an interview with label head Jean-René Etienne
what is the story of how the label was started?
Classic story of some friends really into music and sharing the same tastes,
more or less, and sometimes the same women. We just decided to set up shop and
that was it. Tacteel had released an EP and we were convinced that Para One
had to follow suit and go solo as well. He was mostly doing beats for TTC at
the time. We believed that his sound was new and unique and we were right: if
you listen to our (and his) first 12", "Beat Down EP", it’s really
a crucible for most of the so-called "French sound" that came two
or three years later. We found a distributor and learned most of the trade as
a hobby, and the rest we still don’t know.
your 3 favorite records on Institubes
You really want to get me in trouble with my artists? I love them all, yo.
favorite meal to eat in Paris
Besides Drop The Lime, Is there anyone else you have your eyes (and ears)
on in the U.S.?
Coming this fall on Institubes Eagle.
What do you feel about the Tecktonik craze in Paris, and do people Tecktonik
to Institubes music?
Tecktonik… I hear there are some videos online showing people demoing their
"killer moves" to our tracks but I’m not into it at all, sorry, I
love dance crazes but this one doesn’t look good. I don’t like the logo, I don’t
like the clothes, I hate the whole throwback electroclash thing going on with
their hair, I don’t like that they’re peddling dance tutorial DVDs like there’s
no tomorrow. Some jumpstyle/hardstyle tracks are really cool but they’re not
that specific to the trend. Also, I don’t know what I mean by this but I feel
I can’t trust them.
Who thought of the name Institubes and what does it mean?
I can’t remember who came up with it, Teki or Tacteel probably, and in retrospect
it’s interesting to note that we chose a name that translates badly in English.
It’s either we didn’t have much ambition, either we didn’t give a fuck about
the rest of the world–you decide. It’s a portmanteau fusing "institut",
which means "institute", and "tubes" which translates as
"hits", as in "radio hit". So apparently that’s what we
wanted to be: some kind of consortium dedicated to churning hit after hit. We
were setting us up for failure, obviously, but we’re French so to us failure
has a certain panache. I ditched the whole "laboratory" pretense a
long time ago, now I freely admit that we’re just flailing about in the general
direction of persistence.
From what you’ve seen, who has more dog shit, Brooklyn or Paris?
Paris is the worst. I come from Martinique, where people do not worship dogs,
and everytime I would come on vacation, it was a shock. I’ve been living here
for more than ten years now and I’m still not used to it. Sometimes I feel I
won’t be happy till the last dog is hung with the guts of the last elderly woman
but most of the time it makes me sad, it’s like all those turds are testaments
to the loneliness of the people. I know this was the token tell-us-something-uncool-about-Paris
question and I know I should have made a joke but really, somebody has to take
action. Either by helping the old ladies out of their solitude, or by finding
a way to scrub the city clean.
Is it true that Bobmo made "To The Bobmobile" on the PS2?
Nope, not this one.
Do you see much difference between playing digital or vinyl? Which do you
I’m not a DJ but I can see the difference between the two. Most of the INS boys
play digital, because they’re so young and/or because it allows them to do things
you’d need four turntables and extraordinary hand/eye/ear coordination to pull
off. The Ableton Live/UC-33 combo is often a tool to fake your way through a
hypemachine-powered set, which is depressing, but we had bad DJs in the vinyl
era as well.
How do you see the Institubes sound evolving in 2008 and beyond?
Way I see it, we will still wave in and out of club music, put out more and
more rap and become more of an albums label, what with Tacteel, Cuizinier, Surkin
and Curses! writing their first LPs and Para One his second. Some of these will
be more pop than you’d expect. We have a number of straight up clubby-club-club
offerings planned though, by Jean Nipon, High Powered Boys, Bobmo, Das Glow,
Orgasmic, and some truly weird records coming up–in fact you could say that
this is one of our main directions for the future: weirdness. More unsellable
stuff. Bankruptcy is slated for 2010, by the way. Plus we have David Rubato,
who’s a true wild card, nobody knows what he will come up with. But I ramble,
I guess you’ll have to tune in and hear for yourself.
What are your feelings on music blogs and the whole "blog-house"
I really like the idea that so many kids are just taking matters into their
own hands. Some are very talented, some are mediocre, but that’s the way it
universally is. More power to them. One problem, though: their medium of choice
is quite susceptible to memes and it’s way too easy to repost mp3s under a funny
title and a picture of some overeager hipster bitch. It’s supposed to be the
world wide web but blogs can be oddly provincial, insular, even solipsistic.
Now, "blog-house", I don’t really know what that is, but in LA I went
to this house and there was some scruffy girl passed out half-naked in the bedroom,
in the living-room people played Rock Band like their life depended on it, and
you had some CDJs lying around, and on the fridge, next to a picture of Shawty
Lo pasted on Pedro Winter’s body, there was this sign: WELCOME TO THE BLOG HOUSE.
Best/most memorable party?
Our fifth birthday in Paris. Just check out the video here
and who partys harder – America or France?
You have more drugs, we have more girls.