Alan Braxe: Never Skips a Beat
Philippe Loiseau, November 2015

The name Alan Braxe is synonymous with the development of the French electronic music scene, and his sound is the very embodiment of the mythical "French Touch". Here, he discusses what he likes about Softube plug-ins in general and Heartbeat in particular.

Inspired by house and techno music of the early 90s, Alan Braxe started out making his own electronic music tracks in 1996. His first single Vertigo was a collaboration with Thomas Bangaltier of Daft Punk. A few years later, Braxe and Bangaltier created the monstrous hit Music Sounds Better With You under the moniker Stardust. But Braxe has also produced and collaborated with many other artists, such as Björk, Justice, Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Franz Ferdinand and Beyoncé.

What I particularly like is that Heartbeat is simple, no frills, no unnecessary showing off. There is just this big sound and the right ingredients to be able to focus on creating.

I believe you knew Softube before Heartbeat, through their effect plug-ins?
Yeah, I first discovered all their effect plug-ins. I tried them all, and my favorites are Valley People Dyna-mite and FET Compressor. With Valley People Dyna-mite, I can go from subtle to extreme settings, the possibilities are very wide. And what I really like about the FET Compressor is that it can do the same tricks as a real 1176 and go to extreme settings. I like to just see what happens on drums, and I use it to make an optional parallel mix which takes five minutes—just to see what that will give the mix. If it works right away, this is a huge time saver.

With Dyna-mite, I can go from subtle to extreme settings, the possibilities are very wide.

And when Heartbeat came out, you wanted to try it?
Yes, I already had confidence in their effects, and as Heartbeat also incorporates the Valley People Dyna-mite, it grabbed my attention.

So, what can you say about it ?
Ah, it really made me excited—great product. It's impressive, you get the feeling that they have talked to a lot of musicians before releasing the product. It's an instrument with its own personality, and I got the same type of feeling that you could get with machines like LinnDrum. The type of machine that was dedicated to a task and did it well. That's how I feel about Heartbeat.

And the sound?
It's excellent. What I particularly like is that Heartbeat is simple, no frills, no unnecessary showing off. There is just this big sound and the right ingredients to be able to focus on creating. It's very quick to get that original sound, and in this sense, it is a real success. I also love how that Heartbeat includes Valley People Dyna-mite, the Filter Echo with its lovely filter, the TSAR-1 Reverb, the distortion—it all fills many production needs without having to launch 20 separate plug-ins.

What I really like about the FET Compressor is that it can do the same tricks as a real 1176 and go to extreme settings.

It's also limited in just the right way. Let me explain: the advance of the latest plug-in technology has also brought the temptation to put everything in the products. We reach a point where you can do everything, change everything, with endless settings. The risk of that is that you're compromising the workflow and stopping the creative impulse as things take longer to get right.

With all that said, I must say that I would love to have it as a hardware unit—it would be a true fetish thing!

Are there features you would like to have added to Heartbeat?
Not really. I don't miss a step sequencer. I always tend to favor simplicity and creativity that gives results. Anyway, with a sequencer, we would still be stuck with the computer mouse, so a better alternative would be a hardware controller..

Note: The interview was made before Softube announced that Heartbeat is compatible with Native Instruments' NKS protocol, which makes it very easy to control via Komplete Keyboards or Maschine units. See the news blurb Native Kontrol Standard out today

Works for SCV Hitech, Softube's distributor in France