NAFF Recordings label boss Priori delivers a captivating masterclass in dance-floor ambience and spacey dub techno, whilst giving us the low down on latest developments.
Someone with undeniable talent for creating intricate soundscapes that sound as terrestrial as otherworldly. Pair that with an extensive technological know-how to make his nonlinear artistic vision come to life and you get Montreal-based Quebecois musician Francis Latreille. Bursting onto the scene in 2018, Francis is the mind behind Priori and closely involved with numerous collab projects like Jump Source, Housemates, New World Science and Jumanjí. And if that’s not enough to impress, his NAFF Recordings, the label that he co-runs alongside close mate Ex-Terrestrial, is home to some of the most interesting and innovative contemporary music out there at the moment.
In short, Francis has got it going on and we are stoked to have him involved. Taking good care of episode eighteen in the series, he showcases his ever-evolving knack for cosmic sound design and talks about his second album in the works, NAFF and what he has been up to in recent months.
Hey Francis, what’s been going on? How’s life in Montreal and personally how have you been holding up these last few months?
Hey! Thanks for having me. Like most people I’m learning to live a different way. Montreal is a covid hot spot so restrictions have been pretty strict from the start. I spend my time between the studio and my house now that it’s cold. Not trying to downplay the seriousness of it all, but I’m enjoying the extra time and the opportunity for reflection. I think a lot of people are making realizations about what’s important to them.
With your long player debut – “On A Nimbus” – recently hitting its one year anniversary, I heard you have been keeping busy with creating the follow-up. How do you reflect on your first foray into the LP format? And what can you tell us about the album that you are currently working on / the direction that you are taking on this second tour?
I haven’t really reflected on it too much to be honest. “On A Nimbus” was a pretty restless album I think, crammed with little ideas and details. I pretty much went the opposite direction with this one, approaching it with more restraint. It might be a reflection of the times, less distractions make it easier to come up with more thoughtful sounds and arrangements.
You recently performed at MUTEK’s hybrid edition. Taking place in a reconfigured shape halfway between a physical and a virtual event, how did that all go down? And tell us about the overall setting of the day and how you experienced the festival?
As far as playing for people in bean bags goes, it wasn’t too bad hehe. MUTEK events are always well set up in my experience. The sound was great and they did everything they could to make things fluid and safe. Hearing loud music after all this time was quite the blessing.
I’m curious to hear how you navigate the progression in your live sets. From starting point to closing note, how do you configure the experience and what are some of the key elements that you focus on, be it the overall flow, experimentation, creating tension, etc? And what do you hope to transmit to your audience?
mmm that’s an interesting one. I don’t produce music with the idea of playing it live so I don’t particularly love the process of transposing things I write in the studio, into a playable live set. For now I usually throw a bunch of parts from studio projects into Ableton. Then I find ways to improvise with the gear I plan on bringing. So it’s a mix of prepared audio that creates the backbone, and sequences running from the machines that I can interact with. I’d love to play live with other musicians at some point. Unlike most people around me I’ve never been in a band and the idea is appealing.
Your NAFF Recordings has been coming along nicely as well! With the recent addition of number ten to the catalog by Daniel Rincon and Sophie Sweetland (aka D. Tiffany) under their joined Ambien Baby moniker, what can you tell us about the record and what else do you have coming up for NAFF these coming months?
Yeah we’d been talking to Sophie and Daniel about doing a record since we started the label. They really do magic together and it’s a blessing to put out their music. The songs on “Mindkiss” were mostly written in Berlin after Sophie moved there last year. When the confinement started, Daniel and I recorded some extra parts, finalized the arrangements and mixed it down. I like how this one further expands the NAFF palette. The Coil inspired vid they shot in Barcelona is icing on the cake.
We have a few releases ready for the new year. One is our friend Maara’s first techno release, which should be out in February. Possibly some stuff by Adam and myself as well.
You recently debuted your RED project on NAFF sublabel Garmo. Carrying a more direct and rugged sound approach then your Priori moniker, tell us about the impulses that you are channeling with the new project and how “RED 1” came together.
I went to the studio one day with pent up frustration about politics and power abuse, and I made drafts for these 4 tracks. I was really following my instincts and running with the first idea that came out. It was kind of a relief to not overthink things. So yeah, I guess RED is the one who ramps things up and doesn’t look at VU meters.
Along with the label business and your solo works, you’re involved with numerous collab projects with an array of Montreal’s finest. Releasing as Jumanjí alongside RAMZi, Housemates with Ex-Terrestrial, Jump Source with Patrick Holland and ANF with Dust-e-1, next to your work as sound engineer. What are some of the projects that you’ve recently worked on and personally what else do you’ve coming up?
I spent most of the last year working on my own material. Apart from being logistically easier, there’s a lot of new tools I wanted to experiment with. It takes a minute to make a new instrument your own, and I find it’s usually better done alone. That said, I recently got the urge again and Daniel (NAP) and I have been having these very cathartic industrial jams. Maara and I also have some projects going that we’re really happy with. Other than that, I recorded an EP with Ludwig AF when I was in Frankfurt last year, which should be out next year. We took a long walk in the woods and wrote music for 4 days straight, it was a lovely time.
Finally, what can you tell us about the mix you’ve recorded for us. Any specific vibe channeled, special bits in there you’d like to mention, etc.?
Nothing specific, mostly techno. Some new things from Dust-e and Big Zen, Maara, Ludwig & myself.
Photo credit: Ariana Molly.