Yan Wagner is a young French-American artist. He was born and still lives in Paris but made his first solo appearances during an extended stay in New York City in 2008-2009.
In the past year, Wagner has been playing numerous shows in France and other major cities like London, New York and Paris, and supported bands such as : AIR, Goldfrapp, Midnight Juggernauts, Hercules & Love Affair…
His first album produced by Arnaud Rebotini (founder member of Black Strobe) was released in CD and Digital on October 2012 (Pschent Music)
Hello Yan? How are you? Can you tell us where you are answering our questions from?
Home in Paris. Enjoying my coffee.
I know this may sound hackneyed, but I am crazy about your album. And I am not the only one. Trust me. At first listen, I thought that there were quite a few very New Wave like sounds… Nostalgic, admiring ?
I always loved machines, they are the reasons why I started making music in the first place. There’s mystery about them, about what can come out of them. I’ve never fantasized over guitars, drumkits… From the start it always have been about drum machines and synthetizers. I guess that I’ve been drawn to techno, disco and new wave pretty much naturally because it’s electronic music.
Which song of this first album do you consider as the most personal?
Everything is personal on this album.
How about telling us how your first album was created… It’s a solo project, but supported by Arnaud Rebotini : how did it go?
The songs were written within 2 to 3 years. Arnaud jumped in to engineer and produce the tracks. It was really important for me to have a second thought on the songs, and someone that could produce too, that had the knowledge and the gears. What Arnaud added to the thing was really sound and strength. He’s also someone I can trust, because although he has clear views and perspectives on music, he also listens to a whole lot of different styles.
In your EP, there are several remixes, especially by Heinrich Mueller… It is important to impose this on one’s titles, isn’t that scary though?
Heinrich Mueller is the man behind some of the most influential electro groups of the past 20 years. To have him to remix one of my tracks is not scary, it is an honor.
How do you comprehend music, and the way to produce it, play and distribute it?
It’s not a new thing anymore but music is at a turning point. It’s getting easier and easier to put it out there, but proportionally harder to stand out.
Let’s get back to the album, there is the title The Only One with Etienne Daho ? How did you come up with the idea of this duet? Did you know that this title would be with him from writing the song?
I did a first version of the track that featured on a very small comp back in 2010. On this earlier version, it was only me; the words weren’t the same and the music was more sample-based. I met Etienne at Cité de la Musique in the framework of a tribute to Jacno. The guy seemed really laid back and easygoing. The idea of a duet came up as we were starting the process of recording with Arnaud Rebotini. I got in touch with Daho to know if he wanted to be part of the album and to my surprise he said yes after a couple of weeks. I couldn’t picture myself imposing anything on him, I really wanted him to be part of the writing. So we gathered a couple of times and re-composed some new melodies and lyrics. The music had to be changed to, to fit the overall aesthetic of the album. I’m really happy about the result.
I have discovered you as the opening act for The Midnight Juggernauts. How do you relate to stage performance? Do you prefer working in studio or facing your audience?
Studio and stage are two facets of music that can’t be overlooked nor separated. When I write a song I need to be able to embrace it on stage. If I don’t feel comfortable performing it, then it’s probably not a song I’ll keep. That’s the reason why I didn’t release anything right away. Touring has been a way to get rid of what I felt was unnecessary.
You have been the opening act for several artists. Your best memory on stage?
Shows as opening act are not the best experiences because the audience is mostly waiting for you to piss off so they can see the real thing. However, touring with AIR has been a tremendous way to learn how to better face a crowd. Anyways, I mainly have good memories on stage, it’s always different.
Another artist had his album out the same day as you. Lescop. Is he one of the artists you are listening to at the moment?
I didn’t listen to the full record. We recently shared the bill in Paris, and I don’t see direct connections. We don’t have a common background and we certainly are not looking for the same things.
Moreover to end this interview. What is your current iTunes playlist like?
Daniel Maloso’s album In & Out and SFV Acid latest EP on Uno rec.
Thanks to Yan
Special Thanks Damien Keyser / Pschent Music
interview by Thierry Jaussaud / Valencia Ehrhart
Credit Photo : Marie Athénaïs