Exclusive Interview with French DJ and producer X.Guardians
The iconic bow-tied French DJ and producer X.Guardians, real name Cyril de Guardia, a lawyer in his own right, has enjoyed meteoric success in the international music industry in recent years, propelling him from courtrooms to festival mainstages.
With deeply emotive rhythms, captivating melodies and boldly hypnotic subtleties, X.Guardians stylishly revives the essence of dance and techno.
Passionate about music from an early age, playing guitar and bass in various rock and hard rock bands during his teenage years, he gradually converted to the production of electronic music and soon succumbed to the siren call of the turntables, influenced by artists such as Armin van Buuren, Above & Beyond, David Guetta and Lost Frequencies.
He first appeared on the scene in 2021, releasing his first self-produced tracks, soon attracting the attention of international labels such as Alveda Music and BeWild Records, notably with the release of his EP “Hathor”, which immediately climbed to #15 in the Top 100 Trance chart of the prestigious Beatport website, #76 in the Top 100 Hype Trance chart, and the single “For You” entered the Top 100 Trance Tracks of the Year.
Following this inevitable rise to prominence, X.Guardians signed with Spanish label Blanco y Negro, a world-renowned electronic music magnate and promoter of the “Unite with Tomorrowland” world music festival. In 2022, he released no less than 5 new tracks with Blanco y Negro Music, one of which, “Music is the Cure”, was ranked number 1 release on Tomorrowland One World Radio.
How did you first get into DJing and producing electronic dance music?
I’ve been immersed in music since I was a child. Already in utero, my father, a great music lover, used to make me listen to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Maxime le Forestier, bossa nova… As far as I can remember, I’ve always been accompanied by music. As a teenager, I followed my father’s example and started playing guitar on my own, before performing as a guitarist and bassist in several rock and hard rock bands in my home town, Perpignan, in the south of France. Influenced by bands like Linkin Park and the neo-metal movement of the early 2000s, I quickly succumbed to the sounds of electronic music, so much so that I ended up training myself in the use of DAWs, notably Ableton Live, which I still use today. Highly influenced by artists such as Armin Van Buuren, Above & Beyond, Avicii, Lost Frequencies and Martin Garrix, I also trained as a DJ and in 2021, after confinement, a period during which I was able to produce a great deal, I released my first self-produced tracks.
Who are some of your biggest influences in the industry?
Today, my main influences are undoubtedly Armin Van Buuren, THE Trance legend, as well as David Guetta and MORTEN, who converted me to the Future Rave genre and convinced me that my style is halfway between techno and Trance. My evolution in the industry has also been no surprise.
Can you walk us through your process for creating a new track?
Of course I do! When I sit down in my studio to create a new piece, I first listen to a lot of music to get into the right mood. I always have a guitar in my hands, and I create a bass drum loop on Ableton Live to get the creative juices flowing. Inspiration isn’t always there, but when it is, I find guitar melodies that I then transcribe, via my master keyboard, onto a synthesizer in the form of a plugin (usually Diva, Serum or Spire). When I’m lucky enough to be able to compose in a studio even better equipped than mine, I compose using the fabulous Moog Subsequent 37, which I’ll probably be acquiring soon. Inspiration can come at any time, for example in the shower, when I’m driving or working in the office… In that case, I hum the melody on my Iphone recorder and try to do something with it during my next studio session.
How do you prepare for a gig? Do you have any pre-performance rituals or routines?
Before a concert, the tension mounts as it goes along. Normally, I stay with my team members, who help me to take my mind off things and keep me as focused as possible. I spend a lot of time visualizing my future performance, imagining myself behind the decks and rehearsing in my mind the most technical sequences I’ve planned for my set. There’s also always a convivial moment when we all have a drink together before I isolate myself for a while with my headphones on to clear my head, visualize and prepare myself mentally.
What has been your favorite gig or event to play at so far in your career?
I’m just starting out in my career, so I don’t have a huge number of feats to my name yet… But for the moment, my most memorable performance is my set at the Electrobeach Music Festival in 2023, the biggest electronic music festival in France. Likewise, seeing my track “Music is the Cure” ranked number 1 on Tomorrowland One World Radio … it’s an absolutely incredible memory! It’s just as incredible as the memory of my placing in the top 4 of the world charts when Uchronia was released. I’m very grateful for all that.
What do you enjoy most about performing as a DJ?
What I like most is the alternation between pure creation in the studio and performance on stage. I love sharing my inner world with my audience, that feeling of absolute freedom and the joy of seeing so many smiles in front of me.
Can you share any memorable experiences or anecdotes from your time as a DJ and producer?
In March 2022, I was returning from a performance at the Rexy, a famous Parisian club. I was sitting on my train when I received a notification on Instagram … from a certain Austin Kramer, official curator of the Tomorrowland festival on Spotify and host of the “Unreleased” show on Tomorrowland One World Radio. He asked me to meet him at 6pm for the start of his live streaming show. Convinced it was a mistake, probably a tagging error, I logged on anyway at 6 p.m. sharp … and screamed in my carriage when I heard an iconic voice announce in the preamble to the show “Music is The Cure by X.Guardians is Release Number One”! It was so crazy!
This year, I had similar experiences, waking up one morning … and realizing that my track “Uchronia” had been played by Alexander Popov and the LUMBERJACKs on their radio show … and a few days later I was ranked number 4 in the world charts! It was crazy! At times like that, you see all those hours of work in the studio and all those moments of doubt flash before your eyes… The joy you feel is indescribable.
How do you stay current and find new music to play at your gigs?
Through the labels I work with, and aided by the network I’ve built up over the last few years, I receive a huge number of promotional emails every week from artists like me, who send in their forthcoming tracks for feedback. It’s a great way to be warned before anyone else of the major tracks coming out in the very near future, and to take the temperature of the style and artistic movement of the moment. Of course, I also check the charts and scour sites like soundcloud, where I regularly come across little nuggets.
What’s next for you in terms of new projects or goals?
I have a number of new titles in the pipeline. We’re currently working with my entire team on the X.Guardians Tour 2024. This will be my very first tour, and we’re working hard to make sure it has as many dates as possible and is a real success, especially for the public. My aim is to progress step by step, without skipping a beat, and to take part in increasingly prestigious events and festivals, so that I can share my musical universe with as many passionate people as possible! I’m also working on a project with a musician who would come and play with me on stage to give a much more organic dimension to my DJ sets … but shhhhhh
In your free time, what do you like to do outside of music? Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of the industry?
Music takes up a huge part of my time! Apart from that, I also have my career as a lawyer (laughs). I’m currently working on reorienting my practice towards defending the interests of artists and labels, and providing them with support. Outside the professional sphere, I spend a lot of time reading, hiking in the mountains near my home, spending time with my family, travelling, oxygenating my mind and body. I’m also a great history buff, particularly of the classical and ancient periods.
How do you adapt your sets to fit the energy and vibe of the crowd at each gig?
The very principle of a DJ’s work is to get people on board. The very principle of a DJ’s work is to get people on board. The difficulty lies in having to adapt to each move to catch the audience. Because things change from city to city, and from club to club. My sets are often different, even over the same weekend. The clientele is unique and the venues have their own codes that you have to understand. I can’t just turn up like a big shot, like an elephant in a china store, and do my thing without taking this context into account. You have to adapt: that’s my job. The best thing is to arrive early to observe and take the temperature of the room. If all goes well, I manage to get the audience on board after a warm-up period. Some audiences are very receptive to new music, and are keen to hear tracks they’ve never heard before; others, on the other hand, only want to hear ultra-famous hits so they can sing along at the top of their voices and raise their hands. On some sets, there’ll be a lot of IDs, on others, I know I’ll be playing a lot of mashups, layering acapellas of classics onto my own tracks.
What are some challenges you’ve faced as a DJ and how have you overcome them?
In my opinion, the most complicated thing in this business is first and foremost to be recognized by your peers; making a name for yourself in this business is still quite a challenge. I think it’s also important to be able to impose your own musical style. I think you can do that by remaining authentic and creating music that reflects who you are. An artist has an inner universe to share, and it’s this universe that makes us all unique. You also earn the respect of your peers by being a workaholic, constantly working to improve yourself, striving to succeed. Then there’s the challenge of constantly adapting to new codes and changes in the music industry and electronic music trends. You have to keep up with the times, and never be one step behind. As a DJ and producer, I’m constantly looking for new challenges and opportunities to develop my career.
How do you think the electronic dance music industry has changed since you first started out?
When I started out, the record companies dominated the sector. Today, the traditional way in which the industry operates has been transformed: some of the previously “dominated” players (notably consumers, artists and show producers) are acquiring greater bargaining power, and new players from the high-tech digital and IT sectors are increasingly imposing their law. Artists are now much more autonomous and no longer dependent on record companies! The digital age, thanks to applications, is overturning communication habits that have been established for many years. We have to adapt and conform to new codes. But it’s also very exciting, because it’s never been so easy to get close to your fans and control your communication! I think the new consumer practices on the Internet are bringing about institutional change rather than a crisis in the industry as a whole. In fact, we seem to be witnessing a change in the value chain.
What do you hope to achieve with your music in the long-term?
In the long term, I want to make a living solely from my music and my passion, to continue to communicate with my audience, to share my world, and my goal is to be able to play on the main stages of all the biggest festivals in the world … and why not create one in my own image! For me, music is an instrument of self-realization. Music is the backbone of my life, the highway to my personal fulfillment. I also aim to create a label and produce emerging artists. It’s really exciting!
Can you share any tips or advice for aspiring DJs and producers who are just starting out in the industry?
My first piece of advice is to never lose sight of the fact that the backbone of a career is passion. Never slacken your efforts, hard work and investment in the music industry … but never lose your passion. Secondly, it’s essential to surround yourself with the right people. An artist is in his own bubble and rarely takes an objective look at everything around him. That’s why they need people they can trust around them, who won’t be affected by the situation, and who will be able to stand back and give them useful advice, saving them a lot of disappointment. I’d also like to say to all budding DJs and producers that you have to believe in yourself. Remember that the only real limits are the ones you set for yourself. As soon as you cling to your dream as if your very life depended on it, doors open by themselves, as if by magic.
X.Guardians’ extensive discography is a testament to his talent as a hit-maker, and includes numerous successes such as Uchronia which, in 2023, reached number 4 in the world charts on the Beatport website, and has been played and supported by world-renowned artists such as Alexander Popov and LUMBERJACK.
His “Initiatic Journey” album, also released in 2023, is a stand-alone work that testifies to his musical state of mind, halfway between Techno and Trance, with smooth vocals, soaring melodies and stunning instrumentation. His singles “Hold On” and “Fighting With Ghosts” are the standard-bearers of his style, and quickly brought him to the attention of even more prestigious labels such as Interplay Records (Armada Music), gradually propelling him to the top of the charts, with his notable performance at the Electrobeach Music Festival, France’s biggest and most prestigious electronic music festival.
Continually blending originality with passion and absolutely deft precision, X.Guardians’ work ethic is second to none. If his catalog has already reached impressive heights in just a few years, so has his audience, and the producer never shows signs of slowing down. This artist is one to watch, and is sure to dominate the world’s main stages and festivals in the years to come, with 2024 set to continue and brighten X.Guardians’ presence worldwide.
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