A new way of playing and composing electronic music
Flore is a DJ and composer from Lyon, France, who has been active for twenty years in the field of electronic music - with a dark, rhythmic and sometimes experimental inclination. Her new album Rituals came out in the Spring of 2020 and she also runs a label, POLAAR. Both on stage and in the studio, she easily integrated the Joué Pro in her daily practice of music. She tells us how it enabled her to explore a new approach to composition.
On stage at Paris’ Gaîté Lyrique in November 2020, Flore uses her Joué Pro to play her fist track.
How did you first hear about the Joué Pro?
I was familiar with the Lemur, but I didn’t know it had been developed by Pascal, the boss of Joué today, nor even that it was a French creation. When Joué Pro launched, I followed their Kickstarter campaign, and when I started using it, I liked it more than I thought. I hadn’t been really convinced by this new machine initially, but I quickly changed my mind, thanks to its versatility, its ethical aspect and the fact that it enabled me to do things I couldn’t do with other controllers.
What sorts of things? In what way is the Joué different from the other controllers you know?
Well it just so happens I don’t know how to play any instruments, so classic keyboards that you have to play like a piano, with one hand so that you can twist the knobs with the other, don’t suit me. What I really liked with the Joué Pro is the fact you can assign lots of parameters to keys, so even though I’m not an instrumentalist, my interpretation can still be taken into account, which isn’t possible for me with classic keyboards. All of a sudden, you’re able to interact more deeply with the music you’re playing.
Does this new type of interaction change something in the way you compose? Does it let you come up with new ideas for example?
Absolutely. I wrote tracks I never would have been able to without the Joué Pro. More ambient tracks, less rhythm-based and more melody and texture-based. With the Joué Pro, I can go for a new approach that I really enjoy: when I find a sound I like, I can quickly assign this or that parameter to this or that trigger and then I’m playing with this sound and finding melodies in a way that’s impossible with a classic keyboard.
Reversing the approach to composition
So how do you proceed exactly?
Well, my favorite module is the scaler. I find a synthesizer preset that seems interesting and I assign the scaler keys various values for control change, pitch bend, etc. By combining the synthesizer’s parameters with these various controls, I can experiment different kinds of interactions with texture and sound, and exploring new paths this way leads me to finding new melodies. So it’s a reverse approach to the usual one where you find the melody first and then work on the sound. With the Joué Pro, both are naturally intertwined. What’s really nice with the scaler is that you really get closer to the act of playing an instrument. For a long time, I worked with a classic MIDI keyboard, but when you aren’t an instrumentalist, your playing isn’t spontaneous, melody and interpretation are like on two different levels, whereas with the Joué Pro I can get that feeling of interpreting the melody according to my mood in that moment. And that feels good, because for a long time, people who made controllers didn’t think about interpretation, everything was conceived for control and nothing else. From that perspective, the Joué Pro offers something really new and interesting.
How do you use your Joué on a daily basis?
I use it a lot for a project I started working on some time ago that is more ambient and cinematic, where the scaler is really useful because it helps me find textures and play melodies. I also use it on stage, because it’s so practical and reliable. Its only flaw is the modules that you can’t see well on stage because it’s too dark!
An easy addition on stage
So adopting the Joué on stage wasn’t a problem for you?
Not at all. I added it to my existing gear to trigger sounds on the fly. I don’t use the Joué Pro for the most complicated things on stage, but I added it easily, especially since it’s so easy to slip into a bag and super light. The Joué Pro with its various pads lets me do very specific things live, like triggering a sample or playing drum patterns, so it coexists really well with my other controllers. Plus, the software interface is super easy to program. Of course, these days I don’t perform much, but I was lucky enough to do a gig at the Gaîté Lyrique in Paris in November with three other artists, a live streamed concert. And I played the intro track with the Joué Pro and its Scaler Pad.
You’re also an Ableton certified teacher. I imagine you sometimes talk about the Joué to your students?
I certainly do. I teach a course on performing live, how to adapt your tracks for the stage, and the question of the tools you need to do that always comes up, so I take out my Joué Pro! People are often only familiar with classic controllers so they’re a little surprised by the Joué Pro, with its colorful and lightweight aspect. And when my fellow teachers ask me about the Joué Pro, I’m always super enthusiastic because I’m really convinced by this controller, which is actually not a controller but an instrument.
Interview by Patrick Haour