"I'm not a smoker, but already now if you smoke on a terrace people look at you like, you know... horrible. It's getting to the point where it's just like 'hello, just fucking leave me alone and let me live my life'."
I've been on the phone with Laurent Garnier for around 15 minutes, and the conversation has swung towards new sound restrictions that have been proposed for France. The house and techno legend on the other end of the phone has been vocal in his denunciation, and one of the most talked about signatures on an open letter of opposition. All I can think about is not acting starstruck, even having spent the last ten years interviewing DJs.
"Cities are becoming more like places where people want to sleep and don't want to be disturbed. The next thing they are going to close bars, or terraces in bars, and you won't be able to drink outside. And if you let things like that happen I think it's a bit dangerous," he continues.
"If you live somewhere like that, if you decide to live in a place like Paris, it's noisy- there are clubs, bars, places that make noise. If you're not happy with that go and live in the countryside. I live in the countryside because I don't want people making noise until 4AM or 5AM every day. This is my choice. But when I go to Paris, I have a flat there, I'm not at my window shouting at people outside. It's a fucking city, that's the way it is."
He's impassioned for a reason. Over the last three decades, give or take, Garnier has turned venues across the world into sweaty, writhing messes- in the best possible way- and watched the dance scene explode, recede, rise, fall, and resurge. So few understand the importance of a great system better than this man.
"I know as a DJ there are a few places that already have such sound restrictions in place. I'm not going to start pointing fingers, but there is one festival with the sound restrictions in place, and I have been refusing to go and play there because the last two or three gigs I did were killed because there was no vibe, because the sound was so low.
"I can't express myself in those situations. It's like having a numb crowd. To play on a soundsystem that is super restricted, it's horrible. Absolutely horrible. And if they start doing things like that then what next? Cinemas? Restricting the sound in cinemas because some have amazing sound systems so the level of the sound is way higher than the restrictions they are actually talking about?
"Then portable music? Are they gonna restrict how we listen through headphones? Where the fuck are we going? You can't smoke anymore, and if we can't listen to music... I'm not saying we should play music at 140DBs, I would never do that, but we already have a restriction in France, which is OK. It's not nice, because the way it works is after ten minutes peaking above the system goes down. There are already places like this and it's horrible. But if we go lower then I'll just stop playing in France."
From a personal perspective, I can't help but feel part of the reason live music and clubs are consistently under pressure from complainants and councils is because, in the majority of areas at least, there is still a lack of respect towards what you might call night culture. Naturally, then, the next question is if he feels the same.
"Exactly," Garnier says. "I understand people's privacy and I respect it. But when there are big laws like that coming in you need to see what's underneath and I don't think it's simply the fact they want to protect kids' ears. It's just a really nasty way of slowly killing the chick inside the egg. Do you know what I mean?
"I found that the complaints are getting further every time, and I feel that the government would like to keep clubs and bars away. I find it very weird. So yes I am very against this law, first of all as an artist because it's very restrictive and I find myself not going to places that have this restriction because it has completely killed the vibe. But besides this I think there is a much deeper and darker thing happening, to shut places down."
One of the biggest ironies is just how valuable 'scenes' are, if we want to gauge the situation in the most cynical of ways. Nightlife draws punters to locations like moths to flames, and they in turn want drinks, food, and potentially a place to stay. Suffocating this beneath a thick cloud of legislation seems counterproductive from an economics point of view."
Of course, of course. When you see the amount of money that clubbing is bringing to cities now. Take Berlin, take London- London was like that, anyway, I don't know if it's still the same but it was a place where the musical side was bringing in so much money.
"Coming back [to Manchester] is always a very special thing for me. Like going home."
"I even organise a festival in the village I live in and I see the amount of money it brings to the village. Not to us, to the village. And besides that it creates a lot of publicity about the village which goes far beyond the festival itself. They should put it into perspective and take this into account. The music business brings a hell of a lot of money to quite a few places around the world and if they kill that, it will hurt a lot of people. Definitely."
It's not all doom and gloom, though, and particularly not in Garnier's homeland. France, and Paris in particular, has seen a clubbing resurgence in recent years. Thanks to the likes of Concrete and Djoon it's now more vital in terms of dancefloors than at any other point in the history of house music. Which is saying something, when you consider this is the place that gave us I:Cube and Daft Punk, to name but two.
"I have never seen Paris more vibrant in house and techno terms, and France has completely exploded. Completely. Paris is one of the top three cities around the world where there is so much happening in this kind of music."
There's plenty distracting Garnier at the moment, though. Word got out a few years back that he was making a movie, which is still on its way.
"Well, the film got into a kind of dead end, then a new production company came along, read the scenario, fell in love with it, and said to me there's no way this can't be done. So they are just at the moment buying the whole project from the production company I was working with.
"The new, or rather different company, I'm now working with means it's kind of all starting again. Which is really exciting. Of course you can't expect a new company to come along and buy a scenario and then not want any changes. So we have been working on that now for the last week, trying to get it tighter, stronger, so at the moment I'm spending nearly all my time writing."
Naturally, I can't help but ask what the whole thing is about.
"I released a book, which has been translated into English. It's called Electrochoc. I released that in 2003, then it was upgraded in 2013. The beginning of the film idea was someone reading the book and wanting to adapt it for the cinema. But then, to cut a long story short, we worked a lot on it and decided not to do a documentary, a lot of the book comes from my own experiences. So we drifted towards fiction, and the more we worked the more it became fictionalised.
"Now we are quite far away from the book. But, to summarise very quickly, it's a story about two guys who become friends, and the background of it is the arrival of house music and techno. There are similarities, places I have been in my life. But then we went into a fictional movie, I don't want to make a movie about myself, I know my story and I don't find it very interesting," he laughs.
"But I like the idea of thinking and fictionalising where I could have gone from certain points. The film is about me watching the scene develop over the years, how people behave. It's like a picture of people I have met, places I have been. It's a simple story about friendship, where you go with friendship and what you accept from your best friend. It's a very human story, which involves music, there's a lot of music in there, but the main story is the people."
There are very few spokesmen (or women) of the syncopated beat revolution that would be able to tell this story better, given Garnier's history as one of Europe's key players. And that past brings him closer to our own home, too, having lived and worked in northern England's biggest metropolis during its own days of repetitive loop discovery.
"The last time I came to Manchester may have been for The Warehouse Project, and I think it was with Eats Everything. If my mind doesn't fail me. I'm very, very excited to come back to Manchester, I must say that. I've been to Liverpool not so long ago but it's been way too long since I was in Manchester. It has had such a strong history in my life, I lived there for two or three years when I started DJing at the Hacienda, so coming back is always a very special thing for me. Like going home."
Best get the kettle on then, a bonafide don is back in town.