A Parisian trailblazer with a love for PSG and an eclectic appreciation for football shirts, Lazare Hoche has a unique connection to the game. For a musician whose music has travelled around the globe, his feet remain firmly in Paris, just inches away from the famous Parc Des Princes. Getting in glimpse into his world and where football threads through, we speak to him, locked down but looking forward.

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When did football first grab you and what was it about the game that had you hooked?

I was born close to the Parc des Princes and throughout my childhood, I went to the public schools that are facing the stadium. I had no choice but to be a PSG fan. Back in the 90’s, Paris Saint Germain used to give free tickets to all the young elementary school students and their parents. It meant that I got to see a lot of the golden mid 90’s PSG Games.

Also World cup 1998 made me a total football hysterical, it was the pivotal moment. Like most of the late 80’s born kids of my generation. I started to be really active as a PSG fan around the mid-00’s, when I started to get my year subscription at “ Le Virage Auteuil “ which quickly became home. 
I took my card in the Lutece Falco fans group, and I started to help with painting tifos during the weekdays afternoon, and I was at the stadium like 2 hours before the beginning of the game.
The atmosphere and the singing requirement of this part of the stadium were unreal, so were the tifos and the smoke pyrotechnic. That’s where I discovered the “mentalita ultra“, the biggest degree of passion and commitment. The more I grew up the more I focused on what’s happening on the fans side rather than the football field, there was not much to see on the football field for a PSG fans in the mid-00’s anyway.

Is there a game or tournament or moment in time you think back to?

For France, 98 was something else, we proved that we were a nation of football, for the very first time in history. I think “Zidane” was the most pronounced word in 98. As kids, we were all united around football, you were directly making a lot of friends when you were dropped with a group of kids and you drop “foot” as a common interest, world is yours, breaks all the barriers.

You have to imagine that french football was not that big before 1998, the broadcast rights were not the key as it is today. It was popular for sure, but not like Italy or the UK.

For PSG, I’m gonna be really clear, in my recent memory, it’s PSG - FC Twente, in December 2008, UEFA cup: Two goals in the final seven minutes helped PSG dramatically qualify for the knock-out stages of the UEFA Cup with a 4-0 success, it was madness to witness this game where I was, Virage Auteuil, Lutece Falco fans spot. The final 10 minutes where you see all the scenarios possible going on, and then you see the light, the 2 goals in the final minutes, the European dream, after a season of bad luck and mediocre results. The stadium was literally on fire, I crowded surf between the flags and the smoke bomb, most intense football memories. 
The pre-match saw some real fans riots and fights all over the Parc Des Princes, an electrical atmosphere.

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Your collection of shirts - is there a rationale behind each one? Is it picked on design or is there a certain attachment to each club?

Yeah everything is more or less rational when it comes to being a “fan”. I admired the supporters more than the players when I grew up, players come and go, coaches as well. But fans are always there, they are the soul of the club, the DNA. So I have a jersey of the club that I respect a lot the fans, like Celtic, Fiorentina, AS Roma, River Plate etc…

What makes a strong shirt for you?

The right shirt has to respect the historical colour code of the city, of the club. Would love to see more local sponsors also on the shirt as well, would make total sense to support your local heroes rather than an Emirates airline…For Paris we really had a fight back in 2010, to respect the existing colour code of PSG which was Blue White Red White Red Blue with the Eiffel Tower logo. Of course I’m not against evolving design but you have to respect the existing elements, just like architecture.

How does it rank alongside music - which are you more passionate about?

I would say definitely music here because I have the chance to be an active element of it and not just a spectator. A passion is taking different shapes and angles throughout your life and especially adult life. But will never forget the intensity, the goosebumps that only football can deliver. I got goosebumps when I listened to good house music records tho!

"The right shirt has to respect the historical colour code of the city, of the club. Would love to see more local sponsors also on the shirt as well, would make total sense to support your local heroes rather than an Emirates airline…"
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What’s it like to live in Paris and be into football? It’s such an important point of discussion isn’t it?

Yeah, as I said it’s a very passionate debate at every stage of your life. Especially when you are really into one team, you are willing to defend it even if you are gonna ruin a dinner! I have no shame to ruin dinners.

When did you first start supporting PSG - can you talk us through your relationship with that club?

I will just talk about the era that I know, when I was active every weekend at the stadium, which is all the pre-2010 period, the one before Qatar came in the club. It’s always a passionate love and hate relationship with your favourite club as I bet you guys are experiencing. But PSG has a little extra: it’s the false hope and the amateurish vibe, always. Which is ending to be cute at the end. We were hysterical just to maintain ourselves in the first division 10 years ago. I knew the most challenging and high heartbeat games, when we were nothing but a very average club, that changes coach every 4 months.

What does the Parc Des Princes mean to you? It’s a beautiful stadium isn’t it?

