Felix Cartal is an electronic artist that’s difficult to easily define. A self-proclaimed “all sorts of music maker,” his appearance on the bill (and subsequent performance) at Paradiso was a welcome alternative at a festival so solidly grounded in what many would characterize as mainstream EDM. “I don’t really take inspiration from other dance guys. I’d rather pull it from things that aren’t dance music and incorporate it into my dance music.”
Our conversation, in the scorching heat just outside the Main Stage, led quickly to a discussion about the current state of dance music; something Felix Cartal is well-positioned to weigh in on. Almost every song he releases has a unique feel that is usually built up around the eclectic, high-caliber roster of vocalists and collaborators that work with him. Each song is a unique entity, yet all share the crisp, clean, dark clarity that has become synonymous with him. “I think there’s a little bit of saturation in dance music right now. I have this theory that you could take the top 100 tracks on Beatport, mix up the artists’ names, and then ask people to tell you which track is whose, and they couldn’t do it. I think that’s wrong. I don’t think there’ anything wrong with imitation to learn music, but I don’t think it’s a good way to become your own artist. I’ve learned a lot trying to imitate the things I love, but I’ve always tried to make the thing I don’t hear, not the thing I do hear. I’d rather have people try to imitate my songs; not vice versa.” He notes that his fans in the Northwest have been particularly receptive to his unique style. “They’ve been so responsive on Twitter, I think that ever since I did Sasquatch here [at The Gorge], I’ve gotten a much bigger following.”
Not that Felix doesn’t love electronic music or other electronic artists. They just might not be the ones you’d expect. “I really like what Flume has been doing. I think he’s brought something new and exciting to electronic music right now. That downtempo stuff is cool.” Even so, his inspiration seems to come more from those genres that might challenge his dance sensibilities. “I really like the latest Bat For Lashes record, I like this girl named Meg Myers, the new Kanye is really cool…I’m kinda all over the place. That’s just the way I’ve always been.”
So what about Felix’s own new music? “Past Present Felix” releases this August, with the first single Young Love making big waves on social media sites like Soundcloud and Facebook. “I wanted the energy of Young Love to be really upbeat and fun. It’s one of four songs on the EP. I wanted to write a couple songs in different styles; one is the summer song, one is the late night song, one is the end of summer song…the conclusion.” When asked about the change in direction, “I feel like the music I’ve done is sometimes darker or weirder, and I wanted to write a song this way. Because music should be fun, too.”
Currently, when dance music fans think of an album that’s pushing the envelope in terms of style and character, the foremost example is Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. Not surprisingly, Felix had some things to say about that. “I don’t think it’s a dance record. I like it…for me, at the stage of their career they’re at, they made every artist’s dream record. They collaborated with all the people that are their heroes and inspirations and then just made a fucking record with all the people they looked up to their whole life. I don’t think they care about where they fit in the dance scene. I don’t think they were trying to make an impact in the dance scene, they just wanted to make a record they love. How cool is that? That’s what music should be about.”
It might be fitting that Adventure Club was booked during the same block of the day as his performance. Given a choice between what’s most popular and what goes against the status quo, Felix Cartal seems to have made up his mind a long time ago.
Click here to listen to the very latest track from Felix Cartal, Young Love, feature the vocals of KoKo LaRoo! Watch out for Felix at the Kaleidoscope Festival, taking place in Eugene, OR August 23-25!
For a retrospective on the entire Paradiso festival, click here!
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