French trip-hop producer Wax Tailor is the first one to admit that music must be enjoyable.
“It is a process, but it needs to be fun,” says Wax Tailor, born Jean-Christophe Le Saoût in France.
“At the end of the day, it takes a lot of patience, but I’m not a patient person in real life. I can stay in the studio for three days, but I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time. I’m digging, listening and discovering.”
On his fifth studio album, “By Any Beats Necessary,” he offers a fresh take on the western frontier, blending blues, psychedelic rock, soul, funk and hip hop. Thanks to likes of Ghostface Killah, R.A. The Rugged Man, A-F-R-O & Token and Tricky, he accomplishes this.
His taste in music is deep rooted in hip-hop culture. He discovered the genre at age 11. It was then that he yearned to be part of the culture.
“I tried to be a dancer, but that was a disaster,” he says with a laugh. “I thought about being a producer or DJ, but it was too expensive to have turntables. I decided that making music was the easiest way.”
He served as a radio host in the Paris suburb of Mantes-La-Jolie, where he met many people he admired, like The Roots and Cypress Hill. He founded the French rap act La Formule in the 1990s.
“After that, I began to make alternative things, more instrumental music,” says Le Saoût, who took on the name Wax Tailor in 2001. “I needed to do my own thing, not just copy a producer. I grew up listening to pop from the 1960s. I think I really wanted to have all the elements—the backbone energy of the hip-hop music while keeping the romance and melancholic (feeling).”
He adds that he doesn’t control that. It’s something that comes naturally. Besides the aforementioned acts, Le Saoût has collaborated with Sharon Jones, who died in 2016. He sighs before talking about her.
“I met Sharon Jones in Paris in 2003,” he recalls. “It was the first time I was seeing her. She just blew my mind. Two years before, someone invited me to see James Brown in a big, big, big venue. I refused. I would rather have seen James Brown in 1963.
“When I went to see Sharon Jones, it was like a time machine. She was really kind and very open. It was a great experience to work with her. I have to say that I was insanely sad when she passed away because last week I watched the last show she did in France. It was given to me. I was about to cry watching that.”
Le Saoût is returning to Phoenix to perform, this time with a full band, at the Crescent Ballroom on Monday, February 13.
“I will bring my drummer with me,” he says. “I have a guitar player, drummer, two MCs and one singer. It’s a very different energy, compared to last tour, which was more of an introspective thing. This one is organic; it has an organic vibe. One thing I really love about this new live show is I get a lot of pleasure playing it and I feel it on stage. It’s something great, there’s a great vibe and I hope people feel it, too.”
Wax Tailor w/L’Orange, Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.2222, crescentphx.com, 8 p.m. Monday, February 13, $15-$18.