Ask the Experts: Mr. Oizo

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Thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US, this month's edition of Ask the Experts is arriving a few days early, but its rushed appearance doesn't mean the knowledge being imparted by Mr. Oizo (a.k.a. Quentin Dupieux) is any less potent. The well-traveled producer and filmmaker is fresh off the release of a new album, The Church, which was recently issued by Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label. And while the LP's surfacing has undoubtedly kept him busy, Mr. Oizo still made the time to sift through the avalanche of questions we received from XLR8R readers and answer the ones that most tickled his fancy. His responses touch on his songwriting process, studio set-up, and the relationship between his movie making and music making, but more importantly, they find him sharing some valuable wisdom and genuine insights into his artistic outlook.

How important is it for a producer to be a DJ also? Will it give them an edge in terms of the music they make? Did you produce first or DJ first?
Chris

I produced a lot of music before spinning records in clubs. When "Flat Beat" was everywhere, I wasn't playing as a DJ. It was too scary for me. I guess it's up to you. You can make great music without being a DJ.

How fast you can make an superb beat from nothing?
Igor

It is easy to create a first draft in 10 minutes. Anybody can do it. I play with some tools, I record stuff without thinking, I dig for new ideas. It is harder to finish something!

You're well known for working with unusual synthesizer sounds. When you're doing a track, do you create the sounds first and work around them, or start with an idea and incorporate your sounds into them?
HiFi Brown

There are no rules! It's always different. I don't have like a formula to make my tunes, I just try to surprise myself every time I produce something. Sometimes I just record some live synths, then I cut the best bits and create the track from that. (That's how I did "Positif," for example.) Sometimes I start with some samples. Sometimes I also sample my own music.

Your production skills come from your hip-hop background, and listening to your tracks, they involve a lot of sampling and programming. Do you use MIDI programming or sequence the audio? Do you use any MIDI controller with the software? Or do you chop with the mouse and launch your samples drawing the MIDI notes instead of using a controller?
Tito

I do everything with a small MIDI keyboard and the mouse.

What software or hardware did you used to produce your last album? Do you have any special piece of gear you always use?
Señor Ave

This album was made 98% with Logic 9 and 2% with Ableton Live. I only have a laptop, a small MIDI keyboard, two good speakers, and some vinyl. I have tried many things (analog synths, crazy controllers, 5899 plug-ins) and I realized something very important: tools can't make music for you.

As an aspiring filmmaker in high school who wants to one day write and direct music videos and films for a living, what would you say is the best path to achieving these goals and becoming a successful filmmaker? Your work in film and music is a huge inspiration of mine, so thank you for taking the time to read my question.
M.M.

It depends. If successful means $$$$ and fame, I can't really help you. If successful means being able to write and direct exactly what you want and love, then my only advice would be like the Nike commercial tagline: 'JUST DO IT.' Nobody's waiting for you. Do your stuff, follow your instinct. Good luck!

What is your involvement in the making of the soundtrack for your upcoming movie Reality? Because I think I read somewhere that you did not want to get involved personally in the making of your future movies' soundtracks. But maybe you have changed your mind…
Quentin

I haven't changed my mind! I really think my music sometimes ruins my movies. It was fun to use 25 Oizo bangers on the Wrong Cops soundtrack because the movie was really rough and dirty, but I think I should not do that again for future projects. For Reality, I used only one beautiful piece by Philip Glass (Music with Changing Parts, 1971), nothing else. It works fantastically. Having a masterpiece like this on my movie is a big change for me.

I would like to know if one day you plan to play some of your tunes with a band, without electronic sound, only sound from "real" instruments?
Jona

I have no plan like that, but I would love to hear a band playing my tunes. There's a rock band on YouTube who played "Cut Dick." That is quite fun. I heard a studio version of "Flat Beat" also, but that was terrible.