Before the start of his US Tour (he will be playing at New York’s Rough Trade on November 2nd), we talked with the French DJ and composer Zimmer about live performance, touring and the importance of first times.
First, what’s your name and where are you from ?
Hey! My name is Baptiste, I make and perform music under Zimmer.
For our Brouqueline readers who don’t know you, how would you describe your music ?
Dreamy, intense electronic music. Somewhere between disco, techno and experimental indie.
This is your first live project. What’s the idea behind it ? How did you come up with it ?
I’ve always wanted to play live.
It’s essential for me to control the full experience in which people experience my music, and playing live allows this. That’s why we put a big emphasis on building a light installation and travelling with it at every show.
Musically it opens a lot of doors creatively. Having the stems of all my tracks on hand, along with various machines, it’s pretty exciting.
And the last thing is that I wanted to play concert venues, earlier shows. It’s a different energy than the club.
Will we be experiencing a new facet to your music?
80% of what I’m going to play is unreleased material. There’s more contrast to my music now, it’s also a bit more experimental, a bit more techno.
It’s not a departure from my previous sound, it’s an evolution. If you liked my music from 3 years ago, hopefully you’ll like the new stuff but you’ll be a little surprised.
Could you tell us more about the light installation you came up with for the live performance ? What kind of atmosphere do you want to create around this live ?
We built the system with my friend Orson who lives in New York. We wanted something quite simple that would translate the song’s emotions perfectly.
For me, a concert is about getting lost in the music, blurring boundaries, disconnecting from reality.
That’s why we’re not doing projection but lights. It’s going to be dark and moody at times, bright and colorful at others. My music is like a rollercoaster, going from very calm to quite intense.
We treated the light installation as a musical instrument, the lights are « playing the music », following some musical elements like a certain drum or synth sounds.
For each track I had a very precise idea of the mouvement, basically it’s an illustration of what I have in my head when I make music.
You are already a seasoned DJ, what does that live performance mean for you in terms of preparation ? Any stress ?
Oh you have no idea ! It’s probably 10 times more work than a DJ set ! So I’m definitely pretty stressed haha.
On the audio part, preparation started in February. I had to invent a way of playing my music live, taking it from a 20 to 50 track project to something manageable and playable live. It was pretty fun experimenting ways to do it, trying gear. And then, rehearsing.
On the light part, we tested different things (video, lights), and then settled on a system and started working on a precise mapping for each song.
You have already toured multiple times in the US, how would you describe the audience there ?
Fun, loving, enthusiastic.
What is it like to tour with Zimmer ?
For DJ tours, it was a lot of flights, a lof late night shows, diners with friends.
Days at the airport trying to find something healthy to eat.
For most of the live tour we’re going to be driving, so that’s a major difference, and although I’m alone on stage, I’ll be with a little crew. I think I’ll get the feeling of being in a band which is quite exciting after years of solo touring!
What comes after this first live tour ? Can we expect the first Zimmer album ?
Can’t say anything yet. More on this soon ;)
For your first live performance, we want to ask you some questions about your first times:
First musical genre you loved
House music in my teens. Before I was quite clueless on genres haha.
First electronic track that blew your mind
First dj set in a club
Chez Moune in Paris in early 2011.
First gig at the other end of the world
Mexico city early 2012 at AM Local
by Emile B.