Jazz has been at the root of the music of French producer Ludovic Navarre, better known as St Germain, since his Boulevard LP of 1995. 15 years since his subsequent jazz infused house LP Tourist and the Marlena Shaw sampling single ‘Rose Rouge’ sent his music global, he returned last year with a new LP. Recorded at Navarre’s Magic House Studio in Chatou, France, St Germain saw the jazz-loving producer exploring another of his great passions, African music.
Navarre will play the Southbank Centre tomorrow as part of EFG London Jazz Festival. He will perform music from his early years through to St Germain.
Born in 1971, Ludovic grew up in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. “When I was younger I was big into sport actually, although I did listen to music,” he says. “But then I had to stop sport because of an accident. I was immobilised for two years and so started to get into computers and learning all about them. That was initially just to pass the time. This really was the beginning of computers so there was a lot to learn.”
With his ears tuned to the electronic sounds coming from Chicago and Detroit, music production would soon become part of that experimentation. “That’s how it all started, with me trying to make techno and house with programmes like Cubase” he says.
So what were the first house records he heard as a teenager in the northern Paris suburbs? “I remember hearing ‘Trapped’ by Colonel Abrams in 1985 and just being blown away and then things like Farley ‘Jackmaster’ Funk,” he says. “But there was none of this stuff being played on radio in France at the time – so you had to really look hard to find it. I also had a friend who was into this music and we used to search all the record shops to find it. It really was a matter of digging deep for this music. Nobody in France was listening to house music at that time. There were no clubs and no radio playing house or techno so you had to find your own thing. That was what France was like in the late 1980s.”