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15 Minutes And A Mix: Acumen

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Formed by Antoine Acumen Garcin in 2007, France based imprint Time Has Changed has since gone on to become one of its country’s most prolific and consistent house-inclined labels, with releases by the likes of Andrade, Mihai Popoviciu and, indeed, Acumen himself, very much indicative of the fact. But how does a practicing pharmacist, a devoted family man and a rugby enthusiast find the time to helm the label, and how did it all begin?

We caught up with Acumen recently to unearth the stories behind these questions—and much more besides…

First off, I wanted to chat about the label, Time Has Changed. How did it come about?

There was a time in my life when nightclubbing and DJing became too much to try and balance with my pharmaceutical studies. I had to slow everything down. But at the same time, I wanted to keep one foot in the music world. So I came up with the idea of the label, initially to release other artist’s productions, as back then I didn’t produce my own music.

How did you meet Timid Boy? Did you hit it off straight away?

Damien was originally an artist like all the others, and sent me a demo. I really liked what I heard and we made a few releases together. As he was a French guy too, I called him and immediately came up with the idea of incorporating the label together. We stuck on a clever routine, even though we don’t actually live in the same place. In fact, I’d even say not living in the same place is an advantage, as it gives us a wider perspective and a more global view.

With two of us running the label, we also have twice as many ideas for the label, which works well if somebody makes a good or bad idea! We also make a lot of music together, too, which has proved really great for both of us. A lot of people have asked us recently if it’s something we’d consider again, and we’re definitely thinking about it right now…

Where do you think you’re at in terms of where you want the label to be?

It’s not too far removed from what we imagined, really. We attract quality artists and renowned remixers, which was always a goal of ours. In terms of music, I think we’re pretty well respected, although we’re still lacking that little something that will maybe bring us to the next level. But we’re always striving to improve, which is the most important thing. We look at others such as Mobilee or Poker Flat, both of whom are where we really want to be, although obviously I’m not at Steve Bug’s or Anja Schneider’s level quite yet.

But I hope one day we’ll have a prominent place in the global electronic scene, and that my productions and Damien’s productions, as well as our DJ sets, will help us get there.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting up their own label nowadays?

I have no particular advice to give to others. Firstly, because I don’t necessarily consider myself a typical label owner. But also because it’s really hard to manage a label today. Success depends on many factors and sometimes a lot of luck too. But ultimately, I think they’ll have to work hard, be motivated and have great music taste too…

I believe you still feel you’ve some way to go with your productions too. Do you use an engineer in the studio or are you entirely self-taught?

Yes, I’m back in the production process right now, and have a new studio and new equipment. I have no engineer, but the guy who mastered my tracks advises me a lot. The process of creating music is the most interesting for me. The mixing is of less interest to me. With age, I think it actually becomes even more interesting…

Is that the idea behind the name of the label by the way?

No, the idea of the label came from one of my favorite songs by Codec and Flexor, one of which bears the same name as the label. But it’s also true of an era where the financial implications of running a label need to be carefully considered, especially when it comes to releasing on vinyl. How the world has consumed music and listened to music has changed a lot in recent time. So that’s the story behind the label!

You’re a trained pharmacist. What do your customers make of you ‘other’ life?

Well it’s a different world from the music scene. It’s the real world! I have a village pharmacy, so I see people in my village every day. I have to understand them and to reassure them. But I also play a prominent role in the rugby club in the village. So activities are pretty important to me!

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I believe you also have a young family. How difficult is it to balance a full-time job and a role as a DJ/producer?

It’s very hard because you have to manage everything at the same time, which is why I don’t play out as much as I’d maybe like to. Otherwise, everything is a matter of time and organization. And I guess it also helps that I’ve found the best woman possible to help me.

Do you get to the studio as much as you’d like, then?

Just about. Even though sometimes I’d like to stay a bit more often, I probably wouldn’t be as productive if I didn’t have the pharmacy role to keep me busy during the day. But I don’t see myself stopping with the pharmacy; I love that job, too. So I like to get to my studio at night, which is when I’m most productive anyway. A small glass of red wine…and my spirit awakens. But it’s also a very interesting period for me right now. I have a few Eps wrapped and done, and I’m also working with the singer and DJ/producer Ruede Hagelstein on a number of projects. He’s a sensational guy.

Your new record on Time Has Changed is just out, featuring four originals. What’s the story behind each of them?

The pieces are quite similar to each other. Apart can be ‘Deeper than it looks‘, which is a pure tech-house track. I want to add a track that can be easily played in a club.

For the other three, I used a lot of VSTs, such as As arturia collection (jupiter or minimoog) but also a lot of native instruments synths such as massive or reaktor. I wanted to emit a pretty colorful and organic synthetic sound to this EP. I wanted something that does not necessarily sound like everything else, without any pretentiousness.

I also wanted there to be a certain melody to each song that people will remember; the kinds of tracks they’ll find themselves humming after they’ve heard them. To me, this is very important, because I was musically educated with these kind of songs. The melody was the base of the object. Take for example, “Mandarin Girl” by Booka Shade; everyone can hum this tune, and I believe that’s something that’s been lost in modern dance music. So I wanted to bring the melody back in a way.

Speaking of Booka Shade, am I correct in thinking that a new EP with Get Physical is in the works? What should listeners expect?

Well I’ll be releasing a track for a compilation of theirs, yeah. I’m pretty proud of the record, it’s a pretty groovy one. But mostly, I’m very happy to be a part of the Get Physical family as I’ve been following the label for the past twelve years, which, yes, makes me seem old! But I remember the DJ T & M.A.N.D.Y releases from way back, so I’m a big fan of theirs. So hopefully this is only the beginning.

Music aside, what other things influence your life?

My wife, my son, my daughter, and everything around me, because I’m actually a very curious guy…

Check out Acumen’s exclusive DT mix below.  Enjoy!

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