Summer felt like a dream as rain poured Thursday night, but in spite of the temperature dropping, no condition stopped the sounds of electro beating at Club Lambi. Promoter Jon Weisz of Indie Montreal provided the entertainment with Yuksek and Cherry Cola. Arriving around midnight, his pulsating electro beats kept everyone moving on the dance floor. You didn’t have to be a fan of his music to appreciate his ability to introduce pure electro with mainstream classics, which hypnotized the audience. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Pierre-Alexandre Busson, aka. Yuksek, to discuss his transition to North America and his views of its electro scene as compared to Europe.
Already well-known as an electronic artist, DJ, remixer and producer in his native Reims (France), Pierre still stays true to his roots of piano, infusing classical training with electro pop hits like “Always on the Run” and “Extraball” featuring Amanda Blank. It’s his collaborations that really put him on the map, forming separate projects with long-time friends Brodinski, from The Krays, and ex-Aeroplane member Stephen Fasano, the second half of Peter & the Magician. Humble about his accomplishments, his popular remixes like Amanda Blank’s “Shame on Me,” Oh Land's “Son of a Gun,” and Chromeo's “Bonafide Lovin” play the airwaves of radio stations across Europe, and North America, and have become standard playlists at popular retail chains; even making its way onto the hit videogame soundtrack FIFA 09. His remixes are not just restricted to the pop and electro genre, as he experiments remixing hip-hop artists like De La Soul and Ghostface Killah.
Despite being a francophone artist, all the songs on his debut and second LP are written and sung fluently in English. “It’s not a question of marketing or business; it’s just the way I can write music easily without thinking that what I’m saying is stupid.” For him, writing in English is not a gimmick, but rather a more liberal way of expressing himself. When songs like “Tonight” and “On a Train” played during his set, the mostly francophone audience were mouthing the lyrics “Take my hand” in unison.
With a good turnout waiting outside, Yuksek reflects on his first tour of North America. “It’s back to normal now, but a few years ago, it was a bit difficult for America. Now I can come and make 10 shows, but I still play in smaller venues.” Although he is grateful to be booked for shows in Miami, New York City, and Los Angeles, as well as his two recent shows in Quebec, Pierre still struggles for more appearances. His reasoning has to do with the recent releases of his albums Living on the Edge and Away from the Sea in North America. It will be almost 10 years since the debut of his first album, but even his emergence in popularity still doesn’t compare to his status in Europe. “I’m like a new artist for America—things are going—but it’s not the same career that I have in France or Asia.”
Giving new meaning to the word “underground,” Pierre has reinvented himself as an up-and-coming artist North America. The same can be said of his appearances in Central and South America, where visits to countries like Mexico or Brazil are met with fewer bookings. “They’re all cool countries, but it’s sometimes a bit difficult to build a proper tour in South America. It’s not all the time clubs or concert halls, it’s more parties or festivals.” Nevertheless, there is a growing fan base of electronic music down south, which does not cancel out the possibility of a cross-country tour.
As he was preparing to begin his set, he ended on a note of gratitude for his parents having him learn the piano at age six. “I feel lucky having doing (sic) this, I really enjoy that. I still love playing piano and listening to classical music. Most of my friends don’t have this background and just did everything by themselves… it’s not necessary to have this background, but I really appreciate it.”
Despite a few technical difficulties during his set, the performance captivated the dancing crowd as he paid homage to the disco classic “Everybody Dance” from Chic. Club Lambi was the place to be; thanks to Indie Montreal for bringing the powerhouse Yuksek and DJ Cherry Cola to perform.
Listen to the entire interview here.
This interview was conducted by and published with the consent of collaborator Alyssa Boicel, a Montreal-based Californian who stalks electro and dance artist as a profession.