Sylvain Peltier, aka Zadig is one of a burgeoning crop of French techno artists who are making a significant contribution to the machine funk milieu. He has been behind the Construct Re-form label since 2011 and has recorded on an array of French-based labels over the last six or seven years. He and his label continue to grow in importance, with a quality over quantity ethos giving a platform to others in the process. Wanting to find out more, I sent him a few questions which he kindly answered.
Yes, it comes from Voltaire. When I was very young, I saw a Theatrical adaptation of “Zadig or The Book of Fate” and I felt in love with this story... Your real name is Sylvain Peltier. Does your nom de plume come from Voltaire’s book, Zadig ou la Destinee?
Yes, it comes from Voltaire. When I was very young, I saw a Theatrical adaptation of “Zadig or The Book of Fate” and I felt in love with this story. Since then I’ve read the book many times, and when, 20 years ago, I was looking for an artist name I thought this one might be a good choice.
Aren’t you from Rouen? Could you have been the same artist if you hadn’t relocated to Paris?
I was born in Rouen in 1972 and I spent most of my life there, close to my family and friends. Then I moved to Paris, and spent five or six years working at Syncrophone managing the “DJ Shop” (Mixers, turntables, CD players...), but had to go back to Rouen for personal reasons, only to return to Paris later, and continue working at Syncrophone for a few years before quitting to concentrate full time on making music.
For sure those years in Paris were very important for my artistic development. During this time, all people I met, all things did are I big part of the artist I am now: the Syncrophone team, DJ Deep, Technasia, Voiski, Antigone, Marcelus, Birth of Frequency and Axel my partner... all these very important encounters were in Paris, so no I wouldn’t have been the same artist.
How did you get into all of this, and how do you remember the rave scene in France in the nineties?
My first contact with electronic music was listening to Tangerine Dream when I was very young. Later, I started to listen to some Techno with my sister and started to buy some compilations like those on Harthouse. One day I met an old friend of mine who was DJing. He was using records and I was very impressed, he was playing some stuff by Planetary Assault Systems, and I think this when I decided to start being a DJ; it was in 1993 and I bought my two Technics and started to buy records, initially in Rouen and later in Paris with a friend of mine, A Jackin' Phreak. We went to all the shops, BPM, Rough Trade, Techno Import... This was the beginning.
I’m always telling science fiction stories to myself, I need that as an inspiration...It’s a little bit difficult to talk about the Rave scene in Paris because I wasn’t living there and I wasn’t a part of it. Sure I was going to some parties but it’s difficult to have a precise idea of what was happening. I was very discrete so I never tried to meet any of the main players in this scene. I was dancing, that’s it.
What have been your principle influences outside music?
Science fiction books, movies, pictures, role-playing games and video games are the big part of my influences. I’m always telling science fiction stories to myself, I need that as an inspiration. It’s very important for me to imagine some scenarios, some incredible landscapes and planets. I’m trying to do something very concrete about science fiction with my side project “Kern Space Adventures”. I’m trying to invent some crazy stories about this space traveller.
You mixed the Rhythm Buro Podcast, which was recorded at Concrete, on three decks. Is vinyl your preferred medium and how important is it for you to be able to show versatility when DJing?
Vinyl is my passion. I can’t imagine life without it. Until last year I was playing 100 % vinyl but due to many problems with the setup in a lot of parties I started to play a lot a wav files on CD players. Now I’m OK with both media, and when I’m using CD players I’m using three decks to have more of a challenge. I like to feel the danger when I’m playing, CDs are easier to play than records.
Versatility is very important. My Zadig project is not the most modifiable. Ninety five percent of the time I’m playing techno... My Zadig project is not the most modifiable. Ninety five percent of the time I’m playing techno. When I’m playing my Kern Space Adventures project, however, I’m playing all kinds of electronic music. I’m buying a lot of different things in record shops and Kern is the opportunity to play these records. Most of the time, my favorite DJs are very versatile; guys like Didier Allyne, DJ Deep, Oxyd and Ben.
What was working at the Matos DJ Store like, and how big a financial risk was it for you to invest money in your own home studio?
I can’t say that it was a big financial risk to invest money in my studio. It isn’t very big and I’m buying a lot of second hand gear so that when I decide to sell a machine, I don’t lose money. The most expensive machine I have is the 909 and my Universal Audio compressor. Other machines are cheaper; I spend more money on records...
I want to offer a large variety of techno and I’m planning to open the label to different kinds of electronica. The most important thing is to release timeless music...What is the ethos of Construct Re-Form, what do you look for in a track before signing it, and what is your favourite release on the label?
I have no clear expectation about the kind of track I’m signing. I’m trying to stay open-minded without following the market. On Construct Re-Form all artists have different sensibilities and personalities. I don’t want to run a label with the same kind of release every time.
I’m trying to develop newcomers and of course some releases are more popular than others but this not important. I want to offer a large variety of techno and I’m planning to open the label to different kinds of electronica. The most important thing is to release timeless music.
I like all releases on the label but I think my favorite is the 006, V/A compilation with Voiski and Diotime. This one sounds special to me, but I don’t think it is the most popular.
How easy is it to remain financially stable running the label and what does the future hold for it?
A small label like Construct Re-Form is fragile and strong at the same time. Fragile because the economic pattern is very small, with small pressings, not a lot of benefits so it’s difficult to invest but it is strong because when you lose money on a release, it isn’t very much and you can easily balance the books with another release. We are lucky because the label is going well. It is intimate but efficient.
The main character, Kern is traveling through space on board his space ship and the project is to tell his cosmic adventures...I have to be careful with what I’m planning to release, I’m refusing many demos, most of the demo in fact. This is a good way to have a healthy label, to take time in order to choose the best tracks.
Can you explain the inspiration behind your two releases on Syncrophone ‘Kern Space Adventures 1 & 2’ ?
As I said before, it comes from my interest about science fiction, movies... Kern Space Adventures could be a comic or a movie. The main character, Kern is traveling through space on board his space ship and the project is to tell his cosmic adventures, full of funny aliens, obsessed space assassins, compulsive kings and, in the end, beautiful women. Nothing is serious, the purpose is to have fun. The project is to launch a label with an important graphic component, like a small comic for example, but this is another story.
How do you see yourself developing as an artist over the next five years, and how easy is it to come up with something fresh in techno?
It is not easy to know how the future will turn out. Electronic music is evolving very fast and changing a lot. I have many ideas for new labels, new aliases and also more multimedia projects. But I need time to do everything.
I think the first step could be my album, It’s a very important step in a musical career, a way of moving forward, exploring and trying new things...I think the first step could be my album, It’s a very important step in a musical career, a way of moving forward, exploring and trying new things. I’m trying to question myself a lot, to do something different at every step.
Some people are expecting a new vision in Techno, but this is not the most important thing for me. Techno has its own codes, and I respect them otherwise I would make different music.
If you can, please give a top five of individual genre –nonspecific pieces of music which have influenced you over the years.