Twenty years is a long time to do anything, but to be a relevant DJ and producer for 20 years, that is a bold accomplishment. To stay true to yourself, to thrive and grow as an artist over two decades, it's something only a select few can ever call their own.
The graceful and elegant techno talent Sébastien Léger holds this 20-year honor with humility and confidence. With a flair for the fun yet a keen ear towards the excellent, he imbues his techno and house productions with as much soul as possible, to keep it interesting for both crowd and audience alike.
Recently releasing his definitive 20 Year Compilation, Sébastien selected his personal favorites. Not his hits nor his most critically praised, because he wants this compilation to reflect his best work.
Here you have an artist that has a perspective informed by experience, but a clear understanding that one's goal is to walk the razor's edge of keeping yourself fulfilled and the audience dancing.
Oh, and if you thought things might be slowing down for Mr. Léger, definitely think again, because he successfully launched a brand new label, Temple of Lions, which is an absolute must for your techno loving sensibilities.
With illustrious enthusiasm, Magnetic Magazine presents to you our talk with Sébastien Léger, a man who demands techno have soul.
What is new with Sébastien Léger?
Sébastien Léger: Lots of stuff coming up. I’ve recently finished a remix for Laurent Garnier and it will be out sometime around May 2015. I launched a new label called Temple Of Lions at the start of the year and Mistakes Music has my “20 Years” compilation album out now. Apart from this… The usual DJ touring around the world...
So you have been making beautiful music for 20 years! Can you even believe it? What have been some highlights?
Lots of highlights! I’ve been lucky enough to have played the biggest festivals, best clubs, alongside best artists in the genre etc. over the years. One of my favourite experiences has been the Igloofest - it was the first time they completely sold out the 10,000 tickets, and the -20 degrees celsius dancefloor was completely crazy. Go check it on YouTube, it says it all!
I really did not create this label for success, it's a really personal thing, not a charts burner.
Your “20 Years” compilation! What is this all about? Is it your personal favourites over the years? Or are these your best tunes?
Yes. Usually a “best of” includes only the most popular tracks of an artist, but I chose this tracklist not only based on the success of the music but also on the tracks I prefer. Some of my biggest hits are not included on this LP, simply because I do not think they are some of the best work I’ve done. There are also a few unreleased tracks and new material included as well.
I'm laughing when I hear those wannabe artists talking about their 'show'
Can you tell us a bit about your new undertaking, your label Temple of Lions?
I wanted to create something that reflects the more musical, sensitive aspect of my house/techno style. Mistakes Music is more DJ friendly, essentially for dancefloors. Temple Of Lions is really for my slower grooves, elegant, mysterious vibes. The sort of music you could play on the beach or in a tropical forest, there are no big build-ups and big drops in this music - just soul, chords, melodies.
How has your second release on Temple of Lions been received so far? I noticed a certain Eric Prydz premiered "DXB" in his Essential Mix!
“DXB” has reached a very decent spot in the charts, but also had huge support from many people and DJs. The other track “Pilates” also had amazing feedback. So, I'm very happy about how things are going, although I really did not create this label for success, it's a really personal thing, not a charts burner.
Is house techno and vice versa?
As a well-regarded master in the techno world, how would you assess the state of techno?
I guess it's just a matter of taste, so this is my own opinion. In general, techno is kind of the same over and over right now. It's just drums and beats with this and that of FX or sound design in the background to cover for very poor musicality or creativity. I miss having soul in it. This is why I prefer and always preferred house over techno.
Do you have a guide musical philosophy? What helps you stay so innovative and creative?
I like the idea of reinventing myself as much as I can. Doing the same thing over and over isn't interesting. Also the fact that being more experienced and getting older helps to move on and develop a more mature sound. I obviously don't want to make or play the music I used to produce/play when I was 20. As long as my music stays fun, funky, groovy or soulful, I’m happy.
What are your thoughts on genre? You have proven yourself to be adept at practically anything and everything. Is genre something to be considered? Or should the music just move through you in the creative process?
I don’t know about genres? I guess it's not good to categorize music into genres, but you have to say what is real house and what is not. This is more a problem of education and taste. Like I said earlier, I do not like the techno that is straight and dark, but I do like techno that has soul, melody and grooves. Both are techno. But techno is getting closer and closer to house music now. So is house techno and vice versa? :) As long as you are comfortable with the music you like, that's what really matters in the end. Not everyone will like my house, even from a house music lover.
How would you describe the Sébastien Léger show?
There isn't much of a Sébastien Léger show. A show for me includes performances, lights and visual etc., like a concert. I'm just a DJ for 20 years playing records for other people. Is this a show? I don't think so. Is this a performance? Not at all. I'm laughing when I hear those wannabe artists talking about their “show”. We are not even close to this. So the typical Sébastien Léger DJ set (because that's what it is), is fun but good music. That's all that matters.
What is your preference, DJing or producing? And why would you choose one over the other specifically?
It's 50/50. DJing is essential to share the music I make during the week. I'm planning this year to make a Temple Of Lions live act. Not DJing, just me playing live the music of the label. Producing means being at home, without airports or waiting time in a hotel. Both are complementary I would say. I have to make music in order to get gigs. That's just how things work nowadays. Even though I’m a DJ first, as I started to DJ in 1993/94, and producing in 1997/98.
As you have had such an impressive career to date, where do you see it going from here?
I'm hoping to keep doing this as long as I can, because that is the only thing I like to do, and can do. It's hard to stay relevant for so long, but I believe if you stay true to yourself and keep on being creative, you can last long in this industry.
What are a few crucial things you might tell an aspiring producer just getting started?
Get inspired but do not copy. Learn and master your sound first then show it to the world, with patience, a bit of luck and real talent, you might end up doing something noteworthy!
For your viewing pleasure, Sébastien Léger's record breaking performing at Igloofest!