There is almost a cinematic solitude to Clerc‘s music that suggests that he meticulously immersed himself into this album in order to achieved his desired output. The end result is downtempo goodness offering a range of dynamics that, over eleven exquisite tracks, manages to convey emotion.
When we reviewed it we suggested “Little People has succeeded in producing an electro album that is not restricted to this genre tag and does not necessarily coform to what is going on with the musical landscape in 2012“.
You should add ‘We Are But Hunks Of Wood‘ to the soundtrack of your life.
Last year we interviewed Little People, AKA Laurent Clerc, hot on the heals of a fantastic Los Angeles performance with an audience eagerly awaiting his every tune. With his last album ‘Mickey Mouse Operation‘ having been released back in 2006 there a great air of anticipation into what the musician/producer would do next.
It’s taken a little longer than expected but last month’s follow up ‘We Are But Hunks Of Wood‘ doesn’t betray expectations. Clerc‘s downtempo mastery is very much still on display but this time round he seemingly has more artillery at his disposal. While not forgoing the unmissable piano melodies that so much of ‘Mickey Mouse Operation’ was built on this new album seems to be leap forward in instrumentation and timing.
‘We Are But Hunks Of Food‘ works as a complete album because each track offers plenty of highlights without ever outlasting it’s welcome. the introduction of strings and chimes on several tracks is a real statement of intent allowing for dramatic mood changes and elegant shifts in dynamics. Clerc‘s love for hip-hop can not be ignored either as his beats are meticulously crafted to perfectly complement the rest of his output.
Little People has succeeded in producing an electro album that is not restricted to this genre tag and does not necessarily coform to what is going on with the musical landscape in 2012. ‘We Are But Hunks Of Wood‘ is an album you can listen to in a crowd or alone. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Following an impressive performance at Los Angeles‘ King King venue Cougar Microbes caught up with Little Peoplefor an improvised q&a. Over the past month or so we’ve been shooting emails back and forth to complete the interview.
Check back here tomorrow for a Little People remix exclusive available here for you.
Cougar Microbes: What time did you wake up today? Was it out of choice or necessity?
Little People: Got up round 6am this morning… Still being on east coast time + needed to finish up a remix I had been working on (Joey Fehrenbach – Underwander) … I know I should be telling you I was on a massive night out and slept in til 3pm… Sadly not so.
CM: Describe Little People to the uninitiated?
LP: The Little People sound probably originates from mid 90’s and has its basis in all the hip hop i used to listen to back then. i guess I fit somewhere between instrumental hip hop and downtempo electronica… My early material was heavily reliant on samples, nowadays i try and make it sound like it does . Beaty, bleepy, melodic, cinematic … Any of these tags work…
CM:How have you been killing time on the road, hobbies?
LP: Unless you call multiple visits to Radio Shack to get my UK kit working on US mains a hobby… When I travel I tend to want to taste of the local food delicacies each region/country has to offer. Unfortunately didn’t get much time for that… although i did come across my new favourite snack which is a mexican thing.., dried mango with chili… pure awesomeness.
CM: What have been your favourite venues to play? Any wenues you hated?
LP: LA was great… Regeneration Festival in Oregon was awesome (1000+ crowd and my first festival).. But everywhere I’ve been so far has been incredible in terms of the response from the crowd. I’m a little bit of an oddity in that I have little to no profile on blogs and press… But yet my 2006 debut album sells pretty well on iTunes in the us thanks to people discovering me the online radio Pandora. This has meant that a fair few people have turned up at my shows all over the country. I’m still too wet behind the ears as far as playing live shows to start bitching about venues…
CM: Is there a song you are simply sick of playing?
LP: I’m still baffled by the popularity of the opening track called Basique off my debut album (‘Mickey Mouse Operation‘)… It’s fairly simple and repetitive and i wasn’t sure i should include on the album at all. So i’m fairly ambivalent about playing the track live because people love it so much, whilst i’m so so about it… but hey, i’m here to please!
CM: What is the songwriting process like for Little People. Are you able to write on the road or do you do this in your off time?
LP: It used to be crate digging -> sample -> chop -> arrange -> done. But now the sampling part has been ditched, coming up with original material that’s half as as good as what’s out there to be sampled is a little more time consuming. It is of course ultimately more satisfying though.
My starting point tends to be a particular technical process or idea which offers a base around which i will flesh out a track. I’ve enjoyed using the principles self-generative music (a la Brian Eno) to help produce happy accidents and new ideas – which will in turn become fully fledged tracks.
The starting point for most my material is with the laptop – so i can make music on the go fairly easily. Further down the line i like to take things out of the box and re-record things with real actual musician and analogue outboard gear.
CM: Favourite Little People track and why?
LP: my favourite tracks tend not to be the ones my listeners prefer… ‘Behind Closed Doors‘ i really like from my debut album but rarely gets praised.
CM: If you could record any cover what would it be?
LP: ‘Bibo No Aozora‘ by Ryuichi Sakamoto I think. Or maybe if i’m bold ‘Music for 18 Musicians‘ by Steve Reich…
CM: Do your songs go through many revisions via demo recordings?
LP: There are endless iteration to the tracks i do – it’s actually a bit ridiculous. Some tracks have nearly 30 versions… I tend to take my time to get it right. I can only admire people (ok it’s more jealousy) who bang out tracks super quick. But maybe sometimes having too much material can sometimes dilute your work i feel. I like the idea of making each track count.
CM: What came first, the beat or the melody?
LP: Melody for me. Although i work in beat-based genre.
CM: What are your views on auto tune?
LP: It sounded shit when Cher first brought it to the public’s attention . What’s wrong with a vocoder?!
CM: Any other artists/bands from your local scene we really should know about?
LP: I recently met Collin Palmer (who records under the name Calmer on 1320 records) when playing Denver recently – big fan of his material. Love Star Slinger. Who doesn’t. Blank and Kytt are pretty ace…
CM: Most flattering thing you’ve read about yourselves?
LP: Comparisons to DJ Shadow. The rest of us can only ever aspire (but ultimately fail) to write our own ‘Endtroducing‘.
CM: What was the first record/tape/cd you ever bought?
LP: It was Eurythmics… yeah i know… not that cool huh?!
CM: What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
LP: Photek‘s ‘Hidden Camera‘ – which i only rediscovered recently. There’s not much of a melody but that drum break is sooo good!
CM: What was the last show you paid and queued up for?
LP: Star Slinger…
CM: If you had to bring a musician back from the dead in exchange for sending a living artist down ,which artists would it be and why?
LP: I’d bring back Curtis Mayfield – the man was just awesome. i went through a phase of listening to a lot of his stuff. He’s probably the one who got me obsessed with string arrangements. In exchange, let’s please send record exec – turned producer – turned (terrible) rapper – Puff Daddy to an early grave please. He probably did far more than most to totally ruin my enjoyment of hip hop in the late 90s.
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for an exclusive download of the Joey Fehrenbach remix Little People mentions above!