Monsieur Leroc (aka Arne Dresch) blends funk, hip-hop, soul, and electronica into unique ambient grooves. The Stuttgart, Germany-born recording artist's third CD, I'm Not Young but I Need the Money (Cornerstone R.A.S., 2006), sounds, says his label, like Curtis Mayfield “if he had Pro Tools and a penchant for underground hip-hop.”
Now living in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, Leroc records from a home studio that has an older but functional setup. “I'm using Emagic Logic 4.8 [put out before Apple bought Emagic] on an Apple Mac G4, and a Korg 01/W proX keyboard,” he says. “I use an ES1 synth in Logic and the one in the keyboard. I have an Audio-Technica AT4050 mic, a tiny Behringer MX 602A mixer, a Boss VT-1 voice transformer, and a pair of Yamaha MSP5 monitors. I recorded most of the vocals at my place. I play Rhodes, bass, and lots of other stuff on the keyboard. The rest is samples.” The final compositions were mixed in Logic and mastered by Transducer, aka Mic McMullen.
The initial creative process on Leroc's latest CD was experimental compared with his previous releases, especially his second one, Oh La La (Cornerstone R.A.S., 2003). On that album, he brought in a number of musicians to record tracks. “That was a great experience,” he says. “The musicians' tracks and the beat samples combined made it sound like a live-band recording.”
On I'm Not Young but I Need the Money Leroc took a different approach, starting tracks out with random beats that he experimented with until he had a basic structure. He then looked for samples or instruments that would go well with the structure. “It was often the unexpected — when I'd try out something silly — that gave the song a new direction,” he muses. “Other times, I'd start with a couple of chords on the keyboard and go from there. Usually, the skeleton of the track would come together pretty fast, and creating the rest took up most of the time. I wouldn't mind if I were more able to lay down a track the way I originally had it in mind. On the other hand, it's really fun to ‘sculpt’ a song step-by-step and appreciate the surprises.”
I''m Not Young but I Need the Money
The songs are sonically interesting and multilayered, and the scope of sampled references is broad and eclectic — ranging from Cat Stevens to Jerry Lee Lewis, and from Ella Fitzgerald to Frank Sinatra. “A lot of samples came from old records that I found on the street in Harlem,” he says. “Most of the samples came from some kind of African American music from the early '70s: from folk, psychedelic, and soundtracks.”
Leroc added his keyboard and bass playing to the tracks and brought in some guest vocal talent. “I recorded the vocals of Josh Fischel, Courtney Mace, 2Mex, and AWOL One at my place; Radioinactive and Plappermaul recorded at theirs,” he says.
One of the more unconventional moments during the CD's making occurred when Fischel recorded a “telephone” vocal track — through an actual cell phone. “He couldn't leave the room where we were recording because he'd get bad reception, so to avoid feedback I put a thick blanket over myself, the [receiving] phone, and the mic. I don't think we were exactly sober then!”
How does Leroc's latest CD differ from his previous two? “This one is the most diverse,” he says. “I wanted to explore new techniques in beats, song structures, and effects.”
Home base: New York City
Sequencer used: Emagic Logic 4.8
Primary vocal mic: Audio-Technica AT4050
Web site: www.cornerstoneras.com/monsieurleroc