N’TO Samples the French Riviera With Hungry Music
Anthony of Marseille is pushing musical and melodic boundaries, and no one is complaining.
Photo by Jean-Baptiste Bini
Nestled away in the modest Southern coast of France lies Marseille, a port city famed for its seafood and dreamy weather. Songs of the tide wash up upon the shores and soundtrack the long afternoons spent in the sun. Here, in this audible postcard lies the calm and serene melodies of a certain Anthony, or N'TO.
"At the beginning, I was the little one looking up to my big brother, so I started to listen to the music they were listening to back then," says N'TO of his influences—which range from The Doors, Zeppelin and Pink Floyd to French poets like Georges Brassens. Fascinated by all genres, N'TO expanded his musical horizons as far as he pleased, exploring everything he could— jazz and soul, to hip-hop, trip-hop and so on. It wasn't until he picked up a guitar that he began to compose the melodies that would eventually lead him into electronic music.
N'TO says it was the nights he spent in French nightclubs that brought the world of electronic music to his attention, specifically the likes of Stephan Bodzin, Paul K and James Holden. "It didn't take long before I downloaded my first music software, Reason, that soon became my best friend," says N'TO. "It gave me that feeling everything was possible and I just had to translate my emotions into notes."
Sharing the passion for a frustratingly rare melodic sound, N'TO met future colleagues Kevin Rodrigues aka Worakls and Joachim Pastor. "From that point we were on the same page so it was as natural to decide we should do something all together so that we could be a part of a common project to mix our colours and atmospheres."
It was together with Pastor and Worakls that N'TO founded the Hungry Music imprint. Setting sail on the adventure that is operating a record label, N'TO says artistic freedom was his main goal. "It was an incredible opportunity to do exactly what we felt like doing, to compose just what we wanted. From deep, to techno, to minimal and experimental."
Calling Hungry Music a "family business," N'TO has demonstrated his interest and commitment through the label's first tour of France, along with a handful of singles. Although their goal is to liberate themselves, N'TO says that "the only criteria is that whatever track we release has to tell a story, it starts from there."
It is a self-deduced sensitivity to melodies that N'TO cites as the bond between him and his co-conspirators in the fight against soulless music. "We all have our artistic identities, our own way of telling those stories," says N'TO. "It's like painting—it's the tone you give to the notes."
Part of the process involved with integrating authenticity into a track involves authentic instruments and the sounds that accompany them. Not unlike Worakls or Pastor, N'TO's use of instruments from keyboards and xylophones to guitars, violins, and water bottles is portrayed through his beat-based, melodic electronic symphony.
While most of N'TO's touring takes place with minimal equipment, his Live Perc tour with percussionist and friend, Loris, was received with acclaim throughout his homeland of France. Logistical issues prevented the Hungry Music trio from playing together in Toronto like they have in France in a whirlwind of live sets stretching from N'TO's machines, to Worakls' xylophone and Pastor's guitar riffs.
"Hungry music symbolizes just how hungry we all are about making music," N'TO tells THUMP. It's the same sort of hungry that inspires him as much as it confuses him. "Inspiration's a bitch really. It's always tricky, one day it works out your way, the day after, you're just pulling out your hair!"
N'TO stays true to his idea of open-minded inspiration. "Sometimes it's listening to music in general or electro tracks I like that drive me to my keyboard," he says. "At times, it's just a sensation, an emotion that passes through me." Respecting the roots from which he comes, N'TO says much of his music comes from, "Introspection," like his reflection on his roots with his rework of Red Hot Chili Pepper's classic, "Scar Tissue."
Fuelled by good vibes and energy, the Frenchman says he is not interested in slowing down. In the upcoming months he is set to release a number of new tracks through his label, he says the next piece of art will hopefully be an album. "I'll have the occasion to fully express myself," N'TO says. "I'll have the chance to really tell my story from beginning to end."