Surfing in on the ‘French Touch’ wave that birthed Daft Punk, Cassius, Stardust and Etienne de Crécy, Guillaume Atlan, aka The Supermen Lovers, set his legacy in motion with 2001’s Starlight – one of the most joyous house tracks of the century so far.

Atlan has been a prolific producer in the years since, with three albums (The Player, Boys in the Wood and Between the Ages), countless EPs (many on his own Lafessé Records imprint) and a myriad of remixes for artists such as S’Express, Charles Schillings and Spiller.

He’s just about to drop his latest long player, Body Double the title of which is taken from the Brian De Palma movie of the same name – which was heavily influenced by his many trips to Kyiv between 2018 and 2020. Described as a ‘story in 12 acts’, it blends disco, funk, house, and soul, as well as some introspective moments – showcasing his musical dexterity.

909originals caught up with him.

Hi Guillaume, thanks for talking to us. How would you describe your new album, Body Double?

Body Double is a paradoxical LP. What is happening into it is probably the same thing that happens daily in my head. A mix of bright and coloured vibes with dark and underground energies.

It is also a mix of influences. You will find some electronic happy pop songs and some dark hypnotic house tracks – but I confess that everything is about disco and French house.

The title of the album is inspired by a Brian de Palma film of the same name. Were you trying to create a cinematic type of sound with the album, a ‘soundtrack’ of sorts for a non-existent movie?

I always love to find some movie titles I could give to my EPs or LPs. My first album was The Player and second one Boys in the Wood. As I like to imagine that I am telling stories through my music, I enjoy giving such cinematographic names to my albums.

The Body Double movie, from Brian De Palma, has such an incredible aesthetic that corresponds to the period when I was a teenager, that it is easy for me to see links between my music and this movie. Perhaps it’s not for everybody… but for me it is.

We believe the album was partly influenced by your regular trips to Kyiv? In what way?

I created this album during my stays in Kyiv from 2018 to the end of 2019 and I have tried to share the feelings I have whilst living there. Kyiv reminds me Paris in the 90s. The vibe was huge and hope was everywhere. That is what I felt there.

Kyiv is a crazy city and will stay crazy, in a good way, for sure. It’s full of energy, full of incredible artists doing new stuff. I have not, for a long time, seen artists trying so many new things with no money at all, just imagination. And they’re not afraid of trying.

The vibes are super strong in Kyiv. You feel it straight away, and it’s totally logical that the Russian army was not able to enter this city. I am happy I saw Kyiv in this period, because it does not happen all the time in the world, where creation is growing and growing.

I have lived so many crazy stories, met so many great artists – I wanted to share that with all my friends and people who like my music.

You’ve been making music for 25 years now – how would you say your style has changed over the years, or your approach to making music?

My style did not really change but how my style sounds – yes, definitely.

My production has become more mature, and I learned how to use machines better and better with time. Now, I am mixing analog instruments and digital software and I am happy with that.

Last year marked 20 years since your biggest hit, Starlight. Had you worked with Mani Hoffman prior to Starlight?

Mani is a good friend and we stayed in touch. We have some very different points of view on the music business, and we are not listening to and doing the same music.

Our paths crossed in 2000 and Starlight was born. But I think we never planned to do more than one song together. We have too many different influences. We prefer to keep Starlight as a magical moment that has united both of us. We keep it holy.

But this September the magic will reborn with a special anniversary vinyl collector release.

What inspired the lyrics for Starlight?

I was living in a very small room with my few machines in it. My dad did not really care of what I was doing in music and my mother, after I told her I was stopping studies to focus on electronic music, told me to do electronic music ‘somewhere else’.

So, I took the opportunity and went away with my EMU6400, my computer and a keyboard. Mani was living the same kind of situation and when I called him to ask if he wanted to sing on a track I had just composed, he agreed.

We started to write together the lyrics and it was easy because we just wrote our own life into it.

The track is built around a sample from East Coast – The Rock. Where did you first encounter that tune, and was it particularly special for you?

I had a friend who offered me ten disco and rare groove records for my birthday in February 2000. Among those 10 records was East Coast The Rock.

I was in my little room doing music and I started to sample the introduction of this track. I added drums and played bass on it. I found I had something quite good, but I knew straight away it was a vocal track.

I composed melodies and then I understood I had a cool track. I called Mani and we wrote lyrics together.

The iconic video, from animator Numero 6 (David Nicolas), helped cement the track’s appeal. What did you think of the video? Did you have any part to play in it?

At the time, it was weird to release such a video. But people went crazy for it.

What David and his brother Laurent did is a real ‘chef d’oeuvre’. It helped the song become a classic hit. David and Laurent were laughing about of the relationship between Mani and I, because we were kids and super immature. So, with their talent, they just observed us a little bit and the story was there.

You were part of the so-called ‘French Touch’ movement. Looking back, do you think that there was something special about French music at the time, or was it just a convenient phrase to use, like Britpop?

Come on. We are talking about bloody French Touch, guys! I am proud to be part of it. You had so many bands in the UK that have been been famous all over the world during the last 70 years – how many in France? God save Daft Punk! They opened the door to many artists like me.

What does the rest of the year have in store for you?

It is a very busy year. I have my new album. I just got married. I just changed a lot of machines in my studio. As well as that, some new videos for Body Double, some new EPs, lots of gigs… and I hope lot of love and happiness! 🙂

The Supermen Lovers – Body Double is out on 27 May and can be pre-ordered here. Photo by Aurelien Chauvaud.

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