Self-Portrait: Tryphème

French producer Tiphaine Belin moonlights as Tryphème, the moniker for her experiments with atmospheric sound, abstract textures and emotive melodies.

She first caught our attention back in 2017 with her debut release Online Dating for Sheffield-based mainstay Central Processing Unit. The album gave us a window into her curious and studied approach to composition, touching on influences in IDM, electro and ambient.

She followed this up in 2019 with her second album, this time for Da ! Heard It Records, before making her return to CPU earlier this year for her second release, Alumnia.

Off the back of the EP, we talk to her about her approach to production, which is accompanied by a mix of original, unreleased material including a batch of collaborations, unfinished or unchosen material and some pieces she had previously harshly judged.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download all mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about our decision here.

Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?

During my childhood it was really painful to hear some music playing, it made me sad and anxious.

What allowed me to appreciate music was video clips on MTV and Melody TV (a private French TV channel dedicated to French and Internationales variety from 1960 to 1990).

Maybe the music combined with the video media made that less abstract, more understandable, and put a face to a sound. Then, I was waiting for hours in front of the TV to listen to my favorite song.

I remembered I had a massive crush for ‘Nights in White Satin‘ by the Moody Blues and ‘Pure Shores‘ by the All Saints.

Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?

I don’t remember my parents listening to that much music at home… But sometimes, I noticed some of my older brother’s CDs lying around, notably Nirvana – Nevermind (I did not understand what that baby was doing all alone in the water!) and Indochine – Dancetaria, that I used to listen secretly. I played back ‘Manifesto‘ not long ago and it still electrifies me.

What led you into music production?

When I started to appreciate music, I was obsessed by voices and melodies, listening to the same song over and over for weeks, until I fully entered in, trying to break through its mystery. A divine mystery!

I never imagined I’d produce one day, it didn’t cross my mind for a single second. In high school, I played in a punk band with two friends, I was clumsily playing bass guitar, and singing. Nothing serious, and in the end it quickly annoyed us. But I still had an attraction for musical instruments, the object!

I used to hang around a lot at a charity shop called Emmaus, where I bought some old second-hand vinyl (that’s how I discovered Klaus Nomi and Tangerine Dream), and there I came face to face with an old cheap synthesizer which I immediately took home, like a trophy. I attached a picture of the baby and myself from 2008, super proud about the synth.

I thought that sound was interesting but it lacked rhythm. And here comes the Korg Electribe! Then the discovery of Ableton… and the existence of MIDI!

Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?

According to the dictionary, the “inspiration” is the “creative breath that drives artists and researchers” so it’s a movement!

I could mention many musicians which give me joy when I listen to their works, but I’m not sure that music sets me in motion.

On my side, I think it’s more about the encounters, and the art of human living which drives me! And also others artistic mediums such as painting, photography or poetry.

I found a painting in a flea market in a small village, representing a naked woman reading a book, with a smiling peaceful face. Each time I give it a look, I can feel that creative breath blowing on me.

I also feel a strong emotion looking at some of Todd Hido’s photographs, the one below brings tears to my eyes, and I can clearly hear a melody taking shape in my head.

Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?

I prefer waiting to feel the urge, I don’t force myself. When I feel it’s time to dive in, I drink a coffee and I turn my phone and internet off.

But strangely, the place where I’m the most creative is on the train… I could propose a partnership to SNCF and install my studio in a wagon haha.

Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?

Usually I let things come naturally, because if I have something in mind I’m always disappointed by the result.

Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?

Well, it’s all-or-none! There’s no rules. I can be quite obsessive, working again and again until I hit an ounce of satisfaction. However, I can also be satisfied with my first sketch. A balance has to be struck, what is better is the enemy of what is good.

Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?

Usually I accumulate many audio tracks in Ableton’s session part, it’s a real mess and it might seem chaotic but that’s my way to proceed.

Then – and it’s the hardest part in my opinion – I’m looking to do a sketch of the song’s structure, and once that sketch is played and recorded, I switch to the arrangement part.

There it becomes like sewing, bringing life and consistency to that skeleton.

How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?

I may use vocal samples to create short loops; for example I used a Cocteau Twins sample in ‘Away From Prying Eyes’. I take a lot of pleasure destroying those vocals, as in Kool Karma.

I also make use of samples for kicks , snares and other drum parts; six beat deep’s sample packs sound terrific! The rest is made using my gear, my voice and some field recordings.

What’s the most important bits of kit that make a Trypheme track?

I absolutely don’t know, I can’t take a step back from my work.

This mix is comprised of 100% original Trypheme material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?

I have the feeling that I’m continuously searching for something musically, but I don’t know what. I may never achieve it, but it’s that quest, that imaginary goal, which sets me in motion and keeps me dreaming. It’s like cooking and trying to find THE recipe…

I consider my whole work as a sketch, a necessary sketch to hit what I want to hit. It may be frustrating, but as I said above, this is what drives me.

In that mix, there is a bunch of collaborations, unfinished or unchosen materials and some pieces I have harshly judged, blaming them for not being what I wanted them to be. I realize they still deserve to exist and to be listened to. So here we are, I give them back their liberty, they will reach the ears they must reach! You can pick them up for free now on my Bandcamp.

PS: I have a great affection for ‘more water’ with Elen Huynh’s mesmerizing voice, and ‘rock imaginaire’ recorded in a single one hour session where I improvised some French lyrics.

Anything on the horizon for you? Any releases we should know about?

I Just released an EP on CPU in January, so nothing on the horizon right now, I’m going to take the time to explore new paths.

I would like to end with a meaningful and well-named Rimbaud’s poems called L’éternité.

Elle est retrouvée.
Quoi? – L’Éternité.
C’est la mer allée
Avec le soleil.

Âme sentinelle,
Murmurons l’aveu
De la nuit si nulle
Et du jour en feu.

Des humains suffrages,
Des communs élans
Là tu te dégages
Et voles selon.

Puisque de vous seules,
Braises de satin,
Le Devoir s’exhale
Sans qu’on dise : enfin.

Là pas d’espérance,
Nul orietur.
Science avec patience,
Le supplice est sûr.

Elle est retrouvée.
Quoi ? – L’Éternité.
C’est la mer allée
Avec le soleil.

We now premiere all our mixes a week early on Mixcloud. Subscribe to our channel to listen first, download all mixes, and ensure that the artists included in each one gets paid. Read more about our decision here.

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