Musically, Joakim Bouaziz is a hard one to pigeonhole. Brought up on classical, including piano from the age of six and graduating from the National Conservatory of Versailles, the producer is now one of the most influential people in the French scene, crossing genre borders including everything from jazz, noise, krautrock, electro, disco, techno and anything else you can possibly think of. His latest offering, fourth album Nothing Gold is no different, a collection of thoughtful dance tracks, with sweet and sombre moments ranging in style from EBM to indie-pop, electro, lo-fi disco and house. "When I make music I dont think about one genre...because I listen to so much different music its like I have 30 years of music going on around in my head. If I had to call it a genre, I'd say it's 'post soft'", he jokes.
"Today the album is already available almost everywhere and it's still one month before it's released," he laments in a thick French accent. Joakim says that with the state of digital piracy where it is, the situation is upsetting but not shocking. "It's not even a surprise. It's just a bit sad for all the people who are trying to work and do something good about the release you know, it's weird." A couple of days after our interview he takes to Twitter to vent his frustrations: "I understand ppl [sic] downloading records when they find a link but those leaking unreleased albums on filesharing sites are big time douchebags."
Joakim recorded Nothing Gold in his personal studio in Paris, avoiding the laptop style production technique that has become so common among modern producers and instead opting for a full studio set up, analogue synths and all. "I always wanted to be totally independent production-wise so I have been building a studio for years and years and years." However he's yet to create the ultimate studio. "No, you never reach that point," he laughs, "but its starting to be good."
The name of the album, Nothing Gold, comes from a Robert Frost poem which talks about the transition from youth to adulthood. Indeed the first single from the album, Forever Young, (which was also the first one he composed), is also a reference to youth and adulthood. "It's about how I saw 30 year old people when I was in my 20s. I used to hate them. It's not the way I see it today, it's the way I saw it. I just hope I dont become one of them. "It's the idea of giving up on most things. The more you grow up the more you have to be more compromised, which is normal."
Fans of Joakim will notice that on the new album his singing style has become more stripped back, with less vocal effects and less vocoder, which begs the question as to whether he's become more confident as a singer? "Yeah I guess, but it's still a process in the making. This time I sing without too much after effects but now I'm going to have to do it onstage." While he doesn't consider himself a "singer" per se, he's still working on honing his craft. "I have this fantasy of being a singer/songwriter. I'm always trying to do something I don't know... Every album I try things that are very new to me. Today the challenge is, can I be a real singer and do pop songs?"
What's more, he chooses to speak in English because, strangely, he says it's easier. "I am mostly playing outside of France and I never considered myself completely as a French artist or musician and also I don't think I'm ready to write lyrics in French, it's really difficult. It's easier to do it in English because there's that distance that makes it easier." As part of Resident Advisor's 10th birthday celebrations, Joakim has been invited to play the Sydney leg of the party - taking place in ten different cities, each with a secret headliner. Sidenote: he thinks the headliner is James Holden ("when I announced I was coming to Australia and doing the RA show he retweeted my tweet and I dont know why he would do that if he wasn't coming") although other rumours point to Four Tet. Because of that, it's been possible for him to do a promotional tour to talk about the new album and a run of small shows around Australia, including one at New Guernica, a venue he remembers fondly. "Yeah of course I remember! Last time was great. I had a good time. I always have a good time in Melbourne," he muses, saying it's different to other Australian cities. "It's more like an indie feel... it's like being in Brooklyn," he laughs.
"It's that kind of New York or European thing that I know well that is not in other Australian cities - a cool, underground, indie music scene." With Australia and France being the buzz electro scenes a few years back, it's no surprise a few alliances formed between the two countries. One of Joakim's most successful remixes would undoubtedly be Hearts on Fire (which featured on his Best Remixes album) by our own Cut Copy, who he says are good friends. "When they played in Paris last time I DJ'd with them for the aftershow and actually it was the first time we met. We had a great time and it was really nice and I met them in New York when they came to play. I love them."
The Australian connections don't end there. Joakim says there is an upcoming project that he can't reveal too much about yet. "We are actually maybe going to do something together with Tigersushi and [Midnight Juggernauts]... It's not with me but with an artist from the label. Because they have a label too, they want to start something up. There is a lot of love between French and Australians."
Joakim [FRA] plays New Guernica on Thursday September.
By Rose Callaghan