Joining us for the 40th instalment of The Maker, Julien Demoulin enters the conversation ahead of Monday’s release day. Based in Belgium, Julien worked alongside Frédéric Dufourd to create ‘Entre Chien et Loup’ (RTR051); an album collecting seven tracks of layered synths, fields recordings, fragmented instrumentals, and some amazing detail across the far reaches of the stereo field. Entre Chien et Loup is an old French idiom that designates the period at the end – or beginning – of the day, when the light is such that it is difficult to distinguish a dog from a wolf. Julien is a French born ambient music producer living in Belgium since 2006. He has released music since 2004, first as part of Silencio until 2013, then under his own name, on labels such as Time Released Sound, three:four records, Healing Sound Propagandist, and Sound in Silence.
In this feature, Julien discusses experimental music leading to ambient discoveries, opposing capitalism through music making, his favourite release from the past 12 months, and cassettes providing liberation from the screen.
How did you first get introduced to ambient/drone/experimental music?
I don’t have an easy answer to this one… I remember buying ‘SR4: Goodbye 20th Century’ by Sonic Youth & friends when it came out, because I liked SY and their experiments… I remember making some without having any real idea what I was doing… I remember a friend (Frédéric, actually!) recommending ‘The Tired Sounds of…’ to me some time after that. I remember listening to post-rock music in the early aughts and wishing tracks wouldn’t build up and explode. It was all a process that took some time, I suppose. Drugs helped, for sure.
What inspires you to create a new body of work?
The need to somehow counter the soul crushing demands of what it means to live in a society ruled by capitalism, at least on a personal level. Creating something that can hopefully inspire beauty in others keeps me somewhat sane… there’s a definite mental health aspect to it all.
How do you approach working on a new release?
When it comes to my collaboration with Fred, we just exchange files, anything, really, and follow our gut. I think we understand each other really, really well musically, and give each other total freedom to come up with new ideas or re-work each other’s material; eventually we come up with enough that we get a sense of what the work wants to be, and take it from there.
As for my solo stuff, I can decide to work on a project that’s fairly well defined in my head already (in terms of how I’ll be approaching it, at least, since I like to keep things open sound-wise); other times, I’ll be listening to unreleased / stray tracks of mine, and see a pattern, which will spur an idea for a release. It all depends.
Can you tell us about your favourite new release from the last 12 months?
I’ll pick ‘mountain ambient III‘ from .foundation, released on Stereoscenic. Working on and analysing music so much makes it a bit difficult for me to get really lost in sound, but this one hit the spot.
As RTR is a tape label, we have to ask: What attracts you to the cassette medium?
Many things! Right now, though, I think it is that it’s the easiest way for me to listen to music without a screen being involved. It’s cheap, too, so I’ll take more of a chance and buy things on a whim. I’d be lying if I said there was no nostalgia involved, namely remembering that time when I used to copy CD’s I couldn’t afford on blank tapes as a teen. I suppose that gives tapes an extra “intimate” flavour that I appreciate when trying to connect with music. And of course, I really like the object itself.