me in charge of the promotion of the parties, distributing flyers in the streets. I worked there for 5 years, during all this time I used to stay in the booth and had the opportunity to meet DJs such as Laurent Garnier, Antoine Clamaran, even Daft Punk… then i knew i was made for the nightlife.
Alban : I come from the technical industry, I’m a stage designer and I had the opportunity to work with the biggest artists in this industry. After designing some of the biggest clubs and biggest festivals in the world, I turned away from my job and I became tour manager for big artists like David Guetta, Luciano, Lil Louis and more …So I was in charge of the artists and their tour as well some labels and production brands.
With that said, kindly share with me some of your key influences in your development as artists?
Damien : It’s hard to say which artist influenced me as an artist myself. But I can say which artists were essential in my love of electronic music. My first heroes were UK’s guys such as Darren Emerson & Charlie Hall – the UK’s scene was very popular in my hometown Montpellier the famous Borealis festival has brought so many great artists to us, such as The Orb, KLF, Orbital etc… Some of my key artists are definitely : Aphex Twin, Jeff Mills, Plastikman, that’s my “Holy Trinity”, Derrick Carter & DJ Sneak are my first key artists for house music. And Marco Carola around 2008 when he moved from techno to tech house really impressed me. Of course there are so many other DJ & artists that i like such as Seth Troxler, Jamie Jones, all the french guys from the Apollonia’s family or Yoyaku more recently.
Olivier : As I said before, i’m was a musician and a producer before to be the DJ people know now, and my musical background is made of artists and bands from the late 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, from the, rock, progressive rock, funk, reggae, new wave scene… Professionally, Magnus Fiennes teached me how to use samplers, mixing desks, music softwares, synthesizers, he had a very impressive recording studio at Townhouse London, he also teached me his artistic vision and workflow, which is priceless. Then in 2001 Richie Hawtin totally blew my mind on stage with a hybrid performance mixing with Finalscratch (first edition of Traktor) and an Electrix Repeater, my musical path and approach to live music changed completely after that night. In the mid 2000’s I met John Acquaviva who became my mentor and a great friend, he’s the one who teached me music business, label management, and A&R. Without those 3 men I would not be the artist I am now.
David : Artists such as Peace Division or Danny Tenaglia, are the ones who inspired me when I started, thanks to their DJ set, mixes, and skills… Many other artists can be added to the list thanks to their talent as producers and djs, such as Deep Dish… more recently Marco Carola, also Maceo Plex impressed me by their unique sound.
Alban : In my side, I don’t claim to be an artist but rather as a master of ceremonies in management, production and technical matters. My influences are therefore more oriented towards world-renowned engineers like Steve Albini “one of the best sound engineers in the world or Christian Heil” inventor of line source technology “or even geniuses and other innovators” Newton // Einstein // Aristote // Da Vinci, hahaha…
Let’s talk about the first EP from Timid Boy, ‘Ceremony’. What vision did you want to represent with this inaugural release?
Damien : That’s a modern catchy track composed with soft nostalgy for my early rave days!
Olivier : That first EP is a kind of cornerstone for the future sound of our label, it has what Timid Boy represents musically with the Original and also the Ohmme’s sound with our remix.
David : Olivier and myself wanted to remix a Timid Boy for quite some time, and when we decided to create Sacré Coeur, it was the right moment to do it. It was obvious to have our 2 names on the first release of our label.
We love the two amazing remixes from Ohmme and Matt Sassari. How did you choose who was going to remix the track for such a crucial first release?
Damien : I love their touch a lot. Ohmme builds a strong deep tech touch, they are very talented to do a kind of “big room’s deep tech” feeling. They are unique in this style. Matt Sassari is one of the best tech house artists, i know him since years as he already did tracks for Time Has Changed. It’s a pleasure to have him on board on the new label Sacré Coeur.
Olivier : it was important to have Timid Boy and Ohmme on the first EP to show that we are all together as one creative entity.
Who handles the design and creative direction for the imprint?
Damien : Olivier & David with myself with the help of David’s friend Laurent who is also a very good producer.
Olivier : we meet regularly and talk about the sound and the design of the label. Laurent Bellos is our graphic designer, he created and designed to perfection what we had in mind.
David : I have known Laurent for quite a long time, he’s a talented designer and also a great electronic music producer, so we immediately thought about him for the design of the logo and the artwork.
What has been the biggest challenge, if any, in launching a new label in 2020?
