College, from his real name David Grellier, is a French electronic music composer born in 1979 in Nantes. At the end of the 90s, he purchased his first computer, with which he produced numerous demos influenced by artists such as Jeff Mills, Aphex Twin and labels such as Soma Records, Peacefrog or still Warp. In April 2007, he created a blog to share their most recent productions: the Valerie project was born. Other artists such as Anoraak, The Outrunners, Maethelvin or even Russ Chimes would soon join the blog. His first EP Teenage Color was released that same year and allowed him to meet the German illustrators The Zonders.
A collaboration started then with the latter for all the flyers related to the Valerie Parties, as well as all the records and projects which are associated to them. An identity and a musical movement evoking a kind of nostalgia from the 80s arose and the international press started to notice the productions associated with Valerie. In 2009, while his first album Secret Diary was being released, College toured with Anoraak all through the biggest capitals in Europe, the United States and Australia. College also collaborated closely with the Canadian duet Electric Youth, who participated to the EP A Real Hero, released on the Belgian label Flexx Records which was selected as the theme for DRIVE directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Best Director Cannes Festival 2011).
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France Rocks Austin: SXSW 2012 Interview with College
What was it like seeing so many artists from France in the middle of Texas?
David Grellier : It was really great to see familiar faces in Austin on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s still a bit of a dream for me to have the chance to play in the USA, a country that’s always fascinated me.
Before leaving for Austin, what had you heard about SXSW?
I knew that the festival was really well known, as much as by the artists as by professionals. So it was a can’t miss event!
After SXSW, what were your impressions of the festival?
For me, it was all too quick because, contrary to my friend Anoraak who played there the entire week, I only had one show. However the ambiance was excellent and I was more than happy to have been able to test the first visuals for my new live show.
Many Americans discovered your music through the soundtrack for Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, how did you get involved in the project? Did you expect such a response to the music?
Electric Youth and I had a lot of luck to meet up around this project. What surprises me still is that all had been pretty simple and the soundtrack’s success fascinates us each day. We are independent and it shows that sometimes even self-producing your own music in small quantities (the pressing for the Real Hero EP in 2009 on Flexx Records was only 300 copies) could still have a chance in Hollywood. We owe a lot to Nicolas Winding Refn, who knew how to convince the film producers of his artistic choices.
How has Bureau Export helped you out for SXSW and/or in the past year?
Bureau Export was able to create this special stage for Austin, to establish a true connection with French artists, and to champion our music in such a vast territory. I think it’s an excellent springboard for music from the Hexagon [France].
As a French artist who performs abroad, what is it like meeting people who speak or try to speak French with you in other countries?
As a general rule, I speak English but sometimes it’s fun to see people try to speak a little bit of French. I must say that this effort touches me a lot each time.