Interviews Music

A Short Eenterview with Marc Houle

So, a few weeks ago a preview track drops into our inbox on a (probably) rainy and certainly not summerfide morning. We probably flagged it. We probably had some tea and biscuits to celebrate the end of the “flagging of the emails” part of the day. We might’ve left it flagged for a month or two and then quietly unflagged, a little guilty that we never got round to it. But we didn’t, we played it.

Then we went “MOTHERF****ER!” and heads began bobbing up and down around the office (not in that way, filthy) and big smiles were shared round and shameless robot dances were done with bandy legs and tip-toe trainers and macs quacked up to thirteen. For this was no ordinary email stow away, this was Marc Houle and Miss Kittin’s “Where Is Kittin” and it is a big fat bastard!!

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So, of course not only do we have to tell you that – now you know – and tell you you should probably buy it to make your life better, but we also had to have a chat with Marc Houle and ask questions and stuff to put on our magaweb. And they go a little something like this..

Hi Marc, how’s your day?

It’s a sunny beautiful day in Berlin….I’m of course in the studio working.  I did take an early morning walk along the canal to see some swans and ducks though.

Doing anything exciting?

nothing specifically… I went to a BBQ in the park yesterday and always making tracks.

The “Where Is Kitten” EP came out at the end of May. How’s the response been?

I’m not too sure really – I don’t usually check the charts or read reviews. But when I play it, they people love it.

In the office, we love the bass line and claps! It reminds us of Donkey Kong and early Daft Punk. How about you?

There’s always some elements of old video games in my tracks – either consciously or not.  They’re some of the sounds that make me happiest because of some sort of passive/active reinforcement behavior i suppose. As for Daft Punk, never really got into them.

How did the collaboration with Miss Kittin come about?

She dropped by my place, heard some stuff I was working on, and went to work making it better. It was a really fun and had a nice flow to it.  She really knows her way around a studio so it was quite easy for me to sit back and relax.

John Foxx remix. Nice.

He’s a legend who still is making great dark minimal stuff.  I was quite fortunate to have worked with him this way.  So much of his style and early Ultravox! stuff found its way into our type of music.

Who’s in your top 3 music heros list?

I have like 60 dependent on the genres…John Foxx, Moderne, Black Sabbath, Kraftwerk, Prince, Aphex Twin, Beatles, King Tubby, The Spoons, The Cure…. Anything without too much midrange I really go for.

You’re label boss at Items & Things. How are things?

Going good – we just grabbed a new office so I’m really thinking i need to go buy some plants for the stark white office.  We’re working hard on the release schedule at the moment to maintain our level of what i think are great releases. And of course we’re always going through demos and looking for some new, fresh talent.

Can you give us a brief history of the label?

When we were on Minus, we wanted a vehicle to put out some weird, new music that we ran across during our adventures – stuff that didnt really fit the Minus sound but needed to be heard so we started the label just for that.   After leaving Minus, we used the label as our main platform.

What’s up next for you and Items & Things?

We’ve just released the Seph record and coming up is a great bunch of tracks from our old friend Tomas More.  After that I’m gonna try and sneak in another EP of some cool tracks if i can get them polished in time.

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You’ve gained a reputation as being all about live performance. I remember the Jeep Girls used to write all their tunes in front of a crowd to get the vibe right. Is that how it is for you?

I’ve made so many tracks all over the sound map that I can sorta play what I think the crowd wants or needs by exploring different directions on stage.  I sometimes start housey and slow but will build it up to some harder techno based stuff or dark melodic depending on how they people react.  It does depend on the crowd and you really do need to be flexible I think.

You’re wiki’d as being inspired by early video game sounds and soundtracks. Where do you stand on Chiptune?

Though I did grow up on that stuff and it is a part of my wiring now, I’m not a purist like some of the people out there.  I’m just as happy with a sid chip emulator than running it through the real thing.  I’ve dabbled with trackers here but I’m too in love with a warm analogue Juno-60 to make exclusive 8-bit stuff. I do have a bunch of playlists from famous commodore 64 pioneers and I have made some stuff in the past but ya – it’s a world I only want to visit.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

Mathew Jonson just stopped by yesterday and left me his new CD so I’ve been listening to that along with the new Miss Kittin album and all the old synth pop stuff I always listen to.  For that stuff you can listen to my 2 synth pop mixes to see what I mean.

https://soundcloud.com/marchoule/marc-houles-synth-pop-mix

https://soundcloud.com/marchoule/pulseradio-121

Tell us a secret?

I like hacking apart Pillsburys bread rolls to make mini garlic sesame burger buns.

Grolsch or Brooklyn Beer?

Beer sucks 😛

The “Where Is Kittin” album is on iTunes here. Go buy it, then we all get to eat.