St Germain: Tourist 20th Anniversary Travel Version Interview with Ludovic Navarre, aka St Germain

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Submitted by Site Factory admin on Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:38

St Germain: Tourist 20th Anniversary Travel Version Interview with Ludovic Navarre, aka St Germain

Posted 22 Feb 2021
st germain
 Ludovic Navarre, aka St Germain. Photo by Charlotte Vasseneix.

At the dawn of the new century, a fresh take on Jazzy House exploded on the scene with St Germain’s Tourist album. Certainly not the first but definitely the biggest, the album was a mainstay for most of the decade in bars, boutiques and clubs thanks to its excellent production and arrangement and liberal (yet creative) use of massive samples from Dave Brubeck, John Lee Hooker, Marlena Shaw, Fred Wesley and more.

Twenty years later, it has been faithfully paid tribute with a remix album featuring the most enduring names in Dance like Osunalde, Atjazz, Ron Trent and Nightmares On Wax. We caught up with Ludovic Navarre aka St Germain to dig a little deeper.

How did you start making music?

When I was 15 years old, in the mid-’80s, I was in a sports competition in Windsurfing and listened while doing it to Reggae, Dub, Soul Funk and Hip-Hop. My wish was to be a professional, unfortunately, I had to stop because of an accident and I was immobilized for 2 years. During that time I started to get into computers and learning how to use them.

The Boulevard album from 1995 had great success in the UK. Did you expect this?

The music story with the UK started with “Alabama Blues,” which was warmly welcomed in 1993. And Boulevard was nominated for the UK Dance Music Awards. I was really proud to cross the channel and find so enthusiastic public for my work… during that time, I started touring with musicians for this album.

The album Tourist is turning 20 years this year, what is the place of this album in your discography?

This is my second album, and in 2000, I changed label to Blue Note Records / EMI Music. This is the best-referenced Jazz label, so elegant.. with the artists who make the History of Jazz. The production of the record does not disappoint me when I listen to it again today and it is the album that made me known and confirmed my musical style. The album sales and the Music awards for my work, I did not expect so much.

Tourist was accompanied by a worldwide tour. Many memories of the tour?

This Tourist tour has required a lot of work, a lot of travels. I discovered countries Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the US and many others, during 2 and half years … we performed at Fabric, The Brixton Academy, The London Royal Albert Hall, Glastonbury Coachella, Vibes On festival in Sydney on Bondi Beach. Perth is so beautiful, too and we played Womadelaide last time on our 2016 Tour. The public was fantastic. So far away from France, yet so connected to my music.

It was new for Electronic music’s audience to attend a concert with musicians, not just artists performing using machines, and new for a Jazz audience discovering electronic music. Herbie Hancock joining me on stage to play 5 tracks??? Unforgettable!

Has “Rose Rouge” been an important title for you?

“Rose Rouge” opens the album. It became the iconic title and it’s still played today. It was used for commercials, fashions shows, was broadcast in bars, pubs, shops, The Opening of St Pancras Station, Played by The Rolling Stones during their tour and so on… I did not expect this success for this track and a nice surprise with Jorja Smith’s version last year!

Artists from different countries have been involved for the Tourist 20th anniversary Travel Versions Album. How did you select them?

The idea was to approach the artists I listened to a lot in 1990 s like JoVonn, Ron Trent, Nightmares on Wax. Due to a short planning and their own productions Louie Vega, Moodymann, Kerry Chandler, Carl Craig and Kenny Dope could not participate. Maybe next time!

I met Martin Iveson Atjazz from the UK who worked on my African-diaspora inspired album release in 2015 as well as Terry Laird from Reunion Island. DJ Deep and Traumer are both from France. I also invited the duet Black Motion and Julian Gomes from South Africa to participate on the album. I asked them to choose their favourite song from the Tourist album and make their own version.

You have made your own new version of “So Flute” Where did the idea come from?

I have for a long time now listened to South African music productions, inspired by Deep House. I discovered the Amapiano genre and felt that I could rhythmically adapt this style to the title. I asked the flautist Dramené Dembele from Burkina Faso to join me at the studio and he, with his playing, brought to the title this different colour.

Do you have a preferred way of working when you make music?

When I start working on a new song, I know already what I want. I’ve got a global vision and then I start to record musicians one by one. The music is continuously evolving with their own way of playing. After that, I work alone with a new pattern and incorporate all the elements.

What is your next project?

A new album of course. I’ve got a few ideas and desires… But it’s a secret for now!!!

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