Ghislain Poirier In The Studio


The second half of 2005 brought a hat trick of major accomplishments for Montreal-based MC-turned-producer Ghislain Poirier. He started his "irregular monthly" at Montreal's Zoobizarre, kicking it off in July with French hip-hop stars TTC. The night now draws over 250 people to hear guests including Shadetek and Ottawa's Disorganized crew. He hooked up with England's MC-of-the-moment Lady Sovereign, opening for her on her North American tour and remixing her track "Fiddle With the Volume," which has been tearing up dancefloors across the continent. To top it off, his second LP, Breakupdown, a record that infectiously tweaks hip-hop and ragga with guests like Beans and DJ Collage–was released in February on Chocolate Industries. The busy DJ and producer took the time to shed some light on his "If it works, use it" philosophy, talking to XLR8R about his minimal setup, dirty recording vs. clean mastering, and his love affair with Fruity Loops.

XLR8R: How did your Bounce le Gros parties get started?

Ghislain Poirier: I was DJing a lot this year but always in a context where I had to adapt myself to other people. Sometimes funk/soul nights, sometimes IDM–I love a lot of music so it's easy to do that, but at a certain point I was not totally free. I realized nobody would give me the liberty to play exactly what I want if I don't take it myself. I tried it in July and it was super fun. People are really open-minded so I can do what I want. I can switch styles every two tracks if I want and nobody will care. If I drop good tracks, people will just dig it.

What's your basic studio setup?

I'm pretty minimal in my studio, and it's always funny when I say "studio" because I'm mainly working with just the laptop. Nothing exceptional; it's pretty old. For programs, I use mainly Cool Edit Pro and Fruity Loops, which is so easy and–what can I say–just useful!

Any outboard stuff? Hardware? FX?

I just recently bought this little sampler, the Boss SP-303 Dr. Sample, a couple months ago. I've used it for some of my more ambient and noisy music that's not released yet. Also, I bring it when I have DJ gigs to have some extra sounds, to give me a little more humanity when I'm playing.

So when you play live the setup is the laptop, the Dr. Sample, and then a MIDI trigger?

Not even a MIDI keyboard; just a little mixer to put everything in. I'd like a MIDI trigger but I'm pretty slow to buy equipment and I'm pretty efficient with the laptop and the SP-303.

How do you get the particular sounds and samples you're working with?

I never use sample banks or CD samples. I get them all simply by sampling other records or even sampling myself. Sometimes people ask me how I did this or that sound and I say, "I did it by myself." [Laughs]. Although lately I have been using some of the presets in Fruity Loops because when you want to do something really powerful for the club, some presets are really efficient and really clean–especially for the bass sounds. For me, it was liberating to explore Fruity Loops and find the bass, since recently that's what I've been spending the most time on in my music: how to treat the bass.

Favorite microphone?

I use a Rode NT1000. It's good for rapping but I'm not too picky about this stuff because when all my sound is kind of dirty, it makes sense also to have dirty [vocal] recordings.

Who does your mastering?

For Breakupdown, it was somebody in Chicago that [Chocolate Industries] usually uses. For other stuff, I'm doing the mastering with a guy in Montreal named Louis Dufort. He did the mastering for the next Shockout release. He's from the electro-acoustic field but he also really digs hip-hop. What he's doing is really key to making the sound better, more round.

You've done a lot of great mash-ups in addition to original productions. Will any of them ever get a release?

Yeah, in 2006 I'm doing an independent release on CD called Bounce le Remix, which will be [comprised of] 13 remixes, eight of which will also [appear] on vinyl. Some have been done for over a year and it's club music, so it has to be released soon.

You don't have any worries about releasing them?

Hey, when people release a mixtape in the States they put their real name on it, and afterwards they say "For Promotional Use Only." Major labels encourage people to do bootlegs; they put the acapella on the records. So I'm seeing this release as more a mixtape than something illegal–just something I want to share with the people and for the DJs.