The Director's Cut: Julien Chaptal - The Way [Awesome Soundwave]

Words by Julien Chaptal
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As artists, creativity, and inspiration can strike at any moment, especially when traveling. For Julien Chaptal, his latest album, 'The Way', is a literal representation of that, having been made during his travels by land in a camper van, on a boat at sea, live on stage, and everywhere else in between. In this latest installment of The Director's Cut, he walks us through the album and how it all came to be whilst on the road and elsewhere. The Way by Julien Chaptal is available now via Awesome Soundwave.

How to listen: There are a couple of ways to proceed. First, you can listen to the whole album, which you will find below, and then read the notes. Or, read the notes as you listen to each track. This will completely change your perspective on the whole release itself and bring you closer to the artist and their work.

Fantasy

This track was created long before the idea of producing a second album came to life. It’s an absolute nod to some of my favorite 90’s dancefloor burners and began life as a dancefloor tool. I made it around 2011 or 2012, at a time when I started to make music with machines again, but while still combining it with laptop sounds. I think you can hear that In the aesthetic of the sounds, which creates just the contrasts I wanted. I wanted this track to feel like a breathing beast, with a simple acid type of line (I can’t remember which synth I actually used to create it though), and the tension builds with drum rolls and effects throughout the track.

I wanted the track to end in a different place though, so I completely flipped the main theme towards the end, as if entering another dimension. That’s what made me think of space travel and the Fantasy of ever being one of the lucky pioneers of the Future who will be exploring space. It might be a fantasy, but certainly, hope that it isn’t. I don’t expect to be a cosmonaut one day but I would love for humankind to explore the further reaches of the cosmos one day.

Fantasy has been a mainstay of my live performances for many years, I never tire of playing it.

Amazone

I named this track after the sailing ship I’ve had the chance of taking care of, part-time living on, and traveling with the past 5 years. The video I’ve made for this track has been filmed on a very quiet sunny day on the North Sea on passage to the islands of the northern coast of The Netherlands.

Although the track is dedicated to the ship, as I find it suits part of her personality, it was also created before I started to work on making an album. Like most tracks on the album, it is a nod to a musical form that has influenced me in the past. In this case, I see it as a minimal soup that makes use of few ingredients, that are slowly simmering and bubbling in a cauldron. If you listen closely you can hear a moment in the life of Amsterdam, the city I live in, recorded as I was cycling through it on a spring afternoon. For the anecdote, I gave the track to Josh Wink in 2013 and he played it a lot in his sets so he proposed to release it on his Ovum label, but we never managed to find the right context to put it out. It’s a track that is very dear to me and represents a part of my personal journey, so The Way was the perfect place to release it, where it lives amongst a collection of other moments.

Rolleriger

Rolleriger was created in nature on the hillside of a friend’s place in Mauritius. She has an incredible Void club sound system with which I was allowed to disturb the tranquility of the place for an afternoon while overlooking the mighty Indian Ocean and fruit bats flying over my head at dusk.

I was mostly exploring the possibilities of a machine I’ve since used in many productions and most live sets since - the Elektron Octatrack. The entire piece is recorded as one live take on a stereo recorder. The name of the track came later, as I was crossing the Atlantic on a sailboat with a Dutch crew who told me one of these many Dutch words I’ll probably never be able to speak out properly. It is a word we used to describe the movement of the boat on the waves, as they intensified through the first night of our navigation, it means that the boat is now rolling more than it was before.

JawJaw Fever

JawJaw fever is inspired by a place I passed through, and which is called JawJaw, while traveling in the jungle of Suriname. I sometimes try and let myself be inspired by places, events, stories I am told when making a track. In this case, a place. It was, however, made and recorded in the dry heat of the summer in the Nimes region in the south of France as I had taken my band of machines on a trip through the country to record some music. This is also a live recording, recorded from the Octatrack and the Digitone. It is quite rough around the edges, and if you listen well, you can hear my phone searching for a network at some point in the recording. It actually fits perfectly and adds sonic dimension.

