In Conversation with Berzingue

Parisian producer Berzingue is on his way to becoming a key name in the burgeoning French electronic music scene. After the release of his first EP Quitter Paname on Pont Neuf Records in 2022, it was only a matter of time before he made a welcome return to the label. Thirteen months later, the Frenchman comes full circle with the release of his second solo EP Architectures.
As one half of ALVA (now Calmos & Berzingue), they have released several EPs over the years, the likes of which garnered support from Laurent Garnier and Janeret to name a few. Add to that a release on Chez Damier's Inner Balance, and the launch of their own imprint Virage, and it’s not hard to see why they caught the eye of some of France’s leading tastemakers so we're very excited to have Berzingue in the Nightclubber interview hotseat to talk about his journey so far, the current state of the French scene and what he has lined up for the future.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey as an electronic music producer, and how you got started in the industry?

I have always been interested in music, everyone in my family plays at least one instrument and we had debates on music since I am a child. I learnt guitar and when I was 14 I downloaded my first DAW which was guitar pro. Sounds were awful but it got me excited enough to try fruity loops. Few years later I began my architecture studies where I met Alexandre (Calmos). We immediately got along well and shared the same interest towards music. He installed Ableton on my computer, and then we did our first tracks that we shared on Soundcloud. In 2014 Thomas (Pont Neuf manager), who had a music collective called Spree Factory, stumbled upon these demos and contacted us.

What’s been the most exciting part of your journey to date? What’s been the most surprising? 

The most exciting part was probably when we began to rent the studio in Villette 45, with Tour-Maubourg (who was there for a year already), Cosmonection and KX9000. It was a time when we learnt a lot from people around us, and had so much to experiment with all the hardware units we were sharing.  Arriving at architecture school before 9 AM was quite painful to us, but meeting before 7 AM to walk to the studio was no big deal ! The most surprising part so far was probably when we casually released “Heard It” from madcat on our 2nd Virage V/A and it ended up having millions of streams. 

Your latest EP Architectures has just been released, can you walk us through the creative process behind it and how it differs from your previous releases?

Your background in architecture is fascinating, how does this influence your music-making process and sound?

I always found bonds between the two disciplines, from concepts to workflows. I think architecture taught me to be more patient, which helped me to accept that a track can also take time before it’s ready for release, and that it is important to have some time to put a project away before getting back to it with fresh ears. 

How did your collaboration with Calmos come about, and what led to the decision to pursue solo projects?

We spent a lot of time together during our architecture studies, and it was at the same moment we really got into music production, synths, mixing, etc… We’ve been doing pretty much everything together for 6-7 years and spent countless hours in the studio. 

When lockdown was decided in France, he went back to his hometown, Dijon, and stayed there since. We are still very close friends, but with our daytime jobs It’s harder to work on tracks remotely. It is the only reason why I started releasing tracks solo. Yet we are still enjoying doing music when we meet and we have a one hour live set that we played twice but never released. It will take time but I’m sure we will have music to share one day. That’s also why it’s been a while since the last Virage release.

Your own imprint Virage was launched in 2018, what inspired you to start your own label and what can we expect from it in the future?

We started Virage with Calmos just because we wanted to release our tracks on our own, and also do some VAs with other people. We relied on what we learnt in Architecture School for some aspects : I did the hand-drawn logo, Alex was doing the vinyl print files on the adobe suite… We had some good fun but as I explained it’s been in standby for a while now, although I can envisage releasing some of my tracks in the future. 

How do you decide what goes out on your own label and what goes on other labels? 

Virage is more likely to host tracks that had already been released partially (on soundcloud for instance), which is not allowed on other labels most of the time. Also often on Virage, we receive demos, some of which we enjoy enough to think of putting out a V.A, then I try to find tracks of mine that could fit with the other. 

Your EP Quitter Paname received great reviews and critical acclaim, how did this affect your approach to creating Architectures?

In both cases the main idea was to gather tracks that would differ in the influences and arrangements, but share the same sound palette and space, as some kind of a mini album. And in both cases I relied a lot on Thomas.  

Tell us a bit about your relationship with the label; how did it come about? Are you generally given free reign to release as you please there? 

First I have a particular relationship with the label because it’s somehow “our” home label with the other artists, with Thomas managing everything. So I did the logo that we still use, and did some of the artworks too, including for instance the 3 “Habemus Paname” compilations or the ALVA (former project I had with Calmos) EPs. I also have a particular relationship with Pont Neuf because I released a lot of music on it. I am credited on some 40 tracks of the label, which includes production on EP’s that are not mine, like “Raf’s Baggies” and “High Def” on KX9000’s Ultra Loisir EP. 

What makes Pont Neuf such a special platform for artists in the French electronic scene?

What I think makes it special is that Pont Neuf releases solely music emerging from the underground scene and coming from a small circle of friends, but tries to deliver releases with. Also I think Pont Neuf is one of the few french house music labels that has a solid yearly calendar

Can you give us a sneak peek into any upcoming collaborations or projects that you have in the works?

I’m beginning to work on a Dawless live and I also have some music planned to be released, including a nice featuring with my friend Tour-Maubourg.

How do you stay creative and inspired when working on new music, and do you have any specific routines or methods that you follow?

First I think there’s a lot more to music production than just production sessions on their own. Sometimes working on new music will rather mean analyzing reference tracks, exploring sound design, practicing instruments… I record a lot, and get back to it later, maybe next day, maybe next year, does not matter. The only important thing to me is that I enjoy doing it. 

Your music has been described as versatile and genre-bending, do you feel that it's important for artists to experiment with different styles and sounds to stay relevant in the ever-evolving electronic music scene?

I never really thought of that to be honest, I guess in my case it’s just that I like to fool around with machines and then it leads me into various directions. I’d also add that I get bored quite easily, so that’s why I’m always trying things that gets me excited, although it might not necessary feel “new” or “fresh” to others.

Can you share your thoughts on the current state of the French electronic music scene, and where you see it heading in the next few years?

Right now everything is evolving really fast, as you stated just before. It can be explained by a big amount of factors, including evolution of streaming or post-covid will to party “hard”.  There’s also been a whole “rave” revival last couple of years, but i’m not sure it really added anything to the scene musically speaking. And I somehow think it’s more about “the project” than it is about “the music”, which saddens me because I’m interested in someone’s music, not her/his ability to post everyday on social media. In the next years in France I’d say we probably go back to classic house and classic techno while keeping higher bpm than back in the days, incorporating modern productions methods to our collective traditional electronic music background. Oh and I also like to think that DNB and Jungle might do a comeback in France soon.

Finally, what’s coming up for you - musically and professionally - that you’re really excited about? 

I’ve got an EP coming on Shall Not Fade in a few months, right now I’m waiting for the artwork and I’m really excited about this release. Also, we are going to relocate with my wife, in a place where I will be able to setup a very nice studio : can’t wait !

Keep it up with Berzingue here

Stream & Buy 'Architectures EP' here