The last 24 months have seen some great progression and praise for L’Avenue and his musical works. Last month saw the release of Into the Night, his first full length album after the release of the ‘Cherry Crush’ EP last year. So.. Fakeman thought it was about time to sit down and chat with the man himself… Enjoy.
Jesse, thanks for coming along and chatting with Fakeman! First questions to start nice and slow. Where does the name L’Avenue come from?
When I embarked on this project I had a list of names as long as my arm, and I was determined to find something that would work in the retrowave genre but also be unique … kind of visually in mind mind I saw this road at sunset leading to the ocean with palms either side of it (you know LA vibes), so I was thinking boulevard, street and “avenue” popped in and I though “The Avenue” but discovered there was an act with that already so I thought let’s go full francais and go “La Avenue” but I was rudely informed by Google translate that that was incorrect and I should know better and it should be “L’Avenue”. Voila. This also sort felt like the name of a night club or a restaurant downtown Miami in 1985.
So ‘Into the Night’ was released last month. It’s a smooth progression for the scene but has all those tropes we have come to know and love from your sound. How was the production process?
Similarly to the project name when I started I had a load sketches, vibes, ideas as long as my arm that became sort of the development phase of the L’Avenue sound. It was a very prolific time and I realised I pretty much had about 1-2 albums worth of material and so out of that I picked the strongest ideas and started to develop those fully. I never wanted to release a whole album first I thought it would be best to come out with an EP in the scene and then an album later on once people knew me. So I selected few tracks for Cherry Crush and then wrote a few new ones. Once Cherry Crush was out I then went back to the album and swapped some tunes for new ones so the album would have a variety of “flavours” and also work as flow from beginning to end. I now have enough material for two more EPs from tracks that just purely just didn’t sit in the “flow” of the album. I’m now going to polish those off.
Is there a conscious vibe to the L’Avenue sound from your point of view? I often compare it to a film auteur in that you hear your music and you instantly know it’s you. Is that purposeful on your part?
That’s an interesting question … not totally conscious to be honest, I much prefer to get lost in the “feeling” of the 80s, not just the music but the fashion, the interior design, design from magazines / ads, cars, school life, etc.. I started buying copies of 80s Vogue magazines from Ebay just to look back through the ads and editorials to re-experience that time, obviously movies are the perfect immersion and I use Instagram a lot. I realised recently that I’d saved over 17k images on Insta for my account! Gulp. A lot of inspiration comes from there. So whenever I’m in the studio I try and picture an experience or vibe from that time – it helps focus the mood of the music and also edit out any sounds or feels that are outside of that time zone and don’t fit the 80s aesthetic.
Did the lockdown escalate any of the production of ‘Into the Night’? It feels like the many musicians have used the time wisely to craft some epic releases.
I wish! I’m a family man with 2x businesses (graphic design and a music publication) that I had to keep afloat through that period, so to be honest it was pretty stressful and not conducive to a creative environment. I did manage to crack out a remix for The Midnight competition and do some post production on a lot of the album but yes, it would’ve been great to have a few months off. The album would’ve come much faster if that had been the case.
‘Cherry Crush’ was not only a hugely successful debut for you, but it made a real wave. How did you feel about it’s reception and the ongoing popularity of the record? Was there any anxiety going into this album?
Thanks. Yeah, I was actually surprised how well it was received to be honest. It was unexpected. I set out to make the best record I could at that time and it’s been really rewarding that so many people got into it. As mentioned most of the album was written prior to Cherry Crush which was sort of an extension of the album in a way, so I was fairly confident the album was going to hold up.
Who is doing your visuals? The aesthetic is sweet….
Yours truly. This is one of the benefits of my main income producing vocation – graphic design. I’ve been doing that for about 15 years now with my own small company and I’ve been able to employ that skill set and do all my own stuff. This really helps connect and package the music and the visuals exactly how I want.
It’s great that I’m at a point in my life where all the skillsets I’ve learnt and developed over the years can be utilised for this project from the music, the visuals but also understanding marketing, etc.. Having released numerous other projects through other labels I used to get a little frustrated having to change music and not having the artwork I really would like, etc.. So it’s really rewarding doing it all myself (even though its a lot of work) as it gives me full creative control over all aspects of the project.
You were due to do some live work this year with Outland. Naturally the world decided against it… how far did you get in your preparation for that?
Laughs. I got about as far as a set-list. To be honest when the bug hit I was about 4 months out from the gig so had plenty of time to prep and then it was pretty obvious it wasn’t going to happen so I just parked the prep. Then it shifted to Oct and now we’re looking at July next year. Everything crossed we’ll be back to normality by then.
What / who have been your key inspirations? For me it feels like ‘Into the Night’ has some strong Vangelis vibes!
My lord, that’s the question of questions. There’s an awful lot in my inspiration pot. Yeah, the “Bladerunner” score ranks highly for me. In fact I have a future track that’s pretty much based on that soundest coming on one of the future EPs … but outside of the best list for me is probably what I listened to now from the 80s which would be in no particular order: Japan, Level 42, Gary Numan, Scritti Politti, Nik Kershaw, Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Peter Gabriel, Tears for Fears early Simple Minds, early Duran, early Spandau, Kraftwerk, Jean Michel-Jarre, Gino Vannelli, Thomas Dolby there’s an amazing band called “Fashion” and their album “Fabrique” I highly recommend any 80s lover search that one out. Its high quality through and through. So much to choose from!
Does L’Avenue have a collaboration wish list? Any artists out there you would love to work with?
I would so love to work with David Schuler from The Bad Dreamers … I just love his voice, his songwriting mentality and the brilliant Don Henley vibe he has going on. Also, Duett, Jordan F, Ollie, Nina (who I am brewing something with already) … and there’s another VERY big name in the brew that I can’t say anything about at this point and I don’t want to jinx it but if it comes off I will have died and gone to heaven.
Top Gun or Days of Thunder?
Days of Thunder … less gloss, more grit.
And finally, I ask this of everyone. What are you listening to at the moment?
Outside of all the 80s stuff I listen to a lot of varying genres from DnB to progressive house to ambient – a lot of sort of well-produced underground music. These days its almost more about tracks than specific artists I find. I’m a bit obsessed with music production and the cleverer it is the more I’ll search it out. I really like the Anjunadeep label – I’ve been into them for years, its just quality emotion and production throughout – but quite different to 80s.
A big thanks to Jesse for taking the time to chat with Fakeman. You can check out his music over on his Bandcamp page where you can also pick up Cassettes, CDs and posters and Vinyl celebrating the release of ‘Into the Night’.
Now you’ll need to excuse me, I have to return some videotapes