'Yes I do love drums and percussion – that’s probably the most important aspect of a track for me.': Traumer Interview
- Published on Wednesday, 13 December 2017 14:46
Romain Reynaud is a restless guy. He broke through as Traumer in the early 2010’s, releasing driving techno on Skryptöm, the label operated by French scene veteran Electric Rescue. This is a sound he diligently refined, sometimes on his own, sometimes as part of Skryptöm supergroup Möd3rn or with his many projects with another legend of the French underground, DJ Deep. But these days, this sound belongs more to his Roman Poncet alias. A creative frenzy has seemingly seized the ever-productive Frenchman: Romain came up with Marion Poncet to release his more housey fare, while Traumer ditched the techno and started churning out microhouse bangers. Romain can proudly consider himself a descendent of those 1990s producers who would casually craft house, techno and everything in-between under a myriad of aliases — bearing the spirit of a time where things seemed to be less compartmentalized. And this free-spirited approach belies raw talent too: no matter the genre he tackles, one can always rely on the now seasoned producer to provide booming kicks and a solid groove.
Put simply, Romain Reynaud is a diamond with many faces. And for us at MEOKO, it’s under his renewed Traumer monicker that he shines the most. Gettraum, the outlet he launched to host these minimal-leaning productions, is full of chiseled drums, odd and seductive vocals, and expertly timed breakdowns. Seemingly overnight, the already successful techno producer naturally became a sensation amongst lovers of the bouncier stuff. What happened though? Did Romain take a nap on Mamaia Beach a fateful day, and wake up determined to spread the gospel with the distinctive zeal of the newly converted? Or was this sound brewing inside him all along, ready to bloom? In any case, it seems obvious that he caught the virus, and is now as hooked as the rest of us — which we couldn’t be more happy about, since the string of EPs he lined up on Gettraum have been flawless so far. Don’t believe us? Well you can hear it for yourself, because Traumer will share the bill with Apollonia at Unleash’s December 16th party. So to get to know the man and find out about his truly uncommon trajectory, MEOKO caught up with him ahead of his upcoming London gig.
1- Hi Romain, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! I wanted to start talking about your touring. Between Traumer and Roman Poncet, you’ve been on the road all the time for three or four years, playing every continent, so how’s this lifestyle going for you? How do you manage keeping things fresh and exciting?
My pleasure! Travelling the word to play my music is probably one of the best jobs in the world – you’re always inspired by new people, new cultures, new places and so on. However, this can also create some difficulties – especially if you’re missing someone who’s waiting for you at home. In my case, there is someone waiting for me every weekend, during every tour. I can handle a single weekend away – but for the longer tours, like a week or two – it’s always a mental challenge for me. Even if the people I meet during the tour give me a lot of good vibes, when you get back to your hotel and you’re all alone, this is not so easy sometimes.
Still, I am very enthusiastic about touring, this is my passion, my thing. I guess having different monikers linked to different kind of music, also helps me lot in terms of keeping myself inspired.
2- Among these gigs all over the world, did any make a particularly strong impression? I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of crazy stories, could you share a few of those with us?
It’s almost impossible to give you a short selection of the best moments – there are too many. Maybe one though yes, because it’s very special, and isn’t part of the classic circuit : My friend Pepperpot and I were playing for four days (daytime parties) on a wood platform in the middle of the pacific ocean, in the Fiji Islands. The name of the venue is Cloud9 – it’s very small and it isupposed to be quite chill, music-wise. We had an incredible week over there.
Crazy stories: I’ve a million for sure hehe – again, it’s difficult to pick one specific tale. Also, I think I prefer telling those kind of stories in real life – face to face – I like to act it out a little bit, to mimic, to use gestures etc – trying to tell a real proper story, like you might do for a child. Come and ask me on December 17th…
3- Being at the top of the bill is a fulfilment for DJs and producers, so what’s making you dream now? Do you still have more ambitious projects you’d like to get on with, or places you wish you could play at?
With your first question you insinuate I am at the top – but believe me I am very far from there! I’ve been dreaming about living from my passion all my life, it can through DJing, producing, scoring, etc… Whatever it is as long as it’s related to music – but it can’t be “pushed” – it has to remain a passion, not something that is forced or unnatural.
4- Let’s move to your Traumer alias. Your sound moved to the minimal side of things with Gettraum, even if we can still recognize your touch. I was wondering what led to this change: how did you fall for the microhouse sound, so to speak? Is it something you were already digging in the past? Was there a moment that clicked with you?
That’s true, my sound has recently moved a bit but I guess it always did and it will always do.
This is how I am, I like to discover new things, even if I’m not “using” this new thing in my music. Let me explain: with the micro-minimal-house sound, I was listening that stuff for a while, way before producing or even playing it. I was introduced to this music through the big names first: the label [a:rpia:r], and everything around Raresh, Rhadoo and Petre – and naturally, when you’re digging for something, you progressively get deeper and deeper into the genre. I was just getting into something which was new for me at some point - and like every new thing I get into, if I decide to “try something with it”, to focus my music on it, the move will be made only once I think I can do it, because I believe at some point I know the minimum that’s required to get started with.
5- By the way, why did you decide to create your own outlet for these releases? Is it going to stay dedicated to Traumer or would you consider opening it up?
I was pretty sure that the established labels who focus on this style of music would not release my music, because of my “past” or because the music itself would not be 100% suitable. The only way I thought I could initiate this change of style was to control the platform which would showcase this new “me”. Also, creating a new label - especially when it’s your first one – may ‘intrigue’ the scene a little bit, that way you might get some attention.
