Joel Mu
Lëster

Hurting for Wifi

Leaning against the wall the viewer remembered the last time they stood and watch. They thought to be passive was to be invisible and to be active was to be seen. Then they peeled their sweating skin off the wall to join them. A «viewer performing».

Dance and choreography on a forgotten stage?

Now their ripped jeans were forgotten long ago and they hung there like a tree limb. A body destined for the Internet, changing application like a swiss army knife.

«I know», said a friend, «when you play my music online».

«What do you mean?», I replied.

«You play my tracks on repeat».

What’s on your mind?

«Afterlife».

DURING THE LAST 3 WEEKS OF NOVEMBER I INTERVIEWED ARIEL BORENSTEIN, A.K.A. LËSTER, VIA PRIVATE MESSAGING AND EMAIL. THE EMBEDDED CONTENT IS SHARED IN COLLABORATION WITH GRUPPE.

HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE NAME, «LËSTER»?

I invented/found Lëster 8 years ago with a friend but the name doesn’t mean anything for me. It’s just a nickname.  

HAVE YOU ALWAYS LIVED IN PARIS?

I was born in Paris and I never moved. I have my friends and my family here, they are the things that holds me here. Even if I like this city, I think it’s stifling, and I would love to move. I think I went around all clubs here and I start to find it boring lol. But deep inside me, I’m sure I’m too scared to move.

YOU WERE RECENTLY IN THE CAST OF «120 BTM», A NEW FILM BY FRENCH WRITER-DIRECTOR ROBIN CAMPILLO. YOUR CHARACTER, JÉRÉMIE, WHO IS HE?

Robin wanted some actors in his latest film to be non-professionals. I happened to have been contacted to audition and it worked out. It was a really great experience. Jérémie is a young boy who comes to the militant association «Act Up-Paris», to ask some questions because he’s sick. Fairly quickly, he finds himself participating in their actions, and he integrates fasts into the group of activists.

WAS THE DIRECTOR CURIOUS ABOUT LËSTER/YOUR MUSIC?

Robin Campillo didn’t know my music before the film. But he recently saw me perform at a concert hosted by Act Up-Paris and I believe he liked it. He knew my cover of Bronski Beat’s «Smalltown Boy» and he really liked it.

WHAT IS THE CLUB NIGHT, «COUCOU»?

«Coucou!» is an event that I organize with my friend Reno, a DJ and event organizer. He’s the one that organizes «House of Moda» in Paris. Actually, we organized the first event because he wanted to see me play live. So my first performance was the opening of «Coucou!». At our events, we want people to have fun (obviously). We organize them in a club where it’s really dark, because I don’t like parties where people look at and judge each other.

I FIND CLUB MUSIC TO BE ITS OWN KIND OF POLITICAL. HOW DO YOU SEE IT?

I think clubbing is political as much as people from different backgrounds all dance together. Unfortunately, this often creates problems because people don’t like differences. I evolve a lot in the queer community in Paris. For me it’s a safe place, where people are open minded, and so, there are less problems.

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST LIVE PERFORMANCE?

I love to perform live, even if I’m very shy on stage. I love it because it is the moment when I really share my music with others. I’m not a «show man» at all, so my performances are very intimate but I think that people feel how sincere I am. My first performance was a mess. The microphone was not working, so I did an instrumental, and I had sound problems, so I had to cut the sound twice. But all my friends (because there were almost only my friends) told me it was cool.

I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO YOUR LAST EP, «OXALIS». WHO WERE YOU LISTENING TO?

I remember a little bit the songs I was listening at this time. I was very into: Fade Away by Hanna Diamond, Before the Dawn by Evanescence, Lacrymosa by Mozart and desafio by Arca. I wanted to create an aesthetic for the album with flowers and tears, because I was very sensible at this time. The first song I composed was «Nacht». I wrote this when I was nostalgic of an old love story I had. I can tell you that when I composed this first song, I wanted to make a very long track. Like a one-hour track, and I wanted to cut the song in several tracks to make an album. I wanted to make an evolution in the album, from very sad to very punchy. In the end I wrote five very different tracks, because my mood changed. I also shot a music video for the EP’s first song, «Zwielicht», that I never released because it was too intimate and I was embarrassed to show it; I can send it to you maybe.

I WOULD LOVE THAT…

Here is «Zwielicht» (but I hate myself in this music video).

