La Fraicheur & Leonard de Leonard have launched a new facet of their symbiotic exchange: a live duo project, which they just showcased with their second collaboration EP, titled Hysterio and out on Marc Ayat’s A-TRACTION Records as part of the label’s anniversary celebrating 20 years of releases.
This comes after almost a decade of collaborations in Berlin ranging from studio production to radio shows, party series to record label work. La Fraicheur and Leonard de Leonard don’t live in the same city anymore, since La Fraicheur relocated to Barcelona, but they share a symbiotic relationship that transcends music yet gets as deep as it can while in the studio and, now, through their new live sets.
The duo had prepared their new live sets for 2020, but those plans had to be put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdowns. Regardless, they march on with releases and studio collaborations from afar, joining Marc Ayat in celebrating 20 Years of A-TRACTION Records.
We caught up with all three to discuss their relationship and the label’s milestone. Enjoy the exclusive three-way interview below, as well as the exclusive premiere of the title track from their Hystero EP as part of the 20 Years of A-TRACTION Records celebration.
Hello to you guys, how has your summer been going?
La Fraicheur: Summer’s been hella weird since Barcelona, where I live, is in the middle of a new wave of COVID19 which means that we are partially reconfined after just a month of feeling like life was restarting again given Spain has had one of the strictest confinement in Europe. It’s been a very short break before the return of a harsh reality.
Leonard de Leonard: In Berlin it’s ok as the lockdown was way easier than in France or Spain. I can go to the forest and the lake, the health of my family and friends are more or less okay, and my studio is in my apartment so I feel pretty lucky, especially when I see the dramatic situation that some people are going through
Marc Ayats: It’s a pretty weird summer in Burgundy, the dates have been canceled, have changed, are re-schedule to end up in total blur without reality. So it’s a summer with friends, family and doing workshop with the organizers to try to re-invent yourself to dance. While waiting for a restart 2020 has been a strange, unusual year for most of us.
How have you been living through the pandemic? What most has changed about your life?
Marc Ayats: This year was destined to be unusual because we had to do a tour to celebrate the 20 years of my label A-TRACTION records. This pandemic has completely changed the situation!
At the beginning, I continued to work as we were going to pick up quickly, so I worked in the studio normally and on the label’s releases and then as the weeks piling up, it was getting hard not to see the friends and family only by phone or by cam, not to have the end date of lockdown and I lost the desire
to produce music. But above all, it changed our work, our cancelled dates and ruined several months of work. We must relaunch now
La Fraicheur: Everything has changed about my life. I went from being away touring non-stop and working on artist residencies for a contemporary dance piece I’m soundtracking to being stuck at home with no income and no betterment of my professional situation. It’s a huge blow on all levels, emotionally, existentially, physically and financially. I am still very much wondering how and if I’m gonna make it through.
Leonard de Leonard: All DJ sets and Lives were canceled including the one with La Fraicheur we worked so hard to have ready for this summer festival season. I also miss my nightlife, but at the same time, I can stay more in the studio with more time working on tracks, sound design and the mixing/mastering of a lot of tracks for other artists.
What positive things have you gained from the weeks of lockdown?
La Fraicheur: have been able to give time and attention to my love life which all touring artist know is hard to nurture when you’re always away and tired. I have been able to read a lot and especially on collapsology and permaculture consolidating my social and political views on how we need to live in the very close future in order to be self-reliant and better connected to the planet we live on.
Leonard de Leonard: I spent a lot of time with my son who only had limited school a few hours a week, and my wife who was working a lot less.
Spending time with my family is priceless.
Marc Ayats: This allowed me to have more time to finish some remixes, but also to classify my vinyl collection and find some forgotten kills.
But I think I especially became aware of the importance of my friends in my life, when we see each other several times a week and that overnight our relationships are only virtual it awakens in us a few things that we underestimated
Have you managed to explore new projects during this time?
La Fraicheur: I have actually learned to tattoo! I have been looking for different outlets for my creativity after I lost all ability to make music, my spirit, confidence and dynamic being all brought down by the heaviness of the world’s struggle with the consequences of late-stage capitalism. It’s been fun
to get that anger and frustration out in different ways, namely drawing and tattooing. Cops cars burning, Sigmund Freud in flames, female protesters, and cats rioting.
Leonard de Leonard: I’ve studied sound design extensively and I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different combinations of gear. Well, that’s what I’ve been doing for over 30 years but this time has allowed me to dive even deeper.
Marc Ayats: I spent time tidying up my vinyl collection, and I had the idea to share all these years of music with Facebook live with a theme per label each week. And I started to photograph everything that surrounds our daily life and retouch them.
How did you two first come into touch with each other?
Marc Ayats: I met La Fraicheur on backstage at a festival a year ago, the tide went well and we stayed in touch. With Leonard, it was the demo that brought us and our beards.
La Fraicheur: When I moved to Berlin, a friend of my sister’s told me that I should meet with Leo and we did so, instantly becoming super close and multitask partners on top of neighbors.
How did that relationship build to what it is today?
La Fraicheur: It’s been a steady and organic exploration of all the things we could build and create together! I have started helping him with the PR of his label then we started a radio show together followed by a party series in Berlin, we produced music together and he is also my official sound engineer for all my solo music mixing and mastering the hell out of my tracks. I was his “best woman” at his wedding and seen his kid grow. When I left Berlin we decided to start another project to keep our relationship just as tight despite the distance and that’s how the live duo came to be. He’s been my closest partner for almost a decade now and we talk pretty much every day on the phone.
Leonard de Leonard: or on Facebook, or on Skype or on Whatsapp! (laughs)
Marc Ayats: We have grown very close since she sent me demo and we decided to work together, and with the lockdown, we have developed a very different relationship from a label manager and his artists, we talk to each other almost every day by Facebook and not necessarily from work.
Have you two shared any actual studio time together yet? If so, how was it?
La Fraicheur: We do! We have regularly when we were both living in Berlin and just 2 blocks from each other and since I moved to Barcelona he regularly comes with a suitcase full of modular synths and we make music for days on end. The creative relationship is really fun and easy. We have very compatible skills and personalities and from knowing each other so well, there is no ego bullshit, we equally work on sound design and arrangement and the decision making process is superfluid. And when one of us hate the other one’s idea, we crack a joke and move on smoothly. We know each other’s strength and flaws and we work the best of them and learn from each other.
Producing together ends up being a super fast creative process because there is no time lost on creative self-doubt when the other one is your best cheerleader and whenever brains get tired and one get stuck, the other always has a solution, from which we bounce back and end up making music that really feels like a combination of our universes and we can both be proud to attach our names to it.
Leonard de Leonard: We are doing “big sessions “in Berlin and Barcelona and we are also doing small ones in airports or hotel rooms when we play together. It allows you to start tracks that can be continued separately or to move forward with parts where decisions are easier to make when you are physically together.
Marc Ayats: Not yet, but maybe one day. I did a remix of the track “Rubber Murder” from the EP with my friend Southsoniks.
You both have a symbiotic relationship, one a Leonizer records owner and the other an artist releasing on the label. What about each other’s work do you respect the most?
La Fraicheur: I truly admire Leo’s ear which can go into minute detail that mine doesn’t even compute. He has infinite knowledge and thrive to always continue learning which is inspiring. His geeky love for gears and patience and passion for technicality makes him the best partner to get a crisp, fat sounding, balanced and spacious sound. I also, as a queer woman who’s had beyond her share of condescending attitude from a lot of men in the scene, have to say that Leo’s trust and respect towards me has been an incredible push to grow as an artist. He’s never second-guessed my creative ideas, never belittled my knowledge, and has always kept an open mind.
Leonard de Leonard: I love her energy and also all the fresh ideas she brings. I like that she stays focused on the projects while I tend to disperse. I like that we complement each other pretty well. I also like that she stays true to her friends. Often when I do collaborations, projects don’t last long, because of distance, new opportunities coming up or ego issues.
Who are some young/up-and-coming artists you are really liking right now?
Marc Ayats: I discovered a young artist who is just starting out who risks exploding everything is Laurent Garnier, you know?
In France, I will say Darzack that I have been following for almost 3 years and my little protégé Owlk.
La Fraicheur: I have to say I am in love with the growing community of my peers that are shaking up the scene in ways it needed to be pushed out of its comfort zone. My sisters Overland and Softcoresoft from Canada, VTSS from Poland, Ayako Mori from Japan, Warrego Valles from Slovenia, Mapalma from Serbia are incredible talents I’m lucky to be a contemporary of.
Leonard de Leonard: I like Arc Rae and Moe Mustafa’s ambient, Anml Mathr, Porteix, Caravel, Bloody Mary, Indecent Gesture and Van Staen’s techno, Art in Motion’s tech house, She Spell Doom’s electronica and Cardinal & Nun’s new wave.
Marc Ayats: The French scene is booming, the next generation of techno with Darzack and the duo Wast & FEM, Munsinger and Roüge for their EBM, Brulée or my little protégé Owlk for their Rave side
What do you hope your first gig after lockdown is?
Marc Ayats: The August gigs have been canceled, I hope we all sweat together very soon maybe in more intimate spaces, but I hope sooner! And that our clubs can open very quickly
La Fraicheur: Though I should say I can’t wait for a 10,000 people crowd kinda gig like I did at Dour because that would be a Big Bang giving me hope that we can meet at a big scale again and that, as an artist, give me faith that we can rebuild our careers, I honestly just wish for an intimate 100 people rave at a “chiringuito” here in Catalunya, a little beach shack with cheap lights
and disco ball and a lot of hugging.
Leonard de Leonard: I have a few options in France and Switzerland end of August, which, fingers crossed, will still happen. I just hope there are some sweat and smiles.
Thank you guys and congratulations on 20 Years of A-TRACTION and the Hystero EP!
Hystero Track Listing:
3. Rubber Murder
4. Cheveux (6SISS remix)
5. Rubber Murder (Marc Ayats & Southsoniks Remix)