Awareness 037: Toh Imago
Who is Toh Imago - the artist behind ‘Nord Noir’? We already knew him at InFiné, but let’s preserve a pure listening experience because now he is, and will be: Toh Imago. Inspired by Sorj Chalandon’s novel “Le jour d’avant” which describes the dark reality of miners in the North of France’s,
Toh Imago dove into the deserted coal mines that surround him to create ‘Nord Noir.’ A hypnotic album that draws a landscape inhabited by ghosts, where harmonic fumes swallow the rhythm of the machines. If you hop into the cart through the tunnels with Toh Imago, it might be a shaky ride. However, as Daniel Avery or Blawan, our new man demonstrates that techno, in the beautiful and modern sense of the term, often rises from the smoke and ash of the industrial world’s decay.
TF: How different was your life one year ago and what are some of the highlights?
TI: The biggest difference between one year ago and today is that on year ago I didn't need no certificate to leave my house. But these two containment held me to improve my skills in music production I think and to the first containment allowed me to make Opalis FM EP
TF: How would you describe the music that you typically create?
TI: That's the hardest question you could ask. It's some kind of very UK inspired electronic music with a lot of bass but from France. Maybe i'm trying to make a mix of all the things that influenced me from Yves Simon to Oneohtrix Point Never via The Chemical Brothers. This question is too hard.
TF: What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? Why?
TI: The best part of being an electronic musician is that even if you are the worst musician ever (it's my case) you can produce the music you want. Of course If you are a good musician you will be better, but I'm not concentrate on musical theory, the most of my job is to work on the sound and only the sound. The least favorite thing is that i'm a bad musician I'm a little bit shy about working with "real" musicians and it miss me a bit ...
TF: Could you give an example you have witnessed of the strongest influence music had on someone or yourself?
TI: The actual crisis can be a good example. For me when everything goes bad, music is like a shelter as well producing as listening. It's for me the best anti-anxiety drug. When I began to produce Opalis FM it was the beginning of the containing and i wanted to produce more "positive" music and I think the music i produce now is in the same way.
TF: What was the most challenging part of working on your new "Opalis FM" EP that you’ve worked with InFiné? What has made your connection with his label so special?
TI: The relation with a label as InFiné is priceless. Today we glorify artists that does everything by they own, artist who are like a little company. But fuck that! The artist have to focus on his art, he is not and have not to be a businessman. The label help him to do that and, cherry on the cake, he help the artist in giving him some external and clever advices to improve his art. To have people like InFiné team behind you it's clearly priceless also because they are not afraid of taking risk.
TF: What do you think is the role of new technology in composing music? Do you rely more on digital or analog sound?
TI: For me, their is no "creative destruction" in music, a new technology don't have to erase the previous but have to work with it. The new digital technologies can clearly increase the possibilities in an infinite way, combined with analog sounds which are sometimes limited but very powerfull and personal, it gives you amazing things. Each technology have it interest. For example old plate analog reverb can give you some interesting sounds but have no length, with digital reverb you can bring your sounds to space. But for distortions, digital distortions are not very satisfied enough. You have to pick stuffs everywhere you can, even in traditional and very old instruments, and combined things with no limit.
TF: If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
TI: Wow, very huge question. My answer will may be a little bit long. This actual crisis shows us that this "industry" is a real mess and have to change. First thing is the big financial hole let by the streaming industry. Recorded doesn't have any value for his author, the biggest consequence is that now people have to go live to be payed for their creation. And when the live is not possible everything crashed, the chain in broken. Other possibilities to live of our art? To have your music on advertising. Really? Music is now a fucking material to sell some unessential needs to people. No I can't believe that, music is not the bitch of big brands. Their is some ethic thing behind that. In France we have some kind of "luck", because there is some help for artists, we have a strange and not perfect status called "intermittence" which allows artists and people who work around the cultural field (like technicians) to live of their art. But we have to defend and consolidate that. When i red that in the UK the government call the musicians to change their job ... the biggest mistake is to consider that music is a job. Music is not a job, it's an art, because you can't stop it, it's inside you. For my personal case, music is not a full time job, I took the choice to have another job, because i don't want to make music "by necessity" I want to make music because I need it.
TF: What’s next for you?
TI: I'm working in a new project, a new album, but it's the beginning. I want to go in more "conceptual" technicities, I'm not really in club DJ's, everything will be on a ternary grid it will be a mess for casual DJ's. In the beginning I was very inspired by old traditional french music and some french band who modernise it a lot (Superparquet, Sourdure). It will not clearly sound like these band, but this inspiration gives me some kind of dogma to compose: everything in a ternary grid, the medieval dorian scale in E and I had something just funny: I tuned all my synths in a 432HZ A. Except the last thing which is just to be in some theory that the 432HZ A is a more natural A than the 440HZ, the 2 first thing is to have to crazy groove that the old and medieval music have. I also worked a lot of soundtakes, fields recordings and atmosphere.
TF: Some words about your mix for Awareness Series?
TI: It's very far from my club DJ sets, It's a combination of what I listened during the production of Opalis FM and also another thing. In 2017 I was invited by some friend who organise a little "hippie" festival in the countryside close to my home, Celebration Days Festival. For the first time i had to make an ambient set for an afternoon nap to give a little rest to the crazy festival goers. I really liked the exercise, it was another way to comprehend a DJset, I liked it, the fact that their is no borders between musical genres, no BPM pressure. And this mix is a little bit inspired by that.
Artwork by: artbystevej
01. Intro 02. Arandel - Bodyline (Feat Ben Shemie) 03. Oneohtrix Point Never - Raycats 04. JPEGMAFIA - Beta Male Strategies 05. Aphrodite's Child - Loud, Loud, Loud 06. Oneohtrix Point Never - Americans 07. Pierre Barouh - Ce n'est que de l'eau 08. Eric Serra - Synchronised Instant 09. Damso - Deux toiles de mer 10. Francis Bebey - Sanza Tristesse 11. Yann Tiersen - Heol 12. Four Tet - You Could Ruin My Day 13. Prins Thomas - Foreplay 14. Sourdure - L'entendu 15. Wareika Hill Sounds - Mass Migration (dub) 16. Sabrina Bellaouel - The Build Up 17. Nathan Micay - if The World's still here on monday 18. Cyril Cyril - Sous la mer c'est calme 19. Deerhoof - Music for strings, percussion & celesta, SX. 106
"One cannot taste the intimacy of remembrance without having suffered the desolation of forgetfulness". - Al-Qushayri