Julien Carbou has been producing Drum & Bass since the late 90’s under his own alias The Clamps as well as with a number of other producers for various collaborations. This month sees him release the Seduction Scale EP on Toulouse based label Kosenprod, an imprint that chose him as their first release back in 2012. We caught up with him to discuss the EP, Drum & Bass in France and what’s making him tick right now.
You had the first release on the Kosenprod back in 2012. How did that come about?
I had just moved to Toulouse, and Céline the owner of Karnage Records had just launched his sublabel for Bass Music, Kosenprod, so it was natural for me to do the first release as the crew have supported my music and my older previous for years. They gave me the freedom to release what I wanted, so Kosenprod is my safe space in music.
Where did the name The Clamps come from?
It was a private joke with my close friends about my real name and translated in English, it gave The Clamps. Nothing very serious about the name, but it’s like having two mechanical clamps to make my industrial music.
There’s a broad variety of tracks on the EP. There’s a lot of musicality in the music rather than sounding like some of the hard-hitting Neuro you’ve become known for. What was the inspiration for this release?
I wanted to do something special for celebrating my 10 years. As I’ve not planned to do a full album that would have allowed me to express myself fully, I put all the ideas I had in mind into just five tracks, keeping storytelling between all of them. I really wanted to make the listener find their emotions and let themselves be seduced by them. Working with my cousin, Thomas Carbou (who is a great experimental Jazz musician) on the “Family Chest” track was a real pleasure. We did something a bit different and usual for both of us, combining our two universes.
As this is a solo project, how would you describe the difference in creative flow when working alone compared to when working in a collab?
It’s not very different compared to Burr Oak (with Opsen) or Third Colony (with Deerhill). On each project, the main word is the freedom to write what we feel. The result is quite different as I’m alone with my doubts, and the only one to make the musical choice, but those guys were still a part of the project because they were the first to hear the tracks and to help me with my very last doubts and yeah, working with friends in projects is even more galvanizing, as we push each other to the best. I love both working solo and in a group.
So, tell us about D&B in Toulouse and France in general. What is the scene like their right now, even though the pandemic has hit France quite hard?
Like many of my mates in the cultural scene, I lost my job as a DJ, so it’s hard financially to live, pay for the flat etc… but I pushed these negative feelings into something positive, making a lot of music during the year and it seems it was the same for most of the stakeholders.
The scene is growing in France, there are more and more producers, DJ’s, promoters, labels coming though releasing more new music, streaming parties, making tutorials have replaced the party weekend for now. The scene is very alive and fresh, but I really hope to see all of these in a stage full of physical energy.
On a wider scale, who is inspiring you now internationally?
I’ve a lot of inspirations from different kinds of music. I still have my old references in mind like Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and some other bands in Rock, Punk and Alternative 90’s music. At the same time, I dig a lot of the music by Boards of Canada, Lorn, Tycho, Semiomime for something more downtempo, and for DNB, definitely Noisia, BSE, Stakka & Skynet come to mind as they were (and still are) my driving force. Of course, the new generation of producers are very interesting, even if sometimes it could go a bit too far from my taste, it keeps the scene so fresh, and I love it.
Can you tell us a bit about your studio and your software/hardware? Is there a dedicated workspace you create in and what kind of equipment do you prefer to use?
I am lucky to have my studio in a special room in my flat, so I can work when I want. I’m working now mostly in the box with software. I’m an Ableton user since 2004 and when I discovered this DAW I “threw away” most of my old hardware stuff I had back in the old days, like MPC 2000xl, Roland MC303/505, MS20, etc… Working on Ableton was definitely an unstoppable freedom. I still have some old hardware like the Syncussion DRM1 or Juno 106, which I used a lot on the “Third Colony” LP which Yan and I released after the first lockdown. The Juno 106 is my main synth for doing pads and weird synths in my productions, and you can hear it in most of my latest stuff in The Clamps and Burr Oak.
You used to make Techno. Do you still follow that scene these days, and do you think your time in Techno helped you grow as a Drum & Bass artist?
I grew up with Techno music. Back in those days, it was really the music of the future and I loved to do that. But to be honest, now Techno is living in the past for the most part. It seems they limit their boundaries to not go too far other than just make people dance. I’m very interested in production, sound design and sound research and happily, guys like Rival Consoles, Jon Hopkins and more are doing very interesting things. I think it’s a question of taste, but yeah I still enjoy dancing on classic 4/4 beats.
Finally, what keeps you motivated to keep making music, and what message would you like to give to the global D&B community right now?
Making music helps me to find answers to some of the questions I have in my mind. It’s more than a passion for me, it’s a lifestyle. I love to share it and love to help people to be more confident with their own music. Music is a universal language for most people. If you can’t tell something by talking, tell it in music. It’s still not understandable for everyone, but if you understand why you’re saying something with music, you’re halfway to understanding yourself.