Laurent Garnier's LBS project fuses live performance with DJ roots
French techno legend lines up UK tour
David Pollock talks to French techno legend Laurent Garnier as his LBS project makes its Scottish debut at Pressure
‘We don’t have a recipe for what exactly LBS is,’ explains Laurent Garnier from his studio near Marseille, where he’s lived since leaving Paris five years ago. ‘We like to say it’s the first letters from our names, Laurent, Ben [Rippert] and Stephane [‘Scan X’ Dri], but it also means Live Booth Sessions. The idea of LBS is to come back to the DJ booth, but to give it more of a live feel than a DJ set.’
Debuted towards the end of last year, LBS is a chance for Garnier to experience the best of both worlds since the tour to promote his 2009 album Tales of a Kleptomaniac wound down. That was a proper live set with a full band designed in particular for festival stages, but Garnier’s urge to go back to his roots in the DJ booth was coloured by the possibilities opened up to him by the experience of not performing solo. So LBS is a compromise, a three-man, four-hour tag team effort, which YouTube footage shows looks and sounds just like a DJ set, but with live flourishes courtesy of synths and keyboards.
‘I’d been doing the live show very intensely for 18 months,’ says the hyper-talkative Garnier, ‘but I found the thought of coming back to play songs as a DJ on CD or MP3, songs written by someone else … you can’t really alter them that much, whereas my own tracks changed so much and gained real power and intensity when I played them live. I still want to play other people’s records and I never really liked playing many of my own, but now I can see that people want me to do that too. This is the best way to do it and make it interesting, for example the version of ‘The Man With the Red Face’ we play this weekend will be different to the one we play in Scotland. It’s about spontaneity, and more about working with the crowd to make something more unique than ever.’
So the set will move in and out of DJ interludes from Garnier and live versions of his extensive recorded career from the trio. Although he made his name primarily as a house and techno DJ, first at Manchester’s seminal Hacienda venue in the mid-80s, then hanging out in New York with Frankie Knuckles, playing at London’s Ministry of Sound and Club UK as well as back in Paris at various nights promoted by himself and others (most notably at The Rex), releasing five electronic artist albums since 1995’s Shot in the Dark.
‘Although we play tracks like ‘… Red Face’ and ‘Crispy Bacon’, they’re now so far from the recorded versions they’re like remixes,’ he says. ‘I think my next album will be experimented live as part of LBS before I come to put anything down on tape, because I can go further with my music like this. When I was playing with a band at festivals and we’d agreed to play 120 minutes, we couldn’t play 125 minutes just to see what happened. Whereas when I play in a club I tell promoters, we’ll do at least four hours, but if it ends up being five, it’s five. So I think we’ll probably end up writing the new album live, you know?’
Which all sounds, regardless of how many new ideas he comes up with, like a bloody good night out for all concerned.
Laurent Garnier’s LBS Tour is at Pressure at the Arches, Glasgow, Fri 28 Jan.