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Interview with ERIC MORAND, A&R F Comm, France for Mr. Oizo - Oct 23, 2000

ďYouíre better off having a love affair with the artist than having sex with everybody.Ē

picture A&R and manager at F Commmunications in Paris, France, Eric Morand is responsible for signing Mr.Oizo, the yellow sock-puppet that takes an engaging turn in the eccentric Leviís TV commercial. The single, "Flat Beat" sold more than 3 million singles worldwide and went No.1 all over Europe. Eric is also working with St.Germain and the new album from Laurent Garnier, "Unreasonable Behaviour".

How and why did you become an A&R and manager?

It was a logical thing for me. I started as a promoter for Universal/Barclay in France. Then I was a label manager for Laurent Garnier, signing up French artists. We wanted to express our own world on our own label.

Whatís a typical day like for you?

I start off in the morning, put on my computer, check emails and faxes, and spend a lot of time on the phone. I take care of licenses, listen to 3 to 5 demos per day, plan recordings and do marketing. I work on the outcome of signed bands. We invest a lot of time, we owe it to the artist. Today F Commm has 15 different artists.

How do you find new talent?

By demos, and sometimes friends show up with something. In the case of Frederic Galliano his publisher came to see us. On Radio Nova in Paris we could hear the new track by Avril.

What are you currently working on?

The new album release of Laurent Garnier. And thereís concerts coming up in September, and a tour through the States, Japan and Australia in October. A new record by Aqua Bassino is planned for January 2001. And Iím working on remixes and new releases. Doing a video with A Reminiscent Drive. And busy with the Internet site of Laurent Garnier.

How did you get in contact with Mr.Oizo (Quentin Dupieux)?

That was via a friend of Laurent Garnier. Quentin Dupieux ended up doing a video for Laurent. He was a very tempting and crazy guy with a strong personality.

His music was rough, like some kind of electro hip-hop, a different sound than usual for F Commm.

How were you involved in developing the act?

There was not a big influence actually. An image production company took care of it. I was a director prior for the musician. After the first two EPs on F Comm we produced videos and short films together.

How was the story about making up the puppet and getting in contact with Leviís?

The video for the M-Seq track went to an ad-agency and Dupieux directed the Leviís commercial. People often ask me if Flat Eric has something to do with me. I must confess, I still donít know!

Do you work exclusively with dance and club music?

No, not just these in particular. We were the first label to experiment in an upward direction with electronic music. It was launched with the new acts on FNAC label. Itís not only the work of DJs. At home I listen a lot to DJs work. And on F Comm 50% is DJs work. But we have very few dance floor hits.

Do you use the Internet for work purposes?

Laurent Garnierís track ĎGreedí is dedicated to Internet. People were able to download soundtracks of ĎGreedí to remix it. We received about 100 remixes in the last 3 months.

20 of them are available now. 10 of the best remixes will be released in a Special Limited Vinyl Edition in October. The quality was very interesting. Most of the contributions came from Finland, I donít know why. But also from Germany, Belgium, Italy, UK and the States. This first experiment of MP3 is good for the music.

How many songs do you receive from unsigned acts per week?

2 to 5 demos per day. I listen to all of them. The quality is pretty low and bad, especially the last 3 to 4 years when the bloody groovebox machines came out and everybody thought they could make music on these techno machines. The last 1 to 2 months itís getting better, I wonder why.

Do you accept unsolicited material?


Can you offer some words of advice to unsigned artists, with regards to submitting material?

Send a tape or CD with 3 to 4 tracks on it. It must be electronic music but can vary from house, techno, drum and bass or acoustic combined with electronic. Itís a wide, large range. We have a large vision on music - But no hardcore and no rock music. We want good music!

Can you offer some words of advice to unsigned artists, with regards to contracts?

It depends on the expectation of the artist. If you want to move fast, you like to have an album out and doing live acts. This goes for Frederic Galliano and Avril. We are flexible. But we do not focus on selling. We focus on the development of the act.

Youíre better off having a love affair with the artist than having sex with everybody.

Where do the financial resources come from?

We were very lucky. Although we had losses the first 2 years, in the first year we sold around 100,000 copies of Laurent Garnierís album. We had luck with the Saint Germain album and Mr.Oizo of course.

The structure of the company is very light. Creative and on a freelance basis. We have a clean image, the costs have no effects, thereís no more spending than earnings. I donít have a salary yet to own a swimming pool at my home.

How important is the club scene, with respect to keeping up with trends?

Important and not important. Itís a difficult area. DJs work on the physical side of music.

The direction of F Comm with acts like A Reminiscent Drive, Saint Germain, Laurent Garnier and Llorca is more emotional, a chill out experience. The feeling you have at 4 or 5 in the morning.

What do you do differently compared to other A&Rs?

I regret that others only listen to demos. We are not unique. But we made 30 albums in 5 years on F Comm in France, and even more in the rest of the world. Nowadays there are a lot less labels existing then when the 90s started. The image is different. I like what Warp, Mute, Prozac are doing.

What has changed in your view of A&R representation, with respect to your views before you became one?

There are less labels. It became more difficult, harder to bring out new acts.
Itís all a question of money. You must work over the long term. 3 to 5 to 8 years.
There are no rules, of course. See our FNAC period, Laurent Garnier is busy for over ten years now, and Mr.Oizo started in 97/98.

What is your attitude to MP3s, Napster, the lawsuits and the future of digital downloads etc.?

Itís a matter of philosophy, an ethic point of view. Music for free is excellent. The Internet is a window open for diversity. But behind every society stands an economy. Musicians need a roof above their head, they need food and income. So, donít destroy the economy.

We have two ways now, two kinds of consumers - the first kind is not in demand for music, they just listen, donít spend on music, they have a commercial attitude. This can cause problems because of the short margin. The second kind are those who love music. They look for more exclusive quality, theyíve respect for the artists, go to concerts, buy and read magazines. They pay for new music.

I think the Internet and the radio are not really different now. Maybe later the use will become more clearer. The recording industry is very slow. And Internet is an interesting and funny way to promote an artist.

What do you see yourself doing in 5 to 10 years from now?

I donít really know. If we had this interview in say 89 or 90 I would never expect to have my own label now. I didnít feel like that was going to happen. Today I feel old and tired.

I am 36, and I donít go out or dancing anymore. I still like old images. In the future the image will mix more. Weíre right in the middle of this development.

Which act would you have most liked to work with?

An old time favourite I like is Bob Marley. The production of his albums was always new and amazing. When I was younger I liked Ennio Morricone a lot. Iíd also like to mention Mad Mike.

Interviewed by Kimbel Bouwman

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