Vitalic interview: Your Mate Dario
Tuesday, 7 February 2006
The French techno artist Vitalic, aka Pascal Arbez, only has himself to blame. He once fabricated a biography about himself being a Ukrainian living in Germany with a murky past. Now he spends his interviews distinguishing the truth from the fantasy. One thing is true: Pascal speaks fluent Russian.
"All this story was a fake biography," he says of his old bio, not for the first time. "I get many questions about that fake biography. The fake biography is a kind of a metaphor about some things that happened in my life. It is also a bit exotic - so it's like a funny way of starting talking because at the time many people believed it! When I started to play, I had some people translate from Russian into Italian, for example, and so in clubs they would provide me with a translator. Also some guys would come up and say, 'You know, I was a prostitute, too.' So in the beginning it was very strong!"
Most artists relish mystique. Vitalic is no exception. But, regardless of his background, Vitalic's music speaks for itself - it's the stuff of electric dreams.
In the mid-'90s Arbez produced music as Dima for the Choice label. As Vitalic he attracted electro fans with his first-class 'Poney EP' of 2001 on DJ Hell's label International Deejay Gigolo. In addition, Pascal covered the proto Detroit techno classic Shari Vari with The Hacker.
Last year Vitalic finally followed 'Poney' with the electro/techno/future disco hybrid 'OK Cowboy', which you'd never guess was conceived in the idllic French countryside. The producer's roots lie in techno, but he's diverged. "I left the pure techno movement a long time ago - I think because I've been into pure techno for a long time, since 1988, I wanted to listen to new stuff. The parties I was attending were very much pure techno and I had no idea about disco or rock. When I met the Gigolo people, they were mixing stuff together without any boundaries, and I really wanted to join them because they were totally free and totally open."
"Now I'm still playing techno festivals and techno clubs, but it is true I've reached some other areas in music. So I play rock festivals and rock venues, too, so it's really different. Maybe now I'm perceived less as a techno guy, but I have a new rock audience. So since 2001 things have changed for me."
Indeed, the Gigolo stable have exerted a profound influence on Pascal. He freed himself of the expectations placed on techno artists. "I was maybe too afraid of what people would think about my music if I included some elements that are not from techno." Seeing Miss Kittin perform in a nurse's costume had an impact as well - Pascal took to Gigolo's notion that, despite the traditional anonymity of techno, it's possible to be playful. "They encourage you to have your own personality."
The only disappointment for fans of the 'Poney EP' was that Vitalic didn't present more by way of fresh material on 'OK Cowboy' - and he has no plans to follow it for now. The project has only just been issued in the US. "I have no real agenda or schedule - I can do the music I want when I want to do it," he says. "There is no need now for a new Vitalic album." Pascal is keen to focus on side-projects. Having said that, he is constantly updating his live set. (Vitalic performed live at Big Day Out - he's no DJ.) "I have to change the live show on a regular basis and do new stuff so it's still sexy to play and so the people who follow me on a regular basis don't know the live set too much!" Tags