Louis La Roche: Young Brit With French Panache

You are forgiven if you’re sceptical about a Brit artiste having a go at the French house sound. Louis La Roche may prove you wrong with his tunes. Having gained recognition for his track ‘Love’, which was mistaken for producer Thomas Bangalter’s, Louis has proved that he has made the French sound his own. As music always comes first for this young producer, he managed to get the crowd grooving and swaying to his tunes at The Establishment for DS International. Upon being in KL for only 16 hours, JUICE managed to snag a quick chat with the young blood about his French sound and why he ain’t no fashion icon.

Being British, Louis La Roche is obviously a moniker. How did you come up with it?
I’ve always loved French house music and when I first started to produce, when I was about 16 or 17, it was when I first started to make house music. I sent some to friends and they said that it sounded French without me trying to sound French. I guess that’s just because of my influences and stuff. It just came across in the music I was making. So when it came to actually releasing the music and putting it online, I didn’t have a DJ name. It just made sense to come up with a French name for French music. I literally just took an English-French dictionary and looked up “what’s a traditional stereotypical French name?” – Louis. And I wanted like ‘Louis the something,’ so ‘La’ is ‘the’ and I just looked at rock and it said ‘roche’; Louis La Roche. So yeah, there isn’t like a big life story behind it.

Your music is known to have a French sound, do you think this sound can grow in the future?
I think so. I mean obviously before me there was a whole sound in the mid-‘90s of French house music like Daft Punk, Cassius and Stardust. I don’t think it’s ever gonna die, I just think it has stages and it just sleeps for a while – it just comes in and out of fashion. At the moment it’s a part of this nu-disco thing, but say in a year people decided that they don’t like that sound, I think it will probably just sleep for like ten years and come back right up again. That funky sound is like funky house, disco house – it always comes back around again. I mean at the moment in the UK, UK garage is suddenly really big again and it hasn’t been big for 15 years. The genre has come back and it’s because things like disco has got that swing to it. So eventually I think the sounds will come back.

You were in Bali before coming to Kuala Lumpur, did you manage to check out any of the local DJs?
There were obviously the guys that supported me. They seemed to play a lot of slow disco stuff, which is quite cool. I looked around and I saw the posters for the other events that they had coming up. I didn’t really have time to go out and to see DJs but from what I’ve seen like, I was really surprised by how varied the DJs that come there were. Sometimes it could be really minimal DJs like techno DJs and then sometimes there’s like the biggest of the big like they said they had Fatboy Slim come over earlier and then after Christmas they’ve got M.I.A coming over. I guess I was expecting like maybe one sort of scene but it’s not really, it’s a good thing.

You have a dubstep side project, The EWE Project and it’s very different from the Louis La Roche sound. What was the reason for going into this direction? Don’t you think the genre of dubstep has sort of faded?
I do think it’s faded. I mean at the time when I did that, which must be about two years ago now, it was just to let off some steam. There was dubstep then, which was reaching the highest it had it been commercially, so I was hearing it everywhere and I just thought I would have a go and see because I was making it in my spare time and I was just like “people need to hear this,” so I just put them out for free. It’s funny because I’m going to return to The EWE Project. This whole year I’ve been writing an album for EWE, which will come out after my album, the Louis album. It’s not dubstep. It’s more experimental, easy listening, almost like chill out music. It’s really far from dubstep. It’s not even dance music really. It’s more coffee table music or you can put it in the car or as background music. But now that I’ve had this time to write a little bit more, I’d like it to become a fulltime side project thing to balance the out what I don’t put out as Louis La Roche.

What if someone mistakes it for someone else, like how they mistook your track ‘Love’ for Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk?
Yeah maybe they will! I mean the influences are there with doing this EWE stuff. I guess the closest things would be things like Zero 7 and Air – just like traditional chill out kind of experimental music. So I wouldn’t be surprised if someone listens to a song and says “oh this sounds like whoever,” because the influence is so strong and I like that type of music.

We read that you weren’t a fan of your first EP ‘The Peach,’ why?
I was 17 when I did it and I didn’t really know what I was doing and I’ve learnt so much in such a short space of time since. I don’t listen to it as music; I listen to it as almost like a craft. If you were like a sculpture or something, and you made like a clay model and if you did it really badly and put it out there, some people will go “oh that’s art!” but to you, if I spent a little bit more time on it and smoothen out the edges, it could become something that lasts longer.

So that’s sort of how I look at it. You know I was young, I didn’t know the right techniques, and everything was sort of a little bit amateur and that was like 5, 6 years ago. So now in that time I’ve just grown so much not only with my music but everything from understanding music, like keys and chords. I am so much more of a musician now than I ever was. I guess that’s why that first EP was solely sample-based. But now although I do still consider samples important, I don’t do it as much because I’ve grown musically. Like now, I can write a song from scratch, which I could never do when I was 17.

You don’t like how commercial DJs work, in the sense that they all sound the same. How do you think your approach is different and what do you plan to achieve with that?
Maybe it’s because DJs nowadays are like celebrities and they never really were celebrities. I guess because of people like David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia, all those guys, it’s become a brand but not a good brand. You look at someone like Daft Punk and they are a good brand. Like you think of the logo and you think of the robots before you think of the music. But with those guys, like when you think of David Guetta, you don’t think of the music. You think of him and how he looks, and the same with Swedish House Mafia, you don’t really think of the music. You think of them, you think of all three of them and what they wear with their V tops. I guess for me, DJs have never been about the look because you think back to the late ‘80s, when house music first started, DJs were only known by name, they didn’t have photoshoots. Even if they had press coverage, it would just be like in a written interview. I don’t like the fame that is attached to it. You can be a famous name, but to be a famous face, it doesn’t appeal to me. I always want the music to come first and for people to think of me for the music and not for what a fashion icon I am.

Your album Hello You is set for debut. What can we expect from it?
It’s sort of a mixture of genres almost. Some songs are really house-y, some songs are really funky, some are slow, almost like love songs. Some are borderline hip hop. It’s a complete mixture. Some are more commercial sounding and some are for the clubs and some are for radio. Bear in mind, I finished the album over a year ago and it took me just over 2 years to write. So it’s been done for about 3 years from when I started the first track. It is an album, it’s not like 12 club tracks one after another and it’s not like five minutes long. They are actual songs. I want people to listen to it in their car just as much as they want to dance to it. It’s important to me because it’s a debut album and you only get to make one debut album. You want it to be good and you want it to last a long time.

What would have been the last thing you would have wanted to do if the world did end yesterday?
Maybe family time or I was thinking about, if I could listen to one last song, what would that song be, and I just couldn’t make my mind up. I don’t know if it could be a club record or a classic or a love song. I guess family time or time with friends.

Louis La Roche spun at DS International at The Establishment on 17 December 2012. More on the French-influenced Briton at www.louislaroche.com