Marking 15 years in the game in 2016, CJ Jeff is a Greek electronic music superstar whose talent has been championed by some of the most respected house and techno labels around. Souvenir, Skint, Bedrock and most recently Objektivity and Yoshitoshi have released any array of dancefloor gems over the last decade, and with further releases on similarly esteemed labels on the way, CJ Jeff’s reputation as one of the most exciting producers on the circuit looks set to expand exponentially.
Very early on in his career, Jeff started a residency at Dybbuk, a weekly party every Thursday which he still continues to this day: a remarkable achievement for someone who is now an internationally recognised name. Aside from his continuing residency, Jeff has played at many of the world’s best clubs, including Watergate (Berlin), D. Edge (Sao Paulo) and Warung (Praia Brava) – at which he is one of their official European partners – while his appearance at the 2004 Olympics Closing Ceremony in Athens would a live highlight for any DJ.
In addition to his continuous production and touring schedule, Jeff has also found time to found and run his own label, Rhythmetic Records. Launched in 2005 with a vinyl release from Jeff himself – complete with a remix from Maetrik aka Maceo Plex – the label as gone on to release music from likes of Nick Curly and No Artificial Colours gracing the catalogue, the label has hit an exceptional run of form of late, with the last four releases all charting highly at Beatport and finding passionate support on the underground scene, with Carl Cox especially championing them heavily in his final season at Space, Ibiza.
Hi CJ, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. With 15 years in the music industry, can you tell us a little about the electronic music scene like it Greece growing up? Was it as a popular movement as was the earlier years of the UK scene?
For sure, rave absolutely made it to Greece and it was a big part of my early experiences in music. It was a revolution, which I guess started with more mainstream acts like The Prodigy followed by the trance scene to progressive and then back to house and techno, which is the most popular scene in Greece at he moment. I’m really happy to have lived through all these changes, and am proud to have been a part of the scene for a good part of it.
It is fair to say you have seen many changes throughout the years, What are your thoughts on the modern underground music scene? Has it been for the better over the past few years?
Hmm, that’s a pretty big question! I think that one of the positive things is that are more opportunities than ever, fewer barriers to entry which means that everyone has a shot at making a career from electronic music. But of course no-one’s really making money directly from music anymore, which is a shame – it’s been devalued almost to the point of irrelevance. But I think that if you truly love the music and work hard, then you can be a success. In general I think the changes have been for the best, and in terms of the underground, it just keeps reinventing itself to stay separate from the mainstream… and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
A lot of older house DJs crossed over to a more mainstream sound 10 years ago, was there a particular moment you can remember when you decided that you would make a career in the underground music scene?
Not really, I just never thought that I could ever be a mainstream DJ, as that would mean compromising my musical choices. I just play what I love, and have been lucky that people have trusted my selections and enjoyed what I play. So has never been a question for me that I needed to change anything.
The music industry at times can be quite brutal and some artists can doubt themselves. Is there any tips or advice you would like to share that kept yourself motivated?
This is something I think about every day, although I’m not sure I have the answers! I just try not to forget the reason I started a career