Zimmer DJ

As a part of the new wave of French electronic musicians, Zimmer has been growing his signature style through multiple EPs, remixes and a popular mixtape series, while selling out shows across France, Asia, and North America.

Now with his recently released debut album taking his music to yet another level, Zimmer is unleashing an immersive live show which finds him surrounded by machines and light installations in order to create a futuristic electronic sound and visual experience. His modern approach with vintage appreciation and a dreamy combination of disco and techno opens the way for experimentation and adaptation with every show, the importance of creating a total artistic atmosphere driving Zimmer to showcase his debut album in this all-encompassing format.

Playing at Chicago’s Sleeping Village on December 11th, Zimmer caught up with 5Mag for a quick Q&A on his current state…

How has the album release experience and tour been for you? Has anything surprised you along the way?

It’s been great! It’s so nice to finally have the record out, read people’s reaction. I can’t wait to start the tour now that the record is out.

What has been the most rewarding part of the tour so far?

During the past shows it’s been playing songs that are unreleased and see people going crazy over them. That’s the best test!

Has your approach to your live performance changed over time?

Not really. I mean I’ve only been playing live for 1 year, so I’m still working towards completing the vision I had initially. It takes so much time to get it right, so you improve incrementally. It’s still about playing electronic music on my own, within a system where I have some musical freedom, yet play a lot of things, and also create an immersive experience with lights.

What do you think are the most importance aspects for a successful show?

A room that’s appropriate to the size of the crowd and good sound. If you have that then the show can be great.

As an electronic musician doing a solo performance you are in a unique situation very different than a live band or a club DJ – what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of your position?

I think it’s the best situation to create ” an experience “. To also focus on lights, atmosphere, make total art. It’s less free than DJ sets though.

Could you give us some insight on the work it takes to prepare all of the individual elements of the show?

Oh man it’s a long process!

The very first thing was to figure out what kind of show I wanted. The beauty of electronic music is that you can do anything, you design your own instruments. For me, I wanted to be on my own, to stay in control, play as many things as possible, while keeping the ability to be a little free, change the tracklist, blend things the way I like. Coming from a DJ background, I like to be able to adjust to the vibe of the crowd.

On to the individual elements.

The first thing is getting the music ready. I go back in the project of each track, decide what I want to play, prepare the instruments. Usually it’s 1 or 2 instruments I play on the keyboards, and Midi sequences that go into my Prophet 6. Then I export the stems of the track, so I can manipulate the track with freedom. These days I do 5 stems: kick, drums, bass, synths, melodies/vocals.

When I have the songs ready, it’s about getting the tracklist right. I often change it to adjust to every night, and I can even change it live.

The other thing is about the lights. It was essential for me to offer a full experience and lights are great for that. We travel with a custom light rig, and we’re currently in the middle of building a new scenography. Then we’ll go into light rehearsals and map each song to the light installation.

Then it’s about rehearsing everything together to make sure things work well in sync, and also getting all the logistics right. We travel by plane with all this gear, so we need cases, custom foam cuts, etc… to protect the equipment while traveling as light as possible.

What is your favorite song to play live? Why?

Right now it’s a remix of my song Fire blended with a demo I made this year. I do a lot of new versions of older versions for the live show to keep things fresh and interesting.

What do you look forward to most with each performance?

Connecting with the people. Seeing in their eyes and reaction that they get what I’m trying to pass on to them, and that they are willing to join me on the ride. When this happens it’s magic!