Born in Boulogne-Billancourt, France in 1966, Laurent Garnier started DJing in Manchester during the late 80s, becoming a regular at the Haçienda. In the early 90s he ran several clubs in France and started working as an electronic music producer. Also known as Choice and DJ Pedro, he has been releasing music since 1994; his next album De Película, made in collaboration with French psych rock band the Limiñanas, is out in September. A documentary about his life, Laurent Garnier: Off the Record, directed by Gabin Rivoire, receives its UK premiere at the Manchester international festival on 11 July.
This blew me away: the depth, the self-mockery, how well crafted it was. It’s the best-written series I’ve seen in a long time. It’s David Tennant and Michael Sheen trying to rehearse a play on Zoom, but they just talk about their problems. It also showed the precarity of artists in England: here [in France] the state looks after you if you don’t work, because we understand that actors and musicians are not always on stage. When you see how other countries deal with artists, perhaps we shouldn’t always complain – we’re not badly looked after in France.
I’ve been spending lots of time listening to records, as I still haven’t gone back to DJing and my normal life. This is a brilliant hip-hop album: he’s a German-Afghan producer who mixes words and instrumentals, and uses a lot of samples from Arabic music. He’s really drawing on his Afghan roots – you can feel it in his music and the way he uses imagery. He’s more soulful than hip-hop. What I love about this album is that it really grows on you – it’s very elegant. It has a 70s, cinematic vibe to it.
The Work (dir. Jairus McLeary, Gethin Aldous, 2017)
A friend of mine, who used to work in music and now does massage therapy, sent me this. It’s set in Folsom State Prison in California, and twice a year people from the outside are invited to spend four days with the convicts – who are hardcore, they’ve all killed people – who have been doing weekly group therapy. It’s very raw. I was touched by the fact that these guys accepted to be filmed in a really hard time in their lives. Once they come back into society, those convicts don’t go back to prison, so it does them a lot of good.
I’m really into contemporary dance, but this is the only show I’ve been able to see for a year and a half. It’s choreographed by a collective from the Ballet National de Marseille called (La)Horde, and the music, by Rone, is amazing. It’s about the young generation and their thoughts and worries: the environment, love, anger. The stage looks like a post-apocalyptic world, everything has crumbled; it starts with a rave, and they dance wordlessly for 15 minutes, then it turns violent. It’s like a kick in the face: it’s very dark, in a way, but it’s a picture of today’s problems. It’s brilliant.
5. Graphic novel
I’ve just finished this: it’s four volumes about the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx, the first 15 to 20 years. It follows people like Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, Afrika Bambaataa, the Sugarhill Gang. The drawings are amazing, and there are so many anecdotes: what I loved is that you are in New York with the people, in their office, doing the backstabbing, learning about the record labels – who understand very quickly that they’re going to make a lot of money out of this. People like Basquiat, the Clash, Blondie and Keith Haring were very involved as well.
The Father (dir. Florian Zeller, 2021)
An amazing film. It brings you inside the head of an old man who’s losing touch with reality [played by Anthony Hopkins]: it’s like a labyrinth inside his mind. Every time you enter a room, something has either moved or changed: different paintings, different furniture. His daughter is Olivia Colman, who’s brilliant, but at times there are other women who are supposed to be the daughter as well. But it’s very subtle – and the whole film is like that. So even as a spectator, you’re lost: you feel the despair, you feel everything.