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Joakim Stays Forever Young

The French electro artist chats to us about his new single, making soundtracks and being influenced by the weather

French electro artist Joakim has returned to the fold with his latest track, 'Forever Young', described by Joakim as "that weird place between youth and middle age"; he notes that his thinking behind the production of the track was "to make the soundtrack of a late Indian summer sunset, on a beach". Having created not one but two soundtracks for artist Camille Henrot as well as putting together his fourth album and running his label, Tigersushi, which he set up in 2001, his busy schedule doesn't look like it's going to let up any time soon. 

The new single release also features a number of impressive remixes from collaborators and artists handpicked from Joakim's label roster, such as new artist DyE who serves up a pop influenced version of the track which transforms into an epic house joint. Dazed chatted to Joakim to find out more about his soundtrack work and mixing the world of art and music...

Dazed Digital: How did the soundtrack for Camille Henrot come about?
Wait, there's actually two soundtracks I just made for Camille Henrot's films. One is currently in the Paris-Dehli-Bombay exhibition at Centre Pompidou and was premiered at Cannes Festival. It's called 'The Strife Of Love In A Dream' (Le Songe De Poliphile in French). This short film is about India, Western vs Eastern conceptions of fear, death and medicine basically. For that movie I created a piece of music based on drones and various field recordings Camille made while she was in India, plus some repetitive, almost tribal percussions. It's quite hypnotic and intense, it builds in tension with the movie until reaching a climax half way through it. We're both quite happy about it because the film and the music really work together, they wouldn't work the same way separately.

Then there's another project that we have, it's a live performance with a 50 minute-long film by Camille called Psychopompe which is based on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The movie is a mixture of many different types of images, people climbing, scientific found footage, filmed books etc. I play live with two musicians for that performance (a drummer and a bass/synth player), and a large part of it is improvised. It's a different type of work obviously as this is a live performance, but there's also a lot of common elements with 'The Strife of Love In A Dream' as I use the same old synths to make layers of drones, it's also quite hypnotic.

DD: Was it difficult to do a film soundtrack or did you feel confident/experienced it before?
Joakim: I think it's both easy and difficult to make a soundtrack. It's easy to make music on images, because images are inspiring and with very few elements you get a strong atmosphere, you can be very minimalistic. But you must avoid many traps too, music is very powerful when put on images, you can easily change the perception of a film from the spectator point of view with the music, so you have to be careful, and sometimes be quiet. The other difficult thing is to understand what's the director's vision, what he or she wants musically, not to end up in ego war. But with Camille that's kind of easy because we're used to working together now, we know each one's ideas well.

DD: What film/soundtrack do you admire most right now?
Joakim: Right now? Soundtrack-wise I don't know, there's not many movie producers taking risks with the soundtracks, it's all pretty standardized, that's why I like working with experimental directors and contemporary artists. And film-wise, I haven't been much to the cinema lately. I guess the latest thing that blew my mind was The Wire. Otherwise some of my favorite score composers are John Carpenter, Fabio Frizzi, Morricone, Alain Goraguer...

DD: What influences your very variable sounds?
Joakim: The weather.

DD: Have you always had a big interest in art?
Joakim: Kind of, i've always liked drawing, doing artworks etc, until five or six years ago when I started meeting people working in art and artists, like Camille Henrot, who introduced me to contemporary art. I started to work with some of those artists. Now I'm really into it, it's good to speak with people having the same urge to create but working with totally different means. There's a lot of common concerns and motivations in music and art. Recently a curator friend asked me to do small pieces for an exhibition in Paris and New York, that was really refreshing to work on that while also finishing my new album.

DD: What are you most excited about next?
Joakim: I don't know, sex? Releasing my new album in September? My next meal? So many exciting things to come!