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The alter ego of French producer Pascal Arbez, Vitalic blends techno, electro, and house -- as well as classical, rock, and '70s electronic music -- into surprising and always kinetic forms. On 2001's Poney EP and the club favorite "La Rock 01," Vitalic's sound recalled the work of fellow countrymen Daft Punk and Air, but had its own hard-edged playfulness, an approach he refined on 2005's full-length OK Cowboy. Each of Arbez's brought different facets of his music to the fore: Disco took the spotlight on 2009's Flashmob, punk and rave made up the heart of 2012's Rave Age, while funk and rock gave an extra kick to 2017's Voyager. Vitalic's horizons continued to expand in the 2020s, with the two-part Dissidænce: Episodes 1-2 stretching from pop to industrial and 2023's Disco Boy score showcasing his skill with atmosphere in award-winning fashion. Arbez played trombone as a child and young adult, but became fascinated with dance music when he heard Daft Punk in the mid-'90s. Inspired by them as well as Giorgio Moroder, Arbez switched to analog synths and began writing and recording as Dima. He released his first 12" in 1996 on Citizen Records, a label he started with like-minded friends. Along with using the Dima moniker (as well as the alias Hustler Pornstar) Arbez began working as Vitalic in 2000. After sending a demo to International Deejay Gigolo on the advice of the Hacker, the label released Vitalic's Poney EP in 2001. The EP's expansive yet hard-hitting sound made its three tracks -- particularly "La Rock 01" -- staples in sets by DJs as varied as Aphex Twin, Princess Superstar, and 2 Many DJ's. However, Arbez took his time to release new Vitalic material and concentrated on remixes for a time, including some in conjunction with the Hacker. Following 2003's DJ Tonio collaboration "To L'An-fer From Chicago," the Fanfares EP arrived late in 2004, signaling a heavier, less atmospheric bent to Arbez's work than the Poney EP. Early 2005 saw the release of the single My Friend Dario, by far the poppiest Vitalic track yet. Most of Vitalic's key singles and tracks were collected on April 2005's debut album OK Cowboy, the title of which alluded to Vitalic's maverick stance and Arbez's preference to live in the French countryside. Recorded with a bare-bones studio setup and inspired in part by Jean-Michel Jarre, the album was released with a bonus disc of remixes and live tracks in 2006 and was certified gold in Europe in 2012. Early in 2007, the mix album The Sound of Citizen -- which included tracks by Arbez's inspirations as well as artists on the Citizen roster -- was released. Late that year, V Live arrived. In 2009, Vitalic played both the Reading and Leeds festivals before the release of Flashmob that September. Preceded by the Disco Terminateur EP, the album built on Arbez's disco influences as well as the acclaim for OK Cowboy; it also served as the soundtrack to the film La leggenda di Kaspar Hauser. In November 2012, Vitalic released his third full-length Rave Age. Featuring members of Shitdisco, Sexy Sushi's Rebeka Warrior, and mixing by Stephane "Alf" Briat, the album found Arbez exploring a more streamlined sound. In 2016, he issued new music in the form of the Film Noir EP, a pair of '90s German techno-inspired tracks released on Correspondant Records. Late that year, he embarked on a European tour that heralded the release of January 2017's Voyager, which drew on the classic sounds of Cerrone and Giorgio Moroder and included collaborations with Mark Kerr and Miss Kittin. Two years later, Arbez teamed with Warrior to form the duo Kompromat, whose album Traum und Existenz was rooted in Berlin techno. During the COVID-19 global pandemic, Arbez channeled his frustrations with the inability to play shows and society at large into Vitalic's next project, the two-part album Dissidaence. Arriving in November 2021 on Arbez's own Clivage imprint, Dissidaence: Episode 1 revisited the rebellious rock undercurrents of OK Cowboy as well as Italo disco. The following March, Dissidaence: Episode 2 ventured into colder, industrial and techno-based territory. Soon after Episode 2's release, the project's halves were collected on Dissidænce: Episodes 1-2. Early in 2023, Vitalic's soundtrack to Giacomo Abbruzzese's politically charged film Disco Boy appeared and gathered new compositions as well as tracks from Dissidaence. That October, Arbez worked with Silly Boy Blue on the Confess EP. In January 2024, Disco Boy won the Lumières Award for Best Music.
© Heather Phares /TiVo


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