It's no mystery that when it comes to good beats and great people, Ed Banger comes straight to our minds. So when we heard that the French label's SebastiAn, who's been with the electro house gang since 2005, was releasing
Total, his very first EP, we jumped at the opportunity to get the full scoop. Pre-order the standard or deluxe versions of
Total on iTunes before it officially drops in digital format tomorrow 5/31!
Sofia Cavallo: A lot of the tracks off the new album are less hard-hitting, raw and distorted than your older songs. The new ones sound funkier and more melodic, but still retain that distinct Ed Banger kick. Does this hold true for the whole album?
SebastiAn: Not quite. I think the album is defined by the range of styles I've worked with since arriving at Ed Banger.
SC: What have you been listening to lately that could have influenced Total?
S.: A little bit of everything. From Lightning Bolt to Carmen McRae, from experimental to pop music, from hard to sweet stuff.
SC: The video for "Embody" is so cool. How did you and So Me come up with the concept, and how did you find Shamari, the kid in the video? He's incredible!
S.: The idea was pretty simple. We just wanted to represent the track with a person as an allegory for the music. We cast a lot of kids and we found the perfect guy exactly as we had imagined: Shamari Berkley. We also didn't want just a hip hop dancer, but someone with all the moves, from classic to contemporary -- from Fred Astaire to Prince. Shamari was perfect for this.
SC: SebastiAn fans have been aching for this album to drop for years now. Is there anything in particular that you were waiting for or wanted to perfect before releasing it?
S.: After the return of what some call "the French touch," everything started sounding the same to me, so I took my time to go into different sound directions. Also, while I was finishing up my album, Romain Gavras asked me to make the soundtrack of his film, Our Day Will Come.
I thought it would take one or two months maximum, but it took a lot longer.
SC: What's your favorite track on the album?
S.: Probably "Ross Ross Ross" because it's one of the first songs I ever made with Ed Banger. Or "Love in Motion" because it's a different style for me, and I like to change it up sometimes. It was also cool because it was an easy song to produce -- I had gone to Amsterdam to play in a club and that very afternoon, I met Mayer Hawthorne by chance on the street. I asked him if he wanted to sing to the track, he said yes and sent me the vocals a week later. It's really nice when things happen that easily.
SC: And how did you and MIA start talking about doing a song together?
S.: I met Maya a few years ago on tour with Daft Punk and Kavinsky, and we stayed in touch. When I was working on Romain Gavras' soundtrack, he was also making her video for "Born Free," so it wasn't very hard to ask if she wanted to sing on the track. She said yes, I went to London, and we recorded it in maybe three hours. As with Mayer, it was simple and quick -- really cool to me.
SC: Can you tell us about the cover art and album art in general?
S.: The cover is kind of a "serious joke" about artists and the rapport they have with their ego. I also wanted a change from the Ed Banger style full of colors and all that. Pedro knew J.B. Mondino, so we asked to him to do this because he's really good with black and white photos.
SC: At 15, you were involved in a hip hop group, Cercle Vicieux. But most of the material you've worked with at Ed Banger is in the indie/post-punk vein, except for Kelis and maybe Nadiya. Would you say that you've grown out of hip hop?
S.: The hip hop at the time when I started out was very interesting. DJ Premier's tracks and what Timbaland was was doing for Missy Elliott were really exciting to me because of how they were being produced. But as I said, I'm not coming from a particular genre of music, I've always been curious about all styles. This might come across in the tracks I make.
SC: What's it like touring with the Ed Banger crew? Who's the worst packer out of all of you?
S.: Maybe because of Pedro, it's fun like a school holiday. And the worst packer is Uffie, of course, simply because she always has two or three suitcases -- even if it's just for one show.
SC: Finally, what are your favorite spots in Paris?
S.: An old school restaurant call La Poule in the center of Paris. I've been going there since I was 13. It's simple, traditional French food, and it's open almost all night, which isn't bad.
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