Blisspop Disco Fest — Artist Interview | Cerrone
From the hazy but bright lights of the 70’s disco-era, Cerrone rose to international fame with Kongas, a group well-recieved for their appreciation of Afro-Funk rhythms. His rise as a solo artist has led him to be one of the most influential disco producers in not only Europe, but also most of the world.
Known for his extravagant videos, which still get tens of thousands of views today even though they were released decades ago, his sound is deemed as timeless. He doesn’t try to hold on to the same fame, but has evolved as a musician while still touring as a DJ and a drummer. Having already experienced large levels of prestige, he became one of the first artists in today’s era of streaming to release his albums for free online. He’s not sad about the shift from vinyl to digital, he embraces the change and continues to make disco-ball-dropping music.
Cerrone has sold over 30 million records worldwide. From esteemed albums such as ‘Supernature,’ to ‘Golden Touch’, and ‘Where are you Know’ to ‘Afro’ — these albums have garnered awards and acclaim. His electric beats, symphonic sounds and afro-centric grooves have dominated soundwaves for four decades. He pays homage to all with whom he’s worked.
Today, he offers his sage wisdom in producing music to Blisspop after being one of the headliners for the publication’s festival as D.C. celebrated ‘pure dance joy’ this past weekend.
So, you’ve consistently stayed ahead of the curve when it comes to the evolution of music. As a legend in the space, what are your favorite types of software to use for your sound mixing?
The production and mixing techniques have evolved in such an amazing way since my debut LP, Love In C Minor! Back then, everything was analogue gear and 24 track recorders. We also had to be two or three guys behind the mixing desk when doing the mixes. Now all this can fit in a laptop computer, and it’s all automated — unbelievable!
I use Logic Pro along with some very nice plugins from Arturia (their analogue synth emulations, especially ARP 2600 and Minimoog are really outstanding!) as well as IK Multimedia T-Racks (very warm sound). And of course, a couple of other fancy plugins according to the needs.
Even before most musicians had thought of this concept before the age of streaming, you released your album Cerrone for free. What were your thoughts on that matter in where you saw the music industry going?
Yes, it appeared quite clearly to me that the young generation would not consume music the way the old generation did. Back then, I remember that we loved to have a nice vinyl. We would spend lots of time looking at its cover, reading the credits, touching it, feeling it… it was a very nice sensation!
Today, one doesn’t spend so much time anymore, everything has to go fast! The artists don’t get the same attention as they did before. I can’t really say if its better or worse, it’s just different, but I saw it coming.
The music industry believed they just had to modify the tools and the media, but they didn’t realize how much all this was to fall into pieces as much of the future income would not be from the physical record sales anymore. I decided to release a free album, considering all my future income would be from the derived products: concerts, synchronization, etc. And this is exactly what’s happening now in the music industry.
You’ve worked with heavy industry hitters in your four decades as an internationally acclaimed producer; who were the most notable ones?
Well, if I had to name a few, I should obviously mention Nile Rodgers, Jerry Hey (horn arranger for Chicago), the members of Toto (whom I worked with on my fifth solo album, Angelina), Lene Lovich, Montserrat Caballe and of course Raymond Donnez (aka Don Ray).
You’re the champion of disco music, but you moonlight as a DJ at festivals, what are your thoughts on that?
To me, DJing is just an evolution of what I had been doing for decades with Disco music. I make people dance and be happy on the dance floor! And I feel the same excitement and pleasure performing as a DJ, just like when I was performing in concerts. Mind you, I even play drums in some of my DJ sets!
What would you tell young producers now entering the music composing space?
I really think they pretty much got it all about track production, but the most important thing in this business is personality. An artist has to be original and unique, as well as different from the others. That’s what I always thought and did, to differentiate myself from the others; it has always been a leitmotiv.
What would you tell veteran producers wanting to consistently put out music and rebrand their sound?
I think the evolution of an artist should occur at the same time the evolution is taking place, otherwise, you’re already missing the train, and it’s too late. Besides, it’s the public that decides to continue following you or not. There’s something quite unexplainable about it; maybe it has to do with the sincerity the public feels or not.
What would you say to your D.C. fans since being one of the headliners for Blisspop Fest? And what would you say to those DC fans that have always stayed true to disco?
I’d say I’m very excited performing in festivals, especially this one! Also, to perform with my friend Jellybean Benitez is also quite magical! What a wonderful life!
I’m so thankful to be so lucky and to still have the opportunity to live such extraordinary moments! 🙂