A Sit Down With DJ Sébastien Léger

Sébastien Léger built on his skills as a trained pianist and drummer, he speaks English, Dutch and French and since 2009 has enjoyed huge success with singles “Hit Girl”, “Hypnotized” and “Aqualight”. He owns and manages record label ‘Mistakes Music’ and happens to have remixed for the likes of Kylie Minogue, Justin Timberlake, Duran Duran, Groove Armada and Ali Love. He’s a very talented guy.

His storied career as both a DJ and a producer is long, illustrious compilation of top-notch production, a diverse output, and a signature that’s undeniably his own, as evidenced by classics like 2002’s “Victory,” 2005’s “Take Your Pills,” and 2011’s “Polymod.”

To this day he continues to imbue his techno and house productions with as much soul as possible, and it is for this reasons that Sébastien remains one of Frances most outstanding exports. With every twist and turn of his career he seeks to push dance music past the standard French house clichés.

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In your view, how has the art of DJing evolved?

In my career, not too much. I used to play vinyl for 15 years and now I play on CDJs, which is the closest you can get today. I’m not a laptop DJ. I have nothing against it; it’s just really annoying when DJs before or after me connect their cables and shit while I’m focusing on doing something. In general though, the art of DJing is a little bit gone now, crushed by marketing, fake likes, and PR strategies. I’d also say that the art of producing is gone as well, as we all now produce something that has to be obvious, dancefloor-friendly, and with a lot less risk just to manage to get gigs. I’m not the kind of person to be nostalgic, but it was healthier before.

What is your preference, DJing or producing? And why would you choose one over the other specifically?

It’s 50/50. DJing is essential to share the music I make during the week. I’m planning this year to make a Temple Of Lions live act. Not DJing, just me playing live the music of the label. Producing means being at home, without airports or waiting time in a hotel. Both are complementary I would say. I have to make music in order to get gigs. That’s just how things work nowadays. Even though I’m a DJ first, as I started to DJ in 1993/94, and producing in 1997/98.

How has experiential wisdom changed your perspective towards the dance music scene as you now pass twenty years in the industry?

The older you get, the more mature you are – nothing new here! I think the way I play music and produce it is a lot more careful. I take my time now, before I used to be a machine, producing track after track, playing music very fast etc…And just in general in life, it’s pretty much the same. I even moved from my flat in the centre of Amsterdam to a house in the countryside in France.

Your “20 Years” compilation! What is this all about? Is it your personal favourites over the years?

Yes. Usually a “best of” includes only the most popular tracks of an artist, but I chose this tracklist not only based on the success of the music but also on the tracks I prefer. Some of my biggest hits are not included on this LP, simply because I do not think they are some of the best work I’ve done. There are also a few unreleased tracks and new material included as well.

You played around the world. And there is Indonesia, which has resulted in your brand new label, Temple of Lions . This is your 5th label, the most spiritual of all?

I am not a spiritual person, but I have always loved the mystical music, which provokes the imagination. The kind of music you think it’s sunny, warm, with beautiful images coming to mind. One of my best friends is a resident of Bali. The first time I went, I was amazed to see people at this point groovy and melodic deep-house groove. It is not a tourist island, there is a real receptivity. I really could play everything I wanted. The atmosphere of the island challenged me. It’s a little magical, it’s pretty odd elsewhere. Because in the end, it is quite dark, there is no white sand and coconut trees … It is rather the jungle, the rice fields, and everything is dark, even the walls of the temples. C ‘ is quite intriguing as a place. You have the sun but it’s not the smooth postcard you can imagine. I passed a temple and I clicked at seeing these two lions at the entrance. The name of the label came from there.

Did you have any special inspirations within the full length?

Yes, my own inspiration, but from few years back, it’s a sort of melting pot of my old sounds with the “today’s touch”. I wanted to do some very basics groove, with as little channels as possible, which I didn’t really archive because most of the tracks are quite complex in the end, but the raw ideas where simple.

Do you mainly put your new records out on your own label?

Yeah, pretty much, but an old French label keeps releasing my old tracks and it’s really messing up what I’ve been trying to do. They bought an old catalogue of my music from 1999 and released 72 of my tracks on Beatport. 72! So when people are going on to Beatport and searching for me, they find tracks that are ten years old and it looks like they are brand new on Beatport. It’s really driving me crazy.

Has it been a big challenge to start your label?

Not so much because I didn’t start my label until about three years ago and I was pretty well known already so it worked. There’s no point doing it if you’ve only been making music for two years.

Do you have any favourite tracks?

Yes, “Imaginary Paradise” is my favorite, for me it’s a timeless piece of tech/house, with a groove, melody and clever arrangement.


“I feel that the best tracks that work on a dancefloor are, in many ways, the simplest and somehow irrelevant, not timeless.”


Do you think there will be a time when French Touch comes full circle and makes a return to the scene or do you think it belongs where it originally stood?

I kind of like the idea of this to stay where it is and never touch it or bring it back. It will never sounds as fun and fresh as it used to be at the time. The recycling thing is cool, but recycling the recycled stuff isn’t my cup of tea. I loved that period of time, but I personally would never get it back myself. Maybe a special set once in a while, but I’m not sure the generation of today would get it as back then it wasn’t about big breaks, drops, white noise and tight production as it is today.

Why did you stop doing remixes?

It was a lot of things really, for me. It’s partly a control thing. I’ve done so many remixes that have been way bigger than the original, but the artist gets the credit and I don’t – it’s just very annoying. I’m not really
into it any more.

How would you assess the state of techno?

I guess it’s just a matter of taste, so this is my own opinion. In general, techno is kind of the same over and over right now. It’s just drums and beats with this and that of FX or sound design in the background to cover for very poor musicality or creativity. I miss having soul in it. This is why I prefer and always preferred house over techno.

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