is a boutique lable set up in Montreal, focussing on the off-beat, live electronic music coming out of Quebec .Run by Frenchmen, and now based out of Berlin and Miami, it’s a Trans-national business. We caught up with label boss Jonattan Levingstone (aka Pablo) to talk everything from the future of the label to dream collaborations….
Hi Pablo, for the uninitiated among us please tell us who you are and what youre up to???
Hi, I’m from Qubec, I was raised in France and then moved to Montreal for 8 years. I make electronic music and dj under the name of Jonattan Levingstone. Ive been digging for music for over 10 years, and as one of the founding members of Cocktail Club Soundsystem, Im also a party thrower. I’ve recently moved to Berlin and founded a label called Parages Music with my friend Sebastien, also known as Menjai, whos a veteran dj coming from the south of France scene where he organised parties from the mid 90’s to the mid 00’s with Hydrodisko. We met in Montreal but he is now based in Miami.??We are looking forward to a long journey with Parages…
Your label Parages is moving onto its fourth release now, tell us the ethos behind the label and why you decided to set it up in the first place?
??It all started in 2006 when I used to organize events with friends. We had a monthly night called Cocktail Club Soundsystem for 6+ years. Putting on these parties, meeting new people and being more attentive to the local sound led us to discover great artists and great music. Many new friends were people who produced electronic music but come from the noise and experimental scene. They make great music with a machine-only setup, recording live in one take. Very unique and open minded music. ??As this new crew began to gain some traction in Montreal, we assembled a compilation of our productions and came up with a CD called PARAGES, “musique de danse souterraine”. The next logical step was to share this music to a larger audience, so Sebastien and I joined the forces to launch PARAGES MUSIC as an official label to promote this scene. Since then, we have released 3 eps (various artists).
The first release was digital and the 2 others vinyl. The forthcoming one, set to hit the press on May 8th, will be in digital. We have also a vinyl coming up end of May. ??We’ve released artists such as Simon called Peter, Recife, Basic Soul Unit, Moonstarr, Jonattan Levingstone (myself) and Leboeuf et Laviolette. These last two are also painters, and have lent us their artwork for our covers. For the vinyl releases we wanted to have something original and unique, the results are beautiful.
??What are the plans for the future with the label? Any plans to branch out beyond the music of Montreal???
We started our first releases with local artists and international artists for the remixes. Most of us have played at Festivals such as Mutek, Igloofest, Picnik Electronik and cities like Toronto, NYC, Paris, Brussels, so we are interconnected with other cities.?The priority remains to focus on the Montreal scene because we feel the particular sound we cover should get more attention.For the next digital release were adding a Montreal classic duo to our roster, two important figures of this music who influenced the label. We have also a “grand monsieur” from the Detroit electro scene, Mr DE’ , who is joining us for a remix on the upcoming vinyl release. More info soon…We are open to sign artists from other places too. I live in Berlin now and there is a lot of people who produce very good music so I guess we will have no trouble finding music here that fits within our concept.
What have been the best and worst things about setting up your own label???
Weve been very fortunate to not have a worst thing yet… However, finding a distributor was one of the biggest challenges we experienced, but Philip Lauer (from the Robert Johnson crew) admired our first cuts and managed to get us on board with Intergroove. ??The best thing is that the label is a source of inspiration, making tracks, exploring sounds. Working with Ade aka Mr DE for the mastering is also a great satisfaction. We want to do quality, and this is also what brings our designer Jonathan DeRouchie and painters David Lafrance and Jean-Franois Lauda. They all do such a great job. It’s a pleasure to work with them. Whats important for us is sharing and leaving a trace of this music on the best format, the vinyl.?
Youre a DJ too, running the cocktailclub soundsystem parties in Montreal – whats happened with them and what were the highs and lows?
??The parties were great… we played a lot of great venues, had an excellent crowd, friends and such good range of artists that played at these parties.??I think the highs are the parties that Montreal still remembers…. I’m thinking of Frank Gossner, the man and friend behind Voodoofunk. He played Nigerian disco and funk for more than 3 hours, the people couldnt stop dancing, I have never seen people in trance like that. Another one that had a great impact on me, was when Moonstarr, who played live with all his synthesizers, and the duo Leboeuf et Laviolette ,with their “analog circus” set up. I never seen so much gear on a stage. The music was so good that night that I forgot to dj! The only lows we had, are when we brought artists from abroad. More money on the line, plane tickets, big organisations, borders and customs. In the end, we realized that Montreal was a bit too small for that. We lost money on some bookings that would have been better in bigger cites. I will remember the good times, and the friends were always there, so that whats important.?????
Any plans to resurrect the cocktailclub parties in Berlin?
?It’s possible, yes. For now cocktail club soundsystem is on hold, for sure. My two CCS homies moved to Paris and I’m in Berlin. Last October we did a Parages party in Montreal, all the artists played and everybody was there. It was very close to the Cocktail Club Soundsystem vibe. I just arrived in Berlin, so step by step, you know.
I’d like to organise a monthly night in a small venue, bring djs and live electronic music. Something relaxed, you know, no doorman bullshit and expensive cover charges. Just good music and good vibes. I would bring the Montreal crew to play when they visit. Create a Parages headquarters. Also what’s good in Europe is that the distances are way smaller than in North America so it’s easier to bring artists because of the cheap flights.
You, yourself, produce as well – what is in the pipeline regarding your own releases???
For now i ve released two tracks. “Planets” on the Parages cd comp and “Deeptimes” on the Parages 002 vinyl. A third one, that i’ve started last year is finally done, it’s coming on the next vinyl.I have a lot of unfinished tracks that i should get back at it and I’m working on new stuff as well. I just received some of my gear from Montreal and i started setting up my studio. Hopefully i will have some time to finish the works in progress.???What kind of production set up are you using???Right now I use Ableton and a Korg drum box, very basic. I record with Ableton, i use it for the synths and for the samples. My Korg is for the drums and some synths too. I like it, it has the rough side from the Korg and the practical side of the computer and it’s convenient for a live setup. I used to work more with vintage synths. I had to sell some gear but i will bring back my Roland sh-2000, crazy sounds in this one, it was my grandma’s, she gave it to me. Isn’t that the best grand mother present you could wish for? (Certainly beats a wooly scarf! Ed)
???If you could sign any track from history to Parages, what would it be and why??
I guess there is a lot. I would love to sign a classic disco track with live instruments played by the Parages crew in Montreal. The city used to be a disco mecca and it still has a disco heart, thats why we all listen to disco. Another that i’d like to sign is a track from Leboeuf et Laviolette remixed by Theo Parrish. I’m really influenced by his music and dj sets. Like many, I guess. It would make a lot of sense music-wise, i think. When I listen to him, I think of them and vice versa. It would be an achievement to do that..for them, as well for Parages. So Theo if youre reading this…….??If you could assemble a Parages super group of musicians from across the space and time of 20th century music, whod you choose???Well i guess i’d choose some artists who influence me…?Gil scott heron. Pharoah Sanders. Curtis Mayfield. Giorgio Moroder. Minnie Ripperton. Bootsy Collins. Dexter Wansel. Tony Allen?Would that even work!?????Finally, can you give us an exclusive mix to charm our readers?
I have something else. Instead of a mix, Parages offers a free download from our next release….
How very kind! Here’s the track in question, a slab of lush lopsidedness from Heart and Soul called “electric city”: