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Interview and Live Photos: Petit Biscuit talks pump-up songs, birthdays and CGI before show at Chicago’s Concord Music Hall

Petit Biscuit, born Mehdi Benjelloun, is an 18-year-old French DJ and tropical house producer, who released his debut album, Presence, in November 2017. He performed his classical and electronic inspired music at Chicago’s Concord Music Hall this week, and also spoke with us about his inspirations, musical roots and favorite pump-up song before the show.

You started taking cello classes when you were five or six. Why the cello? When did you decide to pick up guitar and piano as well?
I don’t know why I chose cello, but I think when you’re younger you make most of your choices without knowing why you do it. Today, I’m really happy to have chosen cello as my first instrument because it’s a really elegant one. From a very young age, I was really interested in testing other things in music, going further. In that way, after our shared classes, I asked the other people at music school if I could use their instruments, just to try. Then I started to save money to buy other instruments. At 9, I was practicing piano and guitar by myself.

How did you become interested in electronic and synth-pop genres of music?
At 12 I discovered Soundcloud. It was really important for me because I discovered music from all around the world. There were spotlights with music from bands already well known like Phoenix or Tame Impala, but also some tracks by some non-famous people (who became renowned later), and I think these ones let us think about an eternal future in the music industry. When I saw all these guys creating music by themselves, I said “Why not me?”. Then I started to learn how to create music on a computer. It was really important to take the direction of electronic music because for me, you can spend all your life exploring all the sounds, textures you can create only with synthesizers, samplers…There are so many different choices in electronic music, so many directions to take. This is like a long road but with no idea of where music electronic can bring you.

Who are your biggest influences?
There are classic influences, like The xx or M83 for the deepness of their music. But I’m mostly influenced by some careers, some directions taken by some of the artist I had already appreciate. Like Flume or Bonobo—since the start of their careers they knew how to renew their sounds, create something new but always really personal too. They have their touch, and I’m inspired by this at some point to stay authentic, not create my own touch but find it inside of me and keep it as long as possible.

The name Petit Biscuit. How did you come about that? Did it take long for you to decide on that name?
Behind the story of this name: A boy, almost 14 years old. This is an age where it’s still hard to make some choices, from the flavor of your ice cream to your nickname as an artist. It’s funny, since the start of my project—even when I had not more than 200 followers—most of people who were listening to my soundcloud were coming from the US. That’s why I wanted to keep something French in my name. This name sounds so funny but also really mysterious, like if you can’t really tell what my music is like before listening to it, which genre and who’s behind this name: I like the fact that people and press always ask me this question.

Did you expect “Sunset Lover” to be your breakthrough song?
Not at all. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure about releasing it, I thought it sounded too ambient. But after feedback from friends, I decided to finally release it. Now this track has 300 millions streams and I finally know why it became so viral: I think it’s a track which people can find themselves in it. When you fall in love, when you’re sad, when you’re contemplating the world; this track expands every emotion, allows you to remember you’re still in life.

Congrats on releasing your first album and happy belated birthday as well. Was there any specific reason you decided to release “Presence” on your birthday?
First, thank you so much! And absolutely. This album represents for me like an emancipation. It’s an album more electronic than all I did before, like I’ve just started to be comfortable with unique electronic textures. And it’s also a gift to myself, like if I wanted to thank me for the past 2 years I lived, full of emotions, of meetings, full of life.

On your album “Presence” there is a lot more incorporation of the cello and strings then your previous songs. What was it like to experiment with a typically classical instrument in such a new and ever-growing genre?
It was important for me to try to include some of my younger life into this first album. I’m really a perfectionist when I’m talking about cello, that’s why It was hard for me to think about the best way to include it into a track. Beam and Follow Me were the tracks which perfectly fit this elegance, mystery of the cello.

Your favorite song off of “Presence”? Why?
So hard to choose, but I think I’ll have some periods with some different tracks. In this period, I listen a lot to Break Up and The End. Break Up is a track out of the time, even out of space with tribal voices and something really passionate, and The End is kinda trap music, but with something really mechanic, almost freaky. The End may announce something new at the end of my first album for my project, even if we can’t perceive what.

Your music videos for “Beam” and “Waterfall” are CGI (computer-generated imagery). Why did you choose this styling?
I’m working with a friend called Quentin Deronzier. I discovered him on the internet with some incredible CG artwork. He has a unique touch. And since the start of my project, I wanted to find an artist more than a graphic designer: someone who has his unique touch and who can bring all his sensibility into his art. Quentin is really gifted at doing this.

Are there any tips you would give to your generation on creating and releasing their own music?
Don’t look so much at the statistics. Try to find you, then stay yourself. Have the courage to send some messages to everyone who can help you.

Is there anything different about performing in the United States than in Europe?
Sure. You’re crossing an ocean, after all! You’re motivated just by the fact of discovering something new, some new people.

What’s your go-to pump up song?
I’ve got so many songs to pump up, but the most recent one is Enemy by Oliver Tree and Whethan.

Bella Del Muro
Bella Del Muro is a photographer from Chicago. Follow her on Instagram at instagram.com/isadelmuro.

Interview and Live Photos: Petit Biscuit talks pump-up songs, birthdays and CGI before show at Chicago’s Concord Music Hall

Petit Biscuit, born Mehdi Benjelloun, is an 18-year-old French DJ and tropical house producer, who released his debut album, Presence, in November 2017. He performed his classical and electronic inspired music at Chicago’s Concord Music Hall this week, and also spoke with us about his inspirations, musical roots and favorite pump-up song before the show.

You started taking cello classes when you were five or six. Why the cello? When did you decide to pick up guitar and piano as well?
I don’t know why I chose cello, but I think when you’re younger you make most of your choices without knowing why you do it. Today, I’m really happy to have chosen cello as my first instrument because it’s a really elegant one. From a very young age, I was really interested in testing other things in music, going further. In that way, after our shared classes, I asked the other people at music school if I could use their instruments, just to try. Then I started to save money to buy other instruments. At 9, I was practicing piano and guitar by myself.

How did you become interested in electronic and synth-pop genres of music?
At 12 I discovered Soundcloud. It was really important for me because I discovered music from all around the world. There were spotlights with music from bands already well known like Phoenix or Tame Impala, but also some tracks by some non-famous people (who became renowned later), and I think these ones let us think about an eternal future in the music industry. When I saw all these guys creating music by themselves, I said “Why not me?”. Then I started to learn how to create music on a computer. It was really important to take the direction of electronic music because for me, you can spend all your life exploring all the sounds, textures you can create only with synthesizers, samplers…There are so many different choices in electronic music, so many directions to take. This is like a long road but with no idea of where music electronic can bring you.

Who are your biggest influences?
There are classic influences, like The xx or M83 for the deepness of their music. But I’m mostly influenced by some careers, some directions taken by some of the artist I had already appreciate. Like Flume or Bonobo—since the start of their careers they knew how to renew their sounds, create something new but always really personal too. They have their touch, and I’m inspired by this at some point to stay authentic, not create my own touch but find it inside of me and keep it as long as possible.

The name Petit Biscuit. How did you come about that? Did it take long for you to decide on that name?
Behind the story of this name: A boy, almost 14 years old. This is an age where it’s still hard to make some choices, from the flavor of your ice cream to your nickname as an artist. It’s funny, since the start of my project—even when I had not more than 200 followers—most of people who were listening to my soundcloud were coming from the US. That’s why I wanted to keep something French in my name. This name sounds so funny but also really mysterious, like if you can’t really tell what my music is like before listening to it, which genre and who’s behind this name: I like the fact that people and press always ask me this question.

Did you expect “Sunset Lover” to be your breakthrough song?
Not at all. To be honest, I wasn’t really sure about releasing it, I thought it sounded too ambient. But after feedback from friends, I decided to finally release it. Now this track has 300 millions streams and I finally know why it became so viral: I think it’s a track which people can find themselves in it. When you fall in love, when you’re sad, when you’re contemplating the world; this track expands every emotion, allows you to remember you’re still in life.

Congrats on releasing your first album and happy belated birthday as well. Was there any specific reason you decided to release “Presence” on your birthday?
First, thank you so much! And absolutely. This album represents for me like an emancipation. It’s an album more electronic than all I did before, like I’ve just started to be comfortable with unique electronic textures. And it’s also a gift to myself, like if I wanted to thank me for the past 2 years I lived, full of emotions, of meetings, full of life.

On your album “Presence” there is a lot more incorporation of the cello and strings then your previous songs. What was it like to experiment with a typically classical instrument in such a new and ever-growing genre?
It was important for me to try to include some of my younger life into this first album. I’m really a perfectionist when I’m talking about cello, that’s why It was hard for me to think about the best way to include it into a track. Beam and Follow Me were the tracks which perfectly fit this elegance, mystery of the cello.

Your favorite song off of “Presence”? Why?
So hard to choose, but I think I’ll have some periods with some different tracks. In this period, I listen a lot to Break Up and The End. Break Up is a track out of the time, even out of space with tribal voices and something really passionate, and The End is kinda trap music, but with something really mechanic, almost freaky. The End may announce something new at the end of my first album for my project, even if we can’t perceive what.

Your music videos for “Beam” and “Waterfall” are CGI (computer-generated imagery). Why did you choose this styling?
I’m working with a friend called Quentin Deronzier. I discovered him on the internet with some incredible CG artwork. He has a unique touch. And since the start of my project, I wanted to find an artist more than a graphic designer: someone who has his unique touch and who can bring all his sensibility into his art. Quentin is really gifted at doing this.

Are there any tips you would give to your generation on creating and releasing their own music?
Don’t look so much at the statistics. Try to find you, then stay yourself. Have the courage to send some messages to everyone who can help you.

Is there anything different about performing in the United States than in Europe?
Sure. You’re crossing an ocean, after all! You’re motivated just by the fact of discovering something new, some new people.

What’s your go-to pump up song?
I’ve got so many songs to pump up, but the most recent one is Enemy by Oliver Tree and Whethan.

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