What was your introduction to the music business?
My introduction to the music business was with [the band] Chevreuil. [Tony C. and I] started in late '98 at art school. If I remember well, at the very beginning it was just a collaboration for [some] work we had to show our professors. From that we started to play regularly, 'cause we had a lot of fun. We were very bad musicians, but was absolutely awesome to rehearse with four amplifiers and just the two of us.
You guys have a nutty setup. I just saw a few videos of you guys at Colmar in 2010 that were pretty intense.
Yeah! Tony created this thing, a network of four amplifiers, a quadraphonic system. He plays live, records loops, and then he chooses which amplifier the loop plays on. My job is to follow the loops and Tony. We play together in the middle of four amps in the middle of the audience. In fact, our music is not stereophonic, so it makes no sense to play on stage [and] it also makes no sense to record albums for a stereophonic system. We have a project to record a quadraphonic double LP. Listeners will have to use two stereophonic systems in the same room to listen to the thing properly.
You've toured and collaborated with countless artists as a musician and drummer. Was starting a label always something you were interested in?
At the very beginning, when I was young, I wanted to publish books. I was fascinated by books. Then, being involved in the music environment, the idea of a music label naturally came to me. But I've always thought I wasn't able to run something like [a label]. It's only a few years ago that I decided to start Africantape. I had no plan, no real idea of what Africantape could become. I just had friends dispersed on the planet that were excellent musicians and artists and I wanted to connect everything together.
I dig how Africantape has more of an art collective feel than a label. The photography and artwork affiliated with the label and website goes way beyond just press fodder.
I studied the arts for a long time before becoming a musician. In fact, I stopped studying art 'cause I thought being a musician was cool, ha! The Art Question is still present in me, so why couldn't a label become a piece of art instead of just being a business tool? In fact, I don't see Africantape exactly as a label. I love to compare it to something organic that is logically growing up with its own connections, ideas, sounds, and imagery. I think Africantape is an animal. Or, more specifically, an animal pack.
What led you to start Africantape?
I had been helping the French label Ruminance for a long time. Those guys were good friends, so I had been help[ing] them out with promotion and some graphics work. I moved to Italy and took a break from playing music. After awhile I founded a Europen PR and booking agency Five Roses Press. Being a musician always on the road helped me a lot. It's on tour that I met most of my contacts for [Five Roses]. One day, I received the Three Second Kiss recording "Long Distance" -- freshly recorded by Steve Albini [in 2008] -- and these guys were looking for a label. I thought "Maybe this is my chance," and, of course, it was. Everything started thanks to that recording.
2012 is going to be a big year for Africantape. On March 5, the new Papier Tigre record Recreation drops -- and Epitonic is proud to debut standout track "Afternoons" today. Below, check out a playlist handpicked by Julien Fernandez -- label owner, drummer, and self-proclaimed OG Epitonic fan from the late '90s.