For a label owner and DJ to compare the process of digging to fishing, goes some way to show the importance Zaltan sees in patience and diligence. This might not seem apparent based on the steady output of his label Antinote of 40 releases in five years, including releases from D.K, Tolousse Low Trax, Raphael Top-Secret, Syracuse and Inoue Shirabe. Instead these qualities are channeled into creating a sound that is both instantly recognisable yet hard to identify; seems rather conceptual but the power of this ambiguity is testament to Zaltan’s powers as a curator, selector and refiner.
This measured approach is also reflected in his Diggers Directory mix he’s provided, beginning with over 10 minutes of Brian Eno spoken work before ushering in ambient and new wave and a more synth-driven second half. This is accompanied by an extensive interview about his life as a record collector.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
Yes, my parents have a key role in my musical education. They were working at a local FM radio and used to organize a lot of parties at home. And yeah let’s pick a few records that I used to love at home:
Double – Woman of the World
It’s Immaterial – Driving Away From Home
Crosby, Stills and Nash – Dark Atar
Talk Talk – Life’s What You Make It
People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
I just have no idea. I was really bad at skating or being good at doing any sport so I developed the music and DJ side to make friends and seduce girlfriends. No seriously, I played a lot of guitar back in the day and at some point I realised that not any of the records I was listening to had any guitar section in it. So I gave up playing the guitar and spent the 4/5 hours a day playing the guitar searching for music instead. I was living in a quite small town. I was buying wax in Paris on the weekend or at a very weird video game shop who got a vinyl section at the back on the store. Crates were filled with local rave / hardcore records. We got a really good library as well and Gille Crosnier, my friend and ex-geography teacher at school was working there. He got full budget on the CD and DVD section and used to buy a lot from Bimbo tower and Wave Records in Paris who were the very best shops back in the days for weird and obscure music. I spent all my time ripping the CDs I found there on a tape or a little bit later on a MD player.
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
Right now at my office and some at my place too. I moved like four times last year for personal reasons so my collection is not really organized now. I’m working on it tho. Just sold something like 1000 records last month to make space at my place and in my head too.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
Other cities. New spots. Because it’s always exciting and you never know what to expect. My girlfriend is living in the middle of the Paris fleamarket so it’s pretty convenient to dig there on the weekend when I’m not away for gigs. It’s like a record fair every weekend, and loads of diggers friends are there too.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
Was talking about Gilles Crosnier my geography teacher and library guy. Gilles has got a very key role in my musical journey. He opens a lot a very important doors. I bought one of my very first record from him when I was 15 or 16. It was ‘Space Invaders Are Smoking Grass’ from IF. My best friend and partner in crime since the very beginning Raphael Top Secret! In no particular order Fred Tillol, Gaspare Balducci, Gwen Jamois, Nico Motte, Pierre Arthur Michau, QP chan, Vidal Benjamin, Alexis Le Tan, Tako, Cosmo Vitelli, Garry Invisible City, Jamie Tiller, Sotope, Christian Pannenborg…the list is super long.
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
Oh yeah loads !!! The list would be long, we need a bottle of wine and a few hours at home to listen to them.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
I would say both! I love to have my own little rhythm and go wherever I want, not to be too much in a contest neither. I also love to be with my dudes, Raphael, PAM, Nico Motte, Vidal and all. It’s always fun!
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
Oh not really I just go through the crates and see what comes. Never got anything in mind when you dig and keep super open to new discoveries and sometime you find a nice record you were looking after. If I am in a local store I know the guy it’s always cool to have nice recommendations of course.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
You know artwork is a very important role on my label. Nico Motte and Matt Pol from Check Morris made all of the 40 covers on the label already. So yes I love record covers and I bought a lot of them just because of the cover. Sometimes you have good surprise sometimes it’s shit.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
This is was recording in a little studio next to the Antinote office with a shitty Audio Technica deck wich made it pretty difficult. But I managed to record it one take, vinyl only, except from a couple of songs I really wanted to play and exist on CD only. I buy a lot of CDs right now because the music was released only on CD. I love them actually. Wanted to show how wide are my tastes at the moment, from spoken word, ambient, new age to more synthy stuff and house. I’m a house guy big time. It’s my first love and is still (one of) my favourite genres I think. I really try to keep extremely open on music and I think I am more and more open on every kind of music as soon as it is just good, personal, unique and interesting in some way.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
Brian Eno’s ITW on the intro.
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
Tako, Tranber (Sotope), Nico Motte, PAM (okonkole y trompa), Raphael Top Secret, Vidal Benjamin, Alexis Letan, Jamie Tiller, Ewald Dupan, Ziggy Nosedrip, Orpheu the wizard, Garry invisible city, Ron Morelli, Cosmo Vitelli, gogolito AKA le mythe des clubs AKA oil viber, QP chan, David 028 AKA Du Son La Joie, DJ Sunday. Because they are always personal, and 1000 steps ahead of the others and not affraid of digging new territories and staying extremely curious.
And are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
Pierre Arthur Michau AKA PAM from Okonkole y Trompa blog, Fergus Clark from 12th isle, Robert Bergman from Rush Hour.
How are things going with Antinote at the moment? Any exciting plans afoot?
Label is doing very good super happy with it. Loads of new record on the pipeline, stay tuned.
And beyond Antinote what else are you excited about for the rest of 2017 and into 2018?
Life in general, kids growing, my beloved girlfriend getting smarter than ever, lots of new music, new friends to meet during tours, loads of gigs provided by my sweet agent Nadja from Odd Fantastic, and some special new project to be announced soon.