Le Bain

Ivan Smagghe: Not That Mad

Blacky II and Dan Wender of Rinsed chat with London hero Ivan Smagghe before they reunite in Le Bain's booth on Friday, July 15th.
RINSED: We’ve been huge fans of yours for well over 10 years. There’s no denying that you have a very unique and specific sound. Help us understand the methods behind the madness.
IVAN SMAGGHE: Hmm…I'm not sure I know myself. It's very hard to self-analyze. Am I really that mad? It all sounds quite normal to me. Dance music is by definition functional, but you can stretch its limits. And ultimately, there are only two types of records: good and bad. I suppose a bit of digging is needed, but apart from that, it's pretty instinctive and unprepared.
"Do not say 'Where is the after party?' Say 'Where is the after life?'" —Les Disques de la Mort
New environments often inspire the unexpected. How did having a residency at a lesbian club shape your style of playing? Did it affect you personally in any ways?
[Laughs]. Musically I'm not sure, though that's where it all started. We did our first Kill the DJ night at Pulp because we were able to not charge at the door, let tramps in for the night, and refuse suits. It was a lesbian club and I still work mostly with girls. I still see all the crew actually, and some are very close friends. It was just a very queer Thursday in all the meanings of the term.

When you're in the mood for some fresh music and you have a few hours to burn, what are one of your typical processes for finding new and inspiring stuff?
I must say Bandcamp is now a favorite of mine. I love the idea of bands putting their music out there with no intermediary. I like it much more than the classic digital platforms. Then, and above all, friends. A small network of people. Then random YouTube, the new digging, then buying weird shit from a few shops when I travel. I mainly only buy old stuff on vinyl now. I obviously get sent a lot of dance things, but listen to 20% of it and probably play 5%. I'm onto the edges and I don't need to be overflown with 4/4 stuff that I'll only play once.

"Defining the method would kill the style."

Les Disques de la Mort is an amazing record label and always ahead of the curve. What’s your process for selecting releases for that? Blind submissions? Friends of friends? Curating artists? 
All of the above. It's the rule of no rule. It's just things I like, and me trying not to stick with one style, even a very underground one. Also try and split the EPs, get a remix that will not be in the mood of the originals. The SAVE! album is a good example; it's a record I absolutely love. It ticks all the boxes, but does not fit into one.

The style of music you play is something that I can still find intriguing when I get bored with the classic house or techno sound. There’s a lot of rock, psychedelic, and punk/post-punk influences. How intentional is this on your part? 
I don't care about house/techno as genres. Some I like, some I don't. But I'm not a purist. I also like very borderline records, and some are quite cheesy. I obviously come from a cold wave and rock background and not from a funk and disco one, so it's probably infusing something in there. Once again, defining the method would kill the style, whatever it is.
SAVE!'s "The Light" (Les Disques de La Mort)

What are the one or two most important pieces of advice you would pass on to the Ivan Smagghes of the next generation?
Never listen to anyone, especially me. Just do what you want and stick to your guns. You may not rise to the top (who cares), but at least you'll be yourself.

On Friday, July 15th, Le Bain presents Ivan Smagghe
with Blacky II and Dan Wender (Rinsed)
10pm | The Standard, High Line

Related Stories

Get on the List and Get Up To 15% Off

Wanna be the first to know about exclusive offers, events and happenings? Sign up for our mailing list and get 15% off your stay in Hua Hin or The Maldives.

Book Now