"By the time I was ten years old my bedroom looked like a nightclub. There were strobes, multi-coloured flashing lights, a disco ball, a DJ booth and a dance floor. When I switched on my equipment hundreds of tiny white lights would flit across my bedroom ceiling and walls. I switched on my disco ball every night. I only dreamt of one thing: making people dance."
Laurent Garnier in "Electrochoc" by Laurent Garnier and David Brun-Lambert (Flammarion, Rocket 88 publishing)
Laurent Garnier has been making the planet dance for almost 30 years. And, for all these years, his boundless energy has seen him grooving behind record decks, bouncing up and down behind studio equipment and leaping around radio studios. He is a multi-faceted artist whose impact on the music scene is far-reaching. But above all he is a DJ, a true DJ: transformed by music, passionate about the crowd. Bodies move in a trance on the dance floor, minds elsewhere. Yet he is also an explorer of old and new sounds and has an amazingly rich musical culture. He spends most of his spare time sifting through old vinyl in record shops, following the most obscure leads on the internet and listening to every single piece of music he is sent. Music, the pulse of our planet, is his Holy Grail.
One of the pioneering DJs of the dance music scene, Laurent Garnier experienced first-hand the euphoria of the acid-house movement in Manchester. He then went on to Wake Up and shake up Paris nightlife, from La Luna to the Palace, not forgetting the Rex Club. As one of the leading lights in French dance music at the end of the 1980's, he then spread his message across the planet, from raves to warehouse parties, clubs to festivals. The Excess Luggage 5-CD collection sums up the somewhat hectic life of this globetrotting DJ whose antennae are permanently tuned-in to sounds from around the globe, current trends, and the music of the next generation. At the beginning of 2011, Laurent Garnier was the only Frenchman to be voted one of the top 35 international DJs by readers of the UK magazine Mixmag. One of many accolades for this turntable impresario whose incredible DJ sets blend techno from Detroit and beyond, and mix in hints of jazz, sweltering disco, heart-warming house, African grooves, jungle, dubstep and bass music.
Musical eclecticism is at the heart of Laurent Garnier's contribution to radio. At the beginning of the 1990's, Laurent Garnier got behind the microphone, playing records on Radio FG, Maxximum and Radio Nova, where he remained a vital force for the next 18 years. Uncovering rare records, selecting new sounds and promoting new trends, Laurent Garnier has found great satisfaction and pleasure in radio broadcasting. To the point when, in 2003, he created Pedro's Broadcasting Basement, his own webradio open day and night that can be accessed across the planet. And as if that was not enough, for four successive years he presented his own weekly radio show It Is What It Is, broadcast in France (Le Mouv), Belgium (Pure FM), Switzerland (Couleur 3) and Mali (La Chaine 2).
Laurent Garnier is an artist who never stands still. He is tireless in his enthusiasm and is always bursting with new ideas and projects. As well as the demands of his DJ-ing and his radio shows, Laurent Garnier has also evolved into a well-respected music producer. His first big hits (Acid Eiffel and Wake Up), both soundtracks to the explosion of dance music in France, have paved the way for a series of albums that are both elaborate and multi-layered. From the techno undercurrents of Shot in the Dark to the ambition of Tales of a Kleptomaniac, the electronic odyssey of 30, the maturity of Unreasonable Behaviour, and the visionary escapism of The Cloud Making Machine. In the space of five celebrated albums, Laurent Garnier has embarked upon a remarkable journey. A journey marked by some incredible electronic music anthems, loved by both DJs and the public alike: Flashback, Crispy Bacon, The Man With The Red Face, Back To My Roots, Gnanmankoudji, It's Just Muzik. His discography is also inseparable from the story of F Communications, the label that he created in 1994 with Eric Morand and which brought to the fore producers such as Mr Oizo, St Germain, Jori Hulkkonen, AlexKid and Scan X.
This musical journey is described in the book Electrochoc that Laurent Garnier and the journalist-writer David Brun-Lambert wrote together and which came out in 2003. An updated and extended version was released in 2013. In this biography, Laurent Garnier tells the epic story of electronic music through his experiences and recollections. Electrochoc was a publishing hit and has subsequently been translated into several other languages including English (published by Rocket 88 publishing in May 2015), Spanish, German, Japanese, Russian and even Croatian. In addition, Electrochoc is currently the inspiration behind a screenplay for cinema co-written by Laurent Garnier. Filming is due to begin late 2015.
Aside from his albums and singles, Laurent Garnier is also a composer for the cinema, television and theatre. He wrote the music for the films SDF Go Home and Qu'Allah Bénisse La France, for the documentary Play, for the animated film Globi and the Stolen Shadows and in 2010 made the music for the French television show Groland. For theatre, Laurent Garnier has composed the music for contemporary dance choreographers Angelin Preljocaj (Fire Sketch and Suivront Mille Ans de Calme) and Marie-Claude Pietragalla (Sade: Le Theatre des Fous and M et Mme Reve). All of these musical scores are characterised by being wonderfully inspirational experiences and are just one aspect of Laurent Garnier's far-reaching career founded upon commitment and passion.
Whether behind the decks or a radio microphone, Laurent Garnier has managed to fulfil his childhood dream: sharing the best of music with people. And now Laurent Garnier the DJ has further evolved into an accomplished musician, whose talents are widely recognised. One of his great strengths is knowing how to take his own music on to the stage as live performance. From the Olympia in 1998 to the Tales of a Kleptomaniac tour in 2009/2010, Laurent Garnier has reinvented himself as an important live artist, defending his music and his vision as well as his sense of immediacy and need for improvisation. Surrounded by experienced musicians, Laurent Garnier lights up the stage like a DJ does a dance floor. During his most recent tour of about 100 concerts performed over a period of 18 months, he won over audiences from the Nice Jazz Festival, Benicassim, the Salle Pleyel in Paris, to I Love Techno in Ghent.
Following on from the Tales of A Kleptomaniac tour, the LBS concept – Live Booth Sessions or Loud Bass & Samples – toured the planet between 2010-2013. This concept had a live format and was made up of three performers: Laurent Garnier (DJ & machines), Benjamin Rippert (keyboards) and Scan X (machines). An experimental live music project, it married the organic and the electronic, with the flexibility of the DJ and the intensity of the live performance. Specially created to match the feverish atmosphere of a club, LBS worked the dance floor to a frenzy with marathon sets.
This time-out, performing live, motivated Laurent Garnier to return to his first love: DJ-ing. He has gone back to globetrotting and working as an untiring DJ, hungry for new sounds, performing in major festivals (Sonar, Dekmantel, Nuits Sonores, Time Warp, Weather), familiar clubs (Berghain/Panorama Bar, Fabric, Fuse) and new places (Output, Le Sucre, Concrete). There, he was able to test out the five EP's that make up the Garnier Project released in 2014 on five different labels: Still Music, Musique Large, 50Weapons, MCDE, Hypercolour (these EPs are now available as one box set entitled the HOME box out on F Communications). The Garnier project is a new experience for Laurent to produce an album; The HOME box album is coming out in May 2015 on F Communications. Laurent is still known to share the decks once in a while with other DJ friends such as Boys Noize, Manu Le Malin, Carl Cox or Motor City Drum Ensemble. His sets are always so generous by nature. Always in tune with the crowd and the energy on the dance floor. Some things never change: it's the story of his life.
Olivier Pernot (2015)
Translated from French by Fish & Chips