Cedric Dessulle - known to the French DJ community as Talamasca - oddly enough still remembers the very date he fell in love with the world of trance, except it wasn't really trance as a sound that captured his attention first; on February 7, 1992, it was the electric vibe of the first ever rave he attended, the incredible energy of the show that changed his taste and life forever from that date onward. Then came the music…
"How many people can remember the date of something like that?" he laughs. "That night completely converted me with the high energy and the lasers and the whole lightshow! A few weeks before that, I'd seen Metallica in concert in Paris and I was loving it because I thought that's as big as it gets when you're talking about shows! I was a punk kid during the day and I'd play piano during the evening, so I was definitely a chameleon. At one point I'd sworn to myself that I would only ever listen to metal for the rest of my life because I loved it so much at the time. But then I ended up going to this rave party which literally went all night long and I just fell in love with that. I have to admit that at first I didn't love the music as much as I loved the energy, but a few days later I discovered more trance music and I knew at that point that was my future."
It took Dassulle just under three years to get the hang of this new musical phenomenon he'd discovered, leading to a residency at the prestigious Rex Club in Paris in 1995. A year later, Dassulle was introduced to fellow Talamasca co-founders Steve Eli and Xavier de Galloy, the project initially starting off as a threesome between Dassulle and the two house producers.
"I was really young at the time, like 19, and I'd only been DJing in Paris for a couple of years," he recalls. "I became quite successful at the Rex Club as a DJ but I wasn't so great at actually making music just yet. When I met Steve and Xavier, they taught me quite a lot, but they were very busy and pretty soon the project turned into my own solo thing. I'm still really good friends with them, we still collaborate on tracks together when we have the time."
Most recently, however, it was Talamasca's Make Some Noise album which saw Dassulle cooped up in the studio for days on end, often not even seeing the light of day. Interestingly, while other producers tend to slow down as they years roll by, for Dassulle it's been quite the contrary, as he points out.
"I'm even thinking about closing my label [Mind Control Records] because it takes up time that I could be spending on making music," he says. "I mean, it's also that nobody is really buying CDs like they did before, now it's all about mp3s…But for me it's like, I'm okay to not make money out of music, but I'm not okay with not having the time to make as much music as I can! I just released an album two months ago during the summer over here. It seems like everybody is doing EPs now every few months, but I don't like that so much because I'm still the old-school guy who doesn't feel that he has to make an album every few months just to show people that I'm still around. I'd much rather release something when I've got a story to tell with it, when I'm ready to say something with it."
Perhaps Talamasca's biggest 'story' so far was 2003's epic album, Zodiac, which even Dassulle describes as one of the biggest challenges he'd ever undertaken in his career. Featuring 12 tracks, each based on the characteristics of the zodiac, Dassulle says it was a concept album that was either going to be absolutely brilliant or absolutely terrible.
"Luckily, it wasn't terrible!" he laughs. "What I loved about the idea of basing every song on the 12 astrology signs was that I could really express myself through every track. It almost felt like a game in many ways, it was so much fun to take each sign and translate it musically. I looked at each of the characters and the personalities they represent and I made that the base of how the song would flow. That was a huge, huge concept, and I absolutely love that about albums of every genre. I love to buy albums which have at least ten tracks which tell a story when you listen to the whole thing, you get the full experience."
That said, don't expect to hear a whole lot of it come Talamasca's first Australian show in four years; out with the old and in with the new is pretty much the mentality of this DJ/producer.
"What you're going to hear will be completely different to what I did last time," Dassulle warns. "I don't like to play my old tracks and I never understood why some DJs do that. I know people who still play tracks that they made 15 years ago…I see that as, yeah back then the song was good but it's not so much anymore, it's different now. There is no way a 15-year-old track is going to sound as good at a party in 2011 as it did 1996! I'm talking about technology and how much better produced newer tracks are, you can't compete with that. Even a song that came out five years ago is not going to sound anywhere near as good as something that came out last week. It just changes so quickly."
Change is something Dassulle knows all about, having undergone quite an evolution himself in the last couple of decades. While trance is still very much what you get with a Talamasca show, these days it's a little deeper, a little more slower, but a whole lot more mature as opposed to boring.
"My level of production has changed a lot," he explains. "In the past 20 years that I've been playing, I wouldn't say I've lost any of the power in the music but maybe I'm doing it less faster than I was in the past. I like to make more deep music, not boring, but just more 'grown-up'. A lot of people call me psy-trance but I just don't like that word. Actually, the only reason I probably sit in the trance category is because of the speed of my music, but even that is changing all the time."
On the subject of changes, Dassulle says the French scene could do with a make-over too. Describing his home country as something of a 'has-been' when it comes to trance, Dassulle claims France is actually the country he finds himself spending time in the least.
"To be honest, the French scene is really bad now compared to how it used to be in the past," he confesses. "I would say that back in 1994 and through to 1999, it was actually the best in the world. We would have the local French DJs drawing up to 5000 people every single week in Paris for the trance parties. Then all of a sudden it all just went down. There were many reasons but I think one of the biggest reasons is that maybe everybody just got a really big head! I've got nothing against local DJs because I was one for a long time, but when all you're ever doing is booking French DJs and you're refusing international names - especially famous names - it's not going to end good. That's what started happening, then the locals started raising their prices, and it all just went crashing down. At the moment it's building up a little bit again, but the peak in France has definitely been and gone. As far as trance music goes, it's kind of done."
That maybe so but it certainly doesn't apply to Talamasca. With plans to continue touring the world in 2012, Dassulle reckons another album may be on the way if his schedule allows.
"My plan is to continue to make lots more tracks, maybe even more than this year and last year! I'm not 20 years old anymore so I can see myself slowing down even more with my sound. If that happens I won't be releasing it as Talamasca, though, it will be called something else because I don't want to confuse people. Talamasca is my trance project and that's what it will stay."
Talamasca [FRA] plays Yellow Sunshine People Gathering alongside Phaeleh [UK], State of Mind [UK] and more at Ceres Environment Park on Saturday December 10.