‘Picasso’ is no stage name; Florian is the great-grandson of the mighty Pablo, adopted by the Picasso family after being born Vietnam. He’s synonymous with a high-octane style of EDM that focuses on larger-than-life, unrelenting riffs and raw textures and is squarely focused on the dance floor. But within that he shows an impressive range, from pacey-trance bangers to phat trap-style beats and rampant-electro house.
Growing up between Paris, Cannes and Switzerland, Florian founds his first musical love in the form of classic hip-hop, before discovering the likes of Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada and beginning his explorations into electronic music. He began DJing ages 13 on a basic setup, learning basic scratching techniques and honing his skills for a few years before he started messing around with beats. Fast-forward to today and he’s one of the worlds most sought after acts.
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Chris Remmers: Originally you were from Vietnam, and when you were adopted you moved to Cannes, France. Talk a little bit about Cannes specifically, as it’s such a beautiful place. What really makes it home and special to you? Where would you suggest a first-time visitor to go within the area?
Florian Picasso: Cannes is my hometown. It was the first place I lived in after leaving Vietnam at three months old. I grew up there. It’s an amazing city, especially during the Cannes Film Festival, which is known worldwide. It’s in May [every year]. It has beautiful beaches and good seafood. We have small islands in Cannes, about 10-minutes off the coast. I think those, as a first-time visitor, are the first things you should see. It’s a great city. It has a good vibe. South of France is definitely my favorite part of France.
CR: Sounds beautiful. To bring it into your music, where did you get your first real exposure to and initial inspiration in music? What led you to create your own?
FP: My first exposure to music was when I was still a teenager, at 13. I just wanted to play some music and it was just for fun at the beginning. Being here in Cannes was really inspiring to me. I would go out to the hills and look out onto the amazing views here. I would get inspired from all the pretty backgrounds and beautiful sunsets.
CR: Now, fast forwarding to today, when you are creating music, do you pull inspiration from your travels and seeing all these places?
FP: Yeah, not directly, but indirectly. We are so lucky to do what we are doing as music producers and DJs. We get to see new cultures and perspectives everyday. We were just in Canada and we’re going to Asia. It’s such an experience to have these blends of cultures. Of course indirectly it’s going to affect your music, because you become more open minded about your views of the world and what’s going on. Traveling is part of education. Whoever has the luck to travel is definitely privileged.
CR: Couldn’t agree more. I wanted to touch on your most recent release, your track “With Me” with Laidback Luke featuring Tania Zygar. We had the pleasure to talk to Luke a little while ago about the release. He said, “A lot of people miss the good-old, dance-floor-type-of tracks that everyone knows.” He continued saying everyone’s looking at the EDM-crossover music now. What was your perspective about the release?
FP: We connected differently than just music, because he’s a big martial artist and does a lot of kung fu and Jiu Jitsu. We just connected with sports first and then music. We decided that we should do something [together]. We are both Asians. What I like about what we created with Luke and Tania, an amazing vocalist and songwriter, is that we’re not trying please anyone.
We’re just trying to always make something different and push the boundaries. Luke’s just been in the game for so long. When I was 15 I was such a fan, and now all these years later I make a track with this legend. This track was more about friendship. When friendship is stronger than business, the artistic aspect is so much stronger. I think you can feel it in the music.
CR: That’s really cool to hear. It was this full-circle moment or release for you. Diving deeper into travel; when you do have some down time and are looking to get away, what type of traveler are you? Are you looking for a beach somewhere? Away in the mountains? Or, trying to find a city?
FP: I’m a bit of [all of those], but I like good food. My favorite places to hang out are definitely Bali, it’s so beautiful, and Vietnam, as well. I’m more into spending my money on experiences than fancy hotels. Though we all like the comforts, I don’t want to sit at the hotel by the pool everyday. I want to see something. If you go to Vietnam they have some beautiful caves. If you go to Bali you should go to the Gili Islands. I really believe that when you travel you should put your money on experiences and less about luxury.
CR: Definitely, traveling is all about getting out there and exploring. Sitting in a five-star hotel the whole time doesn’t provide you a sense of the destination. We always love to ask well-traveled people if they have three destinations that they haven’t been to, but want to hit. What are three on your list?
FP: I’d love to go to Australia to do some backpacking and checking those amazing jungles. I’d love to go north, maybe Greenland. I’d also love to go to Tel Aviv for some other reasons. I want to check what’s going on there with the tension. I think it’s good when you have the money to go to a place with conflict. There’s so much “fake news” in the world, and seeing it with your own eyes gives you a true understanding. I’m not going to go to a place like Syria, but if you can get close to a conflict you can truly open your mind to whats going on.
CR: I’m completely in line with you. I can’t tell you how many destinations I’ve been to where people have described it as being the worst, there’s crime or it’s the ghetto. Then you get there and it’s like it’s anywhere else. People just seem to have a way of villainizing places.
FP: Yeah, exactly! I mean look at Brooklyn. They’ve said the same there, and now Brooklyn is like a hipster place. People still say that when you go there you’ll get shot. It’s not like that anymore. As I’ve said, luckily I’ve had the chance to travel and see it with my own eyes.
CR: Absolutely! I wanted to touch on where your currently living in Geneva, Switzerland — a renowned world city. Talk about why you live there and what really drew you to it.
FP: First, I moved from Cannes to go to a boarding school there for high school. I loved it there. I decided to stay there. My [mother] is also there. It’s a very quiet place. I love it that way, because our lives are quite hectic. We travel a lot. When I’m done with touring I just want a bit of calm and paradise.
CR: Lastly, to wrap this up, what’s coming up in the next couple of months that you want to highlight?
FP: I’m working on new music. We also have some tours planned in Asia, Europe and South America. I have a lot of plans and collaborations on Spinnin’ Records. I’ve also decided to move to Los Angeles to work on a new project. It’s less EDM music and more about the process of working with songwriters, keyboard artists and bringing live instruments into my music.
We’ll see, but I decided that recently, because I think it will be a great experience. I think as a musician you have to go to LA. The amount of talent that is there is crazy. You can get stuff done in a day, where in Europe it takes ages, because there’s not as many songwriters. There aren’t really organized camps. I also love LA, because it puts me in these creative moods and the competition is high, so you have to step up your game.