France’s main man
Yo Jerry. Welcome back to DMC, a very much loved DJ that helped pave the way for our Stress Records label back in the mid 90s – still loving your Remix Culture’s, you should see the people dancing in my kitchen at silly o’clock to them – Nous vous aimons. So a big party coming up for you at ‘The Neon Noise Project’ at The Village Underground in London on November 27th – great line up – Chromeo, yourself and Andrea Gorgerino as JBAG, Trevor Jackson, Punks Jump Up and Classixx – looking forward to it?
“I sure am. I mean you don’t get a line up like that every day! I have been involved with ‘The Neon Noise Project’ since it’s inception. The night, which will be celebrating it’s 3rd birthday next May, is the brainchild of Gareth Hansome who was part of The Big Beat Boutique in Brighton. His idea was to fill the void in London as far as (what I like to call) ‘electrock’ is concerned. So he started to bring in acts such as MSTRKRFT, Fischerspooner, Yuksek, Australia’s Bang Gang DJs etc. and he roped me and Andrea (JBAG) in as residents. There is lot’s on offer in London, but somehow that Electro sound driving and rocking, but yet tuneful and musical, wasn’t that well represented – so it’s amazing to be part of this adventure because ‘The Neon Noise Project’ parties are getting bigger and bigger, and recognized as the party to be involved with in that musical field in London. For instance, Kitsuné now regularly team up with Gareth for their London extravaganzas, an ideal pairing as far as I’m concerned.”
I hear you are maybe now living outside of your home country…?
“Well I’ll tell you a little secret, I’ve been living in London for years now but kept a low profile. As House went mainstream and started to repeat itself in the mid 90s, I retreated in the studio and kept on producing tracks, but my heart wasn’t really in it anymore. I was almost about to give up music altogether then Electroclash kicked off in 2001 and got me totally excited again. Suddenly individuality and edginess were back on the dancefloor, you could feel something pretty much as important as House was kicking off and going to shake the whole well established set-up that had been in place for years. I didn’t even think twice, I sort of started from scratch again, quietly re-inventing myself in this totally different scene here in London. I started to help at the Kokon To Zai record shop in Soho (now solely a clothes shop), which was one of the nevralgic points of that scene at the time (Nag Nag Nag, The Cock, Golf Sale). I hung out a lot with my good friend Mark Moore who also made the switch from house in order to find enthusiasm again. From there, Richard Mortimer heard me play and asked me to be resident at his new night ‘Family’, which then went onto be the extravagant ‘BoomBox’, now called Ponystep (named after the cool online style mag he runs). I did the BoomBox mix for Kitsuné and started to travel to DJ all over again. And here I am answering your questions from Tokyo whilst on tour in S.E. Asia.”
What has been the best ever club you have played over here?
“For me it’s not really the clubs that make a good party but the crowds. The UK used to be totally unbeatable but the rest of the world has caught up and now you can have a lot of fun pretty much anywhere you go. Razzmatazz in Barcelona is pretty unbelievable, five rooms of the best electro, techno, indie… I’m really lucky because BoomBox/Ponystep have strong links with the fashion world and I often play at some pretty cool parties. Not the pretentious kind, the ones where open-minded people like to express their difference and have fun. It’s an amazing experience.”
What are the big 10 tunes you are rocking the dancefloor at the moment?
“Argh, that’s a tough one because I play the whole spectrum, from raves to fashion parties. I always try to mix it up as much as I can because I love all kinds of music, Electro, Disco, Pop, Rave, Indie…it’s not about the genre but about the track, no? I believe after years of non-descript druggy music, a lot of young and older people like to have references, recognize stuff a bit, so I track down weird, fun bootlegs and rocking new tracks too. I try to have a balance of old & new, keep it interesting so that you’re not sure what’s going to happen next. It’s that old saying ‘if the DJ enjoys himself, it’ll show and the crowd will have a good time too’. I love Soulwax, Digitalism, Lifelike, Riva Starr, Cut Copy, M.I.A., Vitalic, Friendly Fires, Booka Shade, Yuksek, Ladyhawke, Tiga, Holy Ghost! Shinichi Osawa, Empire Of The Sun, Adam Sky, MGMT, Nadastrom, Phoenix… these are definitely rocking my dancefloor, Kitsuné too of course, tonnes really…”
Your brother and DJ partner Tom tragically took his own life in November 1998 in New York. I have to ask about this because the team at DMC and the dance music community loved him so much…
What do you miss the most about him? What happened…? What do you miss about him?
“Thank you, that’s so nice of you to say. People often feel embarrassed about mentioning him, but for me it’s important to think and talk about him as often as possible, so that he’s still present and around and has not totally disappeared. He’s still very much with me when I DJ. I wouldn’t be who I am today without his help and influence. It’s exactly 11 years this week that he decided to go. It’s a stupid girlfriend story, He was 27 and probably not as mature as he thought he was. I don’t know, in my opinion, he badly lost it for a few hours and then it was too late because he was isolated in NYC with no friends or family around him. It’s almost a casualty, tragic really. What do you miss most about your little brother? Everything and more, of course. He was kind and truly passionate about DJing, that was his life, always after the perfect mix and the perfect set, nothing else matters. He was my best friend and my music partner. How can you ever replace that? We were very close, maybe too close, we eventually got fed up with each other, constantly in each other’s pocket, we always used to row (as brothers do) and we fell out. Well, it was going to be a lengthy break but for sure not for life. As the oldest, I should have been more tolerant, things may have happened a little too fast for us, we were young and foolish. I wished I’d realize he needed me more than he seemed to show…sometimes you learn life the hard way. It’s too bad… All the tracks we did together are important to me, because it was a time when producers could almost do whatever they felt like in the studio within 4/4 house, it wasn’t yet such a big money-driven industry, it was about the love of music and getting people to freak out…I guess our Riviera Splash single ‘I Love Paris’ will remain a bit of a signature.”
Wonderful, wonderful words…’
What is your fondest memory working with us at DMC?
“For us, originally based in Paris, DMC was to start with. Update – the bible with its Buzz Chart. We would ring/fax all the labels every week to pester them about promos and we did get on every club promo eventually, it worked – ha ha. Then you guys who were commissioning your DMC albums all these great remixes by the emerging UK breed -Sasha, Justin Robertson, Slam, Greed etc who we were feeling connected to, you then asked us to record for the Stress label. So we soon turned up in Slough with all our equipment crammed in the car to get locked in one of the DMC studios and start producing our own tunes. It was a dream come true to be honest.”
Best DJ you have ever played alongside?
“The DJs that have inspired me the most, whether I’ve played with them or not, are Larry Levan, Alfredo, Mark Moore and 2 Many DJs. Strong personalities who never got stuck in genres but always aimed at blending it all together through their individuality. Not scared of taking risks either, just for the fun of it or to see what happens, to push things a bit further.”
What were the artists that you grew up to as brothers that influenced you to get into dance music mode…?
“For me, definitely New Order. They started to experiment with electronic music at a time when it was the uncoolest thing ever (post-punk), they embraced technology and pushed music forward whilst having a ball in the studio. I was always in awe of remix culture, the first 12″s, the way you could stretch and transform songs for the dancefloor and turn it into almost abstract art, magic! and so much fun. Me and my school friends could not believe our ears listening to some of these first crazy remixes we used to buy, you know Trevor Horn, Martin Rushent, Scritti Politti, Street Sounds comp… We used to piss ourselves, literally. That stuff was so revolutionary at the time. For Tom, he was more of a hip-hop, old-school electro head, Big Audio Dynamite, Rhythm King too, but acid house and balearic soon changed all that, ha ha.”
What one song, would you really like the chance to remix?
“Argh, dunno… ok, let’s say ‘Blue Monday’, mission impossible, but why not?”
Best French DJ ever?
“Mmm, another tough one. I’d say Michel Gaubert, he was the DJ at Le Palace (Paris’ answer to Studio 54), these days he does the music for most of the fashion shows in the world. This guy knows everything from Disco to Punk through to all of today’s subgenres, an encyclopaedia.”
What’s next from your studio dude?
“After remixing Ladyhawke, Kylie, Sparks, S-Express… JBAG’s been working hard at completing its first single… for Kitsuné of course. We’re also getting busier and busier doing music for fashion shows. We do all Vivienne Westwood shows and a few other London designers. It’s a lot of fun, and you don’t have the pressure of getting people to dance ha ha. I have more mix cds in the pipeline for Westwood, Kitsuné, Ponystep… Always a joy to share what excites me with others.”
Jerry plays at Neon Noise Project as part of JBag, with Chromeo (UK Exclusive DJ Set), Trevor Jackson, Classixx and Punks Jump Up – 27th November – The Village Underground, Shoreditch, London