WMC 2010: Q&A With Cedric Gervais

Cedric Gervais, Miami's king of Space, has a lot to live up to at this year's WMC. Last year, his moody, slow-burning jam "Mauri's Dream" scored an "essential tune of the week" nod on Pete Tong's BBC One radio show for almost a month running. With that coronation, the track soon became the big-room, tech-house anthem of conference. And though this affable Frenchman is seemingly unflappable, even he admits to feeling some pressure. "I have so many tracks, and I don't know which one to push!" he says, laughing.

He certainly does have a fresh selection. It's been four years since the release of his debut studio album, The Experiment, and after years of remixing and touring nonstop, he finally has a fresh platter for his hordes of hungry fans. Due out in June on Ultra Records, the sophomore effort is called Miamication, and as the title indicates, it has Gervais' adopted hometown's stamp all over. "I've been in Miami for like 15 years, and I've seen it change so many times. Every time I tour, they're like, 'That's the guy from Miami,' so I wanted to call the record something about that," he says.

In fact, part of the reason behind the several years' gap between the two records, Gervais says, is that his musical style changed along with the city's scene. He even recorded an entire album's worth of material not long after The Experiment, only to scrap it and start over completely. But the final product sees Gervais flexing his production muscles, with an offering that's equal parts club-ready and radio-friendly. The edges of dance and pop music are bleeding together more and more with each passing day, something that's reflected in possibly the biggest crossover guest star on his record, singer Mya. Other collaborators on the disc include powerhouse songwriter Dee Robert, vocalist Rachel Starr, and superstar knob-tweakers Second Sun.

To discuss the album and his WMC plans, Crossfade caught up with Gervais recently by phone. Read the full Q&A, and get all his gig details, after the jump. 

Crossfade: It's been almost four years since you released your first studio album, The Experiment. In the meantime, of course, you've kept really busy doing mixes, one-off tracks, and DJing all over the world. What made you decide it was time for another studio album?

Cedric Gervais: I did a lot after the album. I had a lot of remix requests and I started blowing up doing those, and Pete Tong started supporting me with his "Essential Tune of the Week" selections [on his BBC One radio show]. I was doing remix after remix, and then I said, "Wait, I'm giving all my ideas away to other people to make them big." So I stopped, and then I was working on this record. I was changing sounds, and touring, and trying to get my sound together, -- that's when I decided to do this album.

Do you think the Miami club scene affected your new sound?

It affected it a lot. I feel like I'm from Miami now; I've been here for like 15 years and I've seen Miami change so many times. Every time I toured, they were like, "That's the guy from Miami, so I wanted to call the album something about Miami. 

I read another interview where you said you wrote an entire album and then threw it out and started over. 

(Laughs). I don't know. I did some things, and I didn't like them, so I stared from scratch. I really started on this album like last year, I think. 

How did you get hooked up with Mya? 

It's actually the label [Ultra Records]. She was a big fan of my work. She always liked dance music, so we got this song. I was working on the studio with Dee Roberts, a big songwriter; she wrote the song for Swedish House Mafia, "Leave the World Behind." I was writing with her, and sent the song to Mya, and she was really interested, and she jumped on it right after Dancing with the Stars. Then I had one, and she wanted to jump on it, and we had a really good relationship. Now I'm actually going to work on tracks for her next album; we're gonna start in a month or so.

How has your production style changed on this album?

Well, my sound changed as  a DJ. I went from tribal to tech-house, and now I'm coming back to more funky disco-house. And it affects me as a producer, because I'm not going to produce something that I'm not going to play it on the dancefloor. So I went back to the studio and decided to rearrange everything. It's really difficult, because at the same time you've got to do both radio stuff and club stuff, and it's really tricky. 

What's made you come back around to more of a disco influence?

It's been in the air about six months, the big disco sample in house music. I think it's gonna be the next sound. 

You did a track not too long ago with Sharam, "U Don't Even Know Us." Any other tracks with him in the works?

