Marc Houle in Manchester
Minus star on new album and playing The Warehouse Project
Part of Ritchie Hawtin’s unstoppable Minus crew, Marc Houle has often tempered his productions with a cheeky sense of humour. On ‘Drift’, however, his latest studio album out 27th of September, it’s the bleak Berlin winter when the album was recorded that dominates. Shining through amongst this darkness is a beautiful new found organic direction, poking through the spectre of cold icy minimalism likes the new shoots of spring.
Marc joins Richie Hawtin and Magda at Manchester's Warehouse Project on the 15th of October.
From the sound of your new album ‘Drift’, which was inspired, if that’s the right word, by the Berlin winter, it was pretty bleak for a time there?
“We got extra winter and now in the summer, we hardly got any. Whoever allocates the weather is screwing with us! I don’t mind cold but when the sun doesn’t come out at all… you start losing it. I sat down in the studio writing music and looking back I was like, ‘man, that was what going on with the!’ I realised it was due to the awful, awful weather. The whole album does have a direction and journey. It starts off OK, people are starting to go inside, then there are the storms and the blizzards, like the song ‘Drift’, and by the end the snow is melting and finally with the last track spring is coming. It’s light at the end of the tunnel! It’s still a little melancholic but it’s hopeful. As soon as it hit springs all the Berliners get crazy and they run to the park so they’re all full. Everyone has ice cream! The first one day of sun, every square inch is covered.”
Since your tongue-in-cheek dig at the scene via ‘Techno Vocal’, how do you think techno or your own sound has evolved? Your own album seems much more organic.
“I don’t feel like I’ve evolved too much. Obviously I’m very different from how I used to sound but my influences are all the same. I was just kind of getting inundated with so much regular, boring techno that I was kind of losing it and I really went far-away and bought a guitar to do something different. All my previous releases have pretty much been a collection of tracks, they could have been in any order. There was no common theme throughout them, it was just dance song, dance song, dance song, all around 124bpm, a collection for DJs to play. This one, I think there are one or two songs that a DJ could play, the rest… it would have to be a pretty interesting DJ to play some of these brooding songs out in public.
“I guess there are people who only listen to techno, and then there are others who don’t listen to techno but like making it. And I’m the later. I never listen to techno when I’m at home, I don’t really know any modern techno. During the recording of this album I was listening to the same things I always do, The Cure, Black Sabbath, old country songs.”
Have you played the Warehouse project before? What makes it such as a special venue and what tricks do you have in your bag for it?
“Is that the name of it? (laughs). I remember playing there but I don’t remember the name! Being in Manchester, musically, it’s such an important city. When I first got there I did a tour – ‘show me all the cool stuff’ you know? Show me the Factory offices where the table was, show me the Hacienda, that kind of stuff. I was really surprised by the gig because the people there really knew their music. It was a pleasant surprise. Everyone was really cool and nice and nobody had any attitude. They were just there to have fun, making jokes.
"There’s a whole bunch of stuff I’m trying to get done before then as I’m going on a three month tour with Magda at the beginning of October. From now till then I’m trying to get a really cool, interesting live set going. Maybe some analogue gear mixed with some new controllers we’re developing. It’s with Livid. The prototype is allegedly being shipped here now. I’m hoping to get my hands on that. Also the iPad. I’m interested in trying to get that working with my music in a way that adds to it, rather than interferes with it. The tour goes everywhere… except Australia and Africa.”
With summer coming to an end, how are you going to deal with the Berlin Winter this year?
“We totally got ripped off this summer, it’s insane. I’ve got to make another album about how shitty this summer was. I don’t mind bad weather as long as it’s consistent. After the tour we’re going to take January off to record. It’s something the Minus people do so I’ll record with Click Box or someone in South America. Who knows?”
Check the promo video for ‘Drift’, part of a series of videos created for YouTube to provide official visual accompaniment to the inevitable uploading of tracks from the album.
The Warehouse Project has also added a 'Skream & Benga present' mid-week date on Wednesday 15th December, plus announced theirfirst London date with Delphic (and more to be announced) at the Ewer Street Warehouse on Friday 29th October.