Faced with being lost in a sea of demos, Lazare Hoche decided to take matters into his own hand and found himself at the controls of one of the hottest selling labels in vinyl house.
One of the first and biggest stumbling blocks faced by a new producer is getting a label to actually listen to your music. Rather than sending his demos into the darkness of an endless series of Facebook label accounts, Parisian producer Lazare Hoche chose to cut out the middleman, and set up his own label: Lazare Hoche Records.
In 2017, the label is one of the most successful house imprints in recent years. It’s an outlet for his own productions, as well as the equally hot sub-label Oscillat Music and home to other respected artists like Malin Genie or S.A.M..
Now Hoche is a member of one of the hottest new touring trios in vinyl house, Mandar as well as a respected DJ in his own right. A crazy ride that has involved trying to study his finals in Construction Law while touring Japan and befriending some of his heroes of house music.
Ibiza Voice: Taking the solo approach to your own label was a bold move. What have you learnt from the journey so far?
When you’re 21-years-old and you have some music ready, you are in a state of emergency. At that time [during 2010 and 2011] the electronic music landscape wasn’t the same [as it is now]. I distributed the records myself, hand to hand at shops and giving away to friends and family and I really wasn’t expecting much.
A week later though, a German distributor ordered all the stock and it was sold out within a day! I’m blessed [with] how things have gone so far. Lazare Hoche Records and Oscillat are two of the best selling labels in electronic music, in terms of vinyl. Now I’m slowly starting to digitalise the catalogue, in order to reach people who don’t have turntables at home.
Mandar (left: Lazare Hoche AKA Charles Naffah, top: Samuel Andre Madsen AKA S.A.M., top, right: Nick Putman AKA Malin Genie)
You made the move to the centre of Paris to start your journey in music and built your own studio at home. What equipment would we find in there?
I always wanted to have a studio at home, never in a basement or somewhere else. The 'no daylight' trip is not for me. I bought an MPC2000XL, a small Mackie Mixer and a Nord Rack. But the game changed when I got a TR909, a Lexicon PCM60 Reverb and the Korg Monopoly. Equipment wise, I’ve experienced a studio with all my dream synths stacked on top of each other; Prophet 5, D50, JD 880, SH2 Jupiter 6, Waldorf Microwave XT. Everything SYNC’d on the MPC3000 [and I] made my own patch bay and stuff. I did trade some keyboards to go modular and compact. Less is more as they say.
Lazare Hoche at home in his studio.
In 2013 you formed Mandar alongside S.A.M (Samuel André Madsen) and Malin Génie. How has life changed since?
Life did change. We’re best friends in real life, so touring and playing together is just natural and fun every time. We are family and we've got each others backs on tour. When you are 50,000km from home, you take a look to your right and to your left [and] you have two of your best friends with you, so what can go wrong?
Performance wise, we built a quite successful live act in 2015, but we are now exclusively DJing. Nick came to Paris this year so we worked on a lot of stuff together as always and Samuel moved recently to Berlin but he comes over a lot. We are constantly getting together abroad. We just came back from a wonderful season in Ibiza, with a double residency, one at Hï Ibiza for Black Coffee's party, and then Sankeys with the incredible Unusual Suspects crew.
How did the working relationship with Point G come about?
Gregory (Point G) and I met in January 2013, and it was love at first sight. Meeting an idol is always special but when it happens that the two of you have a special feeling and are grooving together, it’s something else. He is responsible for a lot of ideas I have today. Music wise and aesthetic wise, he is one of the sharpest guys I know.
In the scene we are in, you meet a lot of people spending their time saying what they don’t like. [They’re] critical about everything. But for Gregory it’s the total opposite. He's very committed to his art and is an inspiring man. He also introduced me to a lot of the legendary figures of French house that are now good friends- like Julien Jabre and DJ Deep.
Formentera 2015. Left: Lazare, middle: Julien Jabre, right: Gregory.
You’re well known for being a deep digger. What influence does older music have on your productions?
I don't know if I'm a deep digger, but I know I couldn't live without making, playing and discovering music. My [older] brother Pierre is a professional composer and pianist. My cousin Salim is a touring guitarist and singer based in Beirut. My sister played [the] harp. I grew up [surrounded by] cables, synthesizers, electric pianos and guitars.
I never really listened to the same stuff as my older brother and sister. When I was a kid I was into hip hop [especially] the golden era of French hip hop. I was fascinated by the 80s when I was 12 thanks to GTA Vice City Soundtrack. French variety music as well, then disco, and then I fell in love with house music around 18. I got interested in the production processes of my heroes, getting obsessed with questions like "How is the snare on Michael Jackson's ‘Dangerous’ album mixed so loud?”, “How did Kenny Dope programme such sick beats on an MPC 3000?”
What’s the best find you’ve made on one of your crate digging missions?
At the moment I’m obsessed with Lebanese music from the 70’s and 80’s. I went to Beirut twice last month in order to chase those records and discover more, which was tough as eight years ago, a lot of rare groove collectors picked up on Lebanese records and prices on Discogs went [through] the roof.
Lebanese record labels at that time were short-lived owing to the difficult circumstances of the Lebanese civil war where piracy was rampant. I came across this obscure shop owned by a guy called King in the Armenian district of Beirut called Bourj Hammoud. He deserves his name. He was the only one who had a stack of rare grooves, the un-findable Georgette Sayegh LP was part of it. I also [get] a lot of records when I do the annual Japanese tour, and my favourite record shop in Paris is Heartbeat vinyl.
Lazare and King holding a copy of the elusive 'The Best of Georgette Sayegh'
You studied construction law at the Conservatoire National Des Arts et Metiers. If you decide to leave the music industry is it a career you’d like to get back into?
To be honest, I went there pretty randomly. At 18-years-old God knows what you really want to do with your life. [It’s a] very specific area where you can be sure that every government will change laws three weeks before the exams. I did six years there, trying to blend touring and university.
But when your debut Japan tour comes [during] your exam month, what can you do? You do what you love, so you jump on the plane and you play music. If I were to leave the music industry, I would open a Lebanese restaurant and sell falafel for the rest of my life.
Lazare Hoche & Traumer 'Seascape' is out on November 27 on Lazare Hoche Records.