The new millennium was still crisp when Ludovic Navarre, better known as St Germain, released Tourist, his second album. Available via Blue Note Records, EMI’s jazz imprint, the record united soulful basslines and jazz instrumentation into eight elegant, downtempo tracks—including the masterful “Rose Rouge,” “Sure Thing,” and “So Flute.” It remains a landmark in house music, with sales in the millions.
Navarre, a product of the chic St Germain-en-Laye suburb of Paris, is one of electronic music’s most unpredictable artists, and the “forgotten genius” of French music. He discovered the house music of Detroit and Chicago as a teenager and taught himself to make it while bed-ridden following a motorcycle accident. Emerging through the’90s, he joined the likes of Daft Punk and Cassius as part of the celebrated “French touch” movement, characterized by impossibly funky rhythms.
But Navarre’s music was noticeably different in that it did not lean on frantic disco loops with electro. Instead, Navarre presented dub, reggae, blues, and jazz through a deep house lens, manufacturing a new breed of electronic music that was fun and fresh. Tourist, the most acute realisation of Naverre’s musical vision, became wildly successful and saw him tour all over the world—but then he fell silent for 15 years. In that time, he recorded various new albums but shared nothing; life on the road had exhausted him, and he needed inspiration to rediscover his touch.
For this, he travelled for Mali, where he began recording with local musicians before releasing a self-titled album in 2015. The album took six years to complete, and he preceded its release with a couple of remixes that kick-started this second chapter of activity. His most recent project is Tourist 20th Anniversary Travel Versions, a celebration of the original’s 20th anniversary that compiles remixes by the likes of Nightmares on Wax, Traumer, and Atjazz. Navarre delivers his own new version of “So Flute.”
To celebrate the release, Navarre has delivered his long overdue EDMjunkies podcast. It took him some months to complete, and it compiles just some of the music he’s been listening to while he prepares his new album. It features an exclusive taste of the new remix album and fills the same musical space as the original: jazz-influenced deep house that’s wonderfully smooth and impeccably arranged, which keeps you tuned in all the way. Press play and unwind.
01. What have you been up to recently?
I’ve been working on the new project, Tourist 20th Anniversary Travel Versions.
02. How have you been handling the lockdown period?
I am in a perpetual lockdown period, so frankly, I really don’t see a difference. I work by night in my studio at home.
03. What sort of music have you been listening to?
At the moment, I listen to a lot of African and afro-house, and also soul and reggae from the ’70s.
04. Are they any artists and/or labels that are impressing you
Martin Iveson (a.k.a Atjazz) is doing a lot of productions on his label, Atjazz Records, and I appreciate his talent. He is one of my favorite producers.
05. How do you reflect on the Tourist album when you look back?
20 years later and I’m not disappointed by the production! It was great to play it live with musicians, touring around the world.
06. Why do you think Tourist turned out to be such a success?
Honestly, it’s quite difficult to answer. The acoustic instruments mixed with my productions brought something new, and maybe the period was right for that. In addition, I had the chance to meet the right people at the right time; I am thinking of the boss of EMI France, Blue Note Records, my manager, and my agent, who greatly contributed to Tourist‘s success.
07. How did you go about choosing the artists music that you’ve included for the Tourist remix album?
The idea was to approach the artists I appreciated in 1990, like JoVonn, Ron Trent, Nightmares on Wax. I would have liked to have invited Little Louie Vega, Moodymann, Kerry Chandler, Carl Craig, and Kenny Dope but they weren’t available. I asked them to choose their favorite song from Tourist and to make their own version.
08. Where and when did you record this EDMjunkies mix?
I recorded this mix for EDMjunkies in Paris, at my place, in November 2020.
08. What were your processes for choosing the music that you’ve included?
I have several playlists in different styles, and I chose these tracks based on the atmosphere, tone, and rhythmic responses between them.
09. Can we expect any new original music from you soon?
I’ve started working on a new album, but that’s a secret!
EDMjunkies has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to hear the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel to listen offline, or subscribe to EDMjunkies+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
Full EDMjunkies+ Members can download the podcast below. If you’re not an EDMjunkies+ member, you can read more about it and subscribe here.
01. Andre Lodemann “Connected” feat. Huw Costin (Best Works Records)
02. Master Mind “Concrete Jungle” (Main Mix) Ancestral Recordings)
03. Invaders Of Afrika & Chromatic L “Imowa Dance Ritual” (P.M Project Afro Sunset Remix) (Deep Calls Recordings)
04. Chriss DeVynal “101 Ways” (100 Ways Flip Side) (Fourth Avenue House)
05. St Germain “So Flute” (Ludovic Navarre Amapiano Version 2020) (Parlophone)
06. DJ Vetkuk & Mahoota feat. Lady Zamar “Hero” (Kalawa Jazmee Records)
07. Dj Stokie “Dlala Stokie” feat. Sthando & Kabza De Small (Remix) (Universal Music)
08. St Germain “Rose Rouge” (Atjazz Galaxy Aart Remix) (Parlophone)
09. 9umba “Uyakenteza” (Revisit) (1260330 Records DK)
10. St Germain “Sure Thing” (Black Motion Remix) (Parlophone)
11. Cuebur “Umhlatshelo” feat. Lizwi) (Universal Music)