Meet Alexis Delozanne, a Full Orchestra member and musician who has explored genres such as flamenco, bossa nova, and electronic music. In this article, we'll explore his musical journey, from his beginnings with Antipodes and his own side projects to his recent release of his ambient album "Presqu’île" on January 12. His new album has been released by a Dutch label called Shimmering Moods Records, which specializes in ambient music.
We'll delve into his creative process, including his recording setups and equipment. We'll also discuss the artists who have influenced his unique sound and his tips to start producing ambient music with dawless setup. Join us on this condensed journey into the dreamlike ambient musical world of Alexis Delozanne, made with guitar, synths & subliminal samples.
Please tell us more about your music background :
I started playing music when I was around 12 or 13 years old. Before playing, I had a deep passion for the guitar. My brother and a friend were already playing, and I would constantly ask them questions and make requests. One day, my friend asked me, "Why don't you play?"
At 22, I relocated to Madrid and joined a flamenco school, where I practiced extensively. The technical progress I made encouraged me to play in bands. Back in Paris, I was the guitarist of several bands, including a reggae group named Bloom Antenna in 2017. In 2018, we recorded an EP in a professional studio, and there I discovered production and synthesizers. Later, I started a trio called Antipodes dedicated to electronic production with hardware gear. We launched our label Mizar Alcor to release our music as we wanted to remain free from any specific genre/editorial policy.
From 2020 to 2022 I moved again to Madrid and released some electronic music under Leaf Level alias. These electronic works helped me to craft the personal path I wanted to follow for my music. Especially the second mixtape I produced (Leaf Level Mixtape 2 /New Weather), which was thought of as a mini album and was the first time I introduced the acoustic guitar in my electronic works.
Presqu’île is the album that initially triggered the idea of releasing music under my own name. The album references a place that has always represented happy times in my family; at this moment, I was looking for peace and introspection. Presqu’île represents the music I have sought for the last 3 years. It’s somehow a synthesis of what I like in music. For now, This album is the most successful trial to make every song part of a single piece of art. I love albums that work as one instead of a compilation of cool tracks. The EP Surimpressions was produced later, even though it was released a few months before my album.
To explain the context, in June 2022, I returned to Paris, and we started playing live with Antipodes. We needed a space to rehearse, and that’s how we built our studio, where I recorded part of Presqu’île. In December 2022, I decided it was finally time to release music under my own name and that my project would complement Antipodes as it explores some stuff we chose to stay away from with Antipodes: acoustic guitar composition / ambient and beatless works.
What are you currently producing?
My music can be considered ambient by people who listen to indie rock, and indie by people who mostly listen to ambient. Since 2020, I have listened to many music blending acoustic & electronic textures, and my music is now in the middle of these two worlds. I have the project to produce a bunch of songs with a multitrack tape recorder like a Portastudio 424. I believe in constraints when it comes to creation and also love to experiment with old gear.
What was the setup you used to produce your new album?
A few months before an artistic retreat in Brittany in March 2023, I started most songs with acoustic guitar composition with my Furch Vintage 1 OM-SR. It’s an amazing guitar if you look for Martin alternatives. Once I arrived in Brittany, I was already familiar with the guitar themes, so I defined the structures and BPM for good. I then arranged the songs with field recordings on the beaches sequenced in an Elektron Digitakt. I also used an old Roland SP404 for non-sequenced field recording.
I used two overdubbed synths: -A semi-modular synth (Moog Matriarch) to experiment with textures and mess up with noise. -The other is an FM synth(Yamaha DX7s) mainly used for the detuned leads on the album and to create a vintage vibe.
In our studio with Antipodes, we use a Roland Studio Capture UA16-10 as audio interface. It enables us to record up to 16 separate tracks, which is very useful for hardware setups like ours. It also works as a mixing table with its “direct to monitors” option.
What is your favorite thing in your music studio?
This is a tricky question, but I love a pedal I bought for the recording of Presqu’île and that I almost applied to all the album takes: a JHS Colur Box v2.
It’s a preamp pedal imitating the Neve warmth. I love that it can be used for instruments and mics and as a DI to double takes. Duplicating the output this way provides headroom while mixing the song. Above all, I think it gives a really vintage sound that remains discrete and authentic (vs. vinyl sim, plug-ins, etc.). By overusing the prevolume (similar to gain) this pedal can almost behave like a fuzz with a subtle equalization.
This is an example of my song "Kerfago (Retour)" to demonstrate the use of the Colour Box v2 with guitars.
Who are the artists who influenced you the most?
Before launching this album project, I listened a lot to RVNG artists and the label subdivisions (Beats in Space/Freedom to Spend). Through this exploration, I discovered a world of open music featuring incredible artists like Helado Negro, Florist, Ernest Hood, and Satomimagae. I was particularly drawn to their exploratory approach that transcends the boundaries of indie music.
I am very interested in Japanese music from the 1970s. Yellow Magic Orchestra was a significant revelation in my music culture. I have explored a lot of musicians from this period in Japan and loved the album 'This Orient' by Hiroshi Sato, for example.
The beginning of my song, Goh Velin, is a reference to Pure Land who somehow imitated waves by playing with the envelopes on a noise oscillator. My music is also influenced by downtempo from the 90s and 2000s like Air and Boards of Canada from the 2000s. Among today's artists, I also love Khotin. His ability to combine serene and melancholic moods in a single song has a direct influence on my music.
What would be the perfect starter pack (instruments, DAW, plugins, etc.) to produce your type of music?
I would say Ableton Live, a simple interface like a Scarlett 2i2 and monitors. If you want to buy a first synth, I would say to start with a Novation Bass Station or a similar monophonic synth to focus more on the possibilities offered by the sequencers/oscillators/modulations/filters than the limited options offered by its keyboard. The bass station was the first synth I bought a few years ago, and it gives a good understanding of what an oscillator, mixer, envelopes, and so on are. For plug-ins, I think Ableton already provides a good collection of FX to start knowing the purpose of each. Regarding mixing, upgrading EQ by paying FabFilter Q3 would be a good addition rather than paying reverb or delays. Cool plug-ins are already available for reverbs, like FuseAudio vrev 666 for Springs, TAL reverb 4 for more exotic reverbs, and Valhalla Supermassive. I also recently discovered the free plug-in for distortion & compressor CamelCrusher, which sounds good.
What videos and tutorials have helped you the most in producing music?
Mostly mixing tutorials to have a methodological approach of the production step. This tutorial is an excellent resource to start.
Why are you taking part in the Sample Challenge by Full Orchestra?
I love the idea of creating and sharing music with people I don't know and the idea of having music as a first link when I meet someone. A lot of positivity can emerge from sharing music; it's also a way to meet musicians in their working space, which is always good for understanding how people make music. Even with my band, we are usually alone when making music. Many aspects can be discovered, optimized, or done another way simply by listening to music and having the artist aside to understand how he made it. It's also good to receive feedback from what you do. We usually receive lots of positive feedback from people around us who don't necessarily take the time to highlight why they wouldn't come back to your music even if they found it nice.
How would you imagine Full Orchestra in a few years?
I would love to see its artists community grow all around the world and to make live listening every month. It can also become a step-by-step resource website for musicians. It enables local artists to communicate with each other, learn about their musical process, and discover new tools. I love the fact the website also promotes plugins and studio tools to improve musical production. The artist featured in the blog could propose some samples to launch the monthly challenge every month. I see it becoming a media of innovative practices for all musicians. For example, It would be great to see live "listening parties" for musicians who cannot attend the physical ones.