Interview #9 – N’to [EN]
This week, Amnusique has decided to honor the artists of an up-and-coming French label, Hungry Music. Founded byWorakls, N’to and Joachim Pastor in 2013, Hungry Music‘s artistic specificity lies within the melodies of the minimal, tech house, deep house and electronica tracks it features. We have recently had the honor and privilege of interviewing the three founders of the label. The second artist to answer our questions is Marseille’s own N’to. (French Version)
Hi Anthony. Thank you for taking some of your time to answer our questions. Here’s how it goes : first we will ask you conventional questions about your work, then we will ask you some less conventional and more fun questions that will help us get to know you a little better. You have one Amnesia Joker you can use anytime you don’t wish to answer one of our questions. Only one artist has used it in the 8 previous interviews. Let’s Go!
Can you introduce yourself to the readers who don’t know you yet? Who are you, where do you come from, how old are you, when did you start making music, what’s your favorite genre of music, etc…
OK I’m all stressed out! *chuckles* I’m Anthony, I’m 29 years old and I live in Marseille. My journey into music began when I learned to play the guitar, I was around 10 years old. I’ve been making electronic music for almost 8 years now. My favorite music genre is hard to define, I like techno, deep house and electro-acoustic. I’d rather listen to music according to my mood rather than focus on a specific genre of music. However, there is a common denominator, the melody always comes first!
We know that your stage name (N’to) is short for your real name (Anthony). Are you bound to that stage name or do you think you could choose another one if you had to? You know like Puff Daddy ou Snoop Dogg who have a new stage name every now and then.
N’to is my identity as a producer of electronic music. I could very well have another identity should I choose to work in another genre of music. Anyway, I’m not bound to the name per se… Actually I didn’t put a lot of thought into it *chuckles*. My friends used to call me «Antho» and with a Southern accent it sounded something like « entoh » : N’to.
Aside from the litteral translation of “Hungry Music“, can you explain to us what does the label mean to you?
It stands for an incredible opportunity we (Joachim Pastor, Worakls & N’to) have to express ourselves as we wish to and release music that defines us and which we love, with (almost) no restrictions… That’s real luxury!! We’re free to release what we want, it’s a great thing to feel this artistic freedom.
What makes you unique at Hungry Music? Your styles are quite similar but there has to be a little something that sets you apart from Joachim Pastor and Worakls.
I don’t think we make the same kind of music. The genres are similar but our artistic identities are very different. Each one of us has his own sensitivity and his own way of telling a story. It’s like painting, it’s the tone you give to the notes. So if you look closely, quite a few details set us all apart from one another.
Kevin (Worakls) has recently played with a philharmonic orchestra at the Dock Des Suds festival in Marseille, and we heard that you’d love to do something similar. Can you tell us about the difficulties you can meet in the process?
That’s the thing, setting up such a project means a lot of freedom but also a lot of difficulties. Kevin handled the project very well and worked really hard on it. The main difficulty is for the musicians to understand our music and bring to it the right amount of sensitivity, musicality and dosage… Working with people is an encounter like most encounters you make in real life, either there’s a spark, or there isn’t. If you find that spark, there are better chances that the musician can read your music.
There are a lot of technical aspects you should also take into account if you want the final result to be homogenous and relevant. It requires work and rehersal. On a personal note, I wouldn’t jump into working with an orchestra this large… It’s unlike me. I like more intimate settings, with two or three musicians at most (probably with percussion instruments, keyboard or guitar); which would allow us to be on the same page, and also allow them to knock themselves out on my tracks. It won’t be something they will have to stick to, it’s important to let them express themselves.
Actually I might have something up my sleeve for next Saturday’s WeAre Experience.
It’s a common thing to see electro swing bands (e.g. Parov Stelar) combine machines and instruments in their live sets. In electronica, deep house or techno sets it’s rare to see such a combination. When the artists do use instruments they only use two or three instruments at most (e.g. Goldfish). Is it due to the diffculties you just raised or do you think laziness plays a part as well?
Neither. I think it’s a less common tradition in electronic music. Electronic music is made by producers who are lonesome in their creative process, a sort of introspection. It’s a very intimate process, and in the studio in front of your computer, you feel like you’re the only one who can make it happen. I think those are the basics of that kind of music, your machines speak for you. That’s anyway how I feel the music at first, the need to add instruments comes afterwards… the instruments will add emphasis.
Your genre of music is associated with nightlife. Do you think it’s mandatory to play your music in such a dark and closed environment or do you see yourself playing in open air in midday?
Electronic music originates from clubs, it’s undeniable. But it’s also a type of music that is more and more out there. In the past few years, we’ve seen quite a few electronic artists perform outside of clubs, at indoor or outdoor festivals, be it in the middle of the day or late at night… It’s great actually, you find yourself in a wonderful park, surrounded by trees, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, you set up your equipment and start playing in front of a laid back and wide audience… It’s an incredible atmosphere! I have kept great memories of festivals like Pleinvrees (Netherlands), Montreux (France) and Dour (France) last summer… I love it! It’s actually really cool to be able to play in both settings, I also enjoy going to smaller clubs where you feel something special with the audience right next to you.