Low Pressure System

A Low Pressure System is something you try to avoid sailing into at all costs when you are at sea, it’s most of the time synonymous with a storm. I think I’ve managed to capture the intensity of the feeling of being in bad weather at sea, something I can’t imagine anyone would look forward to. The track is meant to be disturbing and to convey a form of fear and anxiety that comes with Low Pressure Systems at sea. The video I’ve made for it is a collection of events I found on the internet, luckily, not moments I’ve experienced myself. The track is taken from a live recording of a set I played at Loveland indoor festival in Amsterdam. I was using a Yamaha DX 200 for the theme, and a Roland TR-8 for the drums.

Use Your Mind

In this track I actually say “Lose Your Mind”, but the guys from Awesome Soundwave thought it sounded too much like the name of a big hit from my friend Bart Skils. So Use Your Mind it became! Although I do hope for people dancing to it to be losing their mind, rather than using it, just for a little while.

Strangely enough, this is also one of these tracks I’ve created completely in nature, atop a mountain in the French Alps during the trip mentioned above. I don’t think you can hear the influence of the surrounding in the music at all! It’s an absolute nod to the wave of house music that invaded all the clubs and the airwaves around Paris when I was a teenager and started going out to clubs in the mid ’90s (although I was mostly refused entry for being too young at the time).

For the anecdote, this is the only track entirely written and mixed on a computer on the album, and it has been edited by my friend and studio partner, Boris Werner, to play in his sets. Although he’s not credited on the album, it’s his edit you’re hearing.

Polarcus

Polarcus is the name of a massive seismic ship which has been at the dock in front of where my ship is moored in Amsterdam. It’s been decommissioned for several years, but I keep hearing these cavernous, industrial sounds emanating from its hull at night, as ironworkers do their magic on her insides. The horn in the track obviously resonates with the ship, the classic rave stabs and the distorted kicks are what I’d like to play inside if we ever would be allowed to throw a party there. The video I’ve made for this track is shot from inside a plane, approaching Amsterdam from the North Sea.

Omnia

The title is inspired by a place in one of the Terry Pratchett Discworld series books. I’ve been reading his books for years now, as slowly as I can so they don’t run out. The world he imagined is a great place for my mind to wander, filled with magic, and it’s really witty.

A giant disc perched atop four giant elephants, themselves standing atop a massive turtle, swimming through space. Yup. I’ve made this piece with many, many synthesizers, stacked upon one another, and a Machinedrum. I wanted to give homage to some of the electronic music pioneers from Detroit who have influenced me over the years, with my own twist, of course. It is quite epic, I wanted the end to feel like an orchestra was chiming in, but in this case, the Oberheim OB6 synthesizer.

Pinkinslee

The sounds you hear in the background were recorded in the jungle surrounding the village of Pikin Slee in Suriname. The track itself is based around a theme that I have played in my live sets for some time, and this particular take was recorded on stage at Paradigm in Groningen.

Salt Adrift

This one I’ve made so long ago, and to be quite frank, I don’t recall, if so, what the story was around it. There was a time when I was making music without any particular purpose, and I think this is a result of one of these jam sessions. I still do make music without thinking too much sometimes, but much less often.

Préfaucon

This one was made during the trip I took through France with the camper van. It is recorded in the village of Préfaucon, where a childhood friend of mine was gathering friends to celebrate life for a week together. I do hope that this track conveys that feeling of gathering and celebrating, that is the intention of it. You can hear the sounds of the party in the background at the beginning, someone is playing the clarinet too. Then it fades to the box of electronics.

It’s an improvised jam, most of the band members are playing in it: the TT303, Digitone, DSI Tetra, Octatrack, mfb522.

Keep up with Julien Chaptal on Facebook and Instagram. Julien Chaptal’s The Way is out now via Awesome Soundwave. Listen / buy the release here

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