THERE’S A CHEESINESS IN YOUR RECENT EPS THAT I REALLY ENJOY. SAMPLES LIKE RAIN, THUNDER, WHALES AND WHAT SOUNDS LIKE AN COSMIC ECHO CHAMBER. IN THE SECOND LAST TRACK, «SCIENCE», I HAD THE SENSATION I WAS LISTENING TO YOU AND SOMEONE ELSE. HOW DO YOU WRITE YOUR LYRICS AND USE EFFECTS TO EXTEND YOUR VOICE?

I don’t really write lyrics. It’s kind of improvisation, that’s why I’m always saying the same things. When I’m finished recording, I re-write better lyrics, so they make sense. I try to make the music in just one go, with the lyrics and mastering together, in order to compose my songs like a fresco. What I mean is: I compose part by part, adding new melodies, instruments, and sounds like a progression. For the vocal effects, I just have my favourites effects I made and I use it when I feel it. For «Science» I wanted to make two very differents parts. One very ambient and weird, and the other very punchy and dried. The voice effects are because the trax is about aliens.

YOU RECENTLY SHARED THE EP «4 TRACKS MADE BETWEEN 10:30PM & 01:03AM» AND OTHER STAND ALONE TRACKS LIKE «MELODIES», «WW2», «D’AMOUR À MORT» (FROM LOVE TO DEATH), «BESOIN DE RI1» (NEED NOTHING) AND «SADCORE». YOUR TITLES ARE LIKE YOUR MUSIC. I ALWAYS GET THIS SOUL SEARCHING THAT’S PART-INDUSTRIAL, PART-HEART BREAK, BUT WHEN YOUR MUSIC IS NOSTALGIC AND SENTIMENTAL IT’S ALSO ENERGETIC, UPLIFTING AND MEANINGFUL. WHY?

I make my songs as a personal diary, so my music expresses my feelings. And as I’m very moody, it might express many differents feelings. When I’m sad I’m very productive, so I publish almost all the songs I make on my soundcloud accounts LSTR¨ and leeamy.

I OFTEN HEAR CLASSIC TRIP-HOP AND INSTRUMENTAL RNB. THE MELODIES COULD ALSO BE 90S AMBIENT. WHAT INSPIRES THESE COMBINATIONS?

About the Trip-Hop songs, I don’t know what happened. I’m a big fan of Portishead, Jay Jay Johanson, Massive Attack, etc., so I guess it was for me an exercise to see if I am able to make these sounds. I think I really listen to a lot of styles of music, and I think I take my favourite parts of each to create my style.

DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU STARTED UPLOADING AND SHARING YOUR MUSIC AND VIDEOS ONLINE?

I think the first sounds I posted online were super shitty, but I’m curious, I really can’t remember what it was. I was a lot on Myspace, when I was younger, so I think I may have a lost Myspace page somewhere online. But I still have the first songs I posted on YouTube and on Soundcloud, they’re not that old. This culture of uploading, sharing, reusing, connecting had a big impact on my development because I posted a lot (maybe too much) and I was a very active member of all these music networks (even if nobody was listening lol).

 

YOU’RE ABOUT TO RELEASE YOUR NEXT EP, «WINGS». DID YOU HAVE A CONCEPT OR FEELING IN MIND?

This EP is a little special for me because I went ahead with it very differently to how I normally would. For starters, it didn’t have to be an EP, just a live set that I composed for a concert at the Palais de Tokyo, in Paris. When I finished making it, it was a 50-minute piece that I cut up into several parts to make my EP. Some parts of the live set don’t appear in the EP and are exclusively for performances.

THERE’S ALWAYS THIS EMOTIONAL HIGH AND LOW IN YOUR MUSIC. IT’S LIKE SYNTH POP PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND AND THEN «DON’T (MIS) GENDER ME» AT THE CLUB. LAST QUESTION: WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE TRACK ON THE NEW EP?

I don’t have a favorite song in the EP, even if I’m very happy with «Suf». I began to compose this track one year ago and I wanted it to be on «Oxalis», but I never finished it. Now, I think it was good to wait because it couldn’t have been better lol. This is the only song that I didn’t compose for events, so I won’t perform this one live.

MY FAVOURITE TRACK IS «AFTERLIFE».

Listen to the full EP here.

Interview by Joel Mu