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#adidasunderground: Francois Kevorkian's Surround Sound Lounge - Day 9

#adidasunderground put together a multi-sensual experience for its guests in Shoreditch, London last night, as internationally renowned DJ, producer, and record label owner François Kevorkian graced the 1s and 2s. Catering the crowd with a fine selection of eclectic sounds that encompassed genres like jazz, soul, blues and more, the New York City resident perfectly laid down the audio foundation for this musical extravaganza that was further enhanced by a multi-channel sound system, a hypnotic light show, and three-dimensional projections on the walls. Clearly swaying away from your average dancefloor frenzy with conventional sound patterns, this special ‘Surround Sound Lounge’ event was something for those that appreciate and understand the essence of music. We had the chance to speak to François K, who is also widely considered as one of the forefathers of house music, about his personal impression on this multi-sensual event and how he evaluates the dialogue between the DJ and his audience.

Regular club music these days usually implies a music selection that contains modern day uptempo electronica sounds. Your selection tonight, however, offered a substantial part of slow music from the ’60s and ’70s, which kept the crowd going till the very end. What was your personal impression?
Honestly, I was basically just going with the flow. However, the music that you heard tonight was delivered in surround format, not stereo. These are not just simple things that you can play on your iPod or simply stream on your computer. These songs are special, becoming real and authentic through a multi-channel use. In order to appreciate this kind of music and to fully grasp its complexity, one has to have a certain level of experience and exposure to multi-channel technique. Your body and ears need to be prepared for that. And what happened tonight was people heard music they were familiar with for the most part, but they could definitely experience it in some sort of enhanced dimensional manner. Psychologically speaking, presenting music in a three-dimensional format, it really affects people very deeply. For the event organizers tonight, it took major preparation because what you heard was an eight-channel sound system. The sounds came from everywhere, every single corner of the venue.

Was it surprising to you that a system like this was such a great success?
This was not supposed to be club night at all. This was not a DJ set but actually me playing music – as simple as that. Nowadays, people tend to categorize things much too easily, and put everybody in the same bag. There is not much time given to you to explain what you do, and why are you are doing. You are provided with 140 characters for this. But tonight, I do not want to compare to what I usually do professionally as a DJ. I don’t use the same tools and don’t play the same way. Tonight was very organic and the vibe went back to the roots of music, what makes us enjoy certain things. It’s music that speaks to them.

How did you prepare yourself for tonight?
Honestly, there was no planning involved. I’m much of an improviser when it comes to gatherings like this. I never rehearse. Of course, after some time behind the 1s and 2s, you develop a feeling and understanding on what people are most likely to react. I feel preparing too much can also be a bit something contrived. In this particular event tonight, it really worked well. It was a really relaxed atmosphere. There was no high pressure whatsoever. Everyone was just laid back and happy. I’m just vibing off that. I wasn’t prepared to play as much soul music as I ended up doing, like Marvin Gaye, Earth, Wind & Fire. But I could tell people really dug it, so I just went with the flow.

What moment or song that you played tonight was particularly striking to you?
Take Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew” for instance. Historically speaking, it is a very important song. It marked the transition when jazz music stopped being traditional and became experimental. It is a statement. When he first released the song some 45 years ago, people were upset with it. A lot of people hated Miles Davis for making that record. It is really amazing to see that even some decades later, this song, being so odd and shocking, still moves and affects people. It’s like one of Picasso’s creations. It is something that is so striking, so original that it never looses its essence. So my problem with a lot of records that are being produced nowadays, it is more efficient and purpose-built. It doesn’t waste any time getting the point across. Because of that, it never really goes anywhere. It lacks the element of surprise and demands less from its listener. I think that it is the problem with a lot of facets of culture nowadays, like food, fashion, movies. Blame the consumerist culture for that.

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