Hi CJ Jeff, what have you been up to recently?
Oh, you know, same old. Living a “double life”, playing shows and spending every free minute in the studio. Spring is in the air, so I’m in a full-on creative mood! I’ll be playing 6 gigs in a row this upcoming week!
Can you tell us about your initial experiences with music? Who are some of your early musical influences?
Anything from psychedelic rock to house and techno. Or, if you prefer, from Pink Floyd to Danny Tenaglia. I think it’s good to have a broad and diverse foundation in all types of music, it makes you better as DJ, producer and as an entertainer in general. Cause let’s not forget, I’m here to entertain and make sure people who came out that night are having a good time, dancing to my set.
You’re from Greece, what’s the electronic music scene like there? How does it compare to other European scenes?
Oh boy, you want to know what a REAL party feels like, you’ve got to come to Greece. I don’t think most people are familiar with the Greek scene, but in my humble opinion it is one of the craziest around. Greek people take a “good time” seriously. If and when you visit Greece, you should definitely go to a party, be it at a club or a beach bar. Also, the scene is growing, bigger festivals like Sonar are coming to Greece as of next year, so stay tuned!!
Any emerging Greek artists we should keep an eye on?
Of course you are already familiar with Detlef, so no need to mention him. I’m very much into the Echonomist and Thodoris Triantafillou, to name a few. Both are amazing producers.
You’ve been in the industry for over 15 years, how has the industry changed from when you started? What are some of the positives and negatives?
Yes, I’m an old dog, but I’m still learning new tricks every day haha. Like with most other things in our lives, technology is a big contributing factor to changes in the music industry. Technology has completely changed the market, everyone with a laptop is a producer now. So, now we have more good producers, but also more aspiring producers that are still learning, all releasing music on the same platforms. It takes longer to sift through releases, to find true gems. Like it or not, there’s more garbage floating around now, but at the same time, the digital revolution has equalised the playing field and opened more doors to and coming producers. So it’s all good. Aside from the production side, I think the rest of it didn’t change much. As an entertainer, you still have to connect to the audience, with or without a laser show and special effects and all that. It’s still all about whether you can make people dance, smile, or even cry. The Vibe is king!!
How has your personal production style changed since you started out? Has the growth of technology opened up new creative doors for you?
I’m all about improvising and trying new things (gear, plugins etc), but to be honest, my sound remains the same, no matter what the latest fashion is. When someone tells me that my latest track is very “Jeff”, I take it as the highest compliment because in essence, the art you make is the extension of your inner self and I’m the kind of guy who at the core, will always be me and so is my music.
You’ve just released ‘Upside Down’ on Nonstop, can you tell us more about the track and the inspiration behind it?
‘Upside Down’ is a dancefloor track. Not to brag about my own stuff, but it’s a weapon and it gets people moving every time I play it. I’ve been playing it since its first version and it never fails me. Check it out and forward it to your DJ friends!
What is the production process like behind it?
I just started playing with the vocal sample and built the groove around it. There’s really no set formula as to how I make them, sometimes it starts with the bassline, other times it’s the drums that start the whole thing. When inspiration strikes, I don’t question it, I just go with it.
You’ve played at some of the world’s best clubs, what have been some of your most memorable nights and why?
Funny how you guys always ask this question, but honestly, each successful party is different and it’s not always about the club. It could be a hole in a wall, a place with no name that a promoter rented and put a sound system in, and BOOOM!!! Or it could be a great club, but the weather sucked that day. But if I must name names, I would say Warung (Brazil), Thuishaven (Amsterdam) and my beloved Dybbuk (Athens). Why? Each for a bunch of different reasons, but in short: Warung is a temple. Period. People who go there, go there to worship music. That’s the best possible set up an artist could have and every time I play there, I get this vibe. Thuishaven is a unique place, a mini Dutch version of a hippie village / travelling circus / outdoor club / mini festival / place to spend a whole day with your friends and not get bored for a minute. There’s no place like it, I promise you. Go there on any given Saturday or Sunday and it doesn’t matter, who’s playing, you will have the best day ever. And last but not least, Dybbuk. What can I tell you? It’s like having a party in my living room with a group of like-like-minded individuals. If you check my Instagram feed, you’ll see many pics from Dybbuk, cause honestly, its “hands in the air” from start to finish and who doesn’t like that?
You’ve held a residency at Dybbuk, Athens every Thursday for the past 15 years! What do you think makes a good resident DJ and what challenges come with a residency?
Yes, Dybbuk has been my home, as mentioned above. 15 years and counting, every Thursday its CJ Jeff time. The challenge of a weekly residency, as I’m sure many would agree, is that you can’t be a one trick pony, you can’t do the same trick over and over again, every week. But at the same time, is like being a part of a successful Netflix show, season after season. You get to grow your own “character” as a DJ and people are willing to follow you more on your journey, cause they know, next week there’ll be another episode and we’re all in this together. I love it and it keeps me sharp as well.
What advice would you give to producers who are just getting started?
If you like rejection, be a producer and never give up!!
Finally, what have you got upcoming?
After this NONSTOP release, I have a bunch of stuff coming out. A new release pretty much every 6-8 weeks or so. I’ve got a 2 track EP dropping on Yoshitoshi, including a remix by Mathias Kaden. There’s a release coming up on Flashmob, Circus and more. Keeping busy, you know!