Last Thursday, Melodic House producer Klingande played his debut Chicago performance to a sold out crowd at Subterranean. Klingande, known for his unique Deep House tracks and heavy Incorporation of piano and saxophone elements, has seen a surge of success in his still very young career. I was fortunate enough to sit down with the artist and interview him prior to the performance.
John C: Thank you for taking this interview. Before we begin, I want to congratulate you on all of your recent success. In a relatively short time you have made a name for yourself from your first single Punga to the massive success behind Jubel.
Klingande: Thank you, it has been exciting.
John C: When it comes to stateside performances, you have had a couple in New York, but is this your first time performing in Chicago?
Klingande: Yes, this will be my first time coming to Chicago to perform. I am very excited to be here.
John C: We are excited to have you here. As a producer of a subgenre of house music, does a performance in Chicago hold certain significance to you, considering its history?
Klingande: I don’t know if I really think about it that way, I come to each performance just excited to play. I look forward to playing my songs, bringing things like the saxophone into the performance, and having fun with the crowd.
John C: Certainly. Let’s take a step back and discuss the early years of your career. How did Klingande come to be?
Klingande: Well, I think by now it started about 2 years ago. I was returning to France from London where I was attending music school, and I ran into my friend Edgar. We had come together and decided we wanted to make some deep house music, but we wanted to make sure that we added something different, so we added live instruments into it. When playing we found the saxophone to work best with it, and that really was kind of it. It just started from there, and we just started making music together.
John C: Speaking of France, you are a French native, but the term Klingande is actually Swedish. How was the name chosen and does it hold any significance?
Klingande: When I started to make music, in the beginning at least, I was very influenced by Swedish house music, like SHM and Avicii. Not as much anymore, but I still have a lot of respect for them. So I was drawn to it. It was also a way for me to…well….I think once I got in front of people I didn’t want to them to necessarily know I was French. I would rather they didn’t know me as from a certain place like that, especially when performing in France. I thought if they did not know if I was French, German or Swedish, it would be a bit more fun.
John C: Interesting. France, in particular, has been responsible for many successful state-side artists. We have seen very successful French House artists like Daft Punk and Justice, alternative bands like Phoenix, and recently French techno producers like Gesaffelstein and Brodinski. Do you believe residing in France has been influential in forming Klingande’s sound?
Klingande: Hmm…French artists, are all on the same forums and talk on the internet. So we know many of them like that and hear each other’s music. Maybe Daft Punk has had a bit of an influence, I don’t really know.
John C: So your sound was more self-developed?
Klingande: I really don’t know it’s hard to say. Maybe, or maybe not. I think maybe indirectly I have been influenced. I mean people like Daft Punk and Justice, sure. Justice was like so important when I was younger, so maybe they had some indirect influence over me. I just can’t say it was a direct thing.
John C: Your incorporation of non-traditional elements, such as strong saxophone and piano leads, edge your sound in the direction of traditional deep house and your incorporation of live instrumentals in performance give it a unique vibe. What draws you to this approach?
Klingande: In the beginning there was inspiration from a song called Sonnentanz by Klangkarussell, have you heard it?
John C: Yes, very instrumental based house music.
Klingande: Yes, exactly, and the first time I heard the saxophone played in it, I was like WOW this is really freakin’ cool. And I decided to use it in my music, which by now is mostly directed towards house music. It works well with the saxophone. But now, deep house with a saxophone is becoming very huge. In the beginning it was much more new feeling. And now— well —yeah, more and more people are doing it and I think that makes me want to try some new things. I always want to try bringing in new instruments.
John C: It is very evident that your music has become quite popular throughout Europe and is beginning to make a break into the United States as this tour welcomes you into a few state side cities. Has the fame had a big impact on you?
Klingande: Yes! It affects me in a way, definitely. I am under so much pressure now. Most producers see popularity after they have 10 or 15 songs and one becomes a big hit, I almost think it would be so much easier that way. But when you only have two tracks and both were a hit, you are expected to bring something more, something bigger, and they want it right away. The thing is, when making a track, if I am not happy with it, I am not releasing it. So I stick to that, but I feel the pressure.
John C: With two major singles leading to quite a burst of popularity, the inevitable question arises from fans. Is a Klingande album expected, and if not, what does the future hold for Klingande releases?
Klingande: I am now doing a tour in the US and I will then I might close my door until maybe December, just to be in the studio and work on some tracks. I will work with Lucie Decarne, who provided vocals on Jubel, again. In my mind, I know I have the inspiration. I know I want to make an album. An album allows you to tell a story. You can’t do that with single tracks, I don’t want to just release some tracks. I don’t think that is how you express yourself as an artist. I want to do more than that.
John C: Here in the states, there has been a cultural clash between the pop influences on electronic music and traditional electronic music purism. Yet you seem to embrace the pop influence. Do you approach making music from a pop angle?
Klingande: To me, pop is everything. When I sit at home, I am not really listening to deep house music; I am definitely listening to pop music. Artists like Coldplay are who I turn to. I am a very big fan of them and that is the music I listen to away from this. When it comes to my music, it is influenced by this, but remains deep house and brings in the focus on performance of live instruments.
John C: Speaking of performance, are you more drawn to the performance or production side of being an electronic musician?
Klingande: In the beginning I started as a producer, and the move to the performance was because I only wanted to play my song for the crowd. Now I like both, really. There is something very cool about playing a song you just finished in the studio out for your fans and watching all of the people love it. It’s a very different feeling, but to be honest, the studio is where I really like to be. In my studio, jamming and working with new beats.
John C: Looking at your current tour, you are going all over Europe, the United States, Canada, and more. After the tour ends you mentioned returning home. When you do return home, how does it feel to be welcomed back by your hometown?
Klingande: Its insane. Most of the time when I am playing out I don’t feel too much pressure, but when I am home I’m like “WOW” I am playing in front of my friends and everything, and it is — well I do love it. I do try to only play at my home town once or twice a year though and it remains exciting.
John C: With all of the locations you have had the opportunity to perform at and different venue types, have you been able to establish a favorite place to perform?
Klingande: You know it is hard to say, the travel always seems to be growing, I love all my shows and they are always getting bigger and bigger. For example, I just opened a show for Aviici — that is just crazy to me, absolutely crazy. But I just enjoy putting on a show; I can’t name one I like more than others. I love all of my gigs, so I can’t just pick one, I love every one of them.
John C: Well, we are about 5 minutes away from you taking the stage. Once again I would like to thank you for taking this interview. I am very excited for tonight’s show.
Klingande: I am as well and thank you. I hope you enjoy it.
The performance itself was very fun. Autograf warmed up the crowd with a very fun tropical house set. They were followed by Klingande, who was able to maintain strong energy levels amongst the quite-packed (and hot!) upstairs stage of Subterranean. Arnold Pol’s performance on the saxophone resulted in an eruption of applause from the crowd that complemented Klingande remarkably. The set itself was extremely varied, from traditional deep house tracks (including a remix of one of my personal favorites, Look Right Through) to the very unexpected, such as remixes of artists such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was a great way to end the weekend and I look forward to what the future holds for this young artist.