IT IS NOT ALWAYS NECESSARY TO RELEASE A LONG PROJECT TO MARK THE SPIRITS. ELISE MASSONI'S LAST EP IS AN EXCELLENT PROOF: "STRAIGHT IS A LIE", IN ONLY TWO TRACKS, TRACES THE FURROW OF A DEMANDING ELECTRONIC WHERE THE DISORDER AND THE SOUND BEAUTY COHABIT. ELISE MASSONI'S PATH IS NOT A STRAIGHT LINE, NEITHER IS HER MUSIC.
Formerly known as Elise, Elise Massoni has already stirred many legs and allowed many imaginative minds to indulge in contemplative moments. The year 2021 is particularly busy for her, with notably the release of "Straight Is a Lie", on TEMET Music, a two track long EP, but much richer and more abundant than its length can make you think. Nestled high between Ambient, Electronica, UK beats and distantly House, "Straight is a Lie" questions as much as it confirms a wandering mind to stay in its favorite activity. Everything makes sense with Elise Massoni, nothing really happens by chance, if not the one of the meetings which could help her to forge herself. Each piece has a story, even a simple vocal sample can have one.
Obviously, each step of her journey has had its importance. If many have been able to discover her behind the turntables, in real life or on Rinse FM in particular, have been able to dance to the sounds of her sharp and eclectic selections, the "studio" counterpart of Elise Massoni is like a synthesis of 30 years of electronic music, between Detroit, Chicago, Sheffield, Bristol, Paris and Berlin. Like an infinite journey in music, in itself, and this theme did not happen by chance, since her personal journey led her to live and work five years in Shanghai, before a return to Paris interspersed with a Berlin transition.
Let's take a little leap in time. Long before "Straight is a Lie", it was in China that Elise Massoni began to assert her musical identity. Already gone there for the music, she lived a unique experience, where encounters and discoveries were at the rendez-vous.
"I went to Shanghai in 2010, before the World Expo, after finishing my sound engineering studies. I thought I would only stay a few months, just to see something else. I had not yet discovered the Techno scene in Paris, I did not know Dement3d, for example. Finally I stayed there for five years! Everything that people talk about now, about this scene, it was still very new and underground at the time. There weren't all the bridges that exist today. I got to know my future bffs, who I played a lot of live and mixed with, there. I played in underground clubs, I had residencies too. It was from Tuesday to Sunday, it was a fast pace. In that band, Acid Pony Club, there was Nahash (SVBKVLT) who is now in Montreal and Pyramid of Knowledge (S.O.N.S) in Seoul. . ."
The influence of her Chinese experience is even more present than it may seem. Through the local scene, she has been able to hone her ear and feed off of many new influences, each of which will go right into her rich future personal creations.
"It's been a great mix ofmany things over these five years! It completely opened my ears and my mind. My culture wasn't huge when I got there. Other than a little bit of Detroit and Chicago, I didn't know much. A club like the Shelter (ALL) or someone like Gareth Williams (GAS), the boss ofSVBKVLT, for example, who has always been into Kode9, Hyperdub, the whole UK scene, allowed me to get out ofmy comfort zone. But it's mainly the Pony who made me discover a lot ofthings, especially Nahash who had his drone nights at the Shelter on Thursdays. I couldn't listen to half of the live noise he booked, but I heard Pan Daijin for the first live of his life, for example. Red Bull Academy had done a Bass Camp Beijing that I was invited to, so that opened my mind a lot as well. Among other things."
At ease behind the turntables, Elise Massoni also became familiar with other disciplines, which gradually led her to production, as a logical and clear continuation.
"I was also able, there, to start doing live shows, first with four people (Acid Pony + Tzu Sing) then with three. I bought my first machine there, a Korg Electribe SX, to Miss Kittin by the way, for the anecdote, and I integrated it right away in live performance. I always wanted to be a DJ, but not necessarily a producer, even if I tried a bit when I was 16. Leaving China made me move too. I had my friends who were always there to help me, to show me things. Once I left, I became emancipated, little by little."
But even after leaving China, this experience keeps coming back as a source of inspiration of the highest importance for Elise Massoni, beyond the human experience and this life at 100 km/h. The discovery of her sound creations reveals a multitude of influences, giving them a strong impression of uniqueness. This marvelous great sonic bazaar, the artist confirms, always with a return to China in mind.
