SebastiAn is Back

SebastiAn is Back

The French DJ makes a triumphant return by both curating the soundtrack of the Saint-Laurent Spring 2020 show and releasing a new album.

The French DJ makes a triumphant return by both curating the soundtrack of the Saint-Laurent Spring 2020 show and releasing a new album.

Text: Fred Sahai

French DJ and electro music legend SebastiAn has collaborated with countless musicians throughout his career, including Daft Punk, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Frank Ocean, appearing on the track “Facebook Story” off his Blonde album in 2016. He’s recently released a vibey new single featuring Grammy-nominated singer Mayer Hawthorne, “Better Now,” in anticipation for his new album. Thirst, which is slated to come out on November 8th, will be his first release since 2011’s Total, his debut album.

Like Total, the cover art of Thirst show SebAstian doubled, but rather than kissing himself like on the controversial 2011 album cover, Thirst sees him fighting himself. But don’t be fooled, SebastiAn isn’t on his own on this record. True to his collaborative streak, most tracks feature other artists. He even goes on to share that the album is the result of all the encounters he’s had through different projects.

Thirst cover art by Jean-Baptiste Mondino

On top of the excitement of releasing this new album, he tells V that the ensuing tour also has him particularly jazzed: “The live versions for this album are gonna be way different production-wise.” He shares that though the album is heavy, there’s something about performing them live that makes them stronger, which is sure to please his audience.

Having had a lot of time to plot Thirst, and different collaborative experiences to inspire him, he let himself experience with not only different techniques, but different moods. He describes his attitude during the making of the album as “We’re gonna try it, let’s see what happens.” So SebastiAn gravitated towards unusual combinations and tried to make them work: “this album is all about finding bridges between styles.”

When it comes to visual, SebastiAn shares that he prefers to leave that part to the experts. He handles the music, and calls upon artist friends to express what they make of it visually. He recalls working with director Gaspar Noé for the video of his track “Thirst”: 

“He’s [Noé] been a friend of mine for a long time, so I said ‘You have a vision and your work is very coherent, so how do you feel about this track?’” Noé came to his house and listened to the album, focusing on “Thirst,” quickly seeing a clubbing concept come together in his head.”

When asked what songs he’s particularly excited about on the album, SebastiAn brings up another collaboration on the album, this one musical, with duo Sparks. Though he was excited to work with people he has long admired, he was wary about it: “It’s pretty dangerous to meet your idols, but I was totally not disappointed.” SebastiAn shares that to him, building a relationship with the people you’re working with, rather than have them come in and out of the studio, is very important.

One collaboration that caught him totally by surprise happened when Frank Ocean, who had somehow gotten his contact information, called him on Skype out of the blue. “I was in my apartment with like no shirt on, at the end of the day, and then Skype rings. There’s no number or anything, and I just hear like ‘hi’ in a Californian accent. I thought it was from like a record company, but suddenly the image shows up and he says ‘it’s Frank Ocean’ so I put a T shirt on.” Ocean asked him if he could be in LA by the next day, and then call ended with a quick “see you!”

SebastiAn has only great things to say about the experience, raving about Ocean’s unique way of working, which he describes as a “degree of genius” he’s never encountered in the industry before. 

When it comes to his own way of working, SebastiAn thinks he’s more hands on than conceptual, especially in the beginning. He first creates without giving it much thought, and shares that he almost likes to discover the music at the same time as the listeners. And so, it is up to the listener to decide what they make of Thirst.

“I did something, you tell me what that is.”

 

The Thirst album tracklisting:

  1. Thirst
  2. Doorman ft. Syd
  3. Movement
  4. Better Now ft. Mayer Hawthorne
  5. Pleasant ft. Charlotte Gainsbourg
  6. Yebo ft. Allan Kingdom
  7. Sev ft. Sevdaliza
  8. Sweet ft. Loota
  9. Sober ft. Bakar
  10. Time to Talk ft. Sunni Colòn
  11. Beograd
  12. Handcuffed to a Parking Meter ft. Sparks
  13. Devoyka
  14. Run for Me ft. Gallant

 

You can pre-order Thirst here. This interview has been edited for clarity.

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