If you’re into techno and electronic music and you don’t know who exactly I Hate Models is then you’re not alone. No one does.
We all know his sound; massive kick drums and melodies that could each serve as closing anthems at any given festival stage around the globe. For once in today’s musical environment, we know more about the artist’s sound than we do about them.
After having previously denied all contact with the press, the artist who has most recently released a 9 minute, symphonic track on Rave or Die, gave us his blessing to answer our questions; the only catch being that he wasn’t to be quoted directly. Thankfully the backstage at DSNT’s 6th birthday party allowed us to speak with the in demand Frenchman face to face, and finally shed some light on some of the more dubious aspects surrounding his trail blazing career so far.
We manage to find a chair that we can drag into the hall alongside the greenroom, he takes the seat, visibly exhausted as he always is once his set come to an end. The energy that fills the room during the Monnom Black signee’s DJ sets is second to none, overwhelming absolutely everyone, including the man behind the decks. He cracks open a bottle of water and what looks like an interrogation begins.
He burst onto the scene back at the tail end of 2016, with a plethora of tracks that mirrored the aggression of his in your face name. Despite the seeming aggression, the name is less literal than it seems; he states an abhorrence for literal models or genres and being put into boxes, rather than the faces gracing the covers of Vogue and more on a monthly basis. The project never meant to start and finish as a non-stop, aggressive techno one, and he has showcased that with dips in and out of electro and EBM along the way.
His voyage into electronic music began when he was finishing up in middle school. His music taste was deeply rooted in hip hop, punk and metal. Once he discovered one of his favourite bands’ albums had been released as a remix EP featuring only electronic remixes, he was hooked from then on in; hearing these aggressive metal tracks being given even more violent and energetic re-works made the Parisian feel something he never had before and from there, a terrible beauty was born.
With his new found passion in tow, I Hate Models was spawned and from then on in, his openness to music spilled over into a multitude of other electronic genres, citing that he never really listens to techno when he’s not making music, preferring to find inspiration in synthwave and ambient styles. His music mightn’t necessarily reflect just that, but he stresses that for every violent aspect to his tracks, he needs emotional moments too, stating that 2 hours of straight industrial techno would bore him but that he understands how you need the balance to stay alive and energetic.
We’ve seen some of electronic music’s best and brightest innovators all emerge from France over the past few decades. A quick listing of Laurent Garnier, Daft Punk, Busy P and more has me convinced there’s something in the water, but as the techno giant sips on a bottle of water in his seat, he points out that it’s just coincidence.
In his eyes, a person’s upbringing and friend group has so much more to do with their endeavors in music, not the country that they come from, unless of course it’s one under severe governmental oppression.
Whether that may be true or not, there are a growing number of fresh, young French producers emerging at the moment that we’re seeing on posters and lineups all over Europe; Process 404, JKS, AIROD and loads more. Their talent is evident and they’ve all most definitely contributed to a swing in the sound of techno right now but their styles tends to only go so far, whereas IHM’s productions and DJ sets have expanded across a wide variety of styles and sounds.
This unpredictability has definitely kept him fresh and has attracted a legion of fans, but has definitely divided opinion among some of the purist techno heads out there, something the Frenchman is most definitely very aware of.
He stresses the brevity of a career in electronic music and how he appreciates everything that has come his way so far.
Music was never a tool to become famous and after making tracks for 7 years, the fame and notoriety was something that ended up happening after his records became more and more popular, after originally being an output for him to express his innermost feelings.
Thus we lead onto the infamous bandanna. The reasoning behind it is rather straightforward, it’s a way to lessen hassle when heading in and out of clubs and keeps the focus on his music.
For anyone accusing him of using it as a cheap gimmick, he stresses that it is in essence just a bandanna and not a robot costume or a mau5 helmet and that he’s open to chatting about music with people after gigs, but that it helps weed out the real fans from those that just want a picture.
The simplicity of a bandanna also rules out a lot of judgement that he’d be in for online if he were to reveal his real identity and be more present in the public eye. He questions why people are so quick to judge others they don’t know and how it’s expected for musicians to be in the public eye nowadays.
We switch back to music chat, where he continues to emphasise the flexibility of his sound but also how prolific a producer he is, pointing out the difference between tracks like ‘Shades of Night’ (Which he himself adds vocals too) and ‘Daydream’, which accompanied each other on his debut EP on ARTS. His awareness of how he could sign to multiple different labels is impressive, and it’s most definitely down to how much he has flexed his production muscles, despite being a relative new comer to the scene. His approach to producing is to constantly reinvent his sound even if some will hate it, others will think it’s genius and that’s what he strives for, not to be a one trick techno pony.
Plenty of those who wish he’d stick to the one sound have been his biggest detractors, something that hasn’t flown over the producer’s head. He acknowledges that people might think his approach is naive, but in reality he’s just being himself, something that comes across as we sit backstage after he has just played yet another mammoth set to an equally impressive crowd in Queen’s Student Union.
The numbers don’t lie and neither do the crowds, so whether he’s adhering to norms or not, his formula is working, something that he’s genuinely ecstatic about but not over analysing at the same time.
Rather than sitting alone posing endless hypotheticals as to what his next move should be and how long he’ll last in the public’s eye, he’s more concerned with making fresh sounds and wowing the sold out crowds that are coming to see him worldwide on a regular basis.
After finally managing to catch one of the most in demand names in the game for a well overdue interview, we both head back into the greenroom, where the Belfast promotion’s birthday celebrations are most definitely underway. The man that’s responsible for setting the crowd alight for the past hour and a half is free to roam around as he pleases, speaking with some of the DJs he has now managed to share lineups with to date, but avoiding the false pleasantries that accompany you once your name rises higher and higher on posters worldwide.
I Hate Models returns to Dublin for a headline show in Hangar on Easter Sunday, you can join their event here.
Photo credits: Jack Farrell, Marcus Glahn, Luke Joyce & Philly Campbell.