18 Feb 2012
In January 2011, XLR8TR.com was reporting how good 2010 was to Canblaster. Just over a year later, the Frenchman has proved Brian Cox’s theory that ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ to be correct. “Le wild card”, as he is affectionately known by his project mates at Club Cheval, has made the step up from an extremely prolific, yet varied remixer to one of the most exciting producers of last year.
The first step was the release of Master Of Complication – the EP that sent clock enthusiasts all over the world bonkers – which included tracks such as Clockworks, sending dancefloors equally as wild. Master Of Complication was closely followed by The Totem EP, whose title track teaches The Blackout Crew a lesson in ‘Donk’ – and we mean that in the BEST possible way.
We caught up with Canblaster right before his set at Lightworks (the wild card of DQ’s extensive repertoire of bass heavy club nights) to talk about his influences whilst growing up, video games, and what the future holds for the young producer.
When asked about his musical influences Canblaster (a.k.a. Cédric Steffens) stated: “I was not getting to a lot of clubs because where I come from, it’s like a little city in the north of France and basically there’s no club at all. If you want to party the closest place is in Belgium so I grew up listening to a lot of electronic music through headphones and not with that club perspective” He says. “It’s quite funny because my first electronic music experience was through video games.”
“At first I was really interested in video games in general and then I started playing games where the music is at the centre. Parapper The Rapper was one of my first experiences of this and that lead onto the Dance Dance Revolution games. In fact, my first ever productions were on Music2000.”
Cédric’s musical experience developed from video games when travelling with his Father. “We used to go the countryside and it was like a 7 hour journey. I remember I really liked to prepare my trip by selecting the music and downloading it. Then looking at similar artists and downloading all their stuff. I would take about 20 albums for a holiday. This is where I discovered most of the music I like and because of this I always associate travelling with music.”
“I remember the first time I visited Russia, it was one or two euros for each CD and I bought all the CDs of the musicians I know, whether they were good or bad. I listened to everything from Captain Jack to Les Rhythme Digitales. One is good and one is very bad, but when you’re younger you’re like a sponge, you absorb everything you hear and you don’t analyse at all. Try to feel them rather than try to understand them.”
On the subject of his childhood, Cédric Steffens explains: “Most of my friends listened to rap or rock music, like either Dr. Dre or Nirvana and that kind of stuff. None of that really touched me.” It seems that even now, Canblaster doesn’t quite fit in with his peers with his unique outlook on music and production.
Cédric grew up playing the Piano, and it was this, coupled with his love of computer games which led him to an interest in Synthesisers and since then he hasn’t turned back.
“I just like something that I can actually play. Usually what I do is play some chords or play on an instrument and then go to Ableton and then isolate the interesting parts of the whole jam.”
“The very first synthesiser I had I bought without really knowing what I was buying. It was a Korg Trident, which was used by The Neptunes. Basically, I fell for the old trick of ‘I have the same synthesiser as…’. I didn’t use it for a long time because it was too real. I was more into synthesised sounds. It was when I started working with MYD, Sam Tiba and Panteros666 when we formed Club Cheval that I really started to use the Trident.”
He continues by explaining his pessimism for the French way of doing things. “When I started doing music that I’m happy with, I was listening to a lot of UK music. And I couldn’t get away with it in France. They have different expectations to the UK crowd. They don’t dance to that kind of music and I have to find the right balance.”
“I listen to a lot of mainstream UK artists like Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy. Basement Jaxx are my main influence because of the way they over produce their tracks. They layer and layer. A lot of people are like ‘less is more’ but that’s not my style, I like to overproduce. I like songs that grow on you. Songs that aren’t instantly likeable.”
“I remember Teki Latex saying that he didn’t like my remix of Hot As Hell at first, but the more he listened to it, the more he liked it. That was the best compliment for me.”
Having won the respect of his peers and secured releases with Marble, Cédric is now taking a break from working as Canblaster to work on his latest project alongside Marble label mate Sam Tiba.
“I’m concentrating on Club Cheval. Basically we’re working on an album and a live show that consists of Me, MYD, Sam Tiba and Panteros666. We’re trying to do something bigger.”
“I think it’s interesting when you have a lot of people to play with. It’s like a rock band and everybody plays and everybody does what they’re supposed to do. It’s a lot more visual. When you see a guitar player, you get it, even if you don’t understand what he’s doing. When you see someone in front of machines, most people don’t know what they’re doing.”
With such an amazing 2 years behind him and the promise of some exciting new projects ahead, the next year looks set to just as good for Canblaster. After all, anyone who can take a sound discovered in a youth centre in Bolton, by 5 pritt-stick sniffing chavs, and turn it into something as good as Totem, clearly has a prosperous career ahead of them.
By Alex Pegg
Photos by Beth Richardson