Artist Interview: Quick Brown Fox
Florian Decros – alias Quick Brown Fox – is a former vaporwave producer operating out of France. Over a span of several months, Decros produced a huge variety of work on various albums and compilations, closing his vaporwave project at the end of 2015 for other musical pursuits. Decros got in touch with Sunbleach a couple weeks ago, and we exchanged correspondence on Quick Brown Fox, the state of vaporwave in mid-2016, and how members of the scene can engage with artists to make better art.
S: You made work for some time as Quick Brown Fox. What inspired you to become involved with vaporwave art and media? What influences did you have outside of the scene?
D: I discovered vaporwave through a video by This Exists. It sounded weird but interesting, so I checked out three albums: Far Side Virtual by James Ferraro, Floral Shoppe by Macintosh Plus, and Late Night Delight by Luxury Elite and Saint Pepsi. I loved those three releases, and I thought that I could try to make vaporwave. I downloaded some software, searched for samples, and made my first album called Sea Breeze. An artist called テクノ資本主義NOSTALGIA said that my music was good, but was not perfect. He gave me some interesting criticism, production tips, things like that… He really helped me and inspired me to start a vaporwave career. Outside the scene, I love a lot of music, but when I started vaporwave, my favorite genre was progressive rock and rock in general. So this influenced me sometimes; I sampled Kansas, Brand X – bands like that. Some of my big influences were minimalist composers like Steve Reich or Philip Glass. A big part of I Want L’Internet were influenced by them.
S: Far Side Virtual was my first introduction to the scene as well. The radio station at which I worked had a copy of Floral Shoppe, but it seemed like a hip in-joke back then so I wasn’t all too impressed. Now that I’ve listened to it in the past couple of years outside of its original context, I’ve gotten quite into all of Vektroid’s stuff. All of it is so different, which makes for some fun exploring. That’s why I like vaporwave: it’s so new and still figuring itself out, so it feels like a musical odyssey with regards to the search for new music, artists, and labels as the scene and producers find their fit.
D: Totally agree with you. You can find vaporwave influenced by old MIDI tracks, by ambient, by trap, by IDM, by muzak, by synthpop, by video game music, by synthwave, by plunderphonics, or by instrumental hip hop… I think that it’s impossible for a electronic or experimental music fan to not find a vaporwave album that he’ll like.
S: What early criticism and tips did you get when making art, from テクノ資本主義NOSTALGIA and others?
D: テクノ資本主義NOSTALGIA told me that when you make “classic” vaporwave tracks, not ambient ones, avoid very long, repetitive, tracks, goes directly to the point, don’t be afraid to cut entire minutes of the sample. He also gave me the envy to make concept albums and to sample video game music. He made reviews of my two first albums and this helped me.
S: Are there any nuances or references in your work that you would like to discuss?
D: I love to reference music or movies I like when I make music. For example, I sampled “Five G” by Bill Bruford on my first album because at the time I was digging his albums. When I released “Taste The Vapor”, I liked the South Park episode where we discovered that Randy Marsh was Lorde, so I sampled the song that appears at the end of the episode. You know, little references like that.
S: As a French artist, what unique events, challenges, or activities did you experience that would be interesting to share with producers, fans, and other members of the scene?
D: Being French doesn’t change many things for a vaporwave producer, except that almost nobody in the country heard about the genre. There’s still some great french vaporwave producers, like CVLTVRE for example. Being French didn’t took him away from success. Now he releases albums on Dream Catalogue! No, really, there’s no big differences when you’re French.
S: What led to the ending of the Quick Brown Fox project? On what projects are you working now?
D: There are two reasons. The first one is that I felt like I made everything I wanted with vaporwave. Producing vaporwave wasn’t interesting anymore. I still liked to listen to albums from the scene, but making it began to be boring. And the second one is that people on, for example, /r/vaporwave would only downvote my posts, make free and useless criticism, etc… and it’s really annoying. It’s hard to make an album that will be downvoted a few seconds after its release and that it will disappear from the subreddit. Nobody will listen to it or give his opinions about it, etc… and it’s discouraging. Now I’m writing songs for an art rock band, and I’m still making sample-based music (but not really vaporwave) under another alias.
S: What ways do you think that people on social media, blogs, and even /r/vaporwave can do better to help artists improve and contribute to the quality of the scene? You left the scene in part because of the lack of support to improve, and I’m curious you think that people can do to change that.
D: I think that people should listen to the posted music and give their opinion about it that is more than just a downvote. Positive or negative, it doesn’t really matter, but it has to be a constructive criticism that will help the producer make better music. I remember that someone posted an EP on Reddit to which I listened twice and gave him my opinion about it. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and it helps people, so social media users should really do that more often.
S: What changes in the vaporwave scene have you found the most interesting or inspiring since you began producing music? What about when you finished Quick Brown Fox?
