France’s reputation for birthing top-tier producers is well known. From legends like Daft Punk, DJ Snake, and UZ, to newcomers like Chris Dogzout, sebjin, and SOUDIERE, the list goes on. A name that’s assured to be added to that list is Paris’ ELK. The producer has been heating up the underground with tracks like ‘Tokkyuu,’ ‘Omelet’ and ‘Yaksha.’ Last week he dropped his incredible collaborative EP Lodestone with Chris Dogzout on Quality Goods Records. In addition to his own releases, he’s been producing behind the scenes for some of the biggest artists out including J Balvin. Needless to say, ELK is a producer you need on your radar. To provide a bit more insight into the man behind the music we connected with ELK for our 200th Guest Mix + Interview.
The interview explores his start in producing, making music across languages, the new EP, what’s next, and more. As for the mix, it’s a vibey trip through French and American underground rap. Peep both below.
Tell us about the mix. What should listeners expect from this one?
This mix is actually what I listen to every day and what inspires me the most at the moment. Bouncy and energetic French/US underground rap songs. It is also a compilation of songs I play in my live DJ sets in Paris because of the energy they deliver.
I ended up learning Ableton from A to Z by myself and started creating my own sounds and uploading tracks on SoundCloud.
What inspired you to start producing music? What inspires you now?
What inspired me at first to start making music with a DAW 10 years ago was YouTube videos of Madeon making songs live with a launchpad and nice color animations on it. I ended up learning Ableton from A to Z by myself and started creating my own sounds and uploading tracks on SoundCloud. Now I’m still inspired by what’s old and new on SoundCloud and also really inspired by the actual French and US rap scene.
The talent coming out of France as of late is immense. What do you think makes the French music scene special?
The French music scene is booming and developing. French musicians and producers are opening up & taking inspiration from what’s happening musically all around the world: that’s our strength. Also, we collaborate together all over the country.
You and Chris Dogzout have incredible chemistry. What first brought you together? What keeps you collaborating?
What first brought us together was an organized studio session – Everything was flowing. We always both bring our different inspirations and ways to work sounds. We are digging and enjoying the same music. What keeps us collaborating is that we are always finding crazy new ideas together and enjoying our different ways to work on music.
music is my whole life and I was born for it: from a producer or just from a listener’s perspective. Music helps me a lot in my everyday life.
The Lodestone EP is all about creating different energies within each track. How do you go about injecting specific energy into the songs you create?
The key to creating different energies for each track was to change our approach to the sound of every new project. Using different synths and influences but keeping the same guideline to create the world our EP brings you into.
Are there any specific highlights or fun stories from creating Lodestone?
I think one of the best parts of the conception of Lodestone was when we started working on the collaborations with UZ. Things took a big turn and we started being sure about where we wanted to go with the EP. We had a really good time working on a lot of music altogether.
You’ve worked with artists across a wide variety of languages. Does the way you approach production change based on the language of the vocalist?
It really depends on the artist I’m working with specifically. Sometimes I try to fit the “codes” of what people are used to hearing and working on in their country. And on the other hand, I like to bring my own vision of the sound and how I would like to hear the artist on a production of mine. Our song ‘Pressure’ is a great mix of both of these approaches.
I always want to go higher and do better with my art every day so there is a balance to find.
Your resume features collaborations with a myriad of massive brands and artists from Red Bull and Splice to J. Balvin and Laylow, yet you still remain relatively underground. Is this intentional or is the mainstream audience just sleeping on you?
It is not really intentional. In a way I like to stay to be in the background more than being at the front of the stage and I’m pretty happy with all the recognition I get every day from people that listen to my music. But I can’t lie, I always want to go higher and do better with my art every day so there is a balance to find.
What makes you happy?
What makes me happy is being able to live from my passion and to get the chance to do it thanks to my parents and my relatives always supporting me. I say to myself every day that music is my whole life and I was born for it: from a producer or just from a listener’s perspective. Music helps me a lot in my everyday life.
What do you want out of the rest of the year?
For the rest of the year, I want to stay inspired to create new music and work with the artists that I like the most. Why not get an official certification? And of course, staying confident in my life and art.
00:00 Coi Leray – Big Ft. Lil Gotit
02:07 Ronny J – Range Rover
03:24 La Feve – Mauvais Payeur
05:23 Sadandsolo – Grand 1
06:51 Beam – Win
09:12 Josman – AhGars
12:51 Mathaius Young – Raw Ft. Lil West
16:00 Lil Gotit – Bricks In The Attic
18:52 Jokair – Clic Clac Bang Bang Ft. Laylow
21:20 Beam – Anxiety
23:32 DJ Yung Vamp – WE GOT SOME SHIT FOR DAT ASS
25:22 Nessly – Mythbusters
27:25 Hamza – Keke
30:15 Hamza – Torino
32:46 Hamza – Spaghetti Ft. Gazo, Guy2bezbar
36:12 La Feve – Kanye West
37:49 Mathaius Young – Visine
39:30 Nessly – Bungee Jump
41:00 Olazermi – FSR6
43:04 Gunna – 25K Jacket
45:01 MadeInParis – Binks
47:17 Lil Gotit – She Know It