Interview with Manuel Le Saux about his album 'First Light' out on Discover Records. Living in Rome, and championing the sound of full-on euphoric trance across Europe, Manuel Le Saux has become known for uplifting peak time trance. His vast list of productions and remixes speak for themselves, with releases on Recoverworld, Discover, A State Of Trance, Nu Depth, Enhanced and Digital Society Recordings.
Manuel has built up a huge live following aided in no small part by the popularity of his Extrema radio show.
With over 1,000 shows already aired, it’s no wonder that he is continually booked to play Europe’s big trance events including Quest 4 Trance, Luminosity, Tomorrowland, Entrance Festival, Technoclub and Gatecrasher to name just a few. He has also graced the stage in Australia, Argentina, and Mexico - in fact just about all four corners of the globe!
His debut artist album has been in the pipeline for some time and we are delighted he is releasing it on Discover Records. This is a natural progression for Manuel, as he has already released a compilation ('Underground Anthems') with them in 2009 to critical acclaim, which included being named MixMag's trance album of the month.
Like all debut albums "First Light" contains a lifetime of influences and Manuel's adept production skills bring these to life in suitably emotive style.
The album sums up what trance is all about: epic strings, lush pads and strong melodies will lift you up and carry you along the journey from the first track to the last.
At a time when much is being said about where trance is going and who is, and who isn't still flying the flag for the genre, Manuel le Saux is a shining beacon of authenticity.
He gets it!! He writes the music that he loves in the way that he wants to - and "First Light" reflects this in glorious style.
Take a bow please; Manuel Le Saux. Dimitri: When, where and under which circumstances did you take the decision to get involved professionally in the global trance scene?
Manuel: I was born as DJ in 1989, when the word and the music trance didn’t exist yet, but I always played melodic music. It was called "Dream" at that time, and after years it became the best music ever... TRANCE
Dimitri: Italy is well known for its music heritage, and particularly its house focused direction. Why do you think trance never managed to really take off big time in your country? Do you see that your trance fan base is growing in Italy or are things staying the same?
Manuel: In Italy the Clubbing scene is totally different from the rest of the world. People go to a party without knowing which DJ’s and what kind of music will be there. So promoters don’t really care about the music, only the money. Honestly, Italy is not ready for a big event like the old Trance Energy for example. Sure, there is a great but small community of trance fans and they are growing day after day, but it’s because small promoters care more about quality music and quality people, so they arrange a trance event, and it’s incredible how good the atmosphere is there.
Dimitri: Did you start your career as DJ or as producer? Would you like to tell us about your first ever DJ gig in front of big crowd, and your first ever release? How did you feel when you saw your name in the credits?
Manuel: Of course I started as DJ in 1989; I didn’t even know how to make a track - even if it was way easier than now. My first party as "Manuel Le Saux" was in front of 4000 people here in Rome. It was amazing, and I still remember every single track I played there.
My first Solo release arrived a long time after my DJ career, because I used to make music but with someone else, and I was too young to get credits. But it was back in 1995.
How do I feel when I see my name on the credits?? Proud, of course. Because I know that for every track I’ve made, I’ve done my best - and with my heart and passion. Dimitri: Have you attended any music production courses or you are totally self-taught?
Manuel: I learned a lot from Astuni. We still make remixes and tracks together because he's a great producer but, most important, a great friend. Dimitri: Can you mention for us the 5 most important EDM producers/DJ’s or other artists that have been a major influence on your career?
Manuel: Hard to say because I come from classical music background. I studied music when I was kid and always liked Mozart, Vivaldi and others. I never looked at other producers like "an example" to copy, but just like "I can do that too”, if you know what I mean.
Dimitri: Do you believe that it’s important to get the support of major trance DJ’s in their radio shows or DJ sets? Do you believe that this support actually boosts the sales of a single or album?
Manuel: Sad but true. I said "sad" because sometimes the "Mainstream" DJ’s it don’t care if a track is good or not. They don’t play it for some reason that I can actually understand - but I can’t agree with. In my radio shows I play every track I like, it doesn’t matter if it’s not from my label, or it’s not someone from the same agency, or a small label. I play everything I like.
Dimitri: Before moving on to your great album it would be excellent if you can pinpoint for us the five most important tracks or remixes for other artists over the years that you believe were major turning points in the development of your career.
Manuel: ‘Waterfall’ was and still is the highlight of my career. But my remixes of ‘Vol De Nuit’, ‘Niavara’, and ‘A New Beginning’ got massive support and great feedback too. Dimitri: Your album is called ‘First Light’ and is out soon on Discover. Was it your idea to release an album, or did Recoverworld offer you that option, and you went along with it?
Manuel: Discover was the first great label who really gave me the chance to get exposure with my music, so I always felt like part of the family with Chris Hampshire and the rest of the crew. One day Chris called me and he said “Hey Manny, what do u think about your own album??”, I was like "WT* ?!?! Are you serious?? Sure I want" and that's how we decided to make "First Light" Dimitri: The album title is “First Light”. Why did you choose this particular name and what is so special with Discover records and its boss Chris that made you to release the album on this label?
Manuel: "First Light" because it’s my first album ever, and I think it's special because I was 100% free to make my own music. So in this album every single track is part of me, of what I am, what I feel, and what I love most.. TRANCE. Dimitri: How long did it take to produce the album and what are you going to remember the most from the production process?
Manuel: It took 13 months, and what I will remember forever is when I listened to the whole finished album. I can’t describe how I felt, the word happy isn’t enough to explain it.
Dimitri: Did you produce it as a full time occupation or did you have a full time daytime job, and if yes what did you do?
Manuel: I wish to be a DJ/producer as my full time job, but I’m not. I work as biologist in a hospital during the day. Dimitri: It would be great to take us on a virtual tour through your album and give us a small comment about each track, with some hints about the production of it?
