With Wax Tailor
French Musical Artist Eschews Labels, Rather Seeks To Reach The Underlying Attraction And Escapism That Music At Its Best Can Bring To The Masses
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
March 7, 2013 — French Hip-hop producer Jean-Christophe Le Saout dons a whole different persona when he takes to the stage. His performing alter ego, Wax Tailor, is a tripped out film director taking listeners on an imaginative journey through the musical and visual spectrum. Tailor recently played his first show ever in Phoenix, brought here by the crew at Webookbands.com, and the genre-bending artist was just as surprised with the performance as the delighted crowd. A fan of both Quentin Tarantino and Nas, Tailor's artistic style is influenced by everything from folk music to Hitchcock films.
MTM: How did you enjoy your first trip to Phoenix?
Wax Tailor: Well it was really surprising, I was searching for the right term, really surprising cause you know when you come for the first time to a town when you’ve got no expectations about the crowd and how it’s going to be, yeah it was really nice. I really appreciate that show.
MTM: What did you think of the Crescent Ballroom?
WT: It was a nice place. I can’t compare, I’m not a guy who can compare with anything else in Phoenix because it’s the only one I’ve scene. But it was a nice place for a show.
MTM: How did the promoters at We Book Bands treat you?
WT: All the people I have met on the road, and on this tour have been very, very refreshing one just because everybody’s cool. You know how it is it’s not always like that, it’s very nice.
MTM: Explain the concept of your album “Dusty Rainbow in the Dark.”
WT: First of all what is important about the album is that the whole beginning of it was just about the idea of having a storyteller above a real album. That was kind of an obsession for a very long time. It was like maybe even 10 years ago I was saying “I would love to make an album with a story teller,” and I had no specific idea about it. Like what should be the story or whatever it was just about that, having a storyteller, and when I went to the new album with that idea, I needed a subject, just to have a direction. Even if it’s very large for now and I’d been thinking about the power of the music itself and with this I just tried to build something around that ideWT: But it seamed logical for me to create the music first it can seam a bit weird when you have a story in mind but for me it was like the music has that power so it should be able to give me a direction for that story with the power of the music so that’s what I've done. I’ve just worked on the music first and during the process of the music thing, began to become more clear and then I had the idea that if it was about the music itself and the relationship we have with music it made sense to talk about the childhood because that’s where we build the first relationship and the first feelings with the music.
MTM: How do you define trip hop?
WT: I define it as a stamp put on the music by journalists about 20 years ago.
MTM: So what sort of music do you think you make?
WT: I’m not so comfortable with the stamps because you know we all need some stamps on the music. I don’t judge it. But it’s always a part of the truth but not the whole truth. Some people say cinematic trip-hop or hip-hop orchestra, and I’m OK with these, I just feel like maybe it doesn’t say everything. But it’s a good direction to open the door for the people and let them judge how they feel about the music and how they want to describe it. For me right now it’s less and less important, the only thing I am uncomfortable with is when people come and call it lounge music, because lounge music is just awful. For me lounge music means the music in the elevators for people who don’t care about the music itself. Trip hop is OK for me but when you think about trip hop the problem is besides the fact that it was created by journalists, if you think about the first Portishead album or those kinds of dudes its very, very good and high quality music but behind that you’ve got so many, many, many bands and projects and to be honest I’m not a huge fan of that scene.
MTM: Who are your hip-hop influences?
WT: Wow, a lot of guys, a lot of producers. It goes from The Bomb Squad of Public Enemy for the golden years, to Native Tongue was a strong influence for me, Pete Rock, Premier, a lot of guys like that. I mean all the producers that use samples and that culture. Not all but a lot.
MTM: What are you doing when you’re not playing music?
WT: I’m working on the music partly. No seriously, I’m a huge fan of movies, so that’s like a second profession for me.
MTM: What movies do you really enjoy?
