The label is based in Paris, Lyon, and Berlin, it has been founded in 2006 by Alexandre Cazac, Yannick Matray, and French Techno legend Agoria, and it follows no stylistical guideline. It only claims to be cutting edge, humanistic, and emotional! In the last seven years it already released 21 albums and 49 EPs who long stylistically from Techno to Classic, from Flamenco to House, from Electronic to Pop. Their artist roster contains of such acclaimed musicians, DJs, and producers like the Luxembourg pianist and composer Francesco Tristano, the Austrian Electronic lady Clara Moto, the experimental Techno maverick Rone, mysterious Arandel, the Classic meets Techno trio Aufgang, the World music border crosser Bachar Mar Khalifé, the Lyon based duo Spitzer, and the French Techno stars Agoria and Oxia. Also lots of collaborations with musicians like Carl Craig, Moritz von Oswald, or Apparat as well as remixes by celebrated artists like Modeselektor, John Talabot, Robert Hood, Radio Slave, Juan Atkins, or Seth Troxler are part of their versatile discography. For Carhart Radio the Mexican producer Cubenx, who released his debut longplayer On Your Own Again on InFiné in 2012, mixed a label showcase that underlines the multicolored publication policy of the record company. To find out why they are so eclectic we talked to the label manager Julien Gagnebien about the label that just wants to release "easy music for hard to please people".
Where and how did InFiné start?
Julien Gagnebien: In Les Bouffes du Nord a venue in Paris. Agoria and his then manager Alexandre Cazac saw Francesco Tristano playing Derrick May`s Strings of Life live. This is the original spark. Few months later, InFiné released the first Tristano EP with additional remixes of Apparat and Kiki.
The label is initiated by Agoria and two friends in Lyon - what was the impetus behind the start-up of the label in 2006?
Julien Gagnebien: The label was originally founded by Agoria, his manager Alexandre Cazac, and a friend of Agoria, Yannick Matray. It's great to have an artist with an international shine like Agoria, I guess it facilitates a lot of initial connections. But Alexandre is also a leading figure of the electronic music industry in France. He used to work at Pias France, took part to the launch of Pias's electronic label Different who released artists such as Tiga, Motorbass, Etienne De Crécy, or The Hacker. Both found some interesting artists to develop and both thought they could do the job themselves. In the shadow, Yannick brought his institutional background and I joined the team few months after to help to boost the international side. Agoria left last year…
Can you give some advice to someone who is interested in starting his or her own label?
Julien Gagnebien: A new label today needs to be audacious and persevering. There is a lot of music out now, it takes some time to find a place … and it is not easy to be better and different from the others. But if you enjoy doing the job and keep thinking your music is great, you should have your shine. Do not expect to get rich though.
InFiné have a massive artist roster - how do you keep so many artists on your books at once?
Julien Gagnebien: Yes, the release plan is full. For us it is important to keep releasing newcomers as well as to push further our first generation of signed artists (Rone, Clara Moto, Danton Eeprom…). For the last few months we have tried to help our artists to find some managers to help them developing their profile between two album releases. So far, so good.
Do you see InFiné as a French label or as an international one?
Julien Gagnebien: We are a French label because big things usually happen first in France. But also international because a lot of our artists are getting significant exposition in the rest of Europe (and sometimes in the US). We just signed a licence deal with Warp for the world (without France). In some ways this shows that we have an interesting international potential, isn't it?
What’s the most valuable lesson you learned within the music industry?
Julien Gagnebien: “The groove is in the heart.”
Who are you inspired by?
Julien Gagnebien: As a label, equally by ECM and Warp. Both show eclecticism and longevity, roots and modernity.
Last year InFiné did a workshop in the countryside – who was part of it and what aims did the workshop follow?
Julien Gagnebien: We have been organizing those Workshops since four years now. It's taking place in a quarry next to Poitiers. We bring our artists there for a whole week. At the end of the week there are two of three evenings with shows who are usually dedicated to special collaborations between artists and exclusive performances. It's also a way for us to meet the artists in a relaxed atmosphere. Some of those collaborations actually initiated album projects such as Arandel, Composer and Barlande (of Pedro Soler and Gaspar Claus).
The InFiné sound is hard to pigeonhole – if you could describe it in one sentence, what would you say?
Julien Gagnebien: InFiné's catalogue does not fit into a single genre. We would release with as much pride a record of minimal Flamenco from Pedro Soler and Gaspar Claus as a cold-wave-shoegaze album of Cubenx. But over the idea of categorisation there is an “emotional” feel on most of our releases and a special care taken for sequencing. All InFiné albums tell little stories.
What process do you follow in getting new artists?
Julien Gagnebien: Rone sent us a message one day via Myspace. Clara Moto met Agoria at an airport. Arandel and Spitzer are music activists from Lyon where our headquarter is based. Our workshops also help to shape new projects, to meet other artists. There are no rules. But the human aspect is key, we need to connect, to have mutual trust. Because when you are on InFiné, you have signed for a life-long agreement.
What exciting new stuff do you have in the pipeline?
Julien Gagnebien: Aufgang, they play harder, better, faster. They are incredible live. Bachar Mar-Khalifé's album will also be released very soon. His music is moving and very singular. Danton Eeprom, Clara Moto, and Downliners Sekt are next on the list.
Do you have a "wish list" of musicians you'd like to see on InFiné?
Julien Gagnebien: Not really. InFiné was created to promote new artists. There are a fistful of a-list artists who have been very helpful for the label such as Carl Craig, Bryce Dessner (of the National), or Murcof. They have helped us to introduce our artists. Right now we are much more into development. And as we start from scratch, there is a lot of room for improvements. Which is very motivating.
Who is your favorite new artist?
Julien Gagnebien: Those days, I am listening a lot to Clara Moto's latest demos. Shameless self promotion? I know but I am very excited by the upcoming album.
On what other future projects is the label working right now?
Julien Gagnebien: Rone has a great success in France where he plays a lot. The next months we will try to bring him everywhere. The album had a great feedback world-wide, but it takes time to organize such live shows. We are slowly preparing the workshop 2013 and trying to work on label showcases hopefully all over Europe.
If you got a tattoo to pay homage to InFiné Records, what would it look like?
Julien Gagnebien: This should a big “iF”, it means so much to us. Because InFiné is about the conditional tense. It's about not knowing what comes next musically and if it will really come out. There are a lot of uncertainties in this business today and we sometimes ran through hard times. But the label is still there - lively and maybe stronger than ever. It's also the roots of a reference number. The name of some parties we have organized in Paris. Please mind the capital F, most people consider it as a misspelling but the label's name is InFiné.
Can you name us a track, an artist, or an album that you wished to have signed to InFiné?
Julien Gagnebien: Richie Havens' Freedom (naturally the Woodstock live version). There is so much emotion, so much passion in his voice. I am shivering everytime I listen to it. It's what music provokes the best to human beings. The studio version does spread the same energy though.
How do you see the contemporary electronic music scene? Can you name us some pro and cons?
Julien Gagnebien: There is a strong international community, which is reachable … which makes promotion cheaper than in any other genre. I also feel now more national perspectives in the scene. People as German Tech-House or UK Bass music, French Electro-House. At the end of the day the system re-build its churches … and try to draw frontiers. Kind of scary, I have to admit…
What was your biggest hit so far?
Julien Gagnebien: It depends how do we measure it. What's a hit today? A million clicks on Youtube? 10 000 sales on I-tunes? 10 000 12inches sold? Rone gets the most hits on Youtube with his videos. Agoria's Speechless is our underground vinyl hit. I can remember that Danton Eeprom's Confession of English an Opium-Eater and C2's The Melody remix for Francesco Tristano have reached a high level of sales on Beatport.
Do you see your label as part of any scene?
Julien Gagnebien: No and that's the idea. Being everywhere and if possible where nobody has been before.
