Interview: Modern House Quintet
(Images courtesy of Jude Cadeau)
Digging deeper with Modern House Quintet about analogue music
Sometimes anonymity is best. From Banksy to Burial, arts is full of people who’d rather let their creations speak for them. One such duo – and we are assured they’re a duo – is Modern House Quintet, a Parisian pairing with a deep love for all things analogue. Although they refuse to reveal their identities, their music is already having a significant impact and has already drawn praise from numerous high-profile house heads. With the best surely yet to come, we nabbed them for a quick chat recently, as they talked us through their live setup, their new alias and the joys of playing live …
Hi guys, thanks for joining us in here. Obvious question first, but can you tell us a bit about how you guys first met? Was it through a shared love of music?
Hello ! We met sometime around 2014/2015. At the time, I was looking for someone to help me during live acts. I knew he was developing this polyphonic sequencer and he was aware I was making music. Even if we do not exactly listen to the same kind of music and have different backgrounds, we got along quite well.
When it comes to hardware live sets, you have to control lots of different settings and machines. Consequently, it requires a sustained attention. And playing live gives you more intense emotions.
Were you both DJs and producers before this? Were you involved in any live acts previously?
I was already making music on my own before we met each other. He was starting Squarp Instruments, a company focussing on crafting an avant-garde sequencer intended for professional and amateur artists.
Can you give us a bit more insight into what Squarp does? I guess that’s quite convenient when you’re a live act right?
It is indeed. The Pyramid is one of the rare polyphonic sequencers. It’s kind of like working with Ableton Live but without a computer. Using it on stage allows us to use our machines to their full potential, especially because our life is built around structured songs and improvisations.
Is there one piece of kit that you rely on more than others as a live act?
The Pyramid (because of its role as the master clock) and the TR-909. That’s two pieces, sorry.
In terms of crowd interaction, how different do you feel DJing is to playing live? Do you think you need to concentrate more when playing live or are they as equally skilled?
Of course, you need to be really focused in both situations. But when it comes to hardware live sets, you have to control lots of different settings and machines. Consequently, it requires a sustained attention. And playing live gives you more intense emotions.
Talk to us a bit about Paris, a city you’re both from. How influential has the city been on you both as people and as musicians?
We aren’t really part of the Parisian scene, even if we do know the Syncrophone crew (Didier, Jonathan, Blaise, Jude) who manage the distribution of our records.
How long did you guys work as musicians before you decided to become a live act?
When I started making music in 2011/2012, I already had the idea of an entirely hardware live act. Later on, when we met, it was obvious that we should do something together given our different & complementary backgrounds.
Do you remember your first live show? Were you extremely nervous then?
It was in June 2016, in Paris, thanks to Céline (La Sundae) and Myako (Fragil Musique) who liked what we did. We were surprisingly relaxed and everything went really well. It was a fantastic night.
What sort of music influences you the most?
Electronic music, jazz music.
Your latest release is called Cyclades – is that a reference to Greek mythology?
What’s the key difference between music you make as Cyclades and music you make as Modern House Quintet?
With this first release, there aren’t any major musical differences: it remains house/deep-house. It was merely done to have fun with another alias. However, in the future, we aim to release our techno songs on this sub-label. Or other deep-house tracks, we don’t know yet.
So will you play Cyclades music in your live sets too?
Yes. Even if our live set is different every time, you have a great chance to hear those songs.
You’ve been producing and releasing music as Modern House Quintet for a while now. What do you see as the future of the duo?
Touring worldwide. Releasing new records.
So do you make aims like that? Is there one producer you’d love to work with or one label you’d love to release on?
Mule Musiq is a label we like.
Aside from the Cyclades release, what more can we be expecting from you guys?
New releases and more live acts.
What advice would you give to someone about to start a live act?
Work with what is best suited for yourself, and use gear you’re comfortable with. For example, we have a 100% hardware live set merely because, for us, it is the most effective way to play our songs and to improvise from there. It’s not a quality in itself to play entirely on hardware and/or analogue gear. Lots of hardware lives are really appalling.
Any last words for our readers?
Cyclades’ (aka Modern House Quintet) release the ’Donoussa’ EP on 17th October via their Cyclades label