Boredom and solitude are two things most musicians don’t wear well. Once detachment starts to kick in, terrible things tend to happen – hard drugs, loose women, broken television sets, you know the picture.
But when French electro maverick Yuksek found himself both more or less bored with the self-serving demands of the dancefloor and all too often alone on tour, solely accompanied by his collection of synths and FX boards, he wisely decided to avoid the aforementioned trappings and pour his heart and soul into song.
The aftermath: ‘Living On The Edge Of Time’, an album inspired by the numbness of life on the road, the feeling of being alone in a crowd and constant need for creative exploration – but also a collection of unabashed, jubilant pop tunes; introspect and uplifting at the same time.
“I admit; mentally, I needed to get away from the new just-for-the-sake-of-being-new trappings of dancefloor culture”, says Yuksek, or Pierre as his friends and mother calls him. “The saturated synth noises, the crunching beats or distorted mayhem; these songs asked for different things. Like melody, for instance!”
“The synths are still there, but now they are serving the song, and much less the dj” – ads the classically trained Busson with a wink.
There always was a pop heart beating inside Yuksek’s unique brand of electronic dancefloor bangers. Always catchy hooks hidden between the acid loops, hints of glam and indie infiltrating his energized house beats. Tunes like ‘So Far Away From The Sea’ and ‘Extraball’ from his acclaimed debut album revealed a powerful pop sensibility, deeply rooted into a lifelong affinity to artists as David Bowie, Gary Numan and The Cure, but also a devoted love for Lou Reed circa ‘Transformer’, Serge Gainsbourg, early West Coast-rap and the Warp label.
At the time of the release of his debut album ‘Away From The Sea’, Yuksek was a one-man act. Never an aspiring dj or clubber by nature, his shows were a live flurry of keyboards, mixing consoles, wires and drum machines. Strikingly, it’s this experience of solo performances to anonymous crowds, the lengthy hours and days away from spouse and child,that inspired the songs that make up ‘Living On The Edge Of Time’.
“It’s weird, being on tour by yourself. Almost constantly surrounded by people, playing packed clubs, but still very much alone”, Pierre explains. “The majority of these songs came to me while travelling on trains, waiting at airports and hanging around by myself in hotel rooms.”
Back home in Reims, Pierre instinctively knew these songs weren’t cut out for a one-man treatment, so he rounded up friends and fellow Reims scenesters such as The Shoes and The Bewichted Hands (‘his second family’, as he calls them) to participate in the studio. Also, for the first time, he took upon himself all vocal duties. Having previously worked with guest singers such as Chromeo and Amanda Blank, these tunes called for a more personal approach and in the process, Yuksek found his (singing) voice. ‘Living On The Edge Of Time’ is the sound of an artist who can’t ignore the muse, a restless producer constantly in motion and a musician devoted to evolution. The gang of friends perfectly capture the nervous spirit of the material; like the frantic, rhythm-‘n-blues-y, piano riff that, well, runs through in album opener ‘Always On The Run’. During ‘White Keys’ a joyous sing-a-long lifts the song to ecstatic heights, the result is not very much unlike Gary Numan doing MGMT’s ‘Kids’.
First single ‘On A Train’ shudders with a twitchy new wave bass line and ‘Say A Word’ explodes with chirpy synths and a jumpy melody. Proof that Yuksek hasn’t totally abandoned the club kids comes in the shape of ‘Fireworks’, a continues crescendo of guitars and swooshing sounds that’s destined to become a live favourite! About that, when Yuksek takes his new babies on the road, he won’t be by himself – gone are the days of solitude, he’s taking his musician buddies along for the ride.
“For me, it’s not possible not to think about music; the next song is always hiding right beneath the surface”, says Busson. Indeed, inspiration is a bitch; and while ‘Living On The Edge Of Time’ has only begun its life in the open, Yuksek is already cooking up a new project with ex-Villa man The Magician, plotting new material with pal Brodinski as The Krays, and who knows what else. Time will tell.