Ink 19 constantly spans the globe for the most fascinating artists and their stories. My assignment takes me to Germany, where I attempt to bridge worlds on an e-chat with Cornerstone R.A.S. artist, Monsieur Leroc (a.k.a. Arne Drescher). Le Monsieur is a graphic arts designer by day, but by night, he’s a beat-conscious musician who has a knack for mixing funk, hip-hop, and jazz. Leroc brings a unique, trippy groove and style to our shores by way of his new release on Cornerstone R.A.S., Le Slow Motion Boogie Woogie (see review in Ink 19‘s June issue), which he composed and produced.
Although there were some language difficulties within our dialogue, this is pretty much what went down. I hope to relay Monsieur Leroc’s replies accurately.
How has your music been received in Germany and Europe?
I was surprised at the popularity and the number of people who enjoy this type of music
Has this trip-hop/jazz/funk sound been popular for a while over there, or is it just making the scene? I know the house music/techno beats have been fashionable for quite a while…
I think the fact they have started selling more of this music has helped it gain more fans. There are still a lot of people who enjoy the techno music, too.
Have you done many live performances in Europe to spread the “boogie”? Is it even possible to recreate your sound on stage?
I did some gigs for my last album, which I felt didn’t feel were the best. I was not comfortable with [the] sound produced by live instruments. I am thinking of taking my existing music and having some live musicians play over it, so as not to recreate it. At least I know my main sound will be kept intact.
Being in Germany, did you have much access to the late ’60s-’70s funk and R&B? Where did you get it (clubs, records, friends, etc)?
Yes, I have access to some great music. I have several friends with kick-ass funk and R&B [collections].
What do you consider your favorite artist of this genre?
At the moment, the Meters would be my favorite band.
What other types of music/artists do you enjoy that would differ from the sound you reflect on your album?
I enjoy lots of electronic music of all types, fast and slow. Some good jazz can also get me in a funky mood. There are also times when I need some serious (rock) guitars to get me inspired.
I found it interesting you were able to take a traditionally upbeat, higher tempo form of music, like funk, R&B, etc and weave in kind of an opposite element, i.e. trance. What inspired you to mix in the slower beats and rhythms and get a sound you wanted?
Actually, I didn’t really plan to create an album that slow as a whole. Originally the tracks I did were mixed with more energized than slow stuff. I wound up mixing in some of the downtempo beats with the funk and it happened to take over more of the tracks than originally thought.
Did your guest artists (Lazlo Loco, Andy Agricol, etc.) provide any influence/assistance to the compositions on their respective tracks?
Oh yes! I usually invite them to my “studio” and we have a beer while I play various tracks/mixes and let them improvise until there’s a cool part that fits. Sometimes I already have an idea of what I’m looking for and I try to get them on the same vibe. Then I usually slip them a mickey so they never remember when I steal their ideas!
Do you feel your art has any impact, influence, or parallels on your music, or do you see them as separate entities?
I’m sure in many ways there are several parallels. Mainly, because I am constantly having to be creative, it keeps me sharp. However, my design work is based on what the customer wants to see (burning tanks & lots of rockets), so in most cases it is different from my vision as a musician. Also, as a musician I am in a great position where I can do what I want. I guess that’s why I’m still poor!
I’m curious to know how you found your way to the Cornerstone R.A.S./Skunk family, especially considering they are known more for their Long Beach Dub All-Stars/Sublime sound than a Euro-soul thing.
A guy from my label in Germany has known the Skunk guys for some time. They regularly exchange CDs, and Cornerstone/Skunk liked my sound. I admit I was a bit surprised, too! But I think its cool they mix some Leroc sound into their program!
Are you currently in the US or Germany? Are you coming to US in support of the new album?
I am currently in Highmshighm, France. I will be moving to New York soon and hope to reconsider my live show and possibly set up some gigs.
What is your favorite beer?
Hofbrau Pilsener is my favorite. Erdinger and Scheide-Pilz [are] great too.
When in the US?
When I am in the US I drink dark beer, but Schlitz and Zima are favorites as well.
Is there any topic or thought you would like to address or point you would like to make that I didn’t cover?
I’m sure there are other things I would like to discuss, but I need to finish this so I can go to bed.