Nearly two decades after releasing his award-winning album Tourist, famed electronic artist Ludovic Navarre, who goes by the more recognisable name of St Germain, has returned to the studio. Casting aside the sensual, deep house melodies that have become synonymous with the artist, his latest album will evoke the calls of Africa, drawing inspiration from the fiery, percussion driven rhythms of what he calls “the real blues”. Navarre has reinvented himself, creating a visceral, sensory and multi-faceted experience for the listener. Ludovic took some time out of his busy schedule to bring MiNDFOOD up to speed on what he has been secretly working on for the past few years and how it feels to transition to the incredible intricacy of his latest project.
You looked to Africa for your inspiration for this album; do you think this was a natural progression from your last?
Yes completely. It is a natural progression but it was something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. I was never really able to do it, it wasn’t the right moment, but this is the right moment.
What is it about this visceral earthy music that inspires you so much?
I think it’s because of the real sensitivity that these people have in their music, it’s their sound as well and there’s a real kind of gentleness about it. One of the things that is fascinating is that they can be both very melodic and very rhythmic at the same time, and it’s the mix of these two that’s so interesting. Now also in a way it’s very cyclical, it’s almost like they’re always going in a loop, always referring back to different images, it’s very conscious of a lot of images and it evokes a lot of images, which is what attracted me.
And I think another aspect of it is the instruments, and really the way in which they play the instruments. If you really watch them play the instruments you can see they really have a gentle touch. They’re not using picks, they’re just very close to their body and they play it in a very soft way. I think it’s the whole package; the instruments and the character of the music as they play it, that really attracted me.
Just in terms of the processes of recording this album, I know that you worked with a lot of musicians and a lot of different instruments. How long did this take and what was it like going through the stages?
What I thought about doing when I started, what I was originally thinking about, was having all the musicians together at once, at the same time. And I realised when I started to try this, that it wasn’t really going to work very well because there wasn’t enough affinity between the individual musicians. It was rather complicated, I had to give a lot of explanations which were sometimes really difficult, to convey what I wanted. So In fact I decided to go back to the same way I had worked before, which is the same way I worked on Tourist which was to work with each one individually, or two together at most. And then record them multiple times. Then once I had all the recordings made I would then go cook up my mixture, put in my intro, put in the ambiance, and really work with the recordings that I had, and that was the same way I had worked before.
So you were essentially recording all these layers that eventually came together to be whatever you decided to do with it later on?
Yes that’s exactly it. And what I did then, with all the recordings is that I edited them all together, and what I tried to do is, I tried to make it sound as natural as possible, as though they were actually playing together at the same time.
What can we expect from your live performances when you come to Australia?
Actually there’s not any one specific thing you can anticipate because what I really want for everybody to do is, when you approach this music it shouldn’t be intellectualised. It should really be appreciated on a level of pleasure – the kind of pleasure it gives you to listen to it. To listen to the music, which, while it has a technical aspect, it’s also something that is very intuitive, there’s no counting. It’s got a very organic quality to it. Really listen to it for the pleasure without any preconceived idea of what to expect.
I heard that it was mastered in Abbey Road Studios. Were you there for the whole project?
Yeah I was there at Abbey Road as well.
Amazing. And what was the experience like working in such an historic place?
It was too short. We did only two hours of mastering and they said “you know it’s very good as it is” so it really was very short. They said “we can’t do any better, so how’s this?”
That’s incredible, that must be some kind of record…
So my band and I we left, and we went and had a drink with the sound engineer.