Interview, photo: Polina Belehhova

Shaun Baron-Carvais

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How was Atonal for you this year?

It was my first year at Atonal and it was amazing. I played twice: one night under my real name Shaun Baron-Carvais. It was a live project, sort of ambient / movie soundtrack. It was really impressive because I played in the main room. I felt a lot of pressure because there were a lot of people just standing and listening to my sound, and you don’t know their judgement, or what they feel. It’s not the same as clubbing music. In the end, I really enjoyed it but I haven’t felt so much stress in years, I felt like I was just starting my DJ career. I actually started my career with this kind of music, so in a way, I came back to my roots. I’m very grateful to Atonal for giving me this opportunity, I can say that it was definitely one of the highlights of my music career. And the second night I performed under my techno name Shlømo and it was way more banger.

Do you enjoy going out to clubs these days?
I haven’t been out clubbing for the last two years because of my schedule. Whenever I have a free weekend, I prefer to spend time with my family and friends, or in the studio.  

What about a crazy Thursday night or anything like that?
I’m not that kind of guy, to be honest. 

Describe the world you are trying to create for people during your live or DJ set.
It depends on the venue: sometimes I want to tell a more cinematographic story like at Freerotation or Atonal, other times I just try to share all of the energy I have inside of me with the crowd.  

What are the pros and cons in your field of activity?
Being a DJ is really cool, I can’t complain because for me it’s not work, it’s passion. You travel a lot, people like promoters take care of you. I feel really grateful for that. I don’t really see any bad aspects, apart from maybe sometimes feeling lonely between the gigs: sometimes you are away from your family and friends for a long time, because of travelling, so you miss out on things like birthdays of your close friends. But I guess this is the price to pay.

Are you talented, obsessed or possessed?
Obsessed. I am a perfectionist and I’m never really satisfied with my work. When I just started producing music I was completely mad about it. I could work on just one the kick all night long, 10 hours just on the kick. Now I know more about my machines, I know more about my music identity and myself, so these days I don’t need to start from scratch.

Does it make you feel like you’re getting in some sort of routine?
I felt this way about a year ago when I was producing a lot of music. At some point I felt a block: I couldn’t produce something I was satisfied with. It lasted for about 4 months. I took time for myself. I needed to look at my music from a different perspective.

You’ve recently toured Japan. What dazzled you the most about the Land of the Rising Sun?
The people. Their kindness – it’s completely crazy. I felt attracted to Japan since I was 5 and I was there for the first time about 6 months ago for my first Asian tour. But I stayed only for two days so I didn’t have time to explore the country. Then last month I’ve spent 3 weeks there. My label [Taapion Records] partner and friends have joined me for one week, because we had a gig together, so it was really fun to share this experience.

What’s the most unexpected track in your playlist?
“Miserere mei, Deus”. It’s really beautiful. And a lot of French hip-hop.

I’ve gathered from one of your previous interviews that you watch “Rick & Morty”. In your opinion, what makes it such a cult phenomenon?
I don’t think it’s a cult, it just makes me laugh. Since I was a kid, I was into funny shows, like “Southpark”, “American Dad”. My label partner AWB advised me on watching “Rick & Morty”. The relationship between the granddad and the grandson is completely crazy. Rick is the star of the show for me.

What is something you own that you truly cherish?
A watch from my mother. And my “Boards of Canada” records.

Where do you find comfort?
Surrounded by my family and my friends. Or alone with my machines.

What do you like and dislike the most about yourself?
I’m the kind of guy you can make fun of and I don’t get offended or take it personally. We love to trash each other with my friends. The bad aspect of my personality – I’m a bit of a control freak.

What upsets you?
Useless conflicts. I don’t like to waste my energy on that. There’s always something more important. Fighting is not worth it.

Would you like to get hypnotized, get into your subconscious? What do you think you would see or find there?
I’ve done it once already. It was a very personal experience regarding a family loss. I didn’t expect it to work but it actually did. I was scared and I almost had a panic attack, because, you know, I’m a control freak. I wanted to move but I couldn’t.

If God existed what would you ask?
I speak to Him every day ahah. I think I would ask something typical, like, ‘why’. Why only 2 osc on the Roland MS20?

If falling in love would be something you can see, what would it look like?
A touch of skins.

What would you ask if you knew the answer would be yes?
Will my family and friends be happy all their lives?

What would your eternity look like?
It would be boring and sad. Life has a taste because you know that you will die one day, it makes you wake up and do things. If you are eternal you lose the sense of purpose.

What would you do if you knew nobody would judge you?
I would go to McDonald’s again.

To what extent do you care what other people think or say?
There are only 2 or 3 people whose opinions matter to me. I can post a funny picture on my professional social media and not be bothered that I don’t fit the image of an all-black techno guy.

Who is one person that inspires you?
My grandfather. For me, he was my best friend and my kind of hero. We were very close, he raised me. He was the only person I wanted to make proud.

How does society fail itself?
By lack of respect for human and animal rights. It’s the first step towards rehabilitation, I guess.

What is it to be a Parisian for you these days?
For me a Parisian is a paradox – he is connected to everyone and detached at the same time.

What is your advice on where not to go and what not to do in Paris for someone who has never been there before?
Don’t go to Champs Elysées to avoid being pickpocketed.

What question would you want to be asked at an interview and what would your answer be?
– Will you ever get tired of producing music?
– I hope not.