Yes, at times DoubtingThomas might be hard to pin down.
It might be because of his close relationship with rhythmic & groovy as well as melodic side of dance floor friendly electronic music. It's something most artists try to avoid while undertaking a more singular path.
That's not the case with Aurelien whose tireless work ethic and a focus on creation lead him to a slow and steady rise with releases on key underground labels and prestigious residencies.
His sound has always drawn upon wider influences than cookie-cutter dance floor music, reaching to jazz and musique concrete to find textures that challenge in between the rhythms, and so it is that his distinctive live set has become his calling card in recent times.
With recent tours taking him to the likes of Resolute in New York, Stereo Montreal or Rex Club in Paris and across the US, audiences around the world have been awoken to the distinctive DoubtingThomas sound. It’s the same kind of unique spirit that he brings to his DJing, taking chances to present a crowd with an alternative to the straight and narrow rules of so much club music.
We tried to dig a little deeper and that's what he had to say about his live performances, studio work and forthcoming gigs.
Ola, Aurelien. How are you recently?
Hi! I just came back from London and am currently enjoying some quiet time in the southern French countryside in between shows.
According to Google, “DoubtingThomas” is someone who’s sceptical and refuses to believe something without proof. Are you that person?
It's not quite as negative as it might sound. Before refusing and being sceptical Thomas was researching and questioning things before affirming facts... that sounds more like me basically.
You have to take us through your setup that you use for live performances. Why did you decide to add hardware to your gigs anyway?
I developed a 32 channel live setup on Ableton, which can be modulated quite easily if any of individual sounds needs replacing. It's kind of like a Tetris blockchain and it’s as close as using sequencers and samplers as Ableton can be. Using additional hardware allows a little more swing in the drum sections.
Do you think the audience can get a lot more from a live act then from lets say a “normal” DJ set?
A lot more I couldn’t say, but surely a different sonic experience.
Speaking about your live performance. How much of your set is planned and how much is improvisation? I reckon you can’t really plug all devices in and just randomly start jamming in front of crowd… or do you?
It’s half and half, as it takes time to sequence drum machines to sound right when played in venues. My live set is a sort of hybrid that's prepared for that matter always, even if some sounds will remain in the same spot in the grid, its space and time is random when played at different shows. I do make sure I don’t play the same things twice.
What about your studio setup? Since you’re doing live acts, we’re assuming that your studio has to be a true hardware dungeon?
I wish it was a hardware dungeon, I have my fair share of toys at the studio but as all of us, producers say I guess it’s never enough.
When was the last time that you entirely did a track “in the box”, if that ever happens? Do you think that you could achieve the same the results without hardware?
That happens because today’s sound technology has evolved so much and allows producers to reach a great amount of quality with simple software if you know sound techniques. Then of course comes to taste. Each to their own with production methods though.
You grew up in France, Toulouse more precisely but you have also lived in London, Berlin and most recently in Barcelona. What made you move to different cities? Do you think that each city influenced your music in a certain way?
I am now back in the countryside in France where my studio is, although I still spend a great deal of my time in Berlin. I like to experience new territories and cultures and of course, it influences me and therefore my art.
You’ve had some stellar releases on labels such as 2020 Vision, Mayak, Organic Music and you’ll soon release an EP on the Lille-based Gaazol imprint. Can you take us through this release?
It would be too hard to explain the music I make with words, it is an extension of myself and I am just very grateful some people understand and appreciate it.
Your schedule till the end of this year looks like proper fun. Where can people here you next? Any special shows that you’re looking forward to?
I’ll be playing in Australia towards the end of 2018 and we are planning a various tour in North and South America for the first few months of next year.
Do you still nurture your alter egos (The Promises, D.O.T.S) or was that a thing of past?
It’s still a work in progress.
What are your challenges when speaking about your music career and life in general?
Letting music taking me to places, respecting it and getting better in crafting it as much as it allows me to.
Keep up with DoubtingThomas on Instagram, Facebook, Resident Advisor and Soundcloud and watch out for his latest release, Gaazol003, dropping January 2019 via Gaazol and featuring a remix by Diego Krause. Listen/pre-order to that one here.
Photos: Frederic Taran