Back to the future: we’re seeing in the new year with a whole gang of new-gen talent. Join us for Future Vision: Eight exciting emerging DJs from four countries repping across the bass axis online for NYE. Ahead of the event we called up The Caracal Project to do a spot of fishing for silver-linings in an otherwise turbulent year.
This isn’t The Caracal Project’s first UKF interview. In fact he’s only just been featured on the site two months ago discussing one of his boldest releases so far; the experimental, emotional self-released Modern Intimate. It came in the wake of releases on both Vision and Pilot… And, as of this month, has been followed by his debut on Blackout: Encore / Intoxicated. Two much more club-focused pieces which have landed just in time for his Future Vision stream.
Tune into Future Vision from 7pm GMT on December 31. In the meantime, we caught up with the young French artist for a deep discussion on his concerns about drug culture, the rise of bland ‘background music’ and how streaming has made him a better DJ…
Pretty rubbish year in general. Pretty decent year for music from The Caracal Project, though…
It’s been a year of movement. I was coming into 2020 with my EP on Neosignal and the first time I’d made a body of work I was sure of. I was starting to focus on the meaning of my music, working daily with a manager for the first time and I guess being more professional and putting deadlines to things.
Yeah, you were going to move to Rotterdam with Skylark weren’t you?
Yeah we were planning to do that in May but then the COVID situation, all the gigs got cancelled, I couldn’t afford it and it was a complete change of plan. Maybe we’ll still make that move, I don’t know. I’d love it but is it the best option? I can’t tell for now. It’s hard to forecast anything when we’ve had almost no gigs for eight to 10 months.
You had that one rave in the summer didn’t you?
That’s right. One open air in July. i had a chat about it with Paddy in my previous interview. It was so cool but at the same time I wasn’t comfortable with it entirely. I did do some livestreams, however, and they’ve been cool to play again. I have no decks at home so to be able to go on a rig and play some music is cool even if it’s for the internet. .
Weird playing in an empty club isn’t it?
Yeah, an empty club just resonates.
No bodies soaking it up, no spirit
It’s weird. Jumping from playing to a crowd to playing to a bunch of cameras is very strange. But it’s been fun to explore. There are ways to play this music without it being a livestream. I’ve done studio mixes in Ableton and that’s opened up so many possibilities and things you wouldn’t think about DJing and also play a role into learning to be a better DJ. I really can’t wait to go out and play again when we’re allowed and experiment with those new ideas.
That’s cool. So streaming has had a positive influence on your DJing?
Basically yeah. Before lockdown I was a bit of a self-centered producing DJ. I come, I play my shit, I leave. But now I feel much more ready to vibe. You’re responsible for the vibe and for people having a good time. My vision on it has been changed.
The whole idea of responsibility has been important for you hasn’t it? Modern Intimate was about that wasn’t it?
Yes. With all that’s happened this year, I’ve had a lot of things to think about. I’m a kid from a provincial countryside town. What’s my role and what’s everyone else’s role who listens to this music? I wouldn’t blame anyone for not releasing music during this time. Yet as musicians we’re the footprint of what happens in some place at some moment. We make club music and clubs are locked up so it’s important to show how it influences us. We’re all still making music so it’s our responsibility to keep that footprint existing. If we don’t release music for those moments, we’re ignoring what’s happening to us right now. Within the rave scene bubble, the music is going to learn from that crisis, so it’s important not to deny it. In my opinion.
And also its influence on events. When we come out of this we hopefully won’t be as obsessed with headliners and just want to rave again.
With people craving for raving they are eager to see any DJ and discover new stuff. They won’t be going to raves just for headliners. I’m really exciting about that. I always think of the perfect rave – a small place, no rules, just a proper vibe. You don’t know who plays when, and for how long, it’s just about the music carrying you or not. That’s what I want.
What else would you like to see in the future?
We need to change how we organise events and see more concepts. Promoters should invest a bit more in the party environment and concept. Packing the line-up with an extra 2 headliners who will play 45 minutes each can cost all it takes to set-up that extra vibe. I really hope for a renewal of how we approach events and how we market everything. I’m kinda sick of people putting things in boxes, it’s a threat to music as an art form. Streaming platforms are changing the status of music. Some songs get millions of “background” streams, yet they have a lot less of an impact on you than the ones that you might listen to with more attention, less often. We should be careful with letting stream-counts dictate everything.
Yeah ‘chill’ playlists. Nice stuff for the background – never gonna grab you by the soul.
That’s the thing. Music is becoming a service, as opposed to an art-form. Like, soon music could be comparable to toilet paper. Like elevator music. Like smooth jazz back in the days. People only want it for its background quality rather than the real, true content of it. Background music has it’s place don’t get me wrong, but not in the same basket as club music, lyrical music and scoring.
Some people can’t listen to music. They can’t just sit there and absorb it. Within seconds they’re on their phone / fidgeting or talking or whatever.
Totally. Most of my hometown friends don’t make music and/or aren’t so precious about what they listen to. It makes them the perfect minds to test my music on. But I have to sit them down, otherwise they might last 15 seconds without doing something else. It’s all about the status of music in society. Nowadays music tends to have a new function and I’m not convinced about it. That’s why I love club music because you go to a place designed to listen to and feel the music with other people who have a comparable dedication. Now club culture has its issues. I know people can disagree but there’s too much emphasis on being high. I get why people like to add a little extra to their experience but not when you’re completely wasted that you can’t experience nor remember. Not to be salty, I want to push that the music should stand for itself. We have that responsibility, again, we should not condone this behavior or encourage it. I’d like to promote a more gentle way with that and look towards spaces where you don’t feel the need for illness; having good sound systems and safe, hypnotic environments where people feel good and in enough trance already so overusing drugs becomes less of a go-to.
Have you ever spoken to Kemal about this? We discussed it in his interview…
Yeah I have. We met at Blackout XL and we spoke over messages about his project of sober raves, I love it. I do drink and smoke a little though, I’m not an angel, but I hate the abuse of things. I’d love to have a space, not a big space, but a small place to do a little party where everything is spot on. The music, the system, the people. To start a movement from a small community that’s authentic and where people are there for the right reasons. The time will come.
Sounds ideal. What other highlights have you had this year?
Playing at Get In Step, Paris, at the start of the year was amazing with Mefjus and Buunshin. A really good party, good friends and music. Exactly the type of thing I’m talking about. Buunshin is family and Mefjus is now a good friend. So that was a very memorable moment. And the midsummer rave I went to. It was a bit sketchy with organisation, they had to change the venue because of the change of rules in restrictions 24h before. It was legal but it felt illegal and there was a great vibe. It was raining so people were dancing in mud and everything. It’s not the biggest or most carefully organized party I played, but the circumstances made it a very special moment
What else have you taken from 2020?
A much heavier thing one was the global burst of rage triggered by the death of George Floyd (RIP). Coming from a tucked-up countryside village, I’ve never been exposed to racist situations, or if I did my brain washed it out. I can’t even recall having an uncle at a dinner being racist, so swallowing the fact that it happens massively everywhere in the world took me from 100 to zero instantly. Those moments when things don’t depend on you and you wish you could do something. That’s when I went on a personal journey to figure out where I could stand. Making music and having an audience, you realise you have a responsibility for spreading education and spreading the word. By any mean, to any level. It’s not just entertainment. Everything has an impact, once our music is out there it stops being ours. People will interpret things their own way but delivering it with meaning and a message will always be important.
You’re definitely delivering with meaning. You seem to moving towards self-releasing and doing all your visuals etc.
Yes. I love working with labels but I’m also focused on building my own ecosystem to release by myself. We’ll see what the future brings.
Now is the time for DIY
I love labels but I have such a strong vision that I want to build my stuff on my own foundations as well. I want to control every bit of the chain. It’s stressful and tiring. Especially when you’ve decided to take care of the visual stuff. There was a lot of learning, stress and expresso sipping at that time!
I love it. Seeing something through from idea to creation to delivery is so empowering
Exactly. Since I started The Caracal Project I went sideways for a bit because I wanted to learn, but I wanted to start something that was my own from the get-go and create the vision and there’ll be more self releases coming soon.
And you also have a release on Blackout… Loving Intoxicated especially.
Intoxicated is a year old and I wasn’t planning on releasing it, but people were asking for it so I thought I’d give it a shot. After finishing it I was really happy with it. So here it comes 😀
Out by popular demand!
Yeah! I’m not the guy with the big dubs that everyone is asking for, but the tune people have asked for repeatedly was that one. I think it’s because it’s such a simple groove. So that’s out on December 18th, in time for Christmas and then I’ll continue in 2021. There may be a more chilled release early into the year, but one that’s already locked in is the tune I made with Leotrix. I’m excited for my first dubstep release!
I’m always trying to explore new things and try new ideas, hopefully it will be a brighter year…
Bring in the new year with The Caracal Project on Future Vision…