This track was called "One" because it’s my first proglifting track ever. It’s a 134 BPM track with a melodic break and huge pads. I really really love it.
02 Reaper (Feat. Fluctor)
Fluctor is another big friend and he’s a massive progressive producer. So we decided to mix our skills to make a nice club track!
03 Dream On
This track has some old-school trance sounds. I’ve called it “Dream On" because, for me, when you listen to trance its like closing your eyes and having a good dream. Since I will love this music forever... I dream on.
04 The Journey (Feat. Sara Pollino)
Sara Pollino is a music teacher and she plays a lot of real instruments (piano, violin, percussion), so I asked her to make a track with her real instruments and my studio instruments. I really like the result.
This track was made at a strange and hard moment of my life. I won’t say more about it, but I can say that it’s dedicated to a special person.
I was born on January the 3rd, so the reason for the title. This track was released last year but I decided to include it in the album because for me it has the best melody I’ve ever made.
I’ve tried to make something different in this track, it’s not a typical "Le Saux" track. I’ve called it "wonderland" because every time I listen to this track I feel like a kid in a wonderland. I feel free and happy!
This is a typical "Le Saux" track. Huge melody, epic break and hard kick and basslines! One of my favourites from this album.
09 Beautiful Moments of Life (Feat. TrancEye)
TrancEye is one of the greatest producers around and he's a great friend. So I asked him to make a track with me and we are really happy about how it sounds.
Phoenix is how I see life! If you know what a phoenix is, well... it’s like me.
11 Things We Will Never Forget (Feat. Astuni)
We put together all our love for trance, and all our strong friendship in this track. I Can’t say more about it.. Just listen to it!
This song is dedicated to all my friends, fans, supporters that I've met all around the world in the recent years!!! Thank you very much #TEAMLESAUX
13 When I Close My Eyes
Last Track of the album. Just close your eyes while you listen to it!!!
Dimitri: Do you believe that albums make the artist, or can an artist carry on in his entire career releasing only various singles? In other words, in what ways does the album build the brand of an artist?
Manuel: I don’t know what will happen, and how people will react to my album. I only know that I make music for passion, and not for business.
Dimitri: Is it possible to describe for us the process of producing a track? From which sound element do you start to build it?
Manuel: Usually I start with the kick + bass and then I start working on the melody. But sometimes I do melody first. It’s all about how I feel when I start a track.
Dimitri: In your productions do you mainly use pre-existing samples from sound Libraries or do you produce 100% fresh sounds? Which sound library is your favourite and why?
Manuel: 50% - 50%. Vengeance's libraries are my favourite
Dimitri: Can you give us a brief list of equipment (software or hardware) that you used to produce First Light?
Manuel: Cubase 5, virus Ti and a lot of VSTs
Dimitri: Do you have a friend or relative that you trust a lot who you give the chance to hear the tracks for the first time to give you feedback? If they don’t like it, do you change it or do you stick with your own belief?
Manuel: Of course I gave the album in advance to close friends just to have some true feedback. I’m quite happy to say that they liked almost all of it.
Dimitri: For many years now you have had your radio shows which are syndicated on many radio stations, including 1mix radio. Is there a story that you will remember forever in relation to these shows?
Manuel: The good story is that my radio show "Top Twenty Tunes" started in 2003 and it’s still loved by the people all around the world. Dimitri: In your radio show you compile your weekly Top 20. Is it possible to explain to us the process of compiling that chart, and what factors you consider in order to include any release within this chart?
Manuel: It’s just what the name of the show says, my weekly top twenty tunes. No music business in my show. Just the music.
Dimitri: Do you aspire to support the release of the album with some kind of tour?
Manuel: Absolutely. Discover is going to make a great album launch party in Brighton (UK), and then I’m going to make a little tour and I’m gonna play in France, Italy, USA , NL and more.. Its gonna be a busy and great year.
Dimitri: Are you an active user of Facebook & Twitter? Do you see those social networks as vital for the artist to spread the word about what they are doing? What is your opinion about artists who give too much information about their life in social media? What is the best feedback you have ever received about your tracks or sets through your social media pages?
Manuel: I spend 90% of the day on Facebook and Twitter and I’m always online during my radio shows, just because I like to interact with my followers, listeners and fans. I always answer their questions and I like to have real time feedback about my job!! They are part of me.
Dimitri: From the various clubs and events that you have performed at so far, which one is your favourite and most unforgettable gig and why?
Manuel: Eurofest in Mexico, playing in front of 10000 people is something amazing!! And the Mexican ravers are great!! They really know how to let you feel great.
Dimitri: One of my favourite questions to all the DJ’s is that one about self-reflection and self-criticism. Out of 10 with what score do you rate the various elements of your DJ performances and why?
a)Your mixing skills: 10/10
I started with vinyl and still love it. It’s not like now where I have to be a laptop DJ.
b)Your ability to choose the right tracks for the right occasion: 10/10
I never fix tracklist at home. I like to feel the people at the club.
c)Your friendly attitude towards the fans that come to shake your hand when you perform and after that? 10/10
I love to spend as much time as I can with the people at the party
Wow after these 3 answers I look like a narcissist. But I’m not. I am the first hater of myself.
Btw, you should ask those questions to my supporters: D
Dimitri: Let’s finish off with your piece of advice to the young producers out there who aspire to get into production and produce an album like yours?
Manuel: Take your time. Rushing to be number one doesn’t work at all.
Many thanks to Manuel for his fantastic answers and good luck with his first album
Many thanks to Chris Hampshire at Recoverworld for arranging this interview
Many thanks to Paul at 1mix Radio for proofing the final version