Ed Banger Records
"I'm becoming like an old guy who sits at home with his whiskey and listens to blues -- it's very strange," he tells Spinner. "Everyone is obsessed with me doing a technical mix, but this was never the intention. If fans are not happy, they can make their own, and they should certainly criticize me more."
The artist who's currently touring 'Total,' his first full-length for Ed Banger Records, has a casual and unapologetic approach to releasing albums -- he waited for years before dropping this one for this label. "I won't release an album for the sake of a commercial package," he says. "I would much rather put things out as they come. If they are good, good. If they're bad, well, too bad -- next. But, really, it's all Romain Gavras fault."
Gavras is the director of various music videos for the likes of Justice and M.I.A. (he's the guy behind her controversial 'Born Free' video) and also shot the award-winning film 'Our Day Will Come,' to which SebastiAn penned the score. The project forced him to compromise his album to focus on epic, Eastern-Bloc-tinged instrumentals for eight months. "Gavras picked me because I grew up in the former Yugoslavia. He thought I would be able to bring some darkness and heaviness to the soundtrack with classic [Sergei] Rachmaninoff-inspired pieces with a contemporary angle."
It was also through Gavras that SebastiAn reconnected with M.I.A. for 'C.T.F.O.,' one of 'Total''s standout tracks ("she calls it 'Chill the F--- Out' but I say 'Shut the F--- Up," he jokes). Mayer Hawthorne was another surprise guest on his record. His inclusion was very much a fluke, as the two met on the street in Amsterdam while on the prowl for a nightcap. "It was actually my friend that recognized him; I always thought he was black!" says SebastiAn. "Having him on the album makes perfect sense as I was looking for a tidy voice just like his -- and it's always better to meet outside of a label environment."
Hawthorne sings the vocals on the forthcoming single 'Love in Motion,' a song written in the tradition of Prince's 'Kiss' but with a more modern and heavier sound. SebastiAn says he considered drawing from Michael Jackson but confesses, "I was always more into Prince, because he is still black and still alive."
While SebastiAn is famous for his powerful, almost punishing style of electro (check out the almost unrecognizable remix of Toddla T's 'Watch Me Dance'), 'Total' has a softer side, accompanied by musical interludes inspired by classic hip-hop albums.
"Its not all hard-hitting," he says. "There are songs for times when you might want to be sweet with your girlfriend, or boyfriend. But yes, there are tracks for other days when you want to beat people up."