Gesaffelstein, born Mike Lévy, is a record producer and DJ from France. He is perhaps, to the mainstream audience, best known for his collaboration with Kanye West on two songs(Send It Up and Black Skinhead) in the latter’s 2013 album, Yeezus.
He has collaborated with famed artists as varied as The Weeknd, A$AP Rocky, Pharrell Williams, Miss Kittin, Phoenix, and Kanye West. He has done remixes for Lana del Rey, The Hacker, Depeche Mode, and Justice, just to name a few.
The name Gesaffelstein is a portmanteau(a blend of words) of Gesamtkunstwerk(an art form that tries to incorporate many art forms) and Albert Einstein.
He was born on the 13th of June in 1987. He was 31 years old as of 2018.
He has co-produced two tracks on Kanye West’s 2013 album, Yeezus. This is the sixth album by the rapper. The songs include lead single, Black Skinhead and Send It Up. Both tracks were produced with the help of Kanye West, Daft Punk, Mike Dean, and Gesaffelstein’s friend, Brodinski.
His debut album, Aleph, was released on the 28th of October in 2013. The album was released under Bromance Records, EMI Music, and Parlophone Records. The album had taken two years to complete, with the first recordings happening in 2011. His remix of the song, Shockwave, by French techno producer, The Hacker, has been featured in popular video game Grand Theft Auto V, you can hear it on the Soulwax FM radio station.
He released the single, Conquistador, a collaboration between him and Jean-Michel Jarre in 2015. The same year he produced the soundtrack to the French-Belgian drama-thriller film, Maryland. In the early months of 2018, he collaborated with Canadian sensation, The Weeknd, to produce tracks ‘I Was Never There’ and ‘Hurt You’ from the latter’s first EP, My Dear Melancholy.
In November of 2018, he signed on to Columbia Records. While here, he released his lead single, Reset, from his second studio album entitled Hyperion. In January of 2019, he again collaborated with The Weeknd in the song, Lost in the Fire as the second single from Hyperion. In March he collaborated with music icon Pharrell Williams on the song, Blast Off.
His style of music has been described as dark and threatening at the same time being lauded as enchanting. Whatever way you look at it his music is best described as dark. He, however, points out that he is not a dark person on the inside, but he merely has a feel for the dark side of music. His music has been described as a little more aggressive punk rock than normal by the Rolling Stone Magazine.
He has two studio albums, Aleph(2013) and Hyperion(2019).
He has 9 extended plays(EP). Vengeance Factory and Modern Walk all released in 2008. The Operator was released in 2009. Variations were released in 2010. Conspiracy Pt.1, Conspiracy Pt.2, Crainte/Errance and Bromance #1 were all released in 2011. Bromance #4: Rise of Depravity was released in 2012.
I Am The Cosmos – So Glad (Gesaffelstein Remix)
F+S – Lump (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Cassius – Les Enfants (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Sei A – Body Of Eyes (Gesaffelstein Violation Remix)
Chateau Marmont – One Hundred Realities (Gesaffelstein Remix)
David Carretta – New Disco Beat (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Ali Renault – What’s The Point (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Miss Kittin – All You Need (Gesaffelstein Remix)
ZZT – ZZafrika (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Moby – The Day (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Arnaud Rebotini – All You Need Is Techno (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Agoria, Carl Craig & La Scalars – Speechless (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Duck Sauce – Big Bad Wolf (Gesaffelstein Radio Edit)
Crackboy – Hilinner (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Boys Noize & Erol Alkan – Lemonade (Gesaffelstein Remix)
The Hacker – Shockwave (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Zombie Zombie – Rocket Number 9 (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Evil Nine & Danny Brown – The Black Brad Pitt (Gesaffelstein Remix)
VCMG – Aftermaths (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Justice – Helix (Gesaffelstein Vision Remix)
Laurent Garnier – Jacques In The Box (Brodinski & Gesaffelstein Dirty Sprite Remix)
Depeche Mode – Goodbye (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Evil Nine feat. Danny Brown – The Black Brad Pitt (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Phoenix – Bankrupt! (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Gesaffelstein – Hate Or Glory (Gesaffelstein Remix)
Gesaffelstein The Weeknd Lost in the Fire
Gesaffelstein Pharrell Williams Blast Off
How do feel about the discrepancy between your sound and that of the artists who headline the large EDM festivals you play in America?
