You are number six

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ABOUT YOU ARE NUMBER SIX

Théo Lefebvre was born on 06/06 and fan of the British series “The Prisoner” from which he takes his stage name, Theo began his solo project “You Are Number Six” in October 2013. ?Quickly spotted on Soundcloud, the first EP was released in the US on … 06/06, by indie label YOUNG CUBS in Austin-TX.
“Weird Tales” was warmly welcomed by many international blogs for its 80’s influences and immediate melodies. You Are Number Six composes his music using real instruments (guitar, bass, keyboard) and drum machines; Thèo produces his own mix and mastering, and also works on artworks/interactive website.?At the same time, he started a 2nd project in 2014: “lights of the coast”, a duet with Axel, alias Pun Collins, a french electronic artist, for which You Are Number Six is the songwriter and the main composer of the melodies. The band offers an electronic sound, combining beats and new wave. Their first EP will be out on Emerald & Doreeen in January 2015.? The second EP of You Are Number Six is still in preparation, including the first single “Palimpsest” which found great success on Souncloud.

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The title of your project is inspired by a famous 1960s british tv series, “The prisoner”. Does it have a particular meaning for you?

When it came to find a name for my solo-project, I began looking at all the things that shaped my life. I wanted something that speaks to everyone, but also very personal. I was born on 06/06, and I though it could be good to keep this singularity in the name. Then one day, when I was daydreaming in English class, I remembered this particular series The Prisoner that I used to watch with my father when I was younger. And, as if by chance, the main character was called Number 6. That’s where You Are Number Six comes from. To me this series represents the golden years of pop culture and kitsch sci fi, whith all these retro-futuristic technologies and low-costs effects.?I also see it as a gateway between childhood and adulthood, which is a recurrent theme in my lyrics. The series is all about emancipation and loneliness, about the realisation that no one is unique : it hurts to say but we’re all numbers!

In your EP “Weird Tales” it feels like you are looking for a blend between punk-rock and a more melodic new wave. Some rhythmic sections (Monsters, Pressure) reminds me of Joy Division, then flows into the use of synth like the beautiful Palimpsest. Who are the contemporary artists you feel more closely relate to your way of creating music?

I grew up listening to 2000’s post-punk music, such as Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes etc.. I didn’t want to leave this feeling of innocence behind.?I later discovered older bands, from the Velvet Underground to Joy Division, in a french magazine listing the top 200 albums that changed rock music.?For contemporary artists, I feel very close to Arcade Fires work, although they are 7 in the band while I’m alone. These New Puritans, The Horrors, The Drums are also on my top list. I love the way these artists use old new-wave and modern technologies to create new unique sounds.

How did “You Are Number Six” start? Have you always wanted to be a solo act or have you had parallel projects?

I began to play music with friends when I was in high school, just like a lot of teenagers, but I turned out to be a really bad music partner! I’m not a good guitar player, I don’t know much about music, and I just always want to control everything. Playing in solo was the only solution not to fall out with my friends!..
6. I started to record things for You Are Number Six a few years ago. I had been recording pieces of songs on an 8-track for one year, such as Cheats and Jacqueline. I later picked up these songs, added the vocals and a few things and put them on soundcloud.?I also have a side project called lights of the coast with a friend who plays electro. Our first two-tracks single “holy water/seychelles” will be released in february on Emerald & Doreen.

What are the albums you’ll never stop playing (a part from yours)?

I’ll try to make it short :
The Velvet Underground & Nico
Unknown Pleasures – Joy Divison
Room on Fire – The Strokes
Primary Colours – The Horrors
The Best of Depeche Mode Vol.1
Fantasy Black Channel – Late Of The Pier
High Violet – The National
The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
Pet Sounds – Beach Boys
Is This It – The Strokes
+ many others..

What other artists, outside of the music industry, most influenced your musical style?

I’ve surely been strongly influenced by books. I’ve read loads of SF, I really love Poe, Wilde, HG Wells…
About visual arts, I’m a real fan of François Morellet, Mondrian.
I’ve also been influenced by the aesthetic of many movies – the wonderful grids of Tron, the rain of Blade Runner, and also some directors such as Kubrick, Wes Anderson (“The life aquatic with Steve Zissou” is soooo beautiful!) or even David Fincher…

SilverlakeVOICE_YouAreNumberSix_theo

 

Your lyrics are everything but banal. At times (as for Gingerbread Man) the lyrics are reminiscent of the melancholic elegance of Lou Reed. How would you define your “art”? What would you like people to feel when they listen to your music? (you can answer with “wow”, “cool” if you want!)

Being compared to Lou Reed is just the best imaginable compliment! I must say WOW to this – hehe! I think that I write first for myself, sometimes as a kind of therapeutic process (such as for Monsters) but more often just to kind of distort reality and make it more fun. I like to talk about little things, and take them as big things, as in Binary Numbers or Wet Matches. I try to focus on insignificant things, like a box of wet matches, and write a story about it. I’m also attached to the question of narrative perspective : in the first EP, the narrator is part of the plot, while in the coming second EP, the scenes will be introduced from the outside. And you’re right, melancholy is certainly the key theme of the first EP, along with childhood, innocence and death, all of this covered with a layer of science and SF, and the traditional love/sadness/loneliness of any pop song… ?Musically speaking, I’m always trying to bring back the listener to the 80’s, to the times when the future seemed so cool and so close. I want my music to catch the ear of the listeners at the first time it’s heard, so I like to concentrate on catchy melodies. I also try to put a feeling of distance in my tracks, as if it was performed on a distant solar system stuck in the 80’s, or something like that..

 

Your album feels very well put together from a production, sound engineering and arrangements point of view, including the choice of mixing the voice “underneath” the instrument level, especially in the more indie and pressing tracks (like the compelling Bynary Numbers and Wet Matches). What was the genesis of the EP and the process it took to finish it? Did you have collaborators for this project?

It all started when I found the name for the EP : Weird Tales (the name comes from one of the best sci fi magazine ever, you should read it!). I hadn’t yet written the lyrics for the songs I had been recording for one year, so I started to work on what I had done. Each song’s meaning had to be connected with the “Weird Tales” concept, and it took me quite a long time to go through the writing process.
17. As said before, I had recorded a few pieces of songs on my 8-track. I transferred the songs on my computer and recorded the vocals, then mixed the songs on FL Studio. At the time of the pre-recordings, I was really afraid of what people might think about my voice and accent, so I used to lower it underneath the other instruments. When I recorded the final vocals, I decided to keep it the way it was on the original versions. This might explain this strange mixing position.?About the rest of the recording process, I did it all myself in the improvised studio of my room. It takes a lot of work, but it’s so rewarding to make it all, from recording to mixing. When I found a label to produce the first EP, they sent my tracks to Bell Tree Studio, in Austin TX, where they mastered the songs. That’s the only part of the creation process that I couldn’t assist to. But the result is pretty cool, thanks to the guys of the label!

 

Are you looking to go on tour (in France or abroad)?

For now, I can’t perform live (I need to find some musicians). But the second EP is almost finished and I hope to be able to perform this one live.

Let’s rub Aladdin’s lamp. The genie appears. What do you wish for, as Theo and as “You Are Number Six”? (remember, only three wishes!)

1) all the best to all my family and friends (I know it’s cliché..)

2) to do a jam session with the ghosts of Lou Reed & Ian Curtis

3) to find a label for my second EP, and to live of my music in the future, to do what I love the most