What is your opinion about digital Djing? Some people say Djing gets arbitrary because newcomers don’t select music anymore. They have 10.000 tracks and just start to dj without selecting. What do you think?
Julien Gagnebien: I think there is a reason why some deejays are still years after years on top. And it's not about the decks or the software they use. It's about the feeling they have with their audience and maybe a certain access to rare/unreleased tracks. A demanding attendance is definitely better than just buying music of the Beatport top 20. But the digital deejaying itself is not responsible for it. It's up to its user to make the best of it.
What advice would you give to producers and DJs who are just starting out?
Julien Gagnebien: Try not to reproduce the music that others do. Everybody can get a hit on Beatport, but a real career deserves a true musical vision.
How did you select the tracks for your Carhartt Radio show?
Julien Gagnebien: I asked Cubenx to do the mix. He is about to move to Berlin next month (he needs some new shoes to face Berlin's cold Spring). I did not want him to use the usual InFiné anthems. I gave him a selection of tracks which I considered “underrated”. He picked some of them and brought them together with some of his own favorites. The mix is quite dense but you get a good impression about InFiné.
If you would do a forecast about the sound of tomorrow how would it look like?
Julien Gagnebien: I can’t really predict what comes … and I don't really have a clear idea about what really works today in electronic music. There are a lot of nice albums though. But I have the impression that the people who used to be top tastemakers of electronic music are going back to music with instrumental/ethnic roots. I have sent Bachar's album to a couple of journalists who are rather writing about experimental music and Dubstep. The feedbacks are incredible whereas Bachar's musical universe is far from nowadays' average electronic music. He produces with no electronic effects at all.
Who should we look out for in 2013?
Julien Gagnebien: A new ideology maybe? Nowadays everything looks disenchanted. And iF not… all new InFiné records coming out!
What old albums you rediscovered lately and what makes them special?
Julien Gagnebien: Oxygène of Jean Michel Jarre. It was really cool to have him compile some tracks for InFiné for our latest digital compilation. In Paris some say (essentially cantankerous Z-list celebrities from the self-satisfied Pariser deejay scene) that JMJ does not deserve all the media attention he received in the last couple of months. Well my mother has Oxygène in her LP shelf and I bought myself the lastest mastered version when I was writing the press release for the InFiné compilation by JMJ. I just do not think that there is another record of a French producer which travelled in time and space as this one. And producing this record in 1976 was also highly political.
What was your best party moment in the last months and why?
Julien Gagnebien: Last Saturday Rone was playing at the Trianon in Paris packing alone an almost 2000 people capacity venue. The show was artistically great … but it also shows the path we have been through since seven years. A true feeling of little something achieved for all the team.
Who’s your favorite DJ of all time?
Julien Gagnebien: Hard to say there were a lot of magic evenings but I have to admit, they are also bound to the club's atmosphere and the friends you are with. Seth Troxler has something special I think. James Holden sent me to space. And Agoria also deserves his reputation.
Who are you listening to these days?
Julien Gagnebien: Part of my job is to listen to InFiné`s records… so my iPod is packed with demos and remixes for upcoming releases. I am personally a big Dub-Techno fan and keep playing a lot Redshape, Andy Stott, and Echospace latest albums. But there is also space for Atoms for Peace or some 70's Afrofunk compilations.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
Julien Gagnebien: I am aware, I overrate “post-trance” effects.
What is your first musical memory?
Julien Gagnebien: My mother's heartbeat. Since then my musical taste has become more sophisticated (and perverted).
Where do you feel most at peace?
Julien Gagnebien: In a bathtub with some hot water and a good book.
If you could spend a night partying with any of your icons, who would it be?
Julien Gagnebien: A fistful of Zombies of Walking Dead and Zlatan Ibrahimovi? should bring some fun!
You are located in Berlin, Lyon and Paris. What are favorite spots and secrets in these towns that you would recommend to somebody that comes around for a visit?
Julien Gagnebien: You can get the best of Lyon's Cuisine in Berlin at le Saint Amour. I wished I could suggest a currywurst spot for Paris and Lyon as well but I can´t.