Damien : We decided to create it around February, before the Covid crise. Now the biggest challenge is to run a label without doing label parties. That’s very weird.
Olivier : we had the project in mind before all that covid story begins, we definitely won’t let a dum virus dictate us how to work. This label will live and we will put all our efforts into it in order to be ready to go when clubs will open.
David : it’s hard to run a label without the help of the clubs, there are now a few other options to promote it, through streaming channels and radios… we are currently preparing something hot in the next few weeks, i can’t tell you precisely but something good will happen before the end of the year.
Alban : Indeed it’s a challenge given the period we live actually. We have to reinvent ourselves and we also have to reinvent the way in which music is distributed and promoted.It’s difficult to release a label without having a natural promotion with our network of artists who play our productions and indirectly promote our music and our image but we rely on the quality of our production and on our management experience that our productions will become popular.
Where do you see Sacre Coeur Records five years from now?
Damien : Hopefully we’ll do a lot of label’s party around the world with a strong artist family. We wanna be the “deep tech” french reference. As Lola Ed does with house or Yoyaku with micro house for example.
Olivier : I believe in the team we have built. As we all have a strong experience in all the different fields of the music business, expectations are quite high… and we will work smarter and harder every day.
David : In 5 years, I’d like to see Sacré Coeur as one of the top brands in the underground market, and i’d love to share the music with more artists and people around the world.
Alban: I don’t ask myself that kind of question. For me in 5 years I hope that our brand will still be representative of our choices, our ideas and our culture, if this is the case and that we have not distorted anything then we will already be close to the stars.
If you could offer one piece of advice to somebody looking to start a label, what would it be?
Damien: Stay focused on what you really want to do, which identity you wanna build. It’s hard sometimes to say no to very good tracks that artists sent you, but saying no to a demo does not mean the track is bad, it just means it’s not working with the style you wanna build.
Olivier : if you’re on your own or if you work with a team, make sure you follow a path, a plan, and a sound. Some labels release music from 3 or 4 different genres which is to me a big mistake. Sonic consistency is the key to build a fan base and a solid label party.
David : you need to clearly identify people who will work with, and see how they can help you build the label. It’s important to have people with different backgrounds in order to have different points of view and ideas.
Alban : Be strong, be clear about your choices and your cultural identity, do not lose yourself in following several paths and defend your project to the end.
Outside your music career, what do you like to do for fun? And what makes you really happy?
Damien : Going to restaurants with friends is actually my favorite activity !!!
Olivier : I like to cook, to travel, to eat, to swim, the cinema, the tv series, art exhibitions, museums, restaurants, and spend time with my wife and my daughters.
David : I like to share a good table with my friends, going to the gym to stay fit.
Alban: I love discovering new cultures, so I travel a lot.
It has been a difficult few months globally but hopefully things can begin to improve soon. What are you most looking forward to doing when some level of normality returns?
Damien : I started to play a bit since july. But not so much. Playing and traveling most of the weekend as I used to do is my priority.
Olivier : I spent a lot of time in the studio making great music, but now I miss the crowd very much, I miss clubs around the world full of happy people, I want my DJ life back.
David : 2020 is clearly a catastrophe, I can’t wait to share the stage with the whole Saccré Coeur team and have fun.Alban: Looking for traveling again around the globe.
If we were to have a sneak-peek at the artists you are listening to, outside of electronic music, who would be on your playlist?
Damien: I recently listened to Digable Planets, a very good hip hop old school band from NYC. Also slowdive or Diiv, they are in the continuity of my pop rock roots with The Cure, Mogwai, My Bloody Valentine….
Olivier : Some old reggae dub from the late 70’s by Burning Spear, Steel Pulse, Black Uhuru, some Hip-Hop by Johnwayne, Oddisee, Action Bronson, also Solo Piano albums by Chilly Gonzales, sometimes a couple of metal songs from Pantera, and all the Nova Tunes compilations…
David : A wide range of Jazz and Funk.
Thank you so much for taking time and sharing your thoughts. It’s been fun! So, before we conclude our interview, do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share for our DMC World readers?
Damien : Hope to see you soon on a dancefloor buddies !
Olivier : Be ready for our music world to bloom again
David : Can’t wait to meet all my DJ friends and party people
Alban: Stay tuned and follow SACRÉ COEUR!
Timid Boy – Ceremony EP is out now via Sacré Coeur Records: