Romain Reynaud is the man behind Traumer, and several other aliases, too. The Frenchman, now a Paris resident, grew up in Avignon, a city in southeastern France’s Provence region, before relocating to the capital in the name of music. He also works as Romain Poncet and Sergie Rezza, the latter in collaboration with Cyril Etienne des Rosaies (a.k.a DJ Deep).
You have to wind back to 2011 for Traumer’s debut, a heavy-hitting record on Skryptöm, where he quickly released a string of straight techno EPs. It’s an aesthetic that bears little resemblance to the Traumer of now; around 2016, the Traumer sound became intricate and groovy, hypnotic and subtle. Behind this change lay a growing interest in the minimal rhythms coming out of Bucharest, in particular those of Rhadoo, Raresh, and Petre Inspirescu, and so he launched Gettraum, a platform for these new sounds, with a sublime three-track EP of elegant minimal house. “My sound has recently moved a bit but I guess it always did and it will always do,” Traumer recalled in 2017. “I was listening to that stuff [minimal house] for a while, way before producing or even playing it.”
Since then, Traumer’s works have established Gettraum as a fountain of fine minimal-leaning productions. The pulsating bassline of “Ijah” makes you want to listen again, again, and again; check out the chiseled drums of “Whisky Roll”; and close your eyes to the sultry, hypnotizing vocals of “Lucea.” Those who’ve taken a liking to these groove-laden sounds can almost buy a Traumer record on sight.
More recently, Traumer contributed a track to XLR8R+ alongside works from Pola and Kate Simko. "Transit," which can be streamed below, will be recognized by those who have seen him DJ recently because it’s one of those groovy rollers that’ll work anytime, anywhere. It was produced in Noumea, New-Caledonia on the first stop of Traumer’s recent tour in Oceania. “As the sun was definitely too strong for my pale skin, I stayed in the room and did some music,” he recalls. He ended up with "Transit" but didn’t name it because he still wasn’t sure on it. “Later the same day, I tried it out at the party and it worked super well,” he adds. “So I decided to call it after the party’s name, Transit, as a tribute to this party and its promoters I loved so much!”
XLR8R+ is a monthly subscription service that complements the main XLR8R site. Each month we share three unreleased tracks from three different artists that we feel are pushing the scene forward in inspiring ways. These tracks will be available for download in high-quality WAV format for the duration of one month; only subscribers for that particular month will have them. This month's offering features Traumer, Pola, and Kate Simko. More information can be found here. By subscribing for $5/month, you will support the artists and XLR8R, allowing us to continue what we’ve been doing for 25 years: finding, curating, and serving the best electronic music out there, without paid influence.
1. Where are you right now?
Well, I know myself, and I won’t finish this interview at one single place or in a one-shot. So, I wrote these first words on the sofa in my living room. I am taking a break from preparing and sorting some music for Sunwaves. […] Back at it! I'm now answering from the plane taking me to Bucharest. Not sure I'm going to last long though as I’m already falling asleep. […] Third attempt! I am now back in my bed, I’ve just woken up, and the plan of the day is chilling and resting after Sunwaves.
2. What have you been up to lately?
I’ve gotten back into the studio in April, after four months of almost no studio at all due to an intense gig schedule. I think I’ve been in the studio a maximum of seven days between December and March. I really needed to be back at it. So that’s what I’ve been focused on lately: making music.
3. What’s the last thing that made you laugh and why?
Like my first answer, I think this will change a lot, as I laugh a lot! Even while writing the first answers, I'll caught at several things. But right now, the last thing that made me laugh is a meme (in French) a friend sent me; it’s basically about your friend wanting to leave the party and you’re catching him in order to force him to join the after-party. It’s all about the picture and the way it’s written in French.
4. What type of music did you first start making?
The first bits of music I made were some kind of mash-ups when I was like 14 or 15. Then I went into “real” production around the ages 15 or 16 and I was doing some kind of minimal melodic techno. At that time, I was a huge fan of pretty much everything from Border Community to Stephan Bodzin’s productions. Then I moved onto a more straight techno sound.
5. How much time do you spend in the studio?
I used to spend a lot of time in the studio, but sessions have become rarer with my intense touring schedule, unfortunately. I used to wake up at 4 a.m. and make music until 7 p.m. almost every day of the week. Now I still have the same “working hours,” but I am just visiting the studio way less. This has pushed me to work on sketches when I’m on the plane, at the hotel, etc., and I try to be as efficient as possible when I am in the studio, to finish these sketches.
6. What’s your favorite place to travel to, and why?
It’s difficult to pick one because I love many places for different reasons. For example, I like going to Berlin because I have friends there so I know I’ll never be alone, but that means I’ll party so I’ll leave the city tired. I like to travel to most of the Mediterranean cities because the weather will be nice and the food is great.
7. What do you perceive to be your strengths and weaknesses as a producer?
It’s an interesting question. I actually try to ask it to myself as much as possible, but maybe writing it down will help me to find some answers.
Two of my major strengths are both my speed and my ability to assemble pieces. I am very fast in the creative process, maybe not so much now, but I used to make 10 tracks a day. About the assembling ability thing, I can easily combine parts in order to make a solid groove and loop. For remix duties, for example, especially the ones with a lot of musical parts, I can easily isolate the right moment, cut it, and re-arrange it.
Another main strength is that I can produce a lot of types of music: techno, ambient, house, deep house, etc.
