Mix Series #32: Ivan Smagghe

Having eclecticism down to an art form is London-based Parisian Ivan Smagghe, who psyches himself up a treat to concoct an exclusive club mix tilted in favour of adventurous ears.

You explained that you were in the mood for weird stuff when making this mix. Could you clarify how you define weird? 

That’s a very good question. It was probably a figure of speech as the mix is not that strange. What I meant is that it is not straightforward ‘club music’ (though what is ‘club music’ remains to be defined). I have issues with doing club mixes when I am at home and the main element (the interaction with the crowd) is missing. To be fair, making podcasts is easy (DJing isn’t rocket science, technically speaking) but at the same time kind of difficult. I usually choose a mental theme of some sort that would only make sense to me and get on with it. It limits me but focuses me on ‘something’. In this case it was something like ‘shredded ghosts of songs and shivering melodies’. Don’t ask.

In this mix your listeners are continuously hunted by vocals, such as the pitched-down track ‘ET’ by Carlos Peron, and halfway through a reporter asks: “What is the most exciting thing you have ever done?” Can you relate to superlative questions of this kind?

I like this image ‘hunted by vocals’ a lot; completely makes sense a posteriori. I can also see some light at the end of this chase in a way, trying to be positive through a haze of smoke. What is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done? That is definitely a non-answerable question. Some answers are off the record but anyway my perspective would always be changing. A little bit like favourite records; none of that is ever fixed and I still hope to have exciting moments, even small intimate ones.

Besides photography books of artists like Ed van Elsken and Isiuchi Miyako, a fair deal of Joan Didion’s work is featured on your blog Disorder in Discipline. What is it about her 70s work that attracts you?

Jesus, you went that far back? I think I haven’t written for that page for more than 10 years. I still think Didion is a great journalist, a good novelist, and a fantastic ‘in between those two’. Very good at putting some of her intimacy (another word that could apply to the mix I guess) into a broader picture. I also have a long-standing soft spot for Los Angeles, and she is one of the best at translating this city.

Literature again returns in your collaboration with Rupert Cross (the infamous James Baldwin the 3rd hotmix). Can we expect more of this project in 2019?

Ahahah. We heard ‘James Baldwin’ in that pitched-down vocal, also imagining him as a lost brother of the Baldwin cheap Hollywood dynasty. Yes, a new album is coming out this year on Offen Music, Vladimir Ivkovic’s label. It’s a continuation and ‘progress’ on the first one, MA. ‘Positive disintegration’ is also something that may apply to the record – the ruin of an old factory in the countryside, sun rays breaking clouds or something.

Do you feel that your self-expression is a stable or unstable thing throughout your life as an artist?

It’s as unstable as my self-expression if that makes sense? Hmm, it does not. You want to say different things at different times I guess. I have always tried to stay unfocused anyway, that is the constant in my artistic expression (I feel awkward using that phrase).

Current trends in the music industry involve bridging differences and inequalities, what’s your take on this?

I can only support it. As long as it is not used for personal advancement and social media ‘fame’.

Thank you, Ivan.