Gesaffelstein: You know, in the US, if you’re an electronic artist from Europe, there is no way to play in a rock festival. In Europe, you can play at a rock festival if you’re an electronic artist because the mind is really open. And me, if I want to play at a festival in America, I have to play an EDM festival. It’s really far from my music. So sometimes you can feel that they don’t understand your music because at the same time it’s more aggressive than Tiesto’s music. It’s really aggressive and it’s really dark. You know, there is a lot of similarity in EDM. Every time it’s the same drop with the same drum, you know. And then it stops, and then [makes generic electro house sound], you know. And so people dance like that. And the way I make music, it’s really different. So I don’t want to do exactly what the people want. Sometimes they don’t understand.
One thing that’s clearly an issue in electronic music over the last several years is the concept of the “mystery producer.” I know you’ve said in interviews that you find that contrived. How do you think electronic artists ought to deal with fame?
If you want to be mysterious, you know, people are going to see that’s fake. I know that in the U.S. and in Europe, too, that people think I’m a mysterious guy and they think that I’m dark and all this shit. But I’m not. Just because I try to focus on the music. And the only thing I give to people, it’s just music, you know. I don’t have Instagram. I don’t put my food on Twitter. I don’t take pictures of shit. And today, every DJ, every music person does this shit. It’s crazy. And when you are not doing that, you are like, mysterious. But I’m not. I’m just normal. I’m a musician. The only thing I can give to people, it’s music. And if they want more, fuck them, you know. Because I’m here to do music, not to entertain or take pictures with stars. I don’t have to do that, and I don’t care honestly.
What other trends frustrate you the most about modern dance music culture?
I’ve seen a full live set of me on YouTube. So the guy bought the tickets to see me, and he spent all his time with his phone. He didn’t enjoy the show. And, you know, it sucks because if you do that you don’t dance. And for me, that’s the really cool thing, one of the coolest things in the world. I can’t understand when you pay your tickets to see an artist and you’re like that. Enjoy the music.
If you could play a show anywhere in the world where would you play?
On the moon.
Dark, of course.
Who first inspired you musically?
Kraftwerk, definitely. You know, I discovered electronic music with techno with a Green Velvet track. And then I discovered Kraftwerk, who invented electronic music.
Where did you first hear Kraftwerk?
I don’t remember. Maybe on the internet or a CD. I know that I’m a fan of them since I’m, like, 16 or 17. And they inspire me a lot today, too. The visions they have for their projects—visuals, videos, covers, you know, everything. And I try to do exactly the same because I can’t do just music, just make a track and put on the internet. I have to do a video. I have to do visuals. I have to create something special around the music. Because now when people want to buy an album, they are going on iTunes, okay. Just a link. They have nothing. So if you want to give something new to people, you have to give more than just a link. Because now there is no CD. So if you give just a link, it’s like you don’t exist, so you have to create more stuff, like video, good visuals, good live show to be something different.
What kind of ideas was in your head while making your latest album, Aleph?
It was all about the beginning. Aleph means that. It means the beginning. It means the alpha. You know, you have the alpha and the omega. And it was the idea of the album to create something new from nowhere, you know. Like the Big Bang. The most important thing for me was that I wanted to have a sound really identified. At the same time, it’s like when you meet a guy or a girl, you know—it can be happy. It can be angry. It can be sad. And the same with my music. It can be happy music, or, sad, violent, or melancholy.
So, tell me about the notion of gesamtkunstwerk. How does it factor into your work?
It means the perfection of art with video, photographing, music, every art in one. It may be pretentious to say, but yeah, I try to touch the magical. And, you know, I just try because if I touch the magical, I’m going to be like okay, I did it, so I stop. I love to try to do that.
Do you think any art has reached that point?
Chopin. He did. And then… yeah, Chopin.
Yeah. It’s really, really rare. Everything he did was too high, you know. It’s more than music. It’s like a language. Everyone on Earth likes this music, Chopin. You can’t say that it’s shit. It’s impossible. And the scientists did an experiment with his music, they put a helmet on the head to see connections in the brain, and even if you said that you hate this music, the music in your brain does something good for your body. Even if you say that you hate it. It’s crazy.
What would you expect to see if scientists hooked somebody up to a monitor and played your music?
I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t want to know because if it’s something bad, I don’t want to see people have a bad feeling with my music. I prefer to see them happy, you know. It’s weird to say that because it’s dark. It’s a bit ironic for me to do dark music, you know because I’m not like that. But if I use a dark thing to make people happy, I win.