Felix Cartal has entered an exciting phase of his career. He's redone his entire production setup and has since released a number of memorable vocal driven chill tracks over the past 8 months. The biggest track of them all is "Get What You Give", giving his unique spin on the classic 90s lyrics by the New Radicals. Since its March 24th release, "Get What You Give" has reached #1 on Hypem, 500,000+ plays on Soundcloud and 700,000+ plays on Spotify. An impressive feat, and with an album on the way later this year, this Vancouver based artist is just getting started.
In the following interview Felix Cartal talked about his new tracks, reflected on his past productions and moving away from his hard electro sound, up and coming artists, and his plans for the future.
EDM Canada: I listened to “After Dark” (2014) and “New Scene” (2014) yesterday, and it sounds exactly on what's in right now. Do you feel that your early work was ahead of its time?
Felix Cartal: I think yeah, with the vocal chops. It's funny because some people say that I jumped onto things, but I feel like I was doing it before it became a thing. I don't feel like I pioneered the vocal chop though.
With “New Scene”, that was a really good song to figure out what works for me personally and collaborating with Ofelia was a really big step because she was the first writer that I really jelled with. “New Scene” was where I found my “voice”, because I felt it was something that differentiated me from the typical guys in the dance scene.
Was I ahead of the times? I don't think so. I think the timing was right to be honest. I feel like when people are really ahead of the curve, they sorta become obscure, but I think I caught the wave at the right time.
(Author's note: Both of these tracks could have been released in 2017 and would have done extremely well)
Do you feel like you are entering a new creative phase of your career?
I really am. I was in a sort of a crossroads of my career as I was doing label stuff which halted a lot of my music releases. At the time I felt really frustrated, but it gave me some time to step back and think about what I wanted to do musically. I had this moment where I updated my software because I wanted to innovate. So I gutted my whole production setup and started from scratch. I felt like a kid again and started creating stuff. That was really inspiring and made music fun again. I began writing things more honest because of that.
What kind of software did you upgrade to?
I was a Reason guy and was using that since 2005 and maybe earlier. Reason is cool, it's like a DAW, but it is sorta like a VST because you can wire it through other DAWs. Other DAWs were moving so quickly and easy to use so I moved to Ableton and never looked back.
Have you fully moved away from your former harder electro style from a few year ago?
There's always going to be elements of heaviness in my songs, but will it sound like back then? Probably not. The harder and grungier stuff that you heard was just me learning. A lot of those sounds were just happy accidents in a way. I don't know if I was capable to write a polished song like I can do now. Back then I took the punk rock type of attitude of “fuck it” and I'll just make what I can make and go with it.
I don't know where that hard electro stuff fits in anymore in my own career. I love it, but only in a moment of nostalgia. I also think it's dangerous to get known for only doing heavy stuff, because the only way forward is to “out heavy” yourself, and you're put in a corner. That's not really conducive to good song writing.
Even back then I would have songwriting on my records, even though the production might have been grittier. I was still trying to write songs with a verse and chorus. Sonically it's a departure but at it's core I'm still trying to do similar things. I'm thankful that I have fans that tell me that they stuck with me since the beginning.
Tell me about your latest release “Get What You Give”, how did it come about? Were you a little nervous on putting your own spin on such classic lyrics?
Super nervous. That was a really seminal song in my life, and the lyrics make more sense to me the older I get. The lyrics fit in what I've been doing lyrically lately, so that made sense. Of course I ignored the “don't touch the classics” statement that everyone says, because if you listen to everyone all of the time then you will never do anything.
I didn't feel like I was trying to improve it as I just tried to do my thing. Because it came from a genuine place of actually liking that song, I think it turned out pretty well. People seem to like it, so I'm happy with it.
Who was the vocalist that worked with you for “Get What You Give”?
Fjord, it's a group out of Quebec. I heard their cover of a Neil Young song and I cold emailed them about this project and went from there. It was really cool.
What do you have set up for your 200th episode of the Weekend Workout?
To celebrate 200 episodes, I thought it would be fun to start the mix with the first dance song I ever heard which was “Daft Punk” by Daft Punk. It came out in 1995 but it still sounds like it comes from the future to me. I thought it would be fun to do this chronological mix to showcase the stuff that has influenced me. So I mixed an hour and a half of tracks from 1995 up until now.
From here on out, I will move Weekend Workout to once a month with a 30 minute mix by me and a 30 minute guest mix. It's really taxing to do it all of the time, so this output will be way more conducive for me to focus on creating new music.
Who's an upcoming artist that's on your radar that fans may not have ever heard about yet?
I like this guy named Petit Biscuit from France, but he's already blown up a little. I think he's only 17. I'm also into Lucian and Robotaki.
What else have you got planned for the rest of the year? Any upcoming tour dates?
We have a video for “Drifting Away” that was shot in South Africa. I also have a tour that I'm announcing for June and July. Will probably do another single for May/June, and then work on my album which I will put out in the Fall.
My thanks to Felix Cartal for giving this interview. Make sure to follow him on Soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/felixcartal) and be on the look out for his special 200th episode of his radio show, the Weekend Workout (https://soundcloud.com/weekendworkout).