It’s my childhood landscape, it’s the catalyst of all my happy childhood souvenirs. Architecture wise it’s also very interesting: Conceived by French architect Roger Taillibert and Iranian artist Siavash Teimouri, the design of the third and current Parc des Princes was innovative for the time, allowing spectators to enjoy excellent sight-lines, with no seat being further than 45 metres from the pitch. It was also the first stadium with lighting systems integrated onto its elliptical roof, and to this day is praised for its unique acoustics and its distinctive concrete ribs or razors.

Described in French as a 'caisse de résonnance' ('box of sound') due to its tight dimensions and the pressure-cooker atmosphere created by its home fans, it is one of the continent's most emblematic and historic venues. Its raw concrete exterior may not be as extraordinary today, in the era of multimedia stadiums. But the razors supporting the concrete shell remain an icon of the local skyline and the structure has aged with grace. It is a landmark and legally protected icon of French architecture.

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What was it like to be French when France won the world cup in 2018? How would you describe the celebrations?

Awesome, but way less crazy than 1998, imagine, it was our first time as a champion and we were hosting the world cup, in an economic growth era. Pre 9/11 also, imagine how light the security check was back then. Politically and socially the climate changed quite a lot in France over 20 years due to all kinds of heavy events we had to go through. We were more than happy to win, but you know, it’s different. Something in the air.

What did you do the night of the final? Those memories will stay with you forever won’t they?

I was with my tight friends in front of the holy TV and we ran out to the Champs Elysées after lifting the Cup and it was madness, like only the french capital is able to provide. All the people were self-inviting themselves in strangers' cars or scooter. The police were watching, they had fun.

Naturally you want to see more nights like that - do you think the French team will provide them?

No idea, I’m having doubt when we will be able to attend some big events like this with the Covid-19 situation that we are currently facing, the same applies for music festivals of course. I really hope we won’t go through a paranoid ultra hygienic, social distinction era too long. But safety and health first for sure.

Can you talk us through your music - when did that start for you?

Born and raised in Paris, I discovered music through my older brother, a professional pianist and singer who kept synthesisers at his home. Aged 18, I began collecting house and techno music, and then attempting to produce it using samplers, a small mixer, and synths, having learned the ropes by those artists in my immediate orbit. I started my own Lazare Hoche Records in 2011 as a student project, and released I Don’t Sync So Part 1., a collaboration with friend Malin Genie, that quickly sold out. When you have your first release out on your own label and it’s sold out, you then realise you want to continue.

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Your summer naturally means heading to Ibiza. What's that scene like and does football cross paths with it? You must see football shirts pop up when you’re performing?

Ahaha, a lot of Premier League shirts yes, unfortunately not a lot of rare vintage shirts. I know there is a football stadium on the island, but I never stepped foot in it. Would love to see a nice game there, in the sunset for example, and house music set for the halftime entertainment.

Where do you set your sights with your music? Are there things you would like to achieve?

For music production and DJ; I never wanted my work to be ‘ok’; I want to come up with something novel, distinctive… I think my style did evolve over time, but the approach is still the same. Quality over quantity. And being passionate and proud about the point of view I’m presenting. I have to be connected to it 100% or else it doesn’t work, so I can’t lie when I’m doing music; it’s me, it’s where my head’s at.

What’s the greatest opportunity music has given you so far?

Navigating the world as a performing artist is a blessing and I’m thankful every day for it. I discovered so many countries that changed my life. Every 2 days jumping on a plane for 8 years now. I have a huge crush for Italy and Japan. For Italy, it’s how their city centres are well preserved from globalisation, even in the more intimate towns like Bergamo or Modena, you can clearly see that shops are being preserved for generations and generations. And it’s very pleasant to see that, the transmission and the culture are not being standardised by the global chain brand; it’s not a political statement I’m making here, it’s very personal.

For Japan, over there it’s more the humans that are inspiring me rather than the aesthetic. It’s not tangible, I’m still blown away by their gestures, the sort of precision they have, that comes from the Shintoisme, the respect of the object particularly. Basically the way Japanese are walking, carrying, living, crafting, it’s an endless source of inspiration and peace for me. The more I go there, the better my life is.

What would you say to any aspiring musician who wants to embark on a career in the industry?

I will say something really cheesy but it’s the truth, follow your dream, don’t be shy, work hard, be humble and develop your listening skills. I think the major skill for a producer is to be able to listen to his music, with some objectivity without losing the little naive something. That’s it, if you are in the music for the right reason, music will always be able to carry you through your life.

You have to create your own platform if none are answering, you can do pretty much everything.
When I was 23 years old I said to myself “I mean why wait? Who the hell is gonna open my mail anyway, I’m nobody and I know nobody. Let’s do this!” So within a second I went from a guy with 2 rough demos to a label owner and producer. That has records out. It was ‘LH Edits’ and the other one was ‘I Don’t Sync So’.

You can listen to Lazare Hoche's music here.