The unsung hero of electronic music returns with yet another work of dazzling disco genius and a spot at Dazed Live in April
Bernard Fevre may have done for dance music what Lou Reed did for rock, but his subversive debut slipped through the net in 1978 and remained tethered to the underground for years to come. After hiding in the shadows of obscurity for nearly thirty years, a re-issue by Richard D. James and Luke Vibert (via their Rephlex label) brought Black Devil Disco Club back to life again for modern audiences. Releasing his 28 After LP in 2006, Fevre’s latest effort, Circus, will undoubtedly transform him from a spectral talent to a more tangible artiste, taking his status to dizzying new heights of recognition. We caught up with the Black Devil himself to talk about the new album and find out what to expect from his upcoming performance at Dazed Live.
Dazed Digital: How did it feel to have your 1978 album re-issued and why do think it wasn’t so well received first time around?
Bernard Fevre: It's a very sweet sensation, honey to the soul. Of course, as an artist you need people to like what you do otherwise there’s no point. In the late 70s I had convinced myself that I would quit music, that's why it what strange and surprising to hear about the Chemical Brothers or Aphex Twin being into my productions. I think that back in the time my music didn't have a receptive audience. I've been lucky to have my music spread by people on the Internet.
DD: There’s an insane amount of well-respected artists collaborating on Circus. How did they all come about and what do they each bring to the record?
Bernard Fevre: I'm proud of each collaboration on the record. But it's about making Black Devil music, not about getting ‘stars’ to show off. I was looking for special voices and strange characters. Some came to my studio, some did it at home and sent me some rough takes so I could distort them into some black devil mixture.
DD: Can you describe the compositional process?
Bernard Fevre: I try to build a structure around accidents or sounds that weren't supposed to be used as melodies in the first place. For example, ‘My Screen’ (feat. Nicolas Ker from Poni Hoax) starts with a violent synth. It's shocking, almost like a driller breaking concrete or some car brakes after a police pursuit.
DD: What type of equipment do you use now and do you have a favourite synth?
Bernard Fevre: I still work as I did in 1978. I use the tools available in my studio, I've got some old gear and some rare keyboards but I do live shows in 2011, so I also use new plugins, Digital Perfomer on Mac. I try to focus on what can be useful for me. The cool thing is that I produce everything from A to Z now.
DD: How do you psych yourself up before a show?
Bernard Fevre: I work a lot at home on my live sets since I want to control everything by myself onstage and to be able to "play" not to fake it. I focus on getting rid of the stress. At 65 I'm still a young performer you know. I don't need much to get my shot of adrenaline!
DD: What can we expect from your performance at Dazed Live?
Bernard Fevre: For the new tour and record, I've worked with a very talented man from NYC called Devan Simunovitch a designer working at the intersection of motion design, animation and realtime 3D to produce a series of videos. Since 2006 Non Format have done it for all my albums released by Lo Recordings. It's very unique and strong, both cold as ice and hot as fire, so I wanted to keep these two elements on my live visuals. The result works perfectly apart from the live. It's very innovative and fits my music, my show and the images I have in my brain.
Black Devil Disco Club is playing Dazed Live on Saturday April 9, 2011. The festival takes place at several occasions in and around Shoreditch and is presented in parthership with Levi's and Absolut Vodka. Find out more about the Dazed Live HERE and buy your tickets HERE