The Sounds of Francis Preve
When it comes to Armada artists, Francis Preve has one of the most colorful histories of the pack. In addition to rocking the dance world with his unique blend of progressive and tech, Preve is a true technology guru, designing sounds and/or consulting on product development for powerhouse tech companies like Ableton, Korg, and Tascam to name a few.
Preve’s devotion to the electronic music community verges on obsession. Last year alone, he collaborated with Wolfgang Gartner on one of the biggest hits of the year (‘Yin/Yang’), delivered massive remixes for legends like Sander Kleinenberg, Dave Seaman/Josh Gabriel and Winter Kills, DJ’ed in both the US and Europe, gave production workshops for Dubspot.com, and still found the time to teach college classes on electronic music production in his hometown of Austin, Texas. Mild mannered professor by day; rockstar DJ by night.
Even with all of these obligations, Francis remains extremely approachable, easygoing, and willing to talk about anything and everything. We caught up with him last week during WMC and got the scoop on his latest activities. Here’s what he had to say.
2009 was a very big year for you in many ways. How does it feel to be one of Different Pieces’ fastest rising stars?
Francis: “Honestly, I’ve been so focused on the music and DJ’ing that I haven’t had a lot of time to reflect on what’s happened in the past year or so – which to me is a good thing. I think the biggest danger for new artists is to take themselves far too seriously. Music is supposed to be fun and emotional, not some sort of competition! (laughs) I’m all about keeping it real, making tracks, and connecting with the fans.”
You’ve been keeping busy on a few technology projects in addition to the music and remixing. Care to tell us more?
Francis: “Last year, I fell in love with FXpansion’s DCAM suite of virtual analog softsynths. I’m an analog junkie when it comes to my studio gear and these are the only emulations that come close to the real thing. I’m traveling more and more, so they’re absolutely essential for coming up with sounds on the road. Back in October, FXpansion asked me to do a custom set of sounds for DCAM. The bank was released in January of this year. You can pick them up here [LINK: http://www.fxpansion.com/index.php?page=62&tab=275]. I’m also working on a top-secret project for a major company’s first synth product. I wish I could say more about that, because it’s a really cool assignment.”
Back to the music… After ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ with Wolfgang Gartner, you turned your focus to remixes, lending your talents to releases from Sander Kleinenberg, Dave Seaman & Josh Gabriel, Winter Kills, and Dragonette. Which do you prefer – remixing or making originals?
Francis: “Well, there’s a huge difference between doing remixes and producing original tracks so I really enjoy both equally. When you’re remixing, you have to respect the artist’s original intent while bringing an interpretation to the material that’s unique to you. It’s a tough line to walk, but all of the artists I worked with last year are really important and/or influential to me. In every case, their original tracks were so strong that the remixes came quite naturally, which is a huge plus. When I’m working on my own material, everything springs from the heart. I don’t just sit down and say ‘Let’s make a hit’ – my brain just doesn’t work that way. The notes, the beats, the sounds… I need to somehow communicate whatever it is I’m going through at that exact moment, whether it’s joy, frustration or just goofing around and being playful with sound.”
Your newest single, ‘Marina’ , is an obviously emotional track that builds and evolves in intensity to a stunning peak. Do you mind talking about your feelings behind it?
Francis: “Marina was by far the hardest track I’ve ever done. I wrote the music and basic framework in a single day – hours after my father was diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live. When I was a kid he always took me boating, so the marina was a big part of my early years. Although the initial music came quickly, I was so devoted to getting the vibe right that the engineering and production took close to a year of periodic tinkering and revisions. It was a labor of love, but I’ll tell you, I’m glad it’s finally out so I can move on. William A, Tritonal and James Talk turned in some killer remixes of ‘Marina’ that really keep the essence of the original intact while taking the groove in decidedly new directions.”
So what’s next for Francis Preve in 2010?
Francis: “The release schedule is chugging along nicely. Next up is a collaboration I did in Amsterdam with Josh Gabriel and Rob Stern. The track is called ‘Knob’ and relies heavily on the FXpansion synths I mentioned earlier. Josh has been such a good friend and mentor to me for nearly a decade, so it was a real honor to finally sit down and do a track with him – and I’m really happy with the way ‘Knob’ turned out. I also recently finished two tech house tracks called ‘Flotsam’ and ‘Jetsam’ which should be out in May, followed by another prog/tech track on Different Pieces that I haven’t officially given a name yet. I also have a couple of really cool remixes in the pipeline for two major artists that I admire. Those should be out in the May-June timeframe as well.”
Wow! You really are keeping busy. Do you have any final words for your fans?
Francis: “Always stay true to your dreams, treat yourself – and the people around you – with dignity and respect, and profound thanks to everyone for supporting the tracks and coming to the shows. It makes all of this possible. Much love!”
'Marina' is ecxlusively available on Beatport.com!