WT: It’s very hard to answer that because I have so many different thing that I enjoy. The use of dialogue for example, I’m a huge fan of movies from the 1950s like Vincente Minnelli, of course Hitchcock, I really appreciate Lubitsch too. What I really appreciate about those kinds of movies is that in 1950s they were very brilliant about doing popular movies that were also brilliant about dialogue. But right now I feel like it’s getting more and more complex to have like blockbusters with quality dialogue. It’s like choose what you want to see: a blockbuster or an indie movie or something like that and I really appreciate that at that time is was possible to convene quality and popularity at the same time. I’m also a strong DePalma and Scorsese fan and I like Tarantino movies too.
MTM: What were your thoughts about Django UnChained?
WT: I loved it; it’s not my preferred to be honest. I know a little bit about what has been said in the U.S. about the movie. In France it’s more about some people saying it sounds too much like Tarantino it’s fucking stupid. I think it’s outrageous but in the right way. I knew the original Django and it was interesting to see how that influenced this one. I also appreciate the idea of discovering new music through movies, which I’ve found with Tarantino.
MTM: How do you spend your off days on tour?
WT: Well I am my own producer and my own manager and I’m in Minneapolis right now and this is an off day and just at the moment the other members of the band said lets go have some lunch and enjoy the town. I said ‘have a good day guys I’ve got some work to do,’ I’m organizing a tour in Asia at the moment for next fall, I’ve got some projects to come back to the U.S. in September, I’m managing my visa for Russia because I am going next month. I’ve got many things to do. I’ve got a new symphony project coming for 2014 and it’s such a big project that I'm already working on it.
MTM: How do you go about choosing your collaborators?
WT: I really feel like at that point especially I really feel like a director with a scenario. You think about how that kind of singer would feel with that kind of track those kinds of things I have in mind but the second point is you need to be sure that whoever you talk with — known, unknown whoever — they need to understand that you are the director and its not so easy sometimes. You know what it is with some artists its all about ego and its not always easy to let them understand you have a very strong idea about what you expect even if they’re extremely brilliant but I don’t want to give them the control on the track because that’s my album. Sometimes you talk to someone and you say I'd love to do that track with you and the guy says send me five beats and I’ll do one. I never do that because I feel like if ever I do something like that I will lose the control and at the end, the album that goes out won't be my album. It will be the one that people send me back. I’m really careful about that.
MTM: How do you want people to feel when they leave a Wax Tailor concert?
WT: I just hope they don’t want a refund. No, you know what I try to do when I have a full band, when we have everything you can expect, I just feel like I need to grab the crowd for two hours and I'm just watching the back of the club to see the mood of the concert. A concert is when they’ve just connected with it for two hours. Like when you go to a movie you’ve been disconnected with everyday life for those moments: that’s very important for me
MTM: What about your music is so cinematic?
WT: I don’t think it’s cinematic, that’s something else that is a problem about the conception of the music itself. I’m OK with the adjective cinematic but if we go into detail about that I don’t completely agree with this, because I’m not sure what cinematic means for real. Music I think has more in common with reading because you just build your own images and that’s the power of the images. Music is powerful because you can create the image like you do when you're reading a book. So maybe when people say cinematic they mean opening the door to your own imagination.
MTM: When was the last time you went out to see someone else perform?
WT: A French band called the Doe, and the next will be Nas, when I’m back in France, he’s my preferred MC.
MTM: What do you like about Nas?
WT: What I like about him is, I think he’s incredible, you’ve got some MC’s with skills but very specific things you can explain. You listen to Busta Rhymes it’s very technical, he’s going very fast he’s decent at it you know but you can explain something. But Nas, he was just born to rhyme I don’t know how to say that. It’s like for 20 years he’s the best MC and each time he does a new album you expect him to make it great like the first one and it never happened to be honest, and he’s got some very dope tracks but some awful tracks too. I never heard a full album of Nas that is really dope but he’s always got those crazy skills that make you think he’s the best MC. I don’t like the last album honestly I don’t like but I feel like the nasty track is insane and on the third verse when he’s got like 4 bars, I was just listening and I was like wow, I feel like it’s like Miles Davis playing a solo. It’s insane he’s a beast.
Jeff Moses is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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