You're most likely familiar with Olivier Mateu under his current moniker, Rodriguez Jr.—and if you're not, get acquainted ASAP, as the French-born artist, a mainstay of Anja Schneider and Ralf Kollmann's Mobilee label, is a great producer with a series of releases that manage to walk the line between warm intimacy and clubland efficacy. (Check a clip from his red-hot live set from this past spring's Desert Hearts festival and stream his recent Chrysalism EP for proof.) But this isn't Mateu's first dance with the dancefloor—for a decade-long run starting around the turn of the millennium, Mateu served time with his erstwhile partner Gilles Escoffier as one half of the Youngsters, producing techy, chunky and occasionally tripped out grooves, largely for Laurent Garnier's F Communications imprint. In short, he's a man who knows how to work the studio and rock the revelry—which is why, if your in the vicinity of the City of Angels, you should head to Halloween night's Minimal Effort blast at LA's Belasco Theater, where Mateu be joined by Agoria, Hunter/Game, Blond:ish, Adana Twins and a host of other notables. We've asked the talented musician and producer to take part in our occasional Trainwreck series, and he's met the request by recounting the tale of a gig from hell.
Let’s go back in 1999. I was part of a duo called the Youngsters and we used to play live performances. The following scenario happened somewhere in Bretagne during a cold and rainy winter day—the perfect landscape for such a scary story.
The club was in the middle of nowhere. It looked like a haunted castle in this empty landscape. We met the owner who was clearly worried about something. And he actually had good reasons to be anxious: An old guy showed up at the club with a shotgun a couple of hours before our arrival, threatening the crew because "the music we were going to play was perversion and mental pollution for the youth, and an incitement to the use of drugs." He wanted the party to be cancelled or he would come back during the night with his gun. Nor the police, nor the owner knew how to deal with this situation. After a long discussion we decided to confirm the party and move forward anyway.
Wrong decision, even if the weird old guy with his gun never showed up again. The party ended up being a human and technical disaster: no monitors, disco lights, no crowd except a bunch of drunk people asking for gabber music. But at least we were alive! And we were so much looking forward having a good sleep after such an epic day.
We still had to drive 90 minutes again through the dark countryside before reaching the hotel, which was actually under construction and not open to public. Our host reassured us again: He got the keys from the hotel owner, the renovation work was almost complete, and therefore we wouldn’t be annoyed by any noise because we would be alone in it. We ended up the night all together in the same cold paint-fumed room, surrounded by brushes, ladders, paint cans and buckets. Shall I mention they haven’t installed any heater yet? It was so freezing that it was physically impossible to sleep.
In the morning, our host brought us back to the airport, confessing he couldn’t pay our fee. As a replacement, he kindly offered us to stop at his place where we could get either his VCR or microwave, which had both the same value on the second hand market. It was a touching and nice offer from him, but we didn’t want to be responsible of any social drama—so we declined the offer and definitely forgot about our fee. We were so happy to be alive and to fly back to our Montpellier anyway!