As you’d expect, I was rather surprised when I received an email last November from Parisian producer Nicolas Chaix, better known as I:Cube. He’s never really been one to court media coverage, and the email was not a plea for coverage, but rather a friendly message to say how much he’d enjoyed reading some of my articles for Resident Advisor and Red Bull Music Academy Daily.
If I’m honest, I got a bit giddy when I received the email. Although I’d never spoken to Nicolas before, I had been buying and playing his records since I picked up a copy of early single “Mingus In My Pocket” way back in 1996. I’d long thought he was something of an unsung hero of electronic music – a producer who danced to his own beat, crafting tracks, singles, albums and remixes that sat outside particular styles or scenes but which showcased the very best electronic music had to offer.
I’m not alone in my admiration for Nicolas’s productions, either. Although he records have rarely been hyped and he’s not mentioned much in the press, plenty of DJs, producers and label owners I know have previously stated their love of his productions. He’s been producing music now for nearly three decades, and releasing them through Versatile Records – a label run by his Chateau Flight production partner DJ Gilb’r – for 22 of those. Solo or via collaborations, he’s turned his hand to – or created his own muations of – a dizzying variety of styles, from ambient and horror soundtracks, to classic deep house, nu-jazz and broken beat, hip-hop, Afro-house, bleep techno, Balearica and loads more besides.
Over the months that followed his initial email exchange, we began to chat about various aspects of electronic music culture, particularly his long-held love of early bleep techno. We sent each other links to tracks, exchanged mixes and dug into aspects of his history. Eventually, I asked whether he fancied doing an interview with me – he doesn’t do many, so I assumed Nicolas would say no. Instead, he surprisingly agreed and, after some to-ing and fro-ing to find an outlet for the resultant piece, I found myself chatting to him on the phone for two hours back in May.
You can now read the edited results of our conversation over at Resident Advisor. I should give a quick shout out to Ryan and Aaron at RA, who were really keen on the idea from the start. As well as the interview, there’s also a short playlist of some of his productions as a kind of introduction for those who don’t know his work, put together by Aaron and myself. One day I’ll do a more in-depth piece on the many gems nestling in his discography, but that should at least act like a starting point. If you have Apple Music, Spotify or the like, you can listen to all Nicolas’s albums on there. I’d suggest diving in – there’s plenty to set the pulse racing on Picnic Attack, Adore and M:Megamix (not to mention the wonderful recording of his 2006 ambient show, Live at the Planetarium).
One final note of thanks to Nicolas – I suspect he only agreed to the interview because we share an obsession with the minutae of underground electronic music, but I’ll always be grateful he did.