An interview with D’Julz
- PUBLISHED ON WEDNESDAY, 04 FEBRUARY 2015 16:43
Meoko was lucky enough to be granted the opportunity to talk to the iconic Frenchman D’Julz. Whether through his own productions, radio shows, compilations, parties or club sets, D’Julz has been at the forefront of the electronic music scene since he first emerged onto the scene over two decades ago. Starting out as a rave attendee, his affinity for dance music naturally led him behind the decks. He is the brains behind one of Paris’ most legendary parties, ‘Bassculture’ at the Rex Club – it’s also the name of his successful record label that he launched back in 2009. As a producer, D’Julz himself has seen releases on many highly regarded labels, including Ovum, Circus Compagny and 20:20 Vision. After more than twenty years in the music business, D’Julz never stands still:
Basics first, how do you pronounce your name? Everybody seems to disagree…
[laughs] Originally it is ‘Djulz’ [like ‘Jules’ for us English folk] like you would pronounce it without an apostrophe, and in France they still pronounce my name this way. But since everybody around the world calls me ‘D’Julz’, I don’t bother to correct them in the non-French speaking countries! [laughs]
Since you first started your career in 1992, you have seen many DJs, genres, parties and promoters come and go, but you are still at the forefront of electronic music. Which period of your career was for you the most exciting?
Well, it is hard to pick only one year. First of all, 1992 was a very exciting year simply because it was the start of everything for me. It was the first time I played for an audience and it was the peak of the rave scene in Paris. Things happened really quickly that year and all of a sudden I went from playing in my bedroom to 2000 people capacity venues.
1993 was also very important for me, because I moved to New York for a year. I finished my studies in France and I had the possibility to do a one-year internship in New York – I was looking to keep playing in the rave scene there. I was really lucky actually, I didn’t know anybody there, but after two weeks I gave a tape to the right person in a record shop and I was booked immediately. I was also going to visit the clubs, which at that time were the best in the world (such as Sound Factory). This was very important for my own musical development. It opened me up to a totally different new perspective on things, especially clubbing. I saw how important the sound system was, how you could play 12 hours, and how you could mix very different styles. I had arrived from a scene where DJs played for one and a half hours max at a rave. So, living in New York for a year was a mind opening experience.
But 1998 was actually the most important date for me, because I quit my daytime job to focus on my music. That year I had the time to really get to know how to produce. Before I was working during the day and DJing in the weekend, so I did not have much time to produce anything. After this I could finally release some productions, and it gave me the opportunity to get more gigs. An incredibly important year.
In a recent interview you said that one of your favourite gigs of 2014 was on a rooftop in St. Petersburg. Can you tell me more about it? Why was it so good?
I also liked other gigs such as Ibiza and the Circoloco-parties, which are always magic, but this particular gig in St. Petersburg called Special Case was something amazing. It’s just a really nice rooftop party, with a really nice crowd and a really loud soundsystem. But I don’t have a proper explanation for why it was so good! It just clicked, which happens one or two times a year. Everything combined together perfectly and I had a really good chemistry with the audience. It was a perfect connection. It was like magic.
Overall, you have been performing all over the world for so many years. Which venues and parties stick out?
For me it’s the iconic clubs around the world that are always exciting. It probably sounds cliché but I like Panoramabar, Circoloco, Womb, Concrete, Half Baked, Robert Johnson and Rex. These will always be special for me. Here you can really push your game to another level. You can force yourself to really push your limits. I feel really lucky I can play in all these amazing clubs and parties. It is always a lot of fun!
What is your proudest moment in your career as an electronic music artist?
Well, I hope there will be a lot more coming to make me proud! I am not one who is easily satisfied. Playing in those clubs I just named makes me proud… and having my music played by DJs that I have a deep respect for, is always something that makes me happy too.
Your label Bassculture is a fixture of the electronic music scene. Which release on your label do you think has the most Bassculture-sound?
[laughs] It is hard to name just one artist, because they all define what our sound is, and our ethos. They are all my babies in a way! But I have to say it is almost like the name of the label was made for him, but Mr. G is the perfect definition of the sound. It has a nice combination of house and techno, just quality music. Simple and non-pretentious. And the bass is also really important.
Do you have some exciting plans for 2015 with your label? Some promising new artists or releases?
This year I decided to run with fewer releases. It is a very hard schedule to follow when you have a release every month. I plan on doing only 6 releases a year now, which is admittedly difficult because I get a lot of great music from new artists, but I want to save space for the artists that are already on my label. I have really nice things coming up and I am looking to release a couple of reissues of older music… Some cuts that I used to play a lot in the 90s! I think when I play them in a set today and I see the same, great reaction of the crowd, I have to get these back out there. Last year I rereleased a Chris Simmonds release, and I have two more coming up. An old Gerd is one of the next releases… Everybody is going crazy for this one! And after this an old Mark Ambrose. He is an amazing producer. I was a big fan of his music in the late 90s and the early 2000s. There will be 3 tracks from him that we will release. There will also be a new EP from Mr. Tophat & Art Alfie, really promising artists, I really like their sound and the second EP will be bomb!
Suppose you could chose 3 DJ’s to play alongside you at Bassculture. Who would that be?
It is always a big honour and pleasure to play with Ricardo Villalobos. Recently I did a back-to-back with Seth Troxler at BPM-festival, and that went down really well. He is playing amazingly at the moment. Lastly I would chose Lil Louis. I know him a little bit and I have a lot of respect for him. I think he is back in the game at the moment. The last couple of times I saw him he played really amazing. I hope he will be able to get better soon after his ear injury, so I can invite him to play with me!
Last weekend you played at fabric. How was it? Did you enjoy playing in this legendary club?
Fabric is a special place for me. I have been playing there since 2002, so it’s been a real part of my musical growth. 2002 was probably the year that I got recognition on an international level and playing fabric was a big milestone in this. I have the chance to play there every year now. Last Saturday was great. I am a bit spoilt in that I have always played in Room 1, and that is of course my favourite room, if just for the incredible sound. Last Saturday I played Room 2, which was a different vibe but still really great!
Which upcoming gigs are you excited about?
My next party at the Rex, Bassculture, will be in two weeks with Daniel Bell. I always love playing with him. It is one of those DJ’s that has almost exactly the same groove and vibe as me. I also look forward to go back to the States. I always like playing across the Atlantic.
What do you think about some of the ‘older’ generation, who say that parties today will never be the same as they used to be? Their argument is that it is not spontaneous anymore, or that many parties and music are a copy of the great parties back in the day.
To be honest if I thought this, I wouldn’t be in the scene anymore. You need to stay young in your heart to appreciate what is around you. I honestly don’t think the parties are less good now than they were before. They are definitely different, but it is also a question of cycles. For example, Paris was amazing when I started in the early 90s, and also in the beginning of the 2000s it was great, then it was shit for 10 years and now it is amazing again. Every city has cycles with ups and downs and at the moment what is happening here and in a lot of places in the world is so fresh. I think that there is a new generation that is as excited to be involved in the music as I was when I was still in my early 20s. When I see this drive from new promoters I am still as excited as my first day. It’s hard not to be enthusiastic about that!