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  • Musique  /  News

    Get to know: General Elektriks

    By Noelle Faulkner 04 December 2017

    Lovers of San Francisco’s Quannaum crew (Blackalicious, Lyrics Born, DJ Shadow and more) might already know of French-born Hervé Salters, aka General Elektriks.

    An incredibly talented keyboard player who has been part of that crew since the early 2000s, GE has worked with Blackalicious, co-produced Pigeon John and created many remixes for other artists, Femi Kuti and Mayer Hawthorne included. We are very excited to bring his soulful, vintage funk-meets-jazz groove to the So Frenchy stage this year!

    Here, we talk to Salters ahead of the festival about growing up listening to jazz and funk and the advice given to him by Blackalicious’ Chief Xcel.

    What are your fondest memories of France?

    There are a lot! We used to go to Brittany for the summer when I was a kid, that’s definitely somewhere at the top of the list. I remember playing hide and seek amongst the Carnac Stones with my brothers and cousins. You can’t play amongst these stones anymore; they’re now a protected megalithic site. Another fond memory would be all the delicious cakes that my mom baked for us when we were children. We’d come back from school and there’d always be some freshly baked marvel waiting.

    What music did you grow up on and how has that influenced your music today? 

    I grew up listening to a lot of jazz, partly because that’s what my parents were listening to. It definitely had an impact on my piano playing. I also got into Funk music pretty early on. I remember there was this weird compilation that was lying around at our house, which was a mixed bag of pop, rock, disco and funk tracks. James Brown’s ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag’ was on there. It totally blew my mind when I first heard it. I was 7, I had no idea what I was listening to, but I just thought it was the most exciting thing I’d ever heard.

    The first 45s I bought as a kid were David Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes”, Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster”, Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” and Frankie Smith’s “Double Dutch Bus.” The first rock concert I ever saw was The Stray Cats at the Olympia in Paris. I was completely blown away by the energy. I only really got into ‘chanson française’ later on, in my late teens, but Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Melody Nelson’ quickly became one of my favorite albums. I still feel like all I’m doing is putting these various influences in a bag, shaking it hard, and calling the result General Elektriks.

    What made you want to become a musician? What do you love about music?

    I started playing the piano when I was 8, and it just felt right from the beginning. I don’t really remember a time when I didn’t think that I would be a musician when I grow up. It’s hard to say if there was any particular moment that sealed it. It’s more a succession of events, I think. What I love the most about music is the freedom, the concept of being able to do whatever you want without someone telling “no, you can’t do that.” This is why I’m not really into genre rules. I don’t think I could make a straight-up funk record or a straight up pop record; I wouldn’t enjoy obeying the formulas. I like taking elements of funk, pop, Electronic music, hip-hop, rock, jazz etc. and mixing them all up. The experimenting and the surprises that result from that is what does it for me.

    Can you share something about yourself that people would be surprised to hear?

    Because of the energy that we bring on stage, people who have seen General Elektriks live usually assume that we’re party-ers. Actually, the vibe on the tour bus is pretty mellow. We don’t take for granted the fact that people buy tickets to see us play. In fact, we think it’s amazing: we play music that we like to play, and people come to hear us do that, that’s crazy. So we save our energy on tour whenever we’re not on stage so as to be able to give the best show that we possibly can to the audience when it’s time to play.

    What are you most excited about coming to Australia for? 

    My first time in Australia was in the mid 2000s, I was playing keyboards with Blackalicious at the time. Ever since then I’ve been hoping to go back there with my own project. I think Australian audiences are fantastic, they know how to make you feel welcome.

    What was the best advice you’ve ever been given?

    The musical advice that had the most impact on me was: “Every single moment on your album should be a great moment”. It was my friend Chief Xcel from Blackalicious who told me that. It sounds obvious, but bearing that in mind helps you weed out parts where you’re just going through the motions. Every single second should be taking the listener by the hand one way or another.

    Where do you find your “joie de vivre”?

    Strolling with my wife and children through the parks of Berlin, where we currently live; blasting some great music while preparing a good dinner; getting into a groove with the band on stage and sharing that with the audience; a beautiful sunrise; discovering a great record that I knew nothing about, and more generally connecting with any work of art; etc.!

     

    General Elektriks will be playing So Frenchy So Chic, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney festivals, January 12, 14 and 20, 2018. Book here.