Also, I am good at bringing a club-ready efficiency with my music. It was even more obvious some years ago. Basically, I know how to make a track rock thousands of people in a big room.
But for me this also a weakness, since I’m too often focused on this aspect of a track: the response of the audience. I'm trying to learn how to catch people’s attention with less “explicit” tricks. I still need to work a lot on that. At least I need to release stuff which is more classy, less super effective; I am doing lots of different music, deeper, etc., but I think I am kind of blocked in my head in a way of thinking like I have to release some club-ready beats.
One of my main weaknesses is that I struggle to get out of my comfort zone. I try but I do not succeed often. Once when I have a recipe that works I tend to stick with it way too much. For example, I think I have like 15 tracks that sound like Gettraum006, because in the period of creation I was into this way of producing so they all sound the same; even if the ideas are a bit different, they are all copies of previous ones.
Also, a downside of my speed is that I often finish some tracks too fast and I don’t like to return to it. Most of the time, once I exported it I don’t like to rework it. I am definitely too hasty.
8. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
I would really love to be able to play the piano. I mean, playing in general. I have absolutely no musical education. I am not a skilled musician and this pisses me off during almost every studio session; I would love to be able to take the keyboard and rock a solo, but I can’t. So I always have to struggle with this musical part when I am producing.
9. What gives you a greater buzz, playing out or producing in the studio?
I need both, that’s for sure. I really need the public and the interaction with it. That’s what brings me the energy and the feelings to keep going, and also it's a way of testing the new music I’m doing in the studio. The studio is my way of losing myself; it’s my way of escaping.
10. Traumer’s sound has evolved from driving techno to more groove-laden, minimalistic beats. How easy was this transition?
For me, it was natural in the way that I was into a more minimal sound even while I was making and playing more techno-oriented music. I have just taken my time to make the official transition; I wanted to be as ready as possible, let’s say. But still, I’ve tried to make this transition as smooth as possible by releasing some more smooth and minimal tracks or remixes during my “techno era.” The most difficult thing was trying to hide all of my “efficient techno” production habits in these new minimal house beats I was trying to produce.
11. Name three artists who are inspiring you right now.
Raresh as a DJ. He is one of my favorites of all time. I love his versatility, his energy, his behavior, pretty much everything.
Apollonia as DJs. I love the combination of the different sounds each of them plays. And also love the atmosphere they set up when they play; it’s pure happiness for music and good vibes.
Cristi Cons as both a DJ and a producer.
But there are way more than just these three.
12. What venue/club/event have you enjoyed playing the most and why?
I hate picking up one thing as a favorite. So I’ll say that I really enjoyed the last gig I played when I was writing this, which was Sunwaves Festival. It was my first time there and hopefully everything went well. It was a super good vibe and energy—I loved it so much!
13. I’ve seen you say that drums are the most important aspect of a track for you. Why?
I think I meant percussion and drums, but I guess I’ve been not super clear when I've had to express myself [laughs]. But yes, both are very important to me—everything that is percussive is essential. But now I am trying to give more attention to the bass; I don't think I gave the low frequencies the importance they deserved, maybe due to my past experiences with techno.
14. What would constitute your perfect day off?
It can change depending on my mood, but exactly at this moment, when I am on holiday in the countryside, my perfect day would be :
Wake up early, around 4 am, and go to the studio until late afternoon. After this, I’ll go to the market, select and buy some vegetables, olives, herbs, meat, and Italian ham, and then I’ll cook them all.
While I'd be waiting for some close friends to arrive, I’ll get some seriously good white and red Burgundy wine in my wine cellar. I'd take an average of 1.5 bottles each, because we are all good clients when it comes to wine! My wife, our friends, and I will have a proper dinner then. After that, a long night of guilty pleasure lies ahead of all of us! And we will all be advised to take the next day off!
15. What are your favorite things to do in Paris?
Resting, being with my wife, cooking, having dinner with friends, and partying with friends in private places. It’s basically about doing things I can’t while I’m touring.
16. Dead or alive, who is your dream person to go for dinner with?
I won’t say a “dream,” but Björk would be one of those people I’d like to go for dinner with.
17. How do you spend your time outside of music?
I love cinema, I love to watch movies a lot. I also love going out shopping, but I don’t do it so often.
I am also a fan of Black Mirror. I recently watched for maybe the 15th time the movie "Arrival" by Denis Villeneuve, with the outstanding original soundtrack by Jóhann Jóhannsson. I am a huge fan of Villeneuve’s art. Cooking is also a big passion, my wife even created an Instagram account where she posts the dish I’m doing: @welove_cooking
18. What have you got coming up for the summer season and the rest of 2019?
A 2x12” on Berg Audio called Assembling Pieces, with some special collaborations. I did an album for Cosmo Records, which is pretty much away from the club scene as it’s mainly some kind of jazz-minimal fusion with some traditional Moroccan instruments. Another Gettraum is planned for around September 2019, as well as another Gettraum Hors Serie. An EP on Infuse is in preparation as well, and I also worked on something for Abartik a long time ago, and things seem to be almost ready.
19. What other aspirations do you have, and why haven’t you done them yet?
I've dreamt of living through music for all my life, and only the future will tell me whether this is going going to happen.
20. Where do you see yourself artistically in 10 years?
I have no idea, I just hope I’ll be at least still there and artistically active.