"I have a lot ofinfluences. I discovered electronic music through House compilations, at the time, at the FNAC, on which you always had good things like Paul Johnson (RIP). And then I bought some mixes. For example, Iwas quite a fan ofMiss Kittin & The Hacker, Aphex Twin, Dopplereffekt, quite classic stuff. I was a big fan ofelectro, I had more trouble with 4/4. I detached myself from House music quite quickly, like a rejection, it was not dark enough for me (laughs). When I arrived in Shanghai, we were mixing house music, but it was a big mix of techno, electro and house music. Raph and Clem (Acid Pony) had a lot ofhouse records, they are the ones who made me appreciate house again. And then more UK stuff. And always a great mix of many things. In Berlin Imay have been more assertive ofthis "UK" side as we like to generalize in France, but I ended up going back to something that has never been too far from me either, techno, faster especially, I like better. I've always liked things fast. "
BERLIN, THE TRANSITION, PARIS
"I was starting to get interested in producing, but I didn't have the energy to do it right. In 2015, I went on a transition to Berlin, I needed a bubble before I really came back. And I needed to stop mixing for a while, to take a break to start again on a healthy basis and think about the medium, long term. I wanted to do an EP there, which happened on Man Band, Toma Kami's label, in 2017. Then it was a bit of chaos, I had left China following a very busy emotional period. I returned to Paris at the end of2018. It took me another year to recover from all that, to get back on my feet, and finally to do production again, in 2019. "
Things were able to flow then, in terms of productions. Quickly close to François X, she asserts a deeply hybrid style, like a synthesis of many years of electronic music served with the sauce "Elise". The year 2021 is particularly rich in releases for Elise Massoni. Before her EP "Straight is a Lie", we could notice her on a release of the label XX Lab (of François X, precisely), with the track "Silk", a small experimental Techno bomb, on which Elise Massoni repeats endlessly that she has "so much desire to do nothing".("Tellement envie de rien faire" in french)
"I made it in 2019. I was in London, it was ugly! After this chaotic year, it started to get a little better. Of course there is a story behind this piece, there always is! (laughs) I'm an only child and my father always told me that boredom was a luxury! And there's this "I really want to do nothing" thing. For a month, I recorded every day for Watching Airplanes, some Italians who are in London, I liked their album, I was looking for inspiration. They told me they liked my voice, and asked me to record some stuff, so they could use it for their tracks. Every morning I would say anything, they wanted me to speak in French. So I would have my coffee, and I would tell them something! And that day, without inspiration, I said to myself why not use my voice too, and that's when I started sampling. "
STRAIGHT IS A LIE
Released at the beginning of July on the TEMET label, "Straight is a Lie" is a perfect summary of moods and influences, and illustrates the musical character that Elise Massoni has built for herself. Like her influences and her journey, "Straight is a Lie" is varied, rich, and far from being linear. In the space of two tracks (plus a video-edit of "G & More"), Elise Massoni plunges us into a universe made, among others, of ambient, electronica with a complex and worked architecture, of haunting percussions... Like everything Elise Massoni proposes, "Straight is a Lie" has a story, is full of anecdotes which, put together, give even more meaning to the sound. It's anything but a coincidence that "Straight is a Lie" sounds like a deep and mature work, with always this audacity and spontaneity, seems to play with emotional ghosts to propose a new starting point.
"Simon (Simo Cell, TEMET's boss), whom I had met again at Rinse, told me to send him some tracks. I sent him some, including "909 4 Romantics". It was the first song I was able to do after my year off. I had done it on a brand new computer that replaced, well, a computer that had been stolen six months before and that was stolen three weeks later! To make it short, everything was stolen in six months. I lost all my music and also my Instagram account. . . It's a silly detail, but very very disabling. Anyway, this was the first track to get back on track, where I assumed to stop there, because it could be finished as is. I still have a hard time getting them out. "Silk" for example, that was hell. I had the basics, as always, but at the time, I couldn't make club tracks at all. At the beginning it was not like that at all, there were a lot more little pads and variations (not necessarily useful) for example. I was helped a lot by François X on the editing part, he oriented me towards the voice, the drums, the sub. Like: "who cares about your chorus!" Basically, I'm always afraid we'll get bored with loops! And "909", for that matter, was really an Elise-like track, in the sense, with a very intuitive and not necessarily accomplished edit. "
To begin with, "G & More", feels like it shows an ounce of positivity over a ravaged space, as if rebuilding will bring back joy and love. The layers here are warm, colorful, but are based on a structure that evokes a chilly, almost apocalyptic atmosphere.
"I did "G & More" during the first lockdown, in my pajamas, in my living room, with my MIDI keyboard, full of plug-ins. It was the "optimistic" track. I wanted to have a video with it, the idea was that everything passes, everything is cyclic. There is inevitably some good after the bad".
The desired clip was born, with a work of its own, which gives an additional meaning to an already great track on the sound aspect alone. Produced by Jack Anderson, this little gem puts things in their place, immerses the listener-viewer in a very deep sensory and reflective experience around the issues of cycles.
"It was kind ofby chance that it happened. Jack was quite a fan of TEMET, and on our side, it was right when we were looking for someone to do this video. He kind of fell out of the sky. At the beginning, he was more in the mood to do a teaser, short things of 30 seconds, 1 minute maximum. I was able to make a 3 minutes 30 minutes video-edit, but not something shorter! He did a job like a team often, it's incredible. In the end he did everything from A to Z, I wrote the story and accompanied him, we are both very happy with the result. "
On the other side, there is "(9_9) 4 romantic", which transports us, as in a temporal fault, where the moment will remain suspended, where we let ourselves be lulled and enveloped by the softness of the strings, where the accidents and breaks are only obvious, obligatory passages to remember well that this reality will be, in the end, only ephemeral. A track which could be an ideal entry to his universe. But not the only one! Finally, her multiple influences that she has now perfectly assimilated offer a multitude of openings that can attract both clubbers in search of new sensations, dreamers in search of sound experiences accompanying their cerebral wanderings, aficionados of the search for the ideal sound texture ...
Her residencies on Rinse FM show the full extent of Elise Massoni's musical openness. We will cross there as much Techno to put very strong (we could hear her quoting u.r.trax among the prodigies of the French scene, as we did it here a few months ago), as killings made in "UK scene", which give furiously desire to cross the Channel. We understand through all that Elise Massoni touches that we have in front of us an artist full of character and curiosity, in balance between strength and humility, whose emotions can be transmitted in a thousand and one ways. The following, as she projects it, makes us believe in beautiful discoveries to come, always adventurous and without net.
"I do a lot of club tracks at once. We were very happy with the release of the EP, but maybe I should have done one more track, a little bit club. So I'm doing my first 4/4 tracks. I also have a remix on the way, which I can't talk about yet, and a track for an Air Texture compilation, the proceeds of which will go to the Nature Preserve. And, ofcourse, I'm still working with XXLab!"
Seduced by her studio work? You will also be able to see her on stage very soon since Elise Massoni will be on the bill of the Peacock Society Festival in September.