Don’t look for the latest Zaltan 12”, there is very little chance that it gets released anytime soon, Zaltan would rather put all of his energy into his mixes and running his label.
Wandering through record shops and flea markets, looking for French rarities and yet to be discovered records, Quentin Vandewalle (Zaltan) has gathered thousands of dancefloor-friendly tunes of all eras and from all over the world. Teaming with Raphael Top Secret for years as the cult Parisian duo Zaltan & Top Secret, he definitively knows how to keep a party going.
Zaltan has been djing for more than a decade and he makes a point to deliver mixes as surprising and versatile as the label he runs. If you head to one of his parties, you may find yourself falling into a maelstrom of Caribbean bangers, French proto-house tracks, dark electro fantasies and god knows what else he’ll take out of his bag.
To wrap up our Antinote takeover this week, we found time to sit down with the big boss man, Zaltan to discuss the current French music scene, mainstream boundaries and his take on the age old discussion of which audio format is best (I think we already know the answer!!).
Could you describe the music scene (underground) nowadays in France?
It's pretty hard to map a precise music scene, as there are probably many scenes that I don't know about! However, I can talk about the scene that I am involved in. Let's call it "indie-house-post-disco-synth-balea-boogie and stuff!
I see loads of new labels showing up but only a few have got something to say and a genuine scene to push, as creating a scene is not as easy as making an edit of the first obscurity you find in a crate. I am talking about listening to someones music in their bedroom and deciding "ok, let's put this out on wax. From my point of view, if you do it with a few guys from your network and try to build a catalogue, then you can say you carry the flag of a certain local scene. Some of the best known labels of our generation are Paris based Born Bad, LIES and of course a very new example is Lyon's BFDM.
The boundaries between underground and mainstream, entertainment and experiment seem to be becoming less and less valid. What do think?
You are right, I don't really care about that! Of course you can still say something sounds really underground, but when you check the label and you realise it's almost a major and they sell trucks of wax, then is it still underground?
At the beginning of Antinote I really wanted to release limited edition records. I had faith in what I thought was underground AKA not selling a lot, but now i've changed my mind and I have realised that if I take the risk and produce one guy's music then it's because I believe in it right? So if I believe in it, if I want it to reach a wider audience, I can! If my guys can get thousands of radio plays everyday I would be happy and I would maintain the sound of Antinote to achieve this.
The releases on your record label are quite eclectic, do you release only music you like or are there some styles you listen to but would never look to release?
I would put out only the music that turns me on, but with no limit of genre. Check out my back catalogue and you will see that I dig reggae, techno and pop as well as ambiant or disco.
A lot of people go to a club to be entertained. Often they don't really care a lot about what's playing, as long as they can dance to it. How do you see that?
I think there are different way to be a DJ. If I play on a Saturday night as a DJ I want people to have fun and get crazy and losing their minds. I would play different crazy tracks to bring different vibes. You can play more mental stuff as well but it has to be played in a clever way and it's not always that simple.
Let's talk about the concept of format. The classic saying preaches that "the medium is the message", what are your personal views on this subject?
I don't care! My format is wax. It's my culture and I like to carry a very heavy box of records. However I do play via USB as well and sometimes it sounds better! I really don't care, music is the message except if it's playing from a laptop, LOL!