“I think I found resonance with Geminis because they are dual-sided and my music has lots of different facets to it,” LA-based musician Lindsey French tells us of her sonic moniker Negative Gemini, despite being sagittarius herself. According to our sources (Google), Geminis are also prone to be: adaptable, intelligent, impulsive and passionate (we’ll ignore nosy and unreliable); three traits that can also be attributed to French’s continually evolving output.
Having first learnt how to use Garageband and Logic whilst in a rap group back home in Virginia, these production programmes offered an infinite world of sounds, beats and arrangements that later informed French’s 2013 debut record Forget Your Future, and her work since. Yet it was a relocation to New York in 2016 that really represented a gear shift. Diving into the city’s thriving minimal techno scene at the time, this directly fed into her sophomore LP, Body Work, with its gritty undertones and ethereal synth arrangements.
Last year the musician returned with her Bad Baby EP, signalled by another location move, this time from NYC to LA, and a set of newfound production skills learnt while running the label 100% Electronica with her boyfriend George Clanton. Here, the club scene still simmers beneath the surface of more direct songwriting, shaping lucid soundscapes and airy vocals.
Clementine Zawadzki: Did you start out electronically?
Lindsey French: No, I didn’t. I started just with a guitar. My mum got me guitar lessons when I was around fourteen, so the first songs I wrote were just with an acoustic or electric guitar and I didn’t know how to record or anything.
CZ: I read you were in a rap group in the early days?
LF: I was in a rap group with two of my friends, that’s actually where I learned how to produce music. At that point I had never touched GarageBand or anything. I would just go into a studio and have someone record my guitar stuff. So they taught me a lot, and I started making some of the beats too and thought it was so fun. I’d never gotten to form the whole drums, bass, everything before, so it just opened so many new possibilities.
CZ: I was going to ask, are there certain freedoms electronic music allows that other styles perhaps don’t?
LF: Yeah, it’s almost too much! You can put any kind of instrument in there. It’s really neat to flesh out an idea, because when it was just me and the guitar there were all these vibes or moods that surrounded the song for me, but I didn’t know how to convey them through the guitar alone.
CZ: When did you become to get involved in the scene?
LF: I graduated high school and went to art school in Virginia, Richmond, so that was definitely the first time I was out, going to DIY shows, noise shows, and seeing really cool performances that I’d never seen anything like it before. I think it was a combination of friends and artists that I knew in the community within Richmond on the DIY music scene in conjunction with other indie bands that I didn’t know but I admired and looked up to. I spent several years there, but then moved to New York for music, which was an amazing introduction to new cultures that I hadn’t experienced before.
CZ: There’s a definite evolution to your body of work as Negative Gemini, do you consciously try to alter your sound with every release?
LF: It was just natural. I think when I made Body Work I was finally starting to understand production a little bit more and becoming more comfortable with that, and also I had just moved to New York when I started writing that, so just every bar or venue seemed like they were playing minimal techno and it was really inspiring to me.
CZ: You also help release the music of other artists. What effect does that have on your own output?
LF: I help run a record label with my boyfriend [100% Electronica] and we’ve built a really tight group of artists we feel we have similarities with, so it benefits me as well getting to be a part of this little club and sharing listeners with them. George and I have just done everything from the ground up, in as far as releasing our own music, so I think we enjoy passing on some of that knowledge to other underground artists who are just trying to succeed.
“…every bar or venue seemed like they were playing minimal techno and it was really inspiring to me.”
CZ: Was the idea of starting a label overwhelming at first?
LF: A little bit, you just have to try and take it one thing at a time. In the beginning, the concept of me trying to put out my own vinyl was quite intimidating, or even just a bunch of cassettes. Like, “Who do you get to do that?” or “How do you get to do it?” or “Where do you get the money from?” All these things you learn from experience. I enjoy having my hands on everything and being able to fully know what’s going on.
CZ: Did this spur from wanting creative control so you can change things and keep evolving artistically, not just limited to music?
LF: Yeah, because I’m not a super assertive person [laughs], so when I was in a group or band I think I easily let myself make concessions that I wasn’t always happy about. But this way I don’t need to make any compromises. Also, this is my career, the way I make a living, and so the idea of finding a way to do this on my own was really attractive to me.
CZ: Sometimes it just takes a little patience. I think sonically, electronic music can be really emotive.
LF: Often I can’t help but make the content about something really dramatic, emotional or personal because that’s my personality and that is my motivation when I’m being creative – it’s a form of expression for me.
“I think I found resonance with Geminis because they are dual-sided and my music has lots of different facets to it.”
CZ: As a Sagittarius, where did the name Negative Gemini come from?
LF: I was struggling to find a name for this band or project, so I wrote about 100 words that I simply liked the sound of. I was mixing and mashing them and came across Negative Gemini. I didn’t really think I’d still be using this name five, six, seven years later, but here I am still using it, so there must be something good about it [laughs]. I think I found resonance with Geminis because they are dual-sided and my music has lots of different facets to it.
CZ: You’ve touched on a lot of different ideas within your music and outside of it, but what would you like to explore next?
LF: I’ve been writing and recording my next album for a good while now – it always takes me a while – but I think I’m really interested in bridging the gaps that I have, like with techno music and then softer, more intimate singer-songwriter stuff that’s influenced by rock music.
CZ: Where are you recording it?
LF: In my room. I just record everything in my room. I have like three feet of space in the corner of my room. When I’m writing, I’m recording – they’re happening at the same time, that’s the way I make music. I don’t sit down and write the songs to record, I’m just improvising and fiddling around with different synthesizers or playing a bass line. I want to continue meshing styles and make it work in a way that’s new and interesting to me.