D: I began to produce vaporwave in March 2015, and at the time, vaporwave was pretty great. 2814 released their legendary Birth Of A New Day; later, Eco Virtual was releasing Atmospheres 4… ambient vaporwave was rising up. When I stopped, there were even more ambient vaporwave releases on Bandcamp, and of course there were meme, uninteresting releases. And the main problem was hardvapour, which started around that time.
S: Any aspects of your career about which you would like to speak that fans may have missed prior to or after your completion of Quick Brown Fox?
D: I think that the feeling that the music gives you is more important than the sample manipulation or whatever. In my discography, there’s samples that were just slowed down, samples that were heavily manipulated, and original compositions. Every time, I tried to make something that sounded good. If a song sounds good when it’s slowed down, i’m not gonna chop it in pieces to make it unbearable. But when I can make a nice plunderphonics track, I make it. And sometimes I try to make original compositions, but I always try to make it sounds like vaporwave (Eyeliner is the king in this domain). By making original compositions, or albums with concept behind, by avoiding Japanese characters a lot, or not putting Roman statues on my album covers, I wanted to tell people that I wasn’t a random teen who was making vaporwave just for the memes you know, I wanted to tell people that I was making vaporwave music because I love that. And I really wanted to make good music. After, you like it or not, but I tried to release something that worth listening.
S: “What is your opinion on the state of the vaporwave scene” is a totally loaded question, but one that’s still fun to discuss! So, what is your opinion on vaporwave now that we’re halfway through 2016? Where do you see it progressing – or regressing, even? Anything that producers and consumers alike could keep in mind as move forward with the year?
D: Honestly, I think that vaporwave is kinda regressing. When I look at the new vaporwave releases on Bandcamp I see boring and “atmosphere-less” ambient vaporwave albums, hardvapour (a subgenre that I hate not only because it has nothing to do with vaporwave, but also because it’s totally uninteresting, musically speaking) and meme releases. Of course, there’s still good vaporwave albums and artists, but I kinda stopped to follow the vaporwave scene. In 2015, I was really listening to a lot of new releases, because a lot of them were really good. Now, I stopped.
S: So you believe that the scene is regressing – what thoughts do you have on how vaporwave can get back “on track” in your eyes? Anything you haven’t already discussed?
D: Vaporwave should focus on being “great-sounding” instead of only having concepts about metaphysical stuff, Russian gabber or whatever. Trademarks & Copyrights, in my opinion, makes good music, without having hyper-complex concepts behind it, and he’s one of the best vaporwave producers out there! Same thing for Rad Dan, even if I were a bit disappointed by his turn to future funk (I like his new stuff too, but I just preferred his more classic vaporwave albums that he made before). Eco Virtual never used concepts to hide musical mediocrity, or never hid his samples : he just try to make good music. Take the track “Clear Skies” for example. Everybody recognizes “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson, the sample is not heavily-manipulated, but it sounds great, and it has this typical Eco Virtual touch on it. So I don’t need anything else.
S: What labels and artists do you follow now? Any in particular whom you would like to recommend?
D: Lost Angles releases very interesting stuff of many great artists, and the VHS of Fantasy was a wonder! I also follow DMT Records. Dan Mason is a really promising artist, the sequel of Miami Virtual that he released a few months ago is very, very good. I also follow Trademarks & Copyrights and Rad Dan. Like everyone I think, I also look forward to the new Blank Banshee album, the fifth Atmospheres album by Eco Virtual, and the upcoming 2814 release.
S: I follow DMT as well; we’ve featured a few of their works here on the site. Have you listened to TKX Vault (formerly known as Tokyo Exchange)? My base in electronic music is mostly early IDM (Autechre’s Garbage is one of my favorite electronic music releases ever made, along with Radiohead’s Kid A if that counts in the same spectrum), and TKX Vault’s later works remind me quite a bit of those stylings.
D: I listen to some of their releases, but mostly the ancient ones. The latest TKX albums I’ve listened to are Days of Night by Halo Acid which has this Autechre vibe indeed, and the self-titled Hong Kong Express release, which was pretty good. This guy still amazes me with his music.
S: Any bands, visual artists, or other media that aren’t related to the scene that you would like to recommend to readers?
D: For music, I listen to many artists, but I suppose I have to choose something a bit obscure… People should really check Timelines by Jordan F, a synthwave album that came out a few months ago. It’s pretty good. Also I really dig Vive La Vie by Klub Des Loosers a french hip-hop album that has some of the best lyrics I ever heard, and some great samples. For other media, people should check “Grand Channel” on Youtube, who makes disturbing CGI videos.Also, this is famous but anyway, I love Bill Wurtz more and more.
Check out Remembering – The Best Of Quick Brown Fox below: