the populists (aka yan wagner)
No need to waste time looking it up on the internet: Yan Wagner is in fact his real name. Whose name? Yan Wagner’s, the man who is at once singer, composer, music producer, and DJ/remixer as The Populists.
Whether crooning at night backed by his band, or getting people dancing in the early hours of the morning, he is not ready to drop those many hats which fit his musical fancies.
Introduced to the French public in 2010 on the Kitsuné compilation “Kitsuné Parisien”, Yan Wagner actually appeared in the flesh in 2012, his face proudly stamped on the black & white cover of “Forty Eight Hours”, his first album. His strong taste for New Wave and Electronic Body Music led him to work with Arnaud Rebotini, who produced the record. Decisively influenced by the sound of analog synthesizers and drum machines of bands like New Order or Depeche Mode, the then newcomer made his mark with his low, cavernous voice. The release was followed by an intensive 18-month tour across France and Europe.
Five years later, Yan Wagner is back with a new LP, “This Never Happened”, his music and voice reaching far more diverse and sophisticated territories. Now wheedling and warm, that very same voice recalls the likes of Frank Sinatra (a cover of « It Was A Very Good Year » being one of the highlights of the album) and 1980’s crooners à la David Sylvian. The godfatherly figure of Scott Walker also comes to mind.
In the spirit of David Bowie leaving the cold of Berlin to set his songs on fire with “Scary Monsters”, he aimed to produce a less rigid style of music and asked Jean Louis Piérot – known for his work with Alain Bashung, Etienne Daho and Miossec – to mix the record, resulting in ten tracks which are warmer and deeper than his former solo work.
In between the releases of his two albums, his name got around the French pop & electronic music scene, and he went on to remix and collaborate with numerous notable artists, from Etienne Daho to Bagarre, Black Strobe or Juveniles. He also produced and arranged the first album of Elli & Jacno’s daughter, Calypso Valois. Now a seasoned producer, he was recently invited by conductor Zahia Ziouani to work on an electronic creation for a philharmonic show on the occasion of the 100th birthday of composer Leonard Bernstein, which will premiere in November 2018 at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris.