DJ Mehdi's Artist Tips
- Words: Ken Taylor
Parisian DJ Mehdi's debut full-length on Ed Banger, Lucky Boy, encompasses so many different styles that a single listen can make your head spin. We were interested to know how he changes gears so smoothly and what tools and production philosophies aided one of the year's most promising hip-hop/not-hip-hop records. Here Mehdi breaks down the process, one song at a time.
1. "Busy Being Born"
This is a bass-tinged, hip-hop-flavored instrumental. It's made from two things I was doing a lot during the early stages of making this album: playing the acoustic guitar and listening to Bob Dylan. I know it's not super-obvious when you hear the record now, but this one song was definitely made out of those two ingredients. It has me strumming, MPC-rhythm programming, and a Dylan-esque title!
2. "I Am Somebody" (Featuring Chromeo)"
This is a flashy, '80s-R&B pop tune. It's as simple as me playing around with the MPC1000, sampling two of my favorite records ever, which I can't tell you about, and some cosmic keyboarding on the MiniMoog-the same way I'd make a rap instrumental. We asked Chromeo for a remix and they hit us back with crazy vocals, vocoder lines, and more cosmic keyboards!
For this glitched-out, almost-ambient synth number, I have to give it up to my homeboys: Mr. Kavinksy played this incredible sample to me and said, "Why don't you loop this and have a rapper come in over it?" The day before we mastered the album, I imported it into a Pro Tools session and started messing around, breaking it down into tiny bits and emulating my Justice cousin Xavier de Rosnay's incredible computer-editing ability. I could only do a two-minute interlude. Well, master Thomas Bangalter blessed me with a seven-minute edit!
4. "Pony Rocking" (Featuring Feadz)
One day I was going to Ed Banger's office on my Vespa, and I bumped into DJ Feadz at a stoplight. He was like "You know what? I started rapping! I pitch my voice and it sounds stupid. Come and listen!" I played him this simple MPC instrumental, telling him about my goal to bring back old-school sounds with a moder aesthetic. He came back the very same day with an acapella file, and a good production challenge for me.
5. "Lucky Boy" (Featuring Fafi)"
This bassy banger was the very frist track I did for this record. Hanging around in the South of France with graffiti artist Fafi, playing Spanish chords on my guitar, I came across this simple melody and recorded it on my laptop using GarageBand. Weeks later, I jumped on the MPC and programmed this whole song in five minutes. Fafi wrote those senseless lyrics that we immediately loved and recorded. It sounded a bit strange to us, but for some reason peeps seem to dig it, so we left it at the first take.
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