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article imageMarc Nguyen Tan: Reclusive French musician comes in from the cold Special

By Adrian Peel     Oct 21, 2015 in Music
Colder is the stage name used by the above-mentioned master of electronica. "Many Colours" is the title of his outstanding new album, an album that's been a long time coming. Digital Journal found out why.
Marc Nguyen Tan has been described as a "pioneer of darkwave and coldwave," although as we shall see, this Parisian doesn't much care for labels. Many Colours is his third album and his first since 2005's Heat.
"For a long time I didn't have much of a wish to go back to Colder," says Marc - coming to me from Barcelona, where he now lives - by way of an introduction to the story behind the album. "But about two and a half years ago, I was contacted by a guy who then became a friend.
"His name is Patrice Bäumel, a German DJ, and he wanted me to feature on some instrumentals he had. While working on it, I felt a renewed interest in what I started 10 years ago with Colder.
"Starting from there, step by step, the whole thing followed quite a convoluted path, but I reached this point where I had a wish to record a particular record that I had in mind, and the result is Many Colours."
So far, two tracks from this triumphant return to music making have been released as singles, "Turn Your Back" and "Midnight Fever." "These songs are representative of the whole album and have been pulled out as promotion," observes the influential composer. "They represent the sound I had in mind before I started to record the album.
"Both of them have electronic arrangements, which are quite square and austere, and then you've got these piano arrangements which counter-balance the electronic part.
"Basically what you can hear on these songs is the direction where I really wanted to go, dark and a little bit threatening on the one hand - with the piano and vocals - but creating a little bit of a strange balance overall."
I was curious to know what had caused Marc to take an extended sabbatical from music. "I stopped Colder mostly because of the mess which followed Output Recordings going bankrupt," he explains.
"I had a record in the loop at that time and it was supposed to be recorded right at that moment, but then it became a bit of a struggle. So after this I decided that maybe it was time to give it a break."
And how did he spend his time?
"In between these two records I did other things, but I guess the most relevant part is that I didn't stop playing or recording... I went to other kinds of music and improved my production, recording and improvisational/playing techniques.
"There is this project I released on Brainwashed called Scratoa. It's very different from Colder, almost the opposite, but it was liberating somehow. I also played a lot with some local jazz musicians in Spain. There were new codes, a new language and millions of things to learn and assimilate."
Colder -  Many Colours
Colder - "Many Colours"
Jazz Cowler
The emotional resonance in the music of Marc's alter-ego has drawn favourable comparisons with the likes of Joy Division and LCD Soundsystem. "The whole Joy Division, LCD Soundsystem thing, I guess, is more like a label which is put on top of your music," he muses.
"It's part of the game - I accept it. I don't have any problem with that, but my music is slightly wider than these two references... I really like Joy Division for what it is, I really like LCD Soundsystem for what it is as well. In the case of Joy Division, I got to know this band at a time when they were not popular.
"From my understanding, it was a rather underground band. I discovered Joy Division 25 years ago, but I find it kind of crazy the whole cult which is associated with them. The first records I did were quite influenced by the music from that time.
"For this particular record, I've tried to mix that with a contemporary sound. What I wanted to do was to have a lo-fi approach, but well-produced. I wanted to work with a synthesiser; I really like the sound, I really like the texture. I got rid of all the acoustic instruments, apart from the piano."
On being called a "pioneer of darkwave and coldwave," the artist remarks, "Once again, I don't identify myself with this somehow. Darkwave reminds me of a particular music maybe from the '80s which was much darker...
"With the first and second albums, I tried to apply this particular angle of stripped-down, austere music to many different kinds of genres.
"On the first two records, sometimes I took dub, I took rock, I took folk as well - I was trying to take a specific approach to them. People put these flavours on top of your music, but I think these records generated a bit of interest at the time because the approach was original."
Many Colours will be out on November 6 and can be pre-ordered here.
For more information on Colder, visit his official website.
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