Spotify has helped cultivate the growth and subsequent cultural explosion of many artists across varied musical genres. In the Amplified on Spotify series, we’ll be interviewing artists who have not only made their names through the platform, but are shaping it as well.
Few artists can say they’ve achieved their dreams by age 18. But French DJ Mehdi Benjelloun—known as Petit Biscuit—recently checked off another musical goal, having played (rain or shine) at this year’s Coachella just a year after graduating from high school. It’s one more in a string of successes: At age 15 he released his first single, “Sunset Lover,” and at 16, he dropped his first LP, Petit Biscuit.
Petit Biscuit started taking the internet by storm in 2015 when he broke through with several standout electro house singles on Soundcloud. His music combines electronica and synth with classical themes and sounds for an ethereal, dreamlike quality. Being classically trained in piano, cello, and guitar has allowed him to adapt from various genres of music as he composes and produces his electronic hits.
With the Coachella performance under his belt, Mehdi is preparing for his upcoming North American tour. Spotify grabbed few minutes with him to learn more about what he’s doing next and where he finds inspiration.
Q: You have skills in both classical and electronic music genres. How did you get your start in classical, and how did you transition to creating electronic music?
At 5 years old, I started practicing cello. My curiosity then pushed me to learn the piano and the guitar, as an autodidact when I was 8 years old. I’ve always loved playing instruments but my wish was to create music from scratch. I knew nothing about DAW and music production; I fed my culture on the internet before trying some software, hardware and synthesizers. The goal was to try to start designing my own sound instead of beginning with a melody. In my humble opinion, that is the definition of electronic music.
Q: What inspired your early hit single, “Sunset Lover?”
“Sunset Lover” is the opposite of the electronic vision that I described, since I found the melody very quickly. I then built the song from that. It’s my most organic track, like a solar ballad. It’s about my way of contemplating every single landscape and trying to find sensitivity to it.
Q: You have more than three million monthly listeners on Spotify. How has Spotify allowed new fans to find your music, and how do you discover new music on the platform?
It’s great to see a company like Spotify working so closely with artists. I don’t have a label; it is basically only me and my guys who are also my management. And for us the playlist DNA is the future. Although each artist has a unique sound, finding the way to connect tastes and moods on playlists and recommendations is beneficial for new artists like me. And that’s my favorite thing on Spotify: to discover new artists in the making, finding something catchy but interesting.
Q: How has Spotify contributed to your success?
We are a new generation of artists; we have never been closer to our fans and listeners. Spotify has a huge community with users eager to find new music to enjoy. Those listeners are potentially new fans.
Q: What have you learned from working with Spotify?
The data tools are really useful. Internally, we have many discussions about making our marketing feel more “real” with some fan pre-sales for my shows through Spotify. Spotify also worked with us on impressive billboards in my biggest markets, Toronto, Paris, and New York.
Q: You added many more stops to your upcoming North American tour. How did you realize you had such a following in the area?
It’s still hard to realize. Cruising oceans and knowing that your music is listened to by a lot of people is a dream come true. I think the only way to realize it is to be on stage and catch the energy of all the people. Seeing such great vibes during my concerts is one of my best memories.
Q: When you announced that you were playing at Coachella, you said it was “a dream come true.” What’s the next dream you hope to accomplish?
I want to travel as far as possible to perform, but also to live new experiences. I want to discover new destinations, like Nepal or New Zealand. I would also love to travel the rest of Asia. Travelling and discovering new places is a great way to find new inspiration.
Q: Now that you have an international audience, you must be getting some funny pronunciations of your name. What’s the funniest you’ve ever heard?
People calling me “Petite” (pah-teet) is one of the funniest. It’s like someone got too lazy to pronounce both words, and still got the only one wrong. In the end, I got used to the name and now I even like it.
Q: Bonus question: How should people actually pronounce your name?
Pronunciation doesn’t matter. Petit Biscuit has to be international!