Exclusive interview featuring Trunkline.

For the Eighteenth installment of our interview series, we introduce Trunkline.

Trunkline is Madben & Yann Lean side project, where they get back to the essence of techno with a raw sound based on groove, textures and catchy hooks. They play an ‘on the fly’ live act whose sound is adept of a very spontaneous track conception. Their full analogic set up gives them the freedom of jamming and loads of improvisation on stage, as jazzmen could do.

A few months ago, Cri Du Coeur’s Arkham Audio imprint released Trunkline’s debut album titled ‘Mercy‘, we chatted with Madben & Yann about this album, their Trunkline project, and a few more aspects of their career. Read the full interview below. 

Hello Madben (B) & Yann Lean (Y), Luis from Living Techno here, for us it’s a pleasure having you guys in our interview series, thank you. First, how are you and where in the world are you taking this interview?

Y : Hey I’m good merci! I’m on my car, on the road from Brittany to Paris.

B : Hey me too I am supa good! I am writing these words from my new hometown, in the south of Nantes.

What is music for you? how would you describe it?

Y & B : For us, music is a way to express one’s emotions, it’s also about feelings, which is basically something hard to describe! If we talk about the production process and how we make our music, we always keep in our mind that music is about making people dance, and moreover we try to add our “own touch” inside.

What led you guys to start your career in the electronic music scene, how, when and where did you get involved, did you guys start the journey together?

Y : I’m from west Brittany. I started Djing and making music at the same time around 20 years ago on vinyls and with hardware gears. I produced electronic Hip-Hop with my band only with machines and slowly slipped into House Music & Techno excited by Astropolis’ rave parties. When I moved to Paris, I released my first EP “Yosakoï” on KMS as Yann Lean and I was supported by Laurent Garnier who has followed my music since this time. I’m also a sound mixer and a producer for broadcast and film with my company. Thanks to a common friend I met Benjamin a few years ago. I collaborated as his sound engineer and when he arrived in my neighborhood, we started making music together and Trunkline was born. My latest release was “Hope” on COD3QR owned by Scan X & Laurent Garnier. In the forthcoming week I will move back to Brittany with some good music stuff in my bag.

B : We both started music outside from this side project! On my side I own a solo project with my Madben’s nickname, which started around 12 years ago. After a few years in the North of France where I grew up, I moved to the center of France and started to compose some music there, after being a dj before in the North. I remember I sent my first tracks to Laurent Garnier, around 2010, and I had the chance to get him as an early support. I was super excited by the fact that Laurent had quickly supported my music, played it on his radio show and during his DJ sets. Things went well with that crazy support and I took the decision to leave my job in 2011/2012, when I moved to Paris. During the following years, I had the pleasure to sign my music on John Digweed’s bedrock label, Maceo Plex’s Ellum label or again on Tiefschwarz and Anja Schneider’s labels, to name a few. I also released my 1st LP in 2018 on Astropolis records with some collaboration with Laurent himself, or again with Manu le Malin and Rebeka warrior. My next LP is ready to be released in the forthcoming months on Ellum!

When and why did you guys decide to start with the duo ‘Trunkline’, what’s the story behind?

Y & B : Fun fact is when Ben moved to Paris, he became Yann’s neighbor. After a few beers at home (and also some coffee), things started naturally and we decided to start this ‘Trunkline‘ sideproject. The first tracks were quickly ready to be released, after a few music jam’s in our studios. Later, we decided to move our own home studios to a new common place in Paris. This step sped up our duo project, we were more and more together to work on music and on our forthcoming live acts.

Do you guys remember what was your first release ever, in what label, and how do you achieve it?

Y & B : it’s super easy, because before creating Trunkline we had a 1st EP under Madben & Yann, called “Neighbours” (a reference to the little story we explained just before), which was released on Bedrock’s label.

Since your first release and from your own perception, how would you guys describe the evolution and sound of your tracks, do you think is it possible that it fits into a specific genre, has it changed?

Y & B : We are lucky to have found our own kind of sound with Trunkline, even if we composed some different techno sub genres, we think people can always easily recognize those are our tracks! We are super versatiles in our compositions, we love to go from electro to break to more banger techno tracks. Maybe nowadays we are a bit quicker in the bpm compared to our debut tracks.

Tell us about your Live Act, what do you guys use, your set up, what can we expect from it?

Y & B : So it’s the geek sequence : ) With Trunkline we setted up a whole hardware live act. The challenge was to avoid any laptop on stage, and to renew with the good old time period when artists were performing only with synths, drum machines, fx, everything connected to a hardware mixer. So that’s actually what we do, and it’s super fun to perform! About how we use it on stage, it’s super simple : each of us has an individual set up and the mixer is in the middle of us, with all the fx process chain. We play with a drum machine, modular, sampler and different synths. Everything is plugged in the Midas mixer and goes directly to the speakers! About how we play live, we always try to add or to remove something in the existing tracks, on top of a lot of improvisations, and to be honest each live is always different and depends on the mood of the crowd and of course of our own mood.

Congratulations on your recently released LP ‘Mercy’ via Arkham Audio. What is the concept behind this brilliant LP?

Y & B : We didn’t try to conceptualize this album, we did some musical jams in the studio, for weeks, and finally we decided to choose those 8 tracks who compose that 1st LP. For us, music is mainly about spontaneous things and sometimes it’s good not overthinking everything.

Trunkline’s ‘Mercy’ LP:

Trunkline – Mercy

Trunkline’s new LP “Mercy”, encapsulates the producer’s pure essence. Freedom, spontaneity, and improvisation are at the core of their productions. The LP is an experimental blend of hard drumlines and heavy distortions. Each track is a playful celebration of the rough and raw textures of techno. The LP is set to be released on the…


Any other releases planned that you can tell us a little about?

Y & B : We are back from a few gigs with our new live act, and we are thinking about releasing some music we did during these gigs. Ben just moved from Paris to Nantes and he’s still in the build of his new studio, Yann is also on his way to move. So it should be done in the forthcoming weeks!

How do you guys perceive the scene in general terms at this moment, after the pandemic and with modernity and technology to which humanity is advancing?

Y & B : It’s super important to watch into the future, and to not think so much of how it was back in the days. A whole new musical generation is born, and they are super talented! Pandemic was a real pain in the ass for every artist, promoters, clubs etc etc and most of them had a strong period to struggle with. Technology brings us some new gates for music production, and we love to be some geeks when it’s about talking about it. The only thing we don’t really understand for now is the metaverse, we understand the whole purpose of it, but we prefer to play live in front of a real crowd. But we keep in our mind that metaverse could probably work perfectly on top of the real gigs!

To this moment, what do you guys would consider your most significant achievement in your career as an artist?

Y & B : To be on stage is a real achievement for us! Taking the crowd’s energy and giving them back this energy in our music.

Thanks a lot for your time, to close the interview and for curiosity, what music do you guys listen to, besides electronic music?

Y : I Like to listen to grime, Hip Hop, Funk or Jazz and also pop music because I’m curious and like to analyze a lot of stuff in the music process.

B : I love listening to some ambient, abstract music, but I also love to listen to some metal, hip hop from the 90’s and some French singers.

Can you recommend some artists to follow?

Planetary assault system, Kmyle, Dj dextro, Jensen Interceptor, Cyrk, Dave Clarke, Perc, Truncate and so much more.

Listen below to Trunkline‘s ‘Mercy‘ album.

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