Interview: Fantastic Twins has an Analog Agenda in Modern Techno
Curating a movement through art is no easy feat. Pushing sounds out of the rack or twisting knobs on a mix board maybe where all musicians start, but the good ones deliver in a deeper, darker, and thoroughly intimate relationships with their craft. It's clear to hear this attention to detail in French transplant Julienne Dessagne's production. As half of the somber techno/pop duo Saschienne, Dessagne has already made waves in underground music and it was just the beginning. Blending the boundaries between genre, Julienne's alter ego 'Fantastic Twins' is a stylish French take on alternative pop meeting the power of German analog and percussion.
As Julienne continues to explore the alternative techno through the lens of Fantastic Twins, she's in good company. Bouncing between the catalogs of the Pachanga Boys' Hippie Dance and Glasgow's techno innovator Optimo Music, the Fantastic Twins project has quite the growing crate. Add a recently-revived live show to the mix, and this project is set to change the way we look at techno, composition, and underground music as a whole.
Around the announcement of her upcoming vinyl on Optimo, we asked a few questions about the Fantastic Twins project. Digging deep on analog influence and a critical approach to production, it's clear that Julienne is the talent that electronic music needs right now.
Your bio reads ‘she likes to conjure up massive synth drones and swooping vocal textures’, sounds somewhere between a witches cauldron and a delicate oil painting. What influences have led to the sound that is Fantastic Twins?
The music I like and listen to reaches into a very broad scope of musical genres. I’m not a purist, I enjoy diversity. Being open-minded about music and not caring about established categories certainly influences me in many ways and somehow imprints itself on my own music. Having said that, when I’m in my studio, I never think about other people’s music. I prefer to use that moment to make space for new ideas. Influences are only good if you’re able to break free from them.
The age of the laptop producer has resulted in heaps of low quality production, Fantastic Twins records are always clearly top notch. What tools do you use that keep your output at the highest level?
I’m glad people see it that way but I personally feel the need to improve myself a lot more on the technical side of things. I love instruments and analogue sound like most people do, but here again, I’m not a purist, I happily combine it with software if that helps me getting where I want to go. I like to transform sounds, use tools for other purposes than what they are initially designed for. Now, beyond that, I think what might make a difference is that I’m not rushing to release music just for the sake of it. I give my music the time it needs and I do not release it unless I’m 100% convinced it is worth it.
You’ve primarily been releasing on Optimo and Hippie Dance, how have these influential founders and forward thinking crews help you curate the Fantastic Twins project and sound?
They play a huge part. I’m alone when I make music but it doesn’t make it less of a team work. I’ve had immense support from my friends Superpitcher and Rebolledo of Hippie Dance and from Keith McIvor (aka JD Twitch) of Optimo Music. They have been following my work closely since the very beginning, trusted me and allowed me to put my music out, Superpitcher motivated me countless times when I faced creative blockages and inspires me all the time.
Optimo has had a huge influence on me, I was lucky to live in Glasgow at the time Keith and Jonnie had their legendary “Optimo Espacio” party running there weekly. I owe them most of my musical education. And beyond the friendships - they hear interesting things in my music that I personally wouldn’t hear since I’m so self-critical towards myself and I would tend to dump most of my work in the trash if these guys were not here. I’m even more grateful that the people who support me the most also happen to be the artists I respect and admire the most.
Your latest EP recently hit the shelves from Hippie Dance. ‘The New You’ is a journey through quite the diverse range of analog composition. What’s the story behind the EP?
Each track on the EP is a story on its own but the common thread is maybe the attempt of exploring new paths and the journey that resulted out of it. My first two EPs were well received and when I started working on that new one I was very anxious, I didn’t want to replicate what I did before, I didn’t want my music to become predictable. So I had to dig into myself - or myselves - and didn’t stop looking until I found what I wanted. It took me months to produce that EP and it was no easy ride. In the end, what these four tracks perhaps ironically say is that no one can tell what is “the new me”.
Over the years, at least a few of your records have been pressed to wax. How important is format and the culture behind vinyl DJing to you?
Once again, no purism here and I’m not a crate digger, but having my music pressed on vinyl does obviously really matters to me. I give a lot of attention to the artwork, it’s a phase of the creative process I enjoy a lot because I get to work with other people and it fascinates me to see how they picture my music and translate it into something visual. And eventually, as an producer, being able to hold a finished object in your hands makes you realise you’ve done something real, it’s a great feeling.
You recently stepped back onto the stage after almost 3 years, what can you say about your return as a live act?
Yes, I’ve just premiered my live show in Cologne, it was quite scary but very exciting too. I’ve got a brand new set in which I’m performing “The New You” Ep along with some unreleased material. I’m generally more of a studio rat but I must admit that the energy you get from the stage and in interaction with the crowd has that supernatural thing about it that does trigger up my adrenaline levels. So I’ll be touring in the next months until I feel it’s time to take a holiday again from the stage. A live set is a work-in-progress but at some point it reaches a phase where you feel you’re stagnating, so then it’s time to step out for a bit and come back only when you have something new to say.
What next on the agenda for Fantastic Twins, where is the project heading creatively?
I’m about to release an album on Optimo Music in October. It is a soundtrack I created for a piece of contemporary dance two years ago and was originally conceived as music for children. It’s very different from my previous work and a few people might feel a bit disoriented but that project means a lot to me and I couldn’t be happier to see it coming out on Optimo Music. Besides, I’m starting to work on new music, a few collaborations and remixes. And I’ll be touring my with live show in the next few months.