Think you know Roosevelt? Well, think again.
The producer's rise from left-field dance elements through to mainstream festival stages has been accompanied by a stellar live show, and an ability to fuse underground elements with a rare essence of openness.
New album 'Polydans' however flips all that on its head. Returning to the studio, it's the broadest demonstration yet of Roosevelt's production prowess, moving from techno to R&B via some hugely personal songwriting.
Out now, it's a release the producer marks as "incredibly liberating" commenting that he felt free "to go to the studio every day and just do the music that feels right…"
"In this respect, ‘Polydans’ is my most personal album yet, as there hasn't been any creative limitations – I just did what made me happy."
Clash caught up with Roosevelt for this Track By Track guide.
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Easy Way Out
I love album intros that build and introduce new layers using instrumentation. We always play live intros that way as well – basically so that everyone can hear each instrument starting individually and is able to make adjustments to their monitor mix. I definitely had that in mind while I was writing 'Easy Way Out', it's a very lively track that should set the tone for the sonic world of the record.
I'm inspired by French electronic artists a lot – acts like Air, Daft Punk, Cassius and Sebastian Tellier all seem to have a very special delicacy in their sound. To me it's the approach of making a dance floor track feel like a melancholic ballad at the same time. That's something I can really relate to and what I tried with Strangers. It was also the first time I got to work with a real string quartet, which was super exciting.
'Feels Right' was a funk-inspired loop for a long time. I listened a lot to early 80s dance-punk while making the record – stuff like ESG, Liquid Liquid and A Certain Ratio, and the track built upon that sound aesthetic a lot. All the synth layers came in later. It became a really empowering song to me about doing your own thing. I tried to emphasise that DIY attitude in the music video that we did for it.
Closer To My Heart
I have a thing for 70's Yacht Rock and always wanted to fully explore an instrumentation like that on one of my albums. It features acoustic guitars, a synth and (!) a guitar solo, so it really feels like a loose and fun arrangement to me – more like a band jamming rather than a conventional song structure.
That song started as a demo that I actually made on the mountain near the Olympic Village in Barcelona called Montjuic. My voice memo of that day was still called that so i kept the title as I really liked it. To me this track introduces the second half of the album, which is more synth-based, more electronic and definitely has more of a night-time vibe to it.
This one started with a casio drum machine and the arpeggio bass line, and stayed like that for months. I didn't know what to do with it, until I just jammed on the drums and some other synths and it came together really naturally. It's the track I'm most excited about to play live as it has this gigantic drum drop in the middle of the track where everything builds towards.
See You Again
Producing this really felt like connecting to some of my first tracks like 'Elliot' or 'Soleil'. I definitely used a few techniques that I did in the beginning, like recording and sampling guitar chords and playing them on a keyboard. I often catch myself trying to move away from the production habits that I had when I started out, but in the end these are so essential to my sound. With this album in general I tried to revisit these approaches.
I finished 'Lovers' as the last track on this album, and it really came together easily – I felt like there were so many syncopated, funk inspired grooves on this record, that the one song that it still needed was a super simple and naive synth track. It's a euphoric song about falling in love and getting lost in that feeling.
One of the goals that I often have in the studio is to sound as much as a band as possible, and 'Echoes' is probably the best example. I really wanted to capture a live energy with this, especially in the second part of the track which to me feels like a resolution to the first half, both musically and lyrically.
It's super interesting to me to write ballads disguises as dance floor track. With 'Sign' I really wanted to take that to the extreme. Although i wrote the song on the piano and it has these very longing and sad lyrics, I wanted to turn it into something that would work perfectly playing it in a peak-time festival slot. I think sharing a feeling like that with a large crowd can result in a very special and intimate moment.
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'Polydans' is out now.
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