TF Archives

I-Cube (Nicholas Chaix)

Author: Andrez
Sunday, January 1, 1995
There's a current conspiracy theory circulating when it comes to the French. After what had seemed an age when the only decent French techno export was Laurent Garnier, the Gallic homeland has struck back with a variety of talented musicians in a broad range of styles. In the past two years we've witnessed the rise and rise of Daft Punk, Motorbass, DJ Cam and Dimitri; now add Nicholas Chaix, aka I:Cube, to the list.

Within a surprisingly short space of time Nicholas has released two vinyl EP's - 'Disco Cubizm' and 'Metamorphik' - and more recently an album titled 'Picnic Attack'. And while the records are predetermined DJ fodder intended for a dancefloor setting, the album itself is an interconnected journey through sounds and styles. Right away Muzik magazine in the UK latched onto 'Picnic Attack' and nominated it their album of the month, describing its content as "the perfect placement of palette-teasing taste sensations, each [track] deliciously separate yet somehow inextricably linked." Such a description does indeed capture the flavour of this long player. Imagine for a moment - if you can! - a realm within which Sheffield's Warp Records posse, the Detroit crew, and 70's disco cut-ups in the vein of DJ Sneak collide; a world in which old-skool electro and jazz exist side-by-side with minimalism, eclectic frequencies, mutated house and a whole lot of funk. It could have been a complete disaster but it isn't. And while comparisons with his compatriots Daft Punk understandably arise, the soundscape Nicolas produces takes on a character all of his own.

Of his vinyl releases, 'Disco Cubizm' has struck a major chord precisely because of its Daft Punk remix but personally I was staggered by the simplicity and effect of 'Metamorphik', which sees Chaix striking out on his own without the presence of his French brethren.

He's also returned the favour by remixing the current Daft Punk charter 'Around The World' as well as a track by Air, and MAAS from Slam's Soma imprint in Scotland. "I'm not really into remixing," he admits, "but it was an interesting process to try out. It was a matter of if I liked the track, why not- I got to add my own flavour - but I prefer to concentrate upon my own things."

Of the current crop of producers making electronic music, Nicholas has his own preferences. "I like the two guys from Global Communications/Jedi Knights because they make a variety of music from ambient to house and funk. I also like a lot of the music coming through on Soma, and this American house producer Kenny Dickson who goes under the name of Moody Man. But I don't really buy that many records so I don't have a clear idea about labels or producers."

Although Nicholas has only just turned 23 and record releases and associated acclaim have continued over the past year, his career hasn't been an overnight coup as he explains. "I first started out playing drums and percussion, and then my first piece of electronic equipment was a toy sampler I had, which was this Casio thing. I started to seriously make music at the age of 15, when I bought a few pieces of second-hand equipment, samplers and things like that, and I began making these little loops that were in essence hip hop and breakbeat sounds. I had no idea how other people actually made those kinds of music so I had to experiment with the machines quite a lot, and I knew that the sampler was a very important part of it. From that point I continued to buy more equipment, but not that much - I've kept my studio very small and simple and I still use this shitty mixer. But I like the way it all comes together." He laughs at the thought.

"Then I started to do a few cassettes because I wanted my music to be heard by other persons for feedback, and I sent these off to DJ's and radio stations around Paris. At the time DJ Gilb-R was working at Radio Nova - which is this independent station where you can actually hear good music - and Gilb-R called me back. That's how