Martin Villeneuve | Envy
by Brett Abramson
MV, aka Martin Villeneuve, is one of those rare talents that consistently pushes the sound of house music forward. For years now, his productions and DJ skills have moved countless dance music aficionados. On March 7, 2003, Atlanta gets to experience first hand what so many around the globe are buzzing about, as Lunar Magazine presents MV at the Riviera. What better way to celebrate our four-year anniversary than with an incredibly talented artist who is making serious waves in the scene? Fresh off mixing Yoshitoshi's latest mixed CD, In House We Trust 2, Lunar had a chance to talk to MV before the tour soon lands in Atlanta.
Lunar: How would you describe your sound?
Martin Villeneuve: My sound is typically all encompassing. At the source it's house music. Give it a twist, a shake, and throw on some rhythm from a far away land with some new, intriguing sounds and textures, some vocals and you got what I'm trying to put across. Tough, tribal, sexy, forward thinking house music.
Lunar: Do you find DJing or producing more rewarding?
Martin Villeneuve: They are both quite rewarding in their own way and for me; they are both necessary to one and another. Producing is more a personal, introspective way of introducing my musical vision to the masses and a unique way to create. On the other hand, DJing is the true exchange between the people and the music. The energy is raw and the exchange is indescribable.
Lunar: What equipment, hardware and software, is essential in the studio for you?
Martin Villeneuve: Everything is centered around the PC in my case. I've utilized both a full analog and a full digital set up in the past. At this point and time I'm somewhere in between both worlds, although heavily based on the digital side. My Juno 106 is never far away, and I have an EMU module that I really like because not too many people use it. I exchange keyboards with friends from time to time to get new inspiration from fresh sounds. As for software, I like to use Sound Forge to manipulate sounds, Acid to timestretch and Cakewalk to sequence.
Lunar: What projects do you have in the works?
Martin Villeneuve: I've been heavily working on some fresh, new, original Envy material. I would really like to take that project to a new level and incorporate more collaborations. The new single on the "Faith EP" has been remixed by BC, and he did a terrific job. It will be coming out on Yoshitoshi in the spring. I've also been working with the Stereomovers from Montreal on some new material and it's been going really well. We seem to have a certain synergy when we work together and that's so important.
Lunar: Where do you see the ever-evolving sound of house music heading?
Martin Villeneuve: I personally think it has to return to a more song-based medium. I want to hear passion and emotion in the music, and I find it's lacking in it's true nature. I see it leaving its recent "track" approach and becoming more of musical style with song-based arrangements.
Lunar: With so much speculation on the uncertain state of the dance music industry currently, what is your take on things?
Martin Villeneuve: Electronic music needs more performing artists/live acts. It definitely has become a viable form of music, and I think we tend to forget that. We might be experiencing difficult times at the moment, but they are difficult for everyone. Hip-hop did not come to its massive, crossover appeal overnight. It took time. DJ's, clubs and dance music won't disappear. People will always want to dance in a social environment and escape the stressful regimen of daily life.
Lunar: How is the scene in your hometown of Ottawa and Canada in general?
Martin Villeneuve: Ottawa is the country's capital, so there's a lot of police presence and a lot of politicians trying to do good. The scene came out of the underground a few years back, and the city took notice. They recently instilled a new rave/after-hours bylaw and just this past weekend shut down all clubs operating after-hours. They have since issued one temporary permit to one of the establishments. It is a bit sad at the moment, but it will make everybody involved more organized and more conducive to cooperate with the city and do things right. Ottawa is home to some magnificent talent but not many tribunes to display it. Max Graham, Brad Copeland (Stereo resident), Trevor Walker (Afro Art) and myself were all residents at Atomic in Ottawa at some point or another. The club ceased to operate in December of 2001, and following its closure things we're slightly chaotic. On the other hand, the scene is still vibrant and there are still passionate people doing original events. I'm sure things will rebound.
Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver are insane party towns. As far as I'm concerned, Montreal is the clubbing capital of North America. There's something unique about the mixture of cultures. It's the biggest French-speaking town in North America, and they sure know how to party. Toronto holds the largest and best venue in Canada called The Guvernment. It rivals any club you can imagine. It holds a multitude of different thematic rooms and features a Phazon sound system for the main room. Some fresh Canadian labels with a new take on things have popped up, like Release and Chug Records. Canada is really holding up well and they love the music from coast to coast.
Lunar: What is your best DJing experience?
Martin Villeneuve: The one experience that sticks in my head at the moment is the recent gig I had at Club Dome in Tel Aviv, Israel. Amazing!!! Crazy, sexy male & female go-go dancers, fire-eaters, turbo sound, hydraulic lighting system, incredible people, crazy club. All around from the set-up, the club decor & design, the vibe, the sound and the lights - everything was great!
Lunar: What is your all time favorite track?
Martin Villeneuve: One of my favourite songs to listen to from the classic house days is Sterling Void's "It's Alright". Pet Shop Boys did a cover of it a while ago as well. Just a great song. The lyrics are still as meaningful today as they were back then.
Lunar: What is something we may not know about you?
Martin Villeneuve: I'm crazy.... no you already know that. I love to cook and eat good food! I cook pretty much everyday.
Lunar: What should we expect from your upcoming Atlanta appearance?
Martin Villeneuve: Some tough, bangin' rhythms layered with sexy vocals, and a remix or two of some tongue in cheek remakings that I've been working on.
Be sure to catch MV at the Lunar Magazine Anniversary Party on March 7 at the Riviera in Atlanta. Thanks go out to Martin and Kris at Bullitt Bookings for making this event and this interview possible.
In House We Trust 2
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