Carl had a chat to Axel Lacan the man behind the Pun Collins project addressing some of the themes behind the new album amongst other things…
Hey Axel, how’s it going in Montreal?
“Hey Carl! It’s going alright, I’ve been here since summer 2019 and it has been relatively calm with a very nice winter.”
How has your creativity shifted since moving out there? How’s it been for music making?
“Well, I’ve always kept working on several projects at once, so I always had a work routine centred around making visuals or sounds for them, I’m always trying to learn new things. My “workstation” has been portable for a year now and I enjoy that a lot. Since the release of Lunar Influence I wanted to learn more about melodies and minimalism, I think I finally reached the core of my music during this time – I learnt a lot about pop and hip-hop, I mainly just tried to touch things I didn’t touch with my sound before, as experiments.”
You can defo hear the Pun Collins sound fine tuning on this new one, the various influences creeping in, but still maintaining that core framework, I’m interested in how the Pun Collins project got started…
“The Pun Collins project started in 2013 when I felt ready with my sound and I knew I could go on forever on this path – I feel like I opened a breach big enough for me to actually dive eternally in. It’s a project with primary goal to blend genres, go further and find new emotions. It is very close to the feelings, for me music tends to be too gentle in its evolution and dynamics, that’s certainly because of the current economy – Music has to make me dream, astonish me, knock me out, fuck everything up, inspire me, to actually be enjoyable for me. Maybe I’m the only one feeling like that, but I like to know the artist i’m listening is free and could go anywhere without restrictions but with always his touch hovering around. With that in mind, I’m trying to use pop as a vessel for experimental music, I really wanna make universal experimental music.”
I hear ya, there’s a sweet spot between the accessible and experimental thats mega fun to explore. So with Pun Collins there’s a strong sense that all the albums are connected somehow? Do you feel there are recurring themes or overarching narratives throughout your work?
“Obviously, the main recurring theme is the end of the world as we know it. I mean, as an occidental human being I think we’re in a phase of denial where we don’t want to acknowledge to wrong we did, still, and most of the people are not accepting a new era coming. Which will be, in my opinion, totally different from the one we’ve been experiencing for the past 100 years. People grow so much in so little time, the change has already began except it’s hard to see because it’s the beginning of a transition. My albums are about the chaos ruling our societies, but also about the cycles of nature, life and death, the macro and the micro world, joy in sadness, beauty in the ugliness.”
“Music has to make me dream, astonish me, knock me out, fuck everything up, inspire me, to actually be enjoyable for me.”
Yeah pretty huge ideas, thats the vibe I get, but you manage to distill them into these super clear cut mini narratives, I love the idea that the new album DYING TOGETHER is centred around a party at the end of the world, one last blow out where everyone comes together. What kinda thing tends to initiate these concepts and how do you then feed the concept into the music?
“Anything could inspire them I guess, how does inspiration come to anybody… Haha. You just have to develop an eye for things, and obviously curiosity is key. Usually, it’s a mix of books I’m reading, movies I’m watching, music I’m listening and layers of things happening in the reality. I’m very interested in History, philosophy, sciences and arts in general – but I’m more interested in knowing what people wrote, saw and felt, I love to dig deeper into the context to understand the reality they lived in and what motivated people. Everything is still the same for so long, people should really want to know more about themselves, where they come from, and I think it would open minds in a way that is incredible – because when you notice the different narratives, you can clearly see the agendas – Context helps me understand why and how.”
So where does the new album DYING TOGETHER fit in the Pun Collins narrative? tell us about the concept…
“I wanted to explore further into my last album Lunar Influence’s minimalism, and I had this idea of making a record confronting death, but in a relatively positive way. I thought it would be highly interesting to try to make an ambient album that is very pop in a lot of ways. I’ve always felt that New Age was a way to make money on the back of good people, I don’t doubt that there are higher powers we don’t know about. I’m just saying that marketing is a deeply annoying virus. I’d rather see someone making money on someone’s well-being than the opposite. I just think that people need music that is catchy and fun but also very easily put in repeat, or just as background music while doing entirely something else. This is my music to keep you at peace while we watch everything burn together.”
Nice one, man. If you think about that stuff too long you can easily get bummed out, It’s cool that you’re addressing these concepts and keeping it (mostly) fun and accessible haha. Sooo… Talking gear, what kind of set up do you use for production? Its a pretty polished sound I’m curious how you achieve it…
“I use my SP-404 to create weird matter and loops but I mainly use the computer, a midi keyboard, VSTs (weird and less weird ones).I’ve been recording around various synths, instruments, and people with a small portable recording device, I like this a lot. I don’t think tools matter regarding to music, for me, it’s all about design, textures, mood and rhythm.”
“I had this idea of making a record confronting death, but in a relatively positive way.”
You know thats a point, the Pun Collins rhythms are always tight especially on DYING TOGETHER and there’s a particular mood which stays with the records thats hard to explain but its beautiful in a cynical way… maybe its a sense of hope? Im keen to know which artists do you currently admire in musical terms and also outside of music…
“I admire a lot of different stuff, I think there is good in almost anything and bad in almost anything so, what I do is that I just take what I like. I must say that there are people that freak me out by how good what they created is, like Joshua Sabin, JPEGMAFIA, Dean Blunt, Burial, James Ferraro…I love to read about analysis of old books too, like old manuscripts from 1000 B.C. translated and interpreted by someone around 1400 because some rich dude authorised it. I’m highly interested in the imagination of mankind and how it has been used with formats to shape History and minds.”
What other projects have you got on at the moment?
“Right now I’m working on a sci-fi comedy short movie, I’m currently doing the sound-design and music for it as well as the colour calibration of the image. I’m the main actor with my best friend Irwin Lannelongue, we did everything together in this movie, it took us many years to figure it out, but we’re finally able to say it’s on the right path and should be out this year or the next in festivals hopefully.”
haha man that sounds amazing, can you tell us more?
“Imagine a very far away future, on a semi-abandoned earth, with two roommates living together and trying to sort things out in their own lives. The crazy ambitions of an obsessed gardener (me) and the maniac mind of a hacker trying to find his long lost friend (Irwin Lannelongue). Many friends helped us on the way, this is the most intense work I’ve been working on, ever. Also, in this future, language has evolved into some kind of body-dance language to ease communications with aliens in the galaxy.”
Amazing. Can’t wait…
The new album from Pun Collins is available Friday 3rd on cassette from themthere.bandcamp.com and streaming on all digital platforms