French producer Joakim has been defying categorisation since his very first productions in the late nineties. Seamlessly transcending genre, profession, influence and style, he has spent the past twenty years connecting the dots between the diverse sources of his inspiration. Graphic designer, DJ, ex-conservatory pianist and founder of Tigersushi, whose ‘extra-sensory’ output channels the creativity of ‘deranged minds,’ Joakim’s tastes and character are notoriously left-of-centre.
His critically acclaimed Samurai LP of 2017 encapsulated this diverse strangeness, with some tracks as suited for the club as for the concert hall. More recently, he’s shifted from his more familiar rock, funk and disco leanings to focus on a techno alter-ego Cray76, with two upcoming releases on his New York-based imprint Crowdspacer.
We caught up with Joakim for the next instalment of our Background Noise feature to find out a little about the influences that keep this creative powerhouse ticking.
Life is this thing we live in. One day we are, someday we are not anymore, the time in between is what we call life. I find it quite inspiring because there’s so much happening during Life. Literally billions of events. It can be very small things, it can be major shocks, sad, happy, anything may transform into a source of inspiration. Pretty cool.
New York is definitely an inspiration since I live there; there’s so much happening all the time, so many details to observe, funny people to watch, sounds everywhere and such a rich history or modern music from Cage to Hip Hop. It’s almost overwhelming, but if you take it with a pinch of chill, it becomes an endless source of inspiration.
Quite often when I work on a new record, it is strongly connected to the books I’m reading at the time. The latest record was partly inspired by Mishima’s “Hagakure: Samurai Ethics and Modern Japan”. It helps me on many levels – conceptually to give shape to the record, thematically, sometimes even aesthetically. As English is not my native language, books also help me when I have to write lyrics. I always write small quotes, ideas from books on my notepad.
I use the word instrument here on purpose, because of the original meaning of the word : an object that helps you to perform an action. Instruments are an important source of inspiration in my work because tools enable your actions and also guide you somewhere you didn’t know you could go because they have a life of their own. It’s not about having an expensive synth or a rare vintage guitar, any cheap toy, a rusty pedal can work, it will just guide you in a different direction. I also like the idea that you may use tools in a wrong way, like an amateur, with strange results.
Going to a club where a really good DJ is playing always brings me some kind of inspiration, there will always be a track played at some point with interesting elements, production, unexpected sounds or structure, which you can really feel on a good sound system, in a dark place when you’re attention is fully focused on the music. It’s a little bit like when you’re a kid and you see a great movie and you’re so excited you want to re-enact the best scenes.