WHO ARE YOU…? Ateph Elidja
The poet Gérard de Nerval would not have disowned him. Ateph Elidja is the Bromance label’s very own “Black Sun of Melancholy”. He has released three tracks since joining the label and is already flying high, with influential American site Pigeons and Planes recently naming him as one of the ten best French producers of 2014. Photographer Gabrielle Malewski and I went to meet him
Who is Ateph Elidja?
I am a composer and a producer. I don’t object to being called a DJ, because that’s how I earn a living these days – I mix in clubs and at gigs and do live sets with my own music. But at root, I’m more of a studio guy than a DJ. I see myself as being a little like a craftsman – someone who controls machines with my hands.
Have you always made music?
I started with dance. From the age of 8 or 9, I did modern jazz and New School. Then I gave it all up at 18. When I was 11, my brother gave me a beatbox. He mixed a little himself, but he was more into vinyls. He took me to a techno festival, and I saw all the buttons flashing and lighting up and said to myself, “that’s what I want to do” (he laughs). I make quite experimental music, which can vary between techno and hip hop. There’s no real name for it at the moment.
Where does this interest in hip hop come from?
I started to listen to hip hop because of my brothers. It really was because of them. I was more into Nirvana, The Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk. I was lucky enough to grow up listening to Gainsbourg and Björk. My father used to play me Moroccan songs. You know, the kind of Berber music where you can hear a deep sadness in their voice? On my first machines, I started out making electronic music, but then I moved into hip hop, simply because that was what I was listening to every day.
What brought you back to techno?
I’ve always made techno music alongside the hip hop, but what really got me back into it was discovering lots of British labels, Berlin labels like BPitch Control, and French ones like Ed Banger. I thought there was something really hip hop about them. I thought, why not? Why not use techno sounds, big or small, and make hip hop out of them? The big sounds came in 2007 with artists such as SebastiAn. I came to Paris in 2007 to make music, but I was a little immature. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, artistically speaking. I was making experimental sounds. People would say to me, “Mate, you’re crazy. No one is going to want to listen to this stuff”.
Since then, Bromance has come along. How did you come to work with the label?
It was a really long road. First of all, I released a self-produced album under the name Rhaft, which used lots of samples. My label was called ArtJacking. Then I went to New York, twice. That gave me some perspective about what was going on musically in France. I came across Bromance n°1 and I was blown away. I really identified with the darkness of it. I contacted Louis (Brodinski, Ed.) by email and sent him some sounds every day for a month. After a while, it worked. That was exactly a year ago.
What has changed since then?
Lots of things… I’ve played a fair few shared dates with the guys from the label. Artistically, I’ve evolved quite a bit working alongside Mike (Gesaffelstein), the Club Cheval guys and Louis. I’m finishing my EP, which is due out in March 2015. More than anything, I want to make an EP that surprises people, something that is in keeping with what I do on stage.
Pigeons & Planes has just named you as one of the most talented producers of 2014. What do you think of that?
I wasn’t expecting it and I’m really happy to be part of the list. I’m happy that it’s come from a US magazine. And above all I’m happy that three other members of the Bromance label are in there with me.