In the studio with Julien Marchal

Lets start at the very beginning. Can you tell us how you got involved in composing, and what was your very first piece of gear?
The very beginning is too far! Hahaha. So, I remember I was trying to compose some little melodic lines with the spinet or the dulcimer of my father (was really young). When I was a teenage boy, I was playing electric guitar in a band and after that, at university and conservatoire of Bordeaux I was expecting to compose some “minimal classical” pieces and after that some electronic… As you can see, I have trouble with consistency. I need to discover new music and try to understand how it works. That’s why you can hear so many different genres on the remixes of INSIGHT II… My first piece of gear was an AKAI S1000 Sampler. I bought it and never used it… I just bought it because it was beautiful and was sure to use it but, you know, when you’re a teenager… I can’t show it to you because it’s at my parent’s home for now.

How many different studio iterations have you gone through, and what does your final setup look like right now?
I don’t know if we could speak that studios. It’s more “home studios” because it’s in my flat. It takes too much place and now, it’s my 3rd studio.

Tell us about your favorite piece of hardware.
It really depends of the moment. Sometime it’s a paper and a pen. For a long time, when I was playing in a pop band, I was using Kaoss Pad 3 for the infinite delays and playing little samples. Now, with the piano solo works it’s the AKGC414 & Apogee Quartet. I love them a lot. They are really impressive and definitely what I was searching for my home studio.

And what about the software that you use for production?
I use Ableton Live 9 Standard.

Is there a particular piece of gear that you’re just dying to get your hands on and do you think one day you’ll have it?
There is a lot of pieces of gear I would like to try! In my dreams, I would like some physical compressor, limiter, delays, reverbs, distortions, eq… All in physical and all different gears for the different projects.

Any particular new techniques that you tried out for your new album?
I’ve tried to change the place of the microphones but it wasn’t great so, I will keep the same ones for all INSIGHT’s albums.

What does your live setup look like, and what do you bring with you when you travel for an extensive tour?
For the piano solo, I’m preparing the set live. What I will take with me is : nothing. I want C414 or KM184 for microphones and acoustic piano but the concert halls already have these kind of piece of gear. The less, the better.

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What is the most important environmental aspect of your current workspace and what would be a particular element that you would improve on?
The qualities of the environmental aspect are also the default. Explanations: At home. It’s great for the coffee, the proximity, the “real life” but it’s not great because I need silence and I disturb my girlfriend Mathilde when she’s at home or I don’t want to make too much noise for neighbors, procrastination etc… And it’s difficult for me to be at home and at work at the same time. What I would like is: a big house with a big garden and a separated big studio in this garden. Like this, I could go to work, travelling through the garden, have something separated from my home and only disturbing myself with noises, sounds, exercises and music.

What can you tell us about your overall process of composition? How are the ideas born, where do they mature, and when do they finally see the light?
For INSIGHT, every piece uses a different process. Sometime they comes from paper and pen, sometimes from improvisations at home or sometimes giving piano lessons to my students. When I feel emotions listening to a chord, a rhythm, or a melodically line, I try to develop it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The big problem with me is that when I’ve started a piece, I can’t wait for months to try and develop it. I think that we are always in movement in our heads and thoughts so, discovering new music will influence me and things from the past lose their primitive feelings.

After the piece is complete, how do you audition the results? What are you reactions to hearing your music in a different context, setting, or a sound system?
I really don’t like to listen to my work once it’s finished but I need to do it for the mix and the master. I consider that the work is never ended and this is the fix, the end. But, to reply to your question, I hear it on my SC207 EVE monitors and on my old but so good AUDIOTECHNICA ATH-M50. After I burn it on a CD and listen in my living room. I also try to listen to it at works on GENELEC and DYNAUDIO.

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Do you ever procrastinate? If so, what do you usually find yourself doing during those times?
Hahaha. Yes, a lot. But it’s kind of weird because I mostly procrastinate making some exercises. I mean, when I don’t work on my future release or compositions, I make some exercises, trying to find some new sounds or chords colors, rhythms… Sometimes I also try some “strict exercises”. With this, my goal was to create a kind of remix of my track INSIGHT I but only with the piano sound of this track. It was, in my brain, forbidden to use any other instruments or sounds. Once I was in, I was also searching for some new kind of rhythms and sounds evolutions etc… So, I procrastinate a lot but most of the time, it’s a learning process.

What gets you inspired?
A mix between emotion and reason.

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