Marc Nguyen Tan, better known as Colder, is a man who likes to keep people guessing. It took him ten years to follow up on his second album Heat, releasing Many Colours last year.

Just one year has passed and we find ourselves with not one, but two new Colder records, each one a whole world away from the electronica of 2015. Goodbye, sees Colder embracing the sound of krautrock and new wave, with methodical, motorik riffs and a vocal delivery that exudes gallic cool. The Rain, meanwhile is more experimental, with introspective ambient soundscapes.

I caught up with Colder to chat about these two records, his influences and an upcoming show which sees him open for one of his musical icons.

You've released two albums, Goodbye and The Rain, both on the same day this year. Was there a reason for separating them like this, rather than treating them as one record?

At the beginning it was planned as a kind of split LP. But the thing is the more we listened to them, the more [we realised that] whilst they were proceeding from something in common, the result was extremely different. So in the end, we decided to present them as two different worlds, because it's like - I mean I like both - but it's not because you like one that you necessarily appreciate the other. So there's the opportunity to buy one in case you don't agree to the full project.

So you always intended to explore these two different styles - motorik rock and ambient electronica?

Actually, Goodbye - the poppier side of this release has been written like a proper pop record with progression throughout the whole record, whereas The Rain is more like a compilation of different ambient pieces that I've been recording as Colder over a few years, but never used. Some were meant to be more like an instrumental on a record. The thing is once I was listening to them again [I began] thinking that they could work as well as a proper record. So I put them together and wrote some transitory instrumentals which could help me to have a flow through the whole album. So they've been thought about at different times and in different ways - but [these two albums] being a concept from the beginning wasn't the case.

It sounds like you've been working on these albums for a long time then - at least prior to the release of your last album, Many Colours, in 2015.

Goodbye was done pretty much as a one shot, besides a couple of tracks that were produced [later]. Whereas The Rain is more like a compilation of material that I gathered throughout the years. What these two albums have in common though is the style of production. I don't want to sound too pretentious with this but the production angle that I used for both projects was [to bring] this kind of vintage colour to both of them, this kind of '70s / '80s touch, by using all of these old spring reverbs and stuff from that particular era which gives that particular colour. This is very different to Many Colours which was much more electronic.

I found it really interesting that both these new albums were such a huge departure from Many Colours. Were there any particular artists that influenced you on this record?

To be honest, [the biggest] inspiration for these two albums was the soundtrack of Apocalypse Now. I've been obsessed with the movie and its soundtrack. [There's] not one piece, or one song, in particular, but what I really like in this soundtrack is how they manage to mix in rock tracks, like The Doors, or Rolling Stones - some really groovy '70s things - with all the synth stuff his father [arranged]. There are some really electronic, quite ambient, pieces mixed in the middle of this and I find the end result very interesting.

I think that what I liked in this soundtrack is that I was wishing that I could listen to a record like this. To a record that [whilst] on one hand there is a focus on the record itself - a focus on a particular sound, on a particular colour - it's never [afraid] of taking a completely different turn and going to this experimental, synthetic stuff. I think that [Carmine] Copolla's electronic instrumentals are really great and they work really well. They're very ambient, but not cheesy and have got this very tragic vibe. So I think that somehow, when I started to get this record together I really had this particular soundtrack in mind.

On the subject of records being focused, what interests me about The Rain is that despite the fact the songs were written almost as b-sides and over a much longer period than Goodbye, it hangs together as a record really well. Did you have to do a lot of rewriting and reworking of the songs to get them to fit together?

No, I didn't do anything. I just used them as they had been recorded and compiled them all together - it just worked somehow. I think that one thing which made it work easily is the fact that even though [these tracks] had been recorded over a few years, every time I recorded one I was using the same kind of settings and effects. It helped me, over the years, produce something which had a similar colour so it fits together quite well. The complicated thing when you try to compile work which you've been doing over a few years, in general is this: your production skill evolves and it's not necessarily easy to keep the same production environment. In this case, I had some settings, some kind of recall, so I could go back to that kind of environment quite easily.

Still, there are some tracks in The Rain that are more lo-fi and some which tend more towards a better sound. So - if you pay attention - you can still hear small differences. But at the same time, I think it works well because it helps to create some contrast. It's not completely monotone.

Is there a particular style of music that you really like to work with?

The thing is, in order to write or record music I need to be a little bit excited by what I'm doing, especially if I want to reach the end of the project itself. One thing I find very motivating is when you encounter a certain kind of recording [practice] which gives you extra inspiration. I remember, for instance, that these two records I had this set of sounds with a vintage, lo-fi touch. It was a [completely] different context to Many Colours because I had a more electronic set-up [at my studio] so I had a few synths and a few machines that I had already chosen for their particular sound and working with them was extremely playful.

[In that way] it's not frustrating. You have the particular sound you are looking for and so you're more focused on recording than on trying to sort out technical stuff. The moment you [start] recording the last thing you want is to spend ages on the bass because it doesn't sound right.

And have you had to think much about how you transition these new songs into a live show?

I'm going to play in Sheffield - opening for Michael Rother the guitar player from Neu! on the 2nd of October and I think that most of the songs we're going to play will be from Many Colours. We're going to play a couple of songs from The Rain, but we're going to keep them in more of an electronic context.

For the moment I've got this set up which I really enjoy because it's extremely light - it's just me and a drummer. I really like this set up for its [simplicity], you don't spend ages in soundcheck. So I think I'm going to keep that same set up for the moment, and see how it goes.

Opening for Michael Rother must be exciting as I feel like the work of acts like Neu! and Can heavily influence your work. How did this gig come about?

The thing is, we were in touch with the festival [Sensoria] already and I'd been in touch with Michael Rother like nine or ten months ago for something else. It happened almost like coincidence - at the moment when I was discussing different things with him, Sensoria confirmed us both and asked us to play on the same stage, with us opening for him. I've never met him [in real like], so I'm honoured to open for him and to meet him as well in person.


Goodbye and The Rain are out now. Colder opens for Michael Rother as part of Sensoria festival in Sheffield on Saturday 2nd October. Ahead of the show, Colder has released a cover of his track 'Sugar' (from Goodbye) by Black Strobe.

"'Sugar' is a kind of blues study. It's got a different sound compared to most of my work… it's been produced by Patrice Rouillon, a friend who happened to be Colder live's sound engineer for more than 2 years. We travelled a lot together. He had this great studio in Paris, he's also a great guitar player so we gave it a try once and it ended up with that song.

"I've known Arnaud Rebotini for a long time, I played my first gigs with him and Ivan from Black Strobe - and always appreciated a lot his company - and his musical work as well. I have been wanting to ask him to do a remix or a cover for a long time. I just thought that 'Sugar' - with its mixed electronic / rock feeling - would be perfect for him."