Germany is a reference in techno/house music. However, in the past few years we’ve seen quite a few French artists emerge in this genre. Do you think France could become one day THE reference when it comes to techno/house music, just like it did with electro and the infamous French Touch?
Absolutely! Germany is the cradle of this kind of music, it’s linked to the country’s history and its need to express things in an almost primal manner. The enivronment easily allows the development of producers and everything related to club culture. If you spend a weekend in Germany, you’re spoilt for choice if you want to spend the night listening to good music. Germany remains the Mecca of electronic music. Many genius producers are German, but fortunately, talent comes from everywhere. *chuckles*
The I Love Techno festival was cancelled a few hours before it was supposed to kick off. As an artist, how do you react to such news?
Everybody was absolutely disppointed. Everybody was suprised, from the audience who bought tickets three months earlier, to the artists and the staff. I couldn’t wait to go on stage… In short, we were all bummed, but it was important to bounce back and salvage something out of the situation.
Speaking of bouncing back, you eventually played in a small bar that night. Can you tell us how did you arrange this last-minute event?
We were in the hotel lobby, disappointed but eager to play. We thought to ourselves come on, some people came to party and they are disppointed. We’re here and we’re amped… “Alright, impromptu Hungry Music showcase in a Montepellier nightclub”. The audience was on fire! *chuckles* We’re not the only ones to have done this, which allowed, despite everything, a (small) number of the festivalgoers to enjoy their night.
We discovered some of Worakls‘s tracks thanks to your remixes, and vice versa. Can you tell us about the creative process behind those remixes?
It’s something I really enjoy doing. I like disassembling everything and putting it all back together. Besides, it’s a great way to pay tribute to a producer or a track you love. You borrow his material to tell your own story. Worakls has done it superbly with his remix of Trauma and I think he liked my remixes of his original tracks as well.
Do you consult each other beforehand?
We do at first, but we trust each completely. When an artist remixes one of your tracks, you want that artist to knock himself out on the remix!
Are your live sets written like sheet music or do you leave room for improvisation?
Actually, when you start performing live, you instinctively try to set your set as meticulously as possible, you’re cautious but you allow yourself some flexibility. With experience, you grow into live performances, and you also become more confident. You take risks, you let yourself go because that’s the great thing about performing live, this huge freedom to speak to your crowd… Give your crowd what they expect, according to the vibes you get from them, but also to surprise them, make them respond. When you get this running, it’s awesome! I build my live set in a way that allows me to have this freedom, it’s important that everything stays flexible. I also allocate a certain range of time to manipulate rhythmics and loops. It’s very exciting and it’s what really keeps you going back to meet the crowd.
We feel that the melodies you use make your tracks resonate in our heads as if they contained lyrics. We sometimes find ourselves singing in mock-English as if there were actual lyrics. Is it something you do on purpose? Bearing in mind that you admit not being a natural-born writer.
This is great to hear! *chuckles* I listen to a lot of narrative songs and it’s true, I’m not very good with words, so I try to make the music notes speak. I think that deep down, it is my intention to produce this effect… By the way, my mother also sings my songs in mock-English. *chuckles*
For someone who’s not very good with words, you’re doing a great job in this interview! One last “conventional” question. You, Worakls and Joachim, are often on tour together, just like Gesaffelstein and Brodinski at some point. That must bring you close to one another. Do you ever feel some competitiveness between the three of you?
The main difference with Brodinski and Gesa is that each one of them has and manages his own label autonomously, while the three of us are on the same label.
The Hungry Music venture binds as as professionals as well as humans. We get along really well, all three of us, and we’re in contact almost on a daily basis, be it to tel each other silly things or to give each other advice, offer an extra ear when one of us is stuck on a track… So no, no competition between us, but rather a strength that pulls us upwards! When I go on tour with them, I don’t go to “work”, I’m on holidays with my buddies, I want to have fun! *smiles*
Alright, we like to start our fun questions with an Amnusique classic, the album you’re ashamed of having purchased. Do you think you can do worse than Aqua, Darude or Dance Machine (compilation album)?
What a start! Maybe La Plus Grande Discothèque du Monde vol. 13 (Dance compilation album), with that good ol’ black fella’ on the cover doing the Van Damme split with lightning bolts coming out of the jog wheels into his hands… A visual masterpiece as well…
Oh dear… It was vol. 14 by the way! It’s probably the worst reference we’ve had. On the other hand, what’s the album you’ve listened to until the CD got scratched all over?
When I was younger, I used to steal my brother’s CDs after he’d listened to them. There were a few legendary ones: Django, Georges Brassens, some classical and some rock. I’d say Pink Floyd‘s Pulse, with the little red LED that blinked on the side. That LED made it through 10 years though it’s ridiculous…
Good news Anthony, we found a website where you could change the LED’s battery! Your track petite, is it a tribute to Joséphine Ange-Gardien (TV character played by Mimie Mathy, an actress who has achondroplasia and is 1,32m tall) or a physical characteristic of yours?
If you only knew everything I’ve heard about that track… But no, it has nothing to do with the great Mimie Mathy (actually there was a untranslatable pun here, Anothony uses “grande” to speak of Mimie Mathy, which means either great or tall person in French) *chuckles*. Actually, I wrote it for my niece who had just been born.
If you had to make a track in tribute to each one of your friends at Hungry Music, what would the titles of the tracks be?
– William (the manager) : Crooks
– Worakls : Portugal, Porto is already taken *chuckles*
– Joachim Pastor : Golden Clamps
The girl with the mini tube dress on the cover of The Bosnian EP, did you meet her via a dating website for Eastern European women?
Eatern European women aren’t hairy enough for me… Mediterranean women, that’s the real thing!! *wink*
Your track Pandore inspired us to raise a dilemma for you. Should you open a Made In Marseille Pandora‘s Box, which one of those five evils would you choose and why?
– A tattoo of the Paris Saint Germain’s crest on your pec? (Anthony comes from Marseille, a town whose football team, Olympique de Marseille, has an everlasting rivalry with Paris Saint Germain)
– Laugh like Patrick Bosso (French comedian from Marseille) for the rest of your life
– Have Tourette’s and constantly shout “screw the OM!” (OM = Olympique de Marseille)
– Having your sweat smell like bouillabaisse (fish stew originating from Marseille)
– Plus Belle La Vie (French soap opera that has been on air since 2004) (we won’t say more it’s bad enough)
Imagine Patrick Bosso with a tattoo of PSG‘s crest on the pec dripping fish soup from every pore laughing his head off. I think « Plus Belle La Vie » is worse… In over 10 years of airing, not one of the actors has a Marseille accent. *chuckles*
It seems you met Kevin (Worakls) on Skype. You guys haven’t done anything sleazy on camera, have you?
Why? Isn’t this how you do things on Chatroulette?
Your full name is Anthony Favier, which can only remind us of Sophie Favier’s (French TV show host, actress, singer) appearance in Max Boublil’s music video for his track “Chatroulette”! (Max Boublil is a French comedian and parody musician, more or less the French equivalent of Weird Al Yankovic, and Chatroulette is a song where he tells his friend he met saw his mom on Chatroulette)
When Worakls gets stuck in an airport because of a snowstorm and is unable to join you for a live performance (Switzerland last December), what do you think to yourself?
– Great! The crowd will want me to perform twice as much!
– Poor Kevin, he’ll have to eat horrible tasting club sandwiches for 6 hours
– It’s ironic when one of your tracks is entitled Flocon de neige (literally: snowflake)
– I miss him, I’ll send him a Facebook sticker to make him feel better
“It’s ironic when of your tracks is entitled Flocon de Neige” *chuckles*
This is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the silliest question of the interview! *chuckles*
Actually I pick all four suggestions!
Thanks! We’ll take that as a compliment. Moving on. We’re awful at history, is your track 1825 a reference to the Battle of Marignano?
It’s the number of times I had to re-write the track. Or the BPM I don’t know. OK, to be honest, when I started working on that track it had been 1825 days since I had met my dear and tender Pauline… *smiles*
Oh that’s cute! You’re mixing at a party, worst party ever known to mankind. You have one track to turn the party around and make people break the dance floor, what track do you play? It’s sad to admit it but our dance floor breaker is anything by the L5 (French pop girl group from the early 2000’s)
Hadaway, at least it’ll make the girls dance, the guys will follow…
Have you guys any legal issues with H&M when you made your Hm t-shirts?
*chuckles* Haven’t you had legal issues with Amnesia?
Oh no we’ve never heard of them, it’s not a swingers club, is it? Alright, we love doppelgängers. Has someone ever told you that you look like Camille Combal (French humorist, columnist, radio host) from Touche Pas A Mon Poste (French TV show)?
Yeah… Michaël Youn (French actor, singer, comedian, TV and radio personality) as well… It’s dramatic that strangers stop you on the street to tell you that. It’s mental abuse…
We love you track Trauma… Can you give us your top 3 of musical “trauma”tisms of 2014? (remember, Paris Hilton is now a DJ, Black M (French hip-pop singer) is at the Victoires de la Musique (French music award ceremony that recognizes the best musical artists of the year), and that Gitano (French gypsy song by Kendji Girac)
Wow that’s a tough one…
1) “Tourner Dans Le Vide” by Indila. Oh the humanity… The lyrics… The prose… The music…
2) “T’aimes Briller La Night” (literally: you like to shine at night) by Black M. Actually I don’t know if that’s the title but this sentence is obviously the climax of the song!
3) A song by Zaz (French singer) I can’t even put enough energy into choosing…
That’s it! Thank you N’to for answering our questions. Any last words?
You can follow N’to on:
Genre: Electronica, Techno House.
Name(s) : Anthony Favier.
Additional info: Anthony uploaded a video teaser on his Facebook page where we can see him in the studio with two of his friends, one of whom is playing the drums then the xylophone along to his tracks, and mentioned that it’s a teaser for next Saturday’s WeAre Experience. So there you have it, the man promised, and he delivered!
Label: Hungry Music.