Laurent Clerc’s music is the culmination of compositions by different musicians. An independent producer who builds on tracks by other artistes, Clerc’s first album, Mickey Mouse Operation, featured last month among top world electronic acts on the US iTunes charts. His music has been likened to British industrial band Portishead’s, which enjoys far more mainstream success. But as far as downloads go, Portishead’s Dummy is only one spot ahead of Clerc’s album.
Working on his one-man trip-hop act Little People, Clerc just about dabbles with the keyboards and synths. But the laptop is his weapon of choice, and the Internet his ammunition. “Good music is about how things sound; and I look at new ways of creating sounds. The Internet presents the opportunity to tap into a pool of like-minded musicians. Most of my vocalists I've met online,” he says.
Mickey Mouse Operation released in 2004 on the Internet radio site Pandora. Back then, Clerc only hoped that listeners would stumble across his album and feel a connect with his music. “People sought me out after they’d heard the songs. Initially it made a modest splash. But now I’ve outsold every band that spends money on publicists,” he says.
Clerc was first exposed to trip-hop when the Swiss artiste first moved to the UK. Over time, he experimented with a wider range of music, mainly electronic, and in 2004 began mixing musical samples with his downtempo beats and chill-out sound. “Samples have a certain sonic quality and warmth that newer recordings don’t. Now I’ve also moved on to organic instrumentation.” Among Indian musicians, he believes Nitin Sawhney and Talvin Singh have come close to achieving a mix of traditional and electronica. “They combine the Indian sound with electronic music; the sitar and tabla especially, which shows Indian influences.”