6- Is it a sound you deliberately tried to pursue, or did you spontaneously start producing more minimal tracks? I was talking about new projects or dreams, was tackling a new style a way to challenge yourself in a sense?
For sure, I did try to pursue this sound – I wanted to for a while – it just took me time to work on it, ‘backstage’ you know. I like to challenge myself yes, I do it every day actually (I’ve got eight monikers at least for eight different kinds/variations of music). That’s what keeps me inspired – I never get bored of something, as I’ll move to another style before that can happen. It works for me.
7- The French microhouse scene these days is really healthy — new festivals, labels, artists… Where are you based when you’re not touring? Do you manage to find the time to party and stay aware of what’s going on in the scene? Are there crews, labels, newcomers or old-timers, clubs, that you’d like to give a shout out to? Basically, do you have recommendations for MEOKO readers who’d like to find out more about the French scene?
I’m based in Paris. Time to time I manage to find some space to go clubbing – mostly during the week – but not anymore like I used to (my favorite sober-observation party was Concrete on Sunday afternoon btw) – Now I keep my “ears in the game” through different social media groups (not only FB). To name just one, not because they are friends ;but also because they are simply very good, too: Beau Mot Plage; Check them out.
To be honest I’m not as much into the details of the local scene as I was few years ago – it’s very difficult to stay 100% connected when you (have to) do too many things – even if I’m making a lot of effort to do the maximum possible by waking up at 4/5.00am during the week. All the (very basic, I’m sorry) recommendations I can give to find out more about the French scene could be :
- Check that Beau Mot Plage group on Facebook – which is also a DJ Crew/Label.
- Check artists (you know probably most of them) such as : Lowris, Varhat, Cabanne, Nunes, Loop Exposure, Hoser, Schaa,… I must have forgotten a lot but I’m not good at lists.
8- I feel like a defining features of all your works, regardless of aliases, are your drums. Can you talk about their importance? How would you define your sound, actually? Do you see similarities between your aliases? Do you have some habits when you’re producing?
Damn! I do love your questions (and observations) but it’s more like inception of inception ahah – so many question in one!
Yes I do love drums and percussions – that’s probably the most important aspect of a track for me. I’m not super comfortable with the idea of defining my own music – I don’t know. I guess there are a few similarities sometimes, first I’m producing with the same set up for most of them so obviously, the core sound can be a little bit similar.
I’m pretty sure I have some habits, but probably I don’t notice all of them myself, because they are habits, which are often unconscious ;but I can say I like to build up a soundscape, an ambiance before everything. Not a beat, not a melody – something (which can be atonal sometimes) that will help me to bring all the elements around. This is like “the soul” of the track, you can’t see/hear it but still it’s the essence of the music. After that, I build up the drums, sometimes to the final state – and then I can work on synths, if necessary.
9- In addition to touring all the freaking time, you’re not lazy on the production side of things either! Do you have upcoming releases on your label or others’? In general, what’s coming for Traumer in 2018?
- I did a remix for David K’s Tone Series project – which just has been released few weeks ago.
- Our collaboration with Lazare Hoche, on his imprint, just dropped as well.
- A three tracker on All Inn, called “Mezon”, should be release mid-December.
- Late February should (could) see Gettraum 5 coming out.
- We will release our second EP with DJ Deep as Deep Traum.
- In April will be released our collaboration with Point G on the London based label : Infuse.
There are many other things on the way as well, with my other monikers but also with Traumer.
10- You’ve been involved in many collaborations. What’s different when you produce on your own and with others? Can you talk about your partners, especially DJ Deep and your Skryptöm mates? DJ Deep in particular has always been a multifaceted producer, do you think he instilled that in you? You’ve also got an upcoming release with Lazare Hoche, how did that come about?
Working with another person is not so easy – everything is about ‘balance’. The relationship in the creative / technical process has to be balanced. For example, it can not work if you have two people who both have a strong attitude and who want to control everything. You take sometimes and you give sometimes. The working relationship has to be balanced.
That’s mainly the difference between working alone or with others : alone you’re balancing yourself. I’ve always been a multifaceted guy, a schizophrenic guy (in a good way). When I started to produce I loved making remixes of Marilyn Manson while trying to reproduce Bodzin’s synth modulation. Anyway – yes we’ve got a release together on his label, I’m really happy about the process that led to this release, everything went super fast – which is not usually the case. Charlie sent me a beat with an Ableton arrangement – like this : “hey, check this out”. I liked the very spontaneous way of doing it – I did my edits, add a chord synth. He did it again with another idea – which was super rich, so I could have two different perspectives with all the elements he gave me. And there we were, we had three tracks.
11- Speaking of him, he’ll be playing B2B with Djebali for Unleash on the 15th, and Apollonia and Mathew Jonson are there too. I guess you’re pretty used to share the bill with the cream of the crop by now, but what do you think of this line-up? Are you excited to return to London? What can we expect from you?
Hehe you know what? I’m absolutely not used to sharing the bill with those guys. In fact it will be the second time I’ll be playing with those names. For sure I’m really excited to be back in London with the crew and especially to play for Unleash for the first time – as I have heard so much about this party, in a good way of course – so yeah, I’m looking really, really forward to spinning there. I don’t know what you can expect, but I hope it will be good enough to satisfy your expectations!