October 23, 2014

Sébastien Léger Talks 20 Year Career Anniversary

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When it comes to French house royalty, Sébastien Léger stands tall amongst an elite set of pioneers and innovators. His storied career as both a DJ and a producer is a long, illustrious compilation of top-notch production, a diverse output, and a signature that’s undeniably his own as evidenced by classics “Take Your Pills,” “Victory,” and “Polymod.”

This year marks an important milestone for the French legend, as he is celebrating his 20th year in the industry. Despite the nostalgic look back on his continued success, Léger is showing no signs of slowing down with a new EP on the horizon in addition to a packed set of tour dates. We talked to the man himself to get his take on the feat, his views on DJing today, and his preferred gear setups. 

DJ Times: You’re currently celebrating your 20th anniversary in the industry. Electronic music is sometimes seen as very fickle and trend-dependent. Why do you think you managed to maintain success for such a long time?

Sébastien Léger: I guess I had the chance to have a couple of relevant music tracks during this time, without compromising my sound with what’s hot at the moment. Quality over economic decisions is very important.

DJ Times: Through your eyes, how has the French dance scene changed over the years?

Léger: We’ve always had very good producers in France: before, today and tomorrow. But the house/techno scene has changed in a good way over the past two years; we used to have really cheesy events and clubs. Not that they’re all gone now, but I see a lot more quality things going on right now in France after a long period of such commercial music.

DJ Times: What’s the relationship between DJing and producing? Do you prefer one or the other?

Léger: I prefer DJing to producing.  The only bad part of DJing is constantly traveling. By traveling I mean taking lots planes, waiting in hotels, etc.; nothing like “tourist” traveling. I’ve always been a DJ, and I started as a DJ.

DJ Times: How do they give back to each other?

Léger: Nowadays you cannot pretend to have a DJ career if you don’t produce your own music, apart from a very few exceptions of established “older” DJs. It requires a lot more talent to produce than DJ, as 75% of the population on earth is a DJ now.

A very good DJ might not be a good producer and vice-versa. I have this weird way of working that during my DJ sets I rarely play my own tracks. I feel that the best tracks that work on a dancefloor are, in many ways, the simplest and somehow irrelevant, not timeless.  I prefer to produce stuff that can last long into the future without necessarily being playable by DJs like me!

DJ Times: How has the art of DJing changed over the span of your career thus far?

Léger: In my career, not too much. I used to play vinyl for 15 years and now I play on CDJs, which is the closest you can get today. I’m not a laptop DJ.  I have nothing against it, it’s just really annoying when DJs before or after me connect their cables and shit while I’m focusing on doing something. In general though, the art of DJing is a little bit gone now, crushed by marketing, fake likes, and PR strategies. I’d also say that the art of producing is gone as well, as we all now produce something that has to be obvious, dancefloor friendly, and with a lot less risk just to manage to get gigs. I’m not the kind of person to be nostalgic, but it was healthier before.

DJ Times: What’s your preferred DJ setup?

Léger: 2 or 3 CDJ-2000s (non-Nexus) and a Pioneer DJM-900. The reason I ask for the non-Nexus CDJs is because the layout on the screen and how it shows the order of my music is exactly how it shows in my rekordbox, while Nexus CDJs put it all upside down. It takes me ages to find music with them while it’s instant on a non-Nexus. My flow is constant and nice, which is very important when you have more than 3000 tracks like I do.

DJ Times: You’ve recently released a Loopmasters Sample Pack. What’s your current production setup in terms of hardware and software?

Léger: Simpler than ever. Ableton Live 9 with very few plug-ins.

DJ Times: What do you have coming up next for the rest of 2014?

Léger: I have a new EP on 1605 Music called Diamond Bridge. It’s something different from what they are used to releasing. I also have a remix for DJ Sneak that should be released during the summer. I’m slowly finding my way back into the studio after a long break due to lots of travel and flat inspiration.

Stream a preview of the Diamond Bridge EP below ahead of its release on June 24.

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