Psychorigid comes from the Moufia district in Saint-Denis. His influences are rooted in punk rock, reggae, pop, Eurodance, popular sega and maloya. He is representative of a fringe of Reunionese society that lives out of step with contemporary trends, on which nobody takes a bet and yet gets by in everything it undertakes, the fringe that is remembered during electoral campaigns. Psychorigid only plays his own compositions in his sessions, categorically refusing to play anything by other people (earning him his pseudo name, which refers to stubborn resistance), so don’t expect him to play your top 50 favourites. He gives his take as a Reunionese musician by reshaping the sound features of his own environment with the language of dub, the energy of rock, the electronic components of his instruments and an obviously tongue-in-cheek humour.
Pioneer of Reunion’s underground, Psychorigid, an iconoclastic and incongruous figure on the local music scene, explores the most disconcerting paths of the island’s electronic music, blending dubstep and acid house, Creole characteristics and techno-punk.
As a youth, when he roamed the streets of Saint-Denis with his mates from Moufia or Patate-à-Durand, Psychorigid always showed a certain flair for being in variance with current trends: he was influential among the island’s graffiti artists from 1985, undoubtedly one of the first to write Creole on the walls, and stood out in favouring punk rock to the tastes of his peers, who were more interested in hip hop, reggae and naturally maloya and sega. Not that he turned his back on those influences: simply, he could not be content with them alone. This was the period that sowed the seeds of the Psychorigid persona, even if this identity took a long time to develop fully and many experiences were to ensue in the interim.
Psychorigid has kept the energy and vitality from that slightly wild street lout adventure, together with a certain notion of independence, and with codes which today have been integrated and twisted in his unconventional electronic compositions. Yet he hasn’t lost touch with his roots, with the nights spent painting graffiti after graffiti which would often end Chez Marcel, a honky-tonk bar where night revellers met and mingled, ranging from rogues and officers of the law, and from flat broke prostitutes to members of the middle class out to let their hair down – all there to sip rum and savour Henri Madoré, sitting in a corner with a guitar in his hand.
It’s only a small step from a rave to a salle verte (a local thatched shelter for celebrations), from a kabar (a traditional island party) to lasers… and Psychorigid is the man to straddle these places. A go-between who bridges cultures, he combines the most varied of experiments, cherrypicking the latest evolutions in London clubs, such as dubstep or jungle, to fit them into the hip hop and Reunionese repertoire in furious bootlegged, reshaped, red-hot versions.
He perverts the a capella vocals of NTM and Jako Maron with powerful sub-basses, gives a Clash sample a new lease of life in a sound system version, and twists traditional sega into acid techno. Is this recycling? Above all, it’s a refusal of dogma, and a desire to slip a lack of convention and a hint of humour into a festive universe that is sometimes lacking in these ingredients. It also shows the artist’s desire, via his personality and stage persona, to retrace the whole of his rich journey and the experience generated: from pop bass player with the Coyotes in 1987 and various rock bands afterwards, to guitarist in the popular ball group of his accordionist grandfather. This was just before his outstanding adventure of the nineties, with the band the Flash Gordon: a power trio founded in 1992 which was to leave a lasting impression on many of the islanders and which already played unconventional remixes, along the lines of Joe Dassin in a grunge version… Success came on the local scene with the opening act for IAM in 1997 and an album release a year later. He followed on with performances as an actor for the Théâtre Vollard, in contemporary dance with the company Tétradanse, and freelancing for Verzonroots, Tropicadéro and the Rocksteady Sporting Club.
All these paved the way for the advent of Psychorigid in 2006. The discovery of Venetian Snares, another unconventional figure of electronic music, was paramount in this adventure that aspired to give a sound to a whole swath of Reunionese society, living out of step with trends, underground, urban or punk, digging graffiti, extreme sports and fusion music without taking himself too seriously: that’s Psychorigid.
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