Andre Saint-Albin talks about latest album ‘Memories’ in exclusive interview
An artist who ended 2018 on a high note – releasing a stellar 13-track album, French-American DJ and producer Andre Saint-Albin has been gently sculpting his way to the very top of the charts. Titled ‘Memories’ and released just 2 months ago, the album release marked his just his 3rd – with the last two, ‘Fe37ings‘ and ‘bLONDRe VoL.1‘ being released in 2012 and 2016 respectively. A medley of 13 tracks put together seamlessly, strung together to tell a story in themselves, ‘Memories’ features singles such as ‘Sabrosa‘ and ‘Here I am‘ – about which Andre had a lot to say.
Signed to Insomniac and having already performed at locations such as EDC and Ultra Miami, the budding DJ-turned-producer is looking set to achieve his grand goal – performing at the main stage of a leading festival. ‘Memories’ marks a special moment in his life as he unravels the story of becoming a DJ and through the means of the tracks, he tells it like it is. While there is an inkling of a signature sound that he carries, ‘Memories’ sees him dabble into his musical palette for all kinds of production styles – from hard-hitting tracks to serenading vocal singles. In an exclusive interview with We Rave You, Andre Saint-Albin sat down to talk about his origins and influences, shedding light on the role of his parents in his career as a musician, giving tips and guidance to upcoming talents and talking at great length about his latest ‘Memories’ album before addressing his near future.
How long have you been a producer/DJ for? Tell us about the origin of your music. What inspired you to pursue your career as an artist?
Hey there! I’ve been DJing since the age of 14 thanks to my parents getting me my first set of decks and self-teaching to play on vinyl records. It was such a learning experience going from Vinyl to CD to USB that I can’t even imagine what’s next! Fun Fact: I can tell you the one thing I don’t do is use a laptop to perform, not that there is anything wrong with that but I get paranoid having seen so many people get their Laptops damaged at shows.
Music is a universal language. I pretty much eat, sleep and breathe music. Music has and always will be an outlet for me to express myself when words cannot and it’s hard to imagine a world without it. I discovered music at a very young age, actually according to my parents have this picture of me taking one of my many baby steps, walking to the stereo system to put a new cassette in the stereo and push play! That’s when my parents had this feeling baby André would end up doing something music-related. My relationship with music is a bit of a love affair, no breakups just some fights here and there.
While knowing how to DJ was good for a bit I was once asked by my folks if I will ever play music of my own during my shows. Thus, started the journey from DJ to PRODUCER Andre Saint-Albin. Being a DJ and being a producer are two different things. That is usually the biggest misconception. Nowadays technology has made it easier for people to try their hand at the art of DJ-ing. I am happy to have started out as a DJ and did what I could to be unique. I started learning about production via Logic and Ableton and a bit of Reason which helped me create bootlegs and edits for my sets which would help differentiate an André Saint-Albin set over an “Insert DJ Name” set. If you can push limits and think outside the box, it will help you stick out among the crowd of people who aspire to become DJs.
But not all DJs can be producers and not all producers can be DJs. For this fact, I am thankful that DJing helped me in the art of reading the crowd which is a huge advantage during a set. Producing to me is what helps you find out who you are. In the end, you essentially need to perfect both forms in one way or another to succeed in this profession.
Fast forward to me DJing some small parties including my school prom switching from that to house parties to college events and clubs and then going on tour in Europe and having the pleasure to perform at world renown festivals such as the Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra Music Festival! And finally a quick flash forward to me sitting here answering your wonderful questions. Give me a second let me grab some water. [Drinks Water] OK! Needed to charge up and now I am ready for the next question!
Who do you consider to have been your biggest influences throughout your career that have made an impact on your productions?
First things first… My #1 fan and the first critics in any of my projects/productions are my parents! For those who do not know, my parents got me into DJing and producing. They have been there for me every single step of the way of my music career. I will play an unreleased track I’m working on and see if I see mum and pop jam and If they do, that’s when I know it has their seal of approval. They love attending all my performances when possible and people are shocked that they actually know about the EDM and festival scene. They were into original European dance music way back when! My parents have met the likes of Fedde Le Grand, Tiesto, Afrojack and Joachim Garraud!
If we go into whom have been my musical influences… Well one of my biggest idols when it comes to vocal stories being told in music is the late great Tim Bergling/AVICII! Believe it or not my mother saw him in concert before I did and she introduced me to his remix of ‘Malo’ and I always aspired to capture the listener the way he did with his productions. DDS
Aside from Tim the DJs and Producers I first started to follow were: Joachim Garraud, Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul Oakenfold, Paul Van Dyk, David Guetta, Laidback Luke & Fedde Le Grand. Those were the ones who I would go to see at shows/festivals to see how they would control the crowd. Everyone on that list has had a song that never needed vocals yet were powerful enough to be remembered.
Tell us a bit on your new album ‘Memories’. Could you describe us the process of making it? What were the inspirations and main idea/s behind it?
The album is called ‘Memories’ because it is based on some of my own memories! I wanted to bring a piece of my mind and outlook to music and make sure that these songs were relatable for those listening to the album. The goal I had when constructing ‘Memories’ was to tell a story. I have a personal correlation with all the songs since they are centered around my journey up until now. The album had the working title “Journey” but I changed it last minute to ‘Memories’.
The process of making it was about a year and some change. I had to really take my time with this one. It’s my most emotional release to date and I can’t wait for everyone to hear what spawns from ‘Memories’. The main idea was to show how I ended up finding myself in music + my love life while being somewhat of a known local public figure and the partying that intertwines with it all is the puzzle pieces of songs in the album. The tracks are basically sound illustration of myself and with very relatable experiences. Regardless of how much good has happened to me, my journey here had a lot of ups and downs which I put into this compilation of music. If you notice the songs go from a vocal driven intro to a party finale by the end of it.
Let’s talk about the ideas behind each track and how some came to be named!
Here I Am: Actually, let me save this one for later.
Paramour: For those who don’t know, the word Paramour means; the illicit partner of a married person. Paramour will have a vocal version and it will talk about those certain individuals who grow close to you but never end up telling you that they are with someone else. You end up becoming their Paramour and never had the slightest clue.
S.U.N.: This song is about finding a certain individual that makes you feel unstoppable and you feel a certain rush just being with that person. In the song, it talks about taking a chance and not looking back. Similar to how in certain movie they have one person who takes their hand out and tells the other person “Do you trust me???” so this song is about that feeling/moment that I believe has happened to everyone at least once in their life.
Elation: This song is such a happy song. I mean people have shuffle danced to it. I’ve had videos sent of people just roller-blading or doing fun outdoor activities listening to the track and that’s what I wanted all along. Elation’s definition is “great happiness and exhilaration.” So, this song deserved no other title but one that describes the whole track and its purpose.
Dancing With The Devil: Still on the topic of love and friendship so far in my memories (See what I did there ha-ha). I actually added the guitar at the very last second. I have two versions of the track one with and one without that intro guitar. I decided after playing the notes it just gave the song a grittier vibe and I always wanted another song with a guitar. (My very first song with a guitar was called “WATT” and it was supported by many DJs & Producers around the world including KREWELLA before they split.) This song was selected to the album because it’s about a certain time I was told by some people not to trust a girl I was talking to but I said f**k it and went with her anyway. This is essentially a recognizable song to anyone who has been told not to trust a certain person you are talking to and not caring because they are leaving with you anyway.
Empty Promises: This was the second single off the album to be released prior to the album’s release date. I absolutely love this song because I wanted an old school progressive house track with meaningful lyrics. It was inspired by old Axwell, David Guetta, AVICII tracks with a hint of Nicky Romero in that mixture. The song is self-explanatory, we all have been fed ‘Empty Promises’ and this is about finally seeing through the BS and watching those who made you suffer through those Empty Promises fall for being liars. “Empty Promises that show me you don’t care” …
You’re Mine: Now we have reached the point in my memory bank when you encounter someone you care for so much since they have been such a foundation and you don’t need anything from them because just being who they are is enough. This track has more of The Chainsmokers vibe to it but I needed this memory to be shared with my listeners. We all will eventually have someone that is constantly on our minds and well yeah that’s this song.
T’challa: After watching ‘Black Panther’ I had an idea… This is the idea…
But in a dance track that just has the vocals saying “ I came to jump, I came to groove”. This is when the emotions of the album go from loving and caring to party/ original Andre Saint-Albin vibes. The song is also named T’challa since the vocal sounds awfully familiar to someone that was on the ‘Black Panther’ album!
Atahualpa: This song is the inspiration of both Vini Vici & KSHMR and the PSYTRANCE movement! Atahualpa was named so because he was the last Inca Emperor from Ecuador and the song was tested and conceived in the country of Ecuador. Well after hearing the story of Atahualpa it was pretty much the description of his story in a song from beginning to end!
Techno: There was a time in my music career when everyone would call EDM or dance music the simple name ‘Techno’. Hey are you going to the techno concert. That eventually led to me discovering sub genres and main stage house music and etc.… This track is also the sequel to “I Wanna Take You Back” the song that led me to winning the EDC Las Vegas Discovery contest and I was selected to play a 10 PM set at EDC Las Vegas!
Exousia: Let’s talk about my music journey in college. Well after hearing a bunch of normal house and techno I was introduced to this crazy thing called DUBSTEP! I couldn’t make sense of it way back when ( The track I’m talking about Kid Sister – Pro Nails (Rusko Remix) ). But it was one of the few genres that you can head bang like a rock-n-roll song! It was named EXOUSIA because it means POWER in Greek!
Sabrosa: I had the honor of having Hardwell’s best friend and DJMAG Top 100 ranked DJ/Producer DANNIC give my third summer single its WORLD PREMIERE on FONK RADIO! That track was a little something called ‘Sabrosa’ which means TASTY! I wanted to bring flavor (pun intended) and tribal percussion to such a track that mixes beauty and mayhem in one highly inventive production! With crazy buildups and hard-hitting percussion which made you want to jump and sweat your face off! DANNIC actually made an edit of the song I sent to him and it had a different ending which ended up being the version I put on the album. Little things no one knows but now you do J
Oye: This was the very first single I released this past summer that would begin the road to my album (which no one knew I had been working on). Oye was a mixture of my Melbourne Bounce track ‘Watt’ which had it’s world premiere in South Korea & my song ‘Sour Diesel’. If those two songs had a baby it would be ‘Oye’ and it made its round on the internet and people loved it!
Now that I spoke about almost all of the track, I’ll now answer why I had thirteen songs. The reason I selected 13 songs was because most of the album I collected growing up had 13 songs (The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds, Coldplay – X&Y, Incubus – Make Yourself, Linkin Park– Meteora, Paul McCartney’s debut album – McCartney). Thirteen is not an unlucky number especially with any of those the albums I just named so I went with it as well.
Were there any challenges or difficulties you had to overcome in the making of your debut album and how did you overcome them?
Just making a track is sometime difficult because as any producer can relate… we will have 100+ versions of the same song on our hard drives. After that we are trying to figure out if any of those versions are “good enough” or if they even make sense. The stage in which you have to re-listen to a certain section of a track over and over will eventually make you go crazy. All leading you to wonder if the melody/bassline you put together at 4am sounds good after having some sleep (Laughs). You have to be careful because you need to take a break every now and then! Similar to writer’s block, one needs to just let that piece of work just stay in the computer and walk away for a bit.
I always tell people to let your ears rest and then come back and see if it still gives you the same feeling it gave you before. Now once you survive that mental state you repeat it a few more times until you have enough compiled for the story you want to tell the listeners. It’s rare to finish a song in a day but there are some creative individuals who can pull off such things. I’ve done it a few times but my favorite midnight creation was a track called ‘Strawberry Cough’ which I heard playing at a mall in Florida once and I lost my mind!
What’s your favorite record from your latest album and why?
If I had to choose a favorite from the album it would have to be ‘Here I Am’ because the story it tells is one many people can relate to nowadays.
The key phrase of the song that stick with most is “Here I stand, I know I walked away Had to find the person I’d become…”
What people don’t know is that I choose those words because the narrator/singer isn’t talking to a significant person but rather themselves. It’s a reminder that Hey I’m here and nothing is wrong with me no matter what people say.
The song essentially is about finding yourself but getting lost in the process realizing you were looking to see what was wrong but only to realize at the end that nothing was wrong. That voice inside you that we all have will end up telling you that you should just go back home (home can be a physical location or a spiritual or mental state) because the answer has been there all along and that’s where you belong!
“Heard a whisper in the night and it said You should go back home, go back home, go back home, go It’s been there all along You should go back home, go back home, go back home, go That’s where you belong…”
Just the other day I had someone send me a message on Instagram telling me the song was helping them with a breakup and even got a thank you letter plus someone said it helped them thru transition. That’s the endgame of all this in my eyes, having people love the universal language that is music!
Looking at your musical catalogue with its latest album ‘Memories’, you have a very diverse sound. How do you produce such different sounding tracks while maintaining your signature sound?
I never been one to stick to one genre but you could always tell it was an Andre Saint-Albin track based on how I use in my performances or on my radio show. Memories took me out of my comfort zone for a little to not only make songs that you can just play and listen to but to also make the songs ones you can party and workout to. For my day one fans/friends who have seen my work in some films or in Ads or just in people’s choreography’s, you’ll notice the end game is for the track to be something to provide happiness. When I’m sitting in front of the monitor and I’m going through thousands of variations of synths and drums I always have one goal… It’s either a very fun/crazy EDM song or it’s not an emotional track with relatable emotions. Whether it’s deep house or future bass or main stage EDM the end game is the same, a good time!
I always will tell you in any studio or writing session that we are putting together a piece of a puzzle that is a part of the Universal Language that is music! Music is such a powerful thing that it not only brings you back to certain points in time of your life or in general, but it can make certain situations everlasting by becoming a memory. I was once asked how I would describe my sound to a deaf person! Well as I said before; I wouldn’t try to describe it, I would let them experience the music. Visualizers can be synced with tracks to take us on a journey that gives us a look at what sound might look like. This means that the feeling of a song can be based off sound systems and that pounding or groovy bass lines can be felt in a car sound system, studio speakers or a festival sound system. I always go back and think of the King of Pop Michael Jackson and if you listen to his songs and see his show productions almost none are the same but yet they were all MJ songs because they were so darn catchy. His visual illustrations were all memorizing that whether you were deaf or blind you’d somehow understood the power of any song and it would leave an everlasting memory!
What does 2019 hold in store? Any hints or clues that we could get about future productions and collaborations? Interesting gigs in the pipeline?
So I’ll let you in on a little secret since I don’t think anyone will figure it out for a while. I have been using a secret alias in the music industry and also started another musical project that is a completely different genre of music I’ve done before. Let’s just say both those projects are doing well and I will only unveil one of them this year.
I will tell you that I am working on 2 EP’s at the moment and I’m hoping to have one before the Summer season and the other to be out during the summer season. I am also working on getting a very awesome collaboration with a dance music producer idol and friend of mine!
Oh and between 2017 and 2018 I decided to tour less and continue to have some me time and also more studio time. I worked alongside many artists under different alias’s and also produced some track for an upcoming rapper ‘Patrick Automatic’. I’ve been taking time to step outside the box and it’s been great. You’ll also notice that most of my idols have toned down their schedules and workload ever since the passing of AVICII. He was able to give himself some time to just work on music and have fun and knowing he did so much to finally have some amount of time to be able to do that gives you hindsight on how stressful this can all be.
I will take it step by step but you’ll see a lot of new Andre Saint-Albin songs be released whether thru a label or on my website just for people who want to see what I have cooking in the kitchen. I do have my radio show back and it’s doing great with subscribers so you can always have a Andre Saint-Albin concert twice a month! Looking to this year I just want to make sure I share more and not fall into a dark hole like I’ve seen some other people have. It’s a very tough industry and everyone is a critic but you need to just do what makes you happy for as long as you can! Online the other day I saw some producers (whom I won’t name) share with all their fans that they have had some thoughts about depression and suicide due to people in the industry no longer giving them a chance or the time of day after having “fallen off”. I want to go on record and say I have had some of these roadblocks and obstacles that just make you question your views and your circles. I’ve had so called friends no longer share my stuff once I started doing better than most people ever thought possible.
I also reached a point of not wanting to make music anymore. My laptop crashed with all my original work from when my career started and the backups couldn’t be saved either. I was at a dead-end and decided that I needed a break. Many of your favorite artist will do this because everyone needs a break from everything and then some! So, I took a month off to just put myself back together. Having that time with family and some more time in the studio, gave me more inspiration to make my own personal comeback from losing all my projects and try different things. I love DJ’ing but I also love just being in the studio putting musical stories together or recording a LIVE episode of my radio show Andre Saint-Albin FM!
As I said earlier I’m planning on two projects and maybe unveiling a secret alias. It’s not normal for people to release an EP so close after an album but here I am planning two and maybe the follow up for ‘Memories’ but that just means this time I have to try and outdo myself and prove to myself that this is still only the beginning. I want to thank you for your time! It’s been a great chat! [Drinks Water] If you haven’t heard my album or radio show just google search: Andre Saint-Albin to follow me on social media (I like Instagram a lot right now (Laughs)) or go to AndreSaintAlbin.com