047 - Shelter (Alan Briand)
Following on from Scott Gilmore's wonderful Métron mix we're going back-to-back with International Feel affiliated artists - this time with French producer Alan Briand, aka Shelter. My first encounter with Shelter was his excellent release 'Zon Zon Zon' earlier this year on the aforementioned Ibiza based imprint. It plays out as a wonderfully melodic trip, soaking up many of the influences Briand has gained in recent years whilst working at Paris record store l’International Records. It was here that he met Paul Byrne who works with International Feel. In fact it seems like Briand, who lives close to the store itself, is living many music lovers' fantasy life. A DJ, producer and record collector who works in his local record store, connecting with other players in the scene. Those connections have lead to his latest endeavour, creating the visual identity of Brandon Hocura's new label Séance Centre. Briand is a creative who wears many different hats, but those dots are always connected through his biggest passion - music.
The music on 'Zon Zon Zon' sprawls from Carribean Zouk to Balearic, with African influences amidst moments that sound almost Steve Reich-esque. Its a record rich with sonic and cultural diversity, indicative of Briand's eclectic tastes. When I spoke with him about producing a mix for us he was keen to create something a little different, this time focusing almost exclusively on French music. Even with within this more limited scope, Alan has put together a wonderfully rangy set featuring Jazz, Funk, Pop, Library, Dub and Ambient, with each track featuring French language artists or artists based in France. It's incredibly soothing, a mellow walk through the French countryside, the perfect accompaniment to a glass of red.
The latest Shelter release dropped this month, the excellent Banzawa, his second EP for Plaisir Partagé is available in record stores now and well worth picking up.
I spoke with Alan about his mix, his latest project in design and how that practice influences his musical work. You can also find a tracklist at the bottom of the page.
Hey Alan, thanks for the mix, it's excellent. Can you tell us a bit about the selections?
Thanks Jack! This one is a bit special. Usually I don't make podcasts with a theme but this time I try to get French related tracks together. Because I'm French hahaha. It's mainly records you can find in France or have been made in France or are french speaking. It's special French tracks if you want. There is also French 'news' and an edit of Benoit Hutin I made for Camisole Records in there. So it's pretty eclectic anyway.
When did you get into French library music?
Everything starts for me 2 years ago, before that I was not really into records. I was studying graphic and type design so didn't have much time to get into anything else besides design stuff. When I quite school I didn't have a job, no clients and a lot of time. So I started collecting records and going to records shop, talking to peepz that like music. I arrived right after the library trend end so there was a lot of library music playing at l'international records at this time. That's how I get into it I guess. Library also get me because of their design. I love télé music graphic identity, it's one of the strongest i know.
'Zon Zon Zon' is one of my favourite releases this year, how did those tracks come together?
Well thanks! I didn't know that! If this record is out it's mainly because of Paul Byrne from Test Pressing. We booked him with Tanguy (Master Phil) last year and we had a lot of fun. He told me to send tracks and select a bunch of these weird electronic library tracks that i was making at this time- he put them on B side. Then I had some zouk kinda tracks floating in my hard drive for a while (everybody was freaking out on West Indies records, including me) so I decide to send him that also. I didn't thought that both side can work together but Paul did. Then Mark approved it and it was ready to be pressed.
You've talked before about your wide range of musical influences, and that definitely comes across in your music - can you remember the last time you heard something that really changed the way you approached your own production?
I never had a flash while listening to a records like : "oh i need to try doing that kind of thing". It's more when I'm playing with sound, sometimes I hear a song that I know and like in a tracks i'm working on. I try my best to make it sound alike then i find another tracks that i like and sound similar, so I try to match it too. And it keep going on and on. It's really fortunate happenstance and hybridation. That's why ZZZ sounds like a kind of Japanese synth / zouk / library mixture to me. But there is major reference, like Mariah - Utakata No Hibi or Alain Neffe or Finis Africae, I keep hearing these record, subtlety hidden in the chords, the bass placement or the drum machine, it can be anything - every time- every tracks I try to make. In that case it's really subjective but that's how I find making music pleasant.
Alongside your music production and DJing you are a graphic designer, do you find much of a creative cross-over between creating music and creating design?
There is always cross-over in those creative field. For me the process is really similar for graphic design and music production, obviously tools are different but you can plays with reference and visual quote as well for music or even movie. Of course this is not the good way get paid haha, i'm just talking about the creative process I use in both case. And it's basically the same. I don't if thats make me a good graphic designer or a good musician but that's how i feel my work pleasant and somehow rewarding.You've been working with Invisible City Editions co-founder Brandon Hocura's new label Séance Centre on their design - how did this connection come about and what are your plans for the visual identity of the label?
I just send him a email, he likes my website and that's how i'm part of this awesome project. Sometimes emailing works héhé. We share a lot in term of visual and musical taste so that's really convenient for working on a label identity. He gave me complete freedom of creation on these covers so that's really enjoyable. I came up with this hobi-like design, unbalancing the square, make it somehow closer to a book format. It's really inspire of library music cover as you can see. We also both come from book design so we try to design the label like a publishing company, I mean there will be no sub and parent label but collection, series and hors série with different looks. You may think it's nothing, that records and books are already pretty similar but actually it trigger other basic notion in terms of communication and how you build a record. And I think that makes Séance Center a really challenging label to work on.
What's going on in 2017 for Shelter?
Well Shelter will keep releasing stuff in 2017. There is some really nice edits coming up, that I release with Hysteric on his label. it's a cross between New Beat and Italo. I'm currently working, with a friend this time, on an album for Séance Centre maybe to close the New Age series. There is also a couple of edgy edits that I make with my friend Dave that we want to release soon. Another solo album for the end of 2017. There will be a 7 inch on camisole also. And maybe other things, who knows.
Can you recommend a couple of lesser known releases you think we should check out?
eh that's a tricky question. I will play it safe : I'm working with camisole records on restoration and design and we are focusing on french library album. The next one is Serge Bulot - Les Légende de Brocéliande, it's from 1981, electronic ambient and it's awesome!
Isabelle De Funes
Abdu El Omari
Words & interview by Jack Hardwicke.