We're doing a new one for Winter Music Conference, a new Sharvais record. It's going to be a completely different sound. (Laughs) It's pretty weird -- it's either gonna go or not go, bt it's pretty weird. I like it, it's a different sound, I don't even have a name for the style. Maybe we'll put a vocal on it. It's gonna be ready for conference.

Are you working on anything new for Yoshitoshi?

No, not this year. I'm not doing anything on Yoshi except this Shargais track that we're putting together. I'm focusing on Ultra and my own label, Sleze.

I was going to ask you about Sleaze. You recently relaunched it, along with a techno sublabel, Sleaze Tech. What did you change about the setup before the relaunch? 

Before, I had one person running it, and we were just -- I was so busy touring, and I wasn't really caring about the label, I was just putting stuff out. Now there's like seven people working on the label. We're signing artists left and right. I'm getting artists from Eastern Europe, South America; I have some amazing tracks coming out. We're doing really well; the last one from Dr. Kim, it was a huge hit. We're doing great ins ales, everything. I love meeting artists and signing them.

On your web sites you actually provide an address where anyone can send demos. Do you actually get a chance to listen to them?

Actually I have a guy named Sammy in the studio who listens to them, and plays me the best ones. And I have signed two people that way -- one guy from France, and one guy from Colombia.

What made you want to do a techno label?

I have a producer called Maurizio, and he's in this techno scene, and Danyelino as well. And in the techno scene you can't mix up the house and the techno, they have their own world. They said they wanted to do a label, I said okay, do Sleaze Tech. And now they're big DJs in the Space Techno loft; they have a huge party in Miami in a big club, and they have people signed. They have DJ Simi, Alexi Delano, and all the techno guys. It's my label, but I let them run the whole thing.

Do you have any interest in putting out your own techno stuff?

No. I can do it, but it's not my world. I used to be in there -- I started out playing Laurent Garnier, Carl Cox. I knew techno before half of those guys who are doing techno right now. But it's not me right now. 

You've been playing in Miami for so long, you've gotten to see the whole scene change. What do you think is the most positive change in the electronic music scene here in Miami?

Well, I started at the Living Room, and then Bash. Then I went to Chaos, and then Bar Room. Back in the day there were no big club like Crobar and everything. When Crobar came into town, that's when the big dogs like Deep Dish and Roger Sanchez and stuff started coming, and then Space obviously came in and stepped in. I think the scene  here is doing well now -- you hear open-format DJs play 85 percent house. Even if it's commercial, it helps dance music, because it means it's less hip-hop they're playing.

"Mauri's Dream" was a huge hit at conference last year. Are you feeling any pressure about that? Do you have a specific track in mind that you think we should look out for this year? 

Yeah, I have no idea! Yes, I have pressure about that. I have so many tracks, and I don't know which one to push!

What are your plans for the rest of this year after conference?

Right now, I have touring to do after conference, and then we're gonna do the tour behind the album. I have a lot to do on my own, without promoting any album, and we're going to put the tour together for the album. We're going to do America and then South America.

At the Sleaze Recordings Presents Cedric Gervais and Friends party, featuring a special performance by Mya, with Tony Arzadon, Craig Pettigrew, and others. 10 p.m. Thursday, March 25. Mynt, 1921 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Admission is $30; ages 21 and up. 305-695-1705; 

At the Cedric Gervais and Tocadisco and Friends pool party, with Tocadisco, Juanjo Martin, John Shelvin, and others. Party goes from 12 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 26. Club 50 at the Viceroy, 485 Brickell Ave., Miami. Admission costs $60 before 2 p.m. 305-503-4400;

At the Paul Van Dyk: 10 Years of Vandit Records party with Paul Van Dyk, Pete Tong, Steve bug, Tocadisco, Wally Lopez, and others. 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. the next day, Saturday, March 26. Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami. Tickets cost $60 before midnight and $80 before 2 a.m.; ages 21 and up. 305-372-9378;

At the Conference Closing pool party with Axweel, Benny Bennassi, Funkagenda, and others. Party goes from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, March 28. The Surfcomber Hotel, 1717 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $30 before 2 p.m., $45 after; ages 21 and up.

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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo