French quintet Minimal Orchestra unveil their new jazz-meets-electronic LP on I.O.T Records. We caught up with them to discuss the upcoming album, their production process in the studio, and more.

First off, how did you all meet and why did you decide to work together?

Hi! At first, Minimal Orchestra was a trio with a drummer, and became a duo, by artistic choice, so I took care of the drums with electronics. I met PJ (bass) while in the city of Toulouse and we quickly agreed that we had the same willingness to make very personal music with a sweet taste of jazz and electronics. 

The process of creation around ‘Lift Off’ took a while because we wanted to take time to dig deep and have some real reflections about making our music as clear as possible for our audience, and so in this thought process we decided to invite friends on some tracks to add some more ‘jazz’ to the electronics, more organic feel and open our world to other ears. 

And what was at first just an invitation became a new formation as we realised how cool it was to play together on stage, so the duo became a quintet and I’m pretty pleased with this outcome as the new members are really kind people and very talented musicians and creators, I’m very eager to make more music with these guys. 

What was your inspiration during the creative process for your new LP, Lift Off?

Pj and I listen to very different music, very different genres, and as music teachers, we’re in contact with the young musical scene, so we’re very lucky to discover new music through them. So in ‘Lift Off’ you can hear some old influences like Herbie Hancock, Weather Report, but also the use of some trap Hi Hats, some jungle vibes, modular generated melodies, and some Radiohead kind of drum programming, I was listening to a lot of Machinedrum also at this time, also a lot of post-rock like Tortoise or Do Make Say Think, and a lot of jazz obviously like the Miles Davis quintet, etc. 

It’s very hard to say all the influences that are in my head when I’m composing, as I use many little ideas gathered from all those great artists and groups. 

What is your relationship with IOT, and why is it a good platform for your music?

They are our team! It’s amazing to work with people like that with such enthusiasm for personal and original stuff, they are extremely valuable as they give us what is essential for an artist: a perspective, and they are very thorough, they take their role very seriously and I learned a lot at their contact about how the music industry has mutated. Time is the essence! 

What do you think is so special about the French music scene for you?

There’s a very big jazz scene in here, so many good musicians all over the place, thanks to our academic music school system that grants access to music to a lot of people. The level is very challenging, and for musicians who are interested in jazz AND electronics, there are a lot of good resources and interesting people to work with. France is known for its cultural richness and it takes just a bit of willingness to gain from it, which is lucky!

 Speaking of France, what are some of your favourite local venues and why?

In Toulouse (where the project is born) we have the Bikini, very famous for its amazing sounding room, le Taquin, our dear jazz club, the people who work there are very kind and love music! 

What’s your creative process when you’re in the studio?

I make tracks in my studio, letting my imagination go, with no restraints (for better or worse hahaha), I send the stuff to PJ who helps me do some triage by putting his basslines and cutting what seems to be ‘too much’, I take everything back and rework, pre-mix, etc., and then we go in the studio to record stuff that needs to be recorded and mixed! It’s a long ping-pong process before going to the studio.

After all that, I try to make good scores and give them to our 3 other new members and we re-work the tracks for the stage, and that’s my favourite part I have to say! 

With news of your first tour next year, can you walk through the process of organizing one? What is your process like for putting together multiple dates?

I am clearly not the best person to talk about this haha! I’m the typical dreamer artist who just loves to create and play. All the process of prospecting is kinda not where I go naturally, even if I try hard to know how it works. The thing I feel is that there is a lot of music and musicians all over the place and it takes a lot of patience and perseverance to achieve one’s goal. 

The Internet has definitely made a difference and has had a very paradoxical effect. A crazy access to… well, almost everything you want to know about, but also it narrowed a lot of the visibility of artists with some kind of a “too much” effect, so you have to be very precise with your strategy to reach ears. And I believe that live music is the best way to reach ears, so it is very important to focus at some point on that, instead of streams. So what is my process? Get some databases and prospects, use the internet to reach out to people that matter, and be patient!

It takes a lot of discipline and organization, mastering some horrible tools like Excel (haha), mailing techniques, etc.

But at some point, I know that some people are very good at doing this, much better than me, so I try to find them in parallel with my venue prospecting, inviting them to gigs I found, etc.

What were some of your highlights for 2022?

Being back on stage, I missed it so much! And the creation of this amazing quintet, it gives a new breath to this project that I cherish a lot. 

Also, I bought myself a Fender Rhodes, finally :). (And PJ became a dad for the second time!) 

What can we expect to hear from you in 2023 and beyond?

Well, I’m sorry I won’t be very original but M.U.S.I.C and G.I.G.S! I already have so many new ideas for this quintet I can’t wait to bring them to reality! I will also release a solo album with I.O.T and we have a jazz trio with PJ (called Trio Terrien) with which we are going to record this spring. 

Thanks a lot for your interest in our beautiful project guys! 

Minimal Orchestra drops ‘Lift Off’ on 3rd March 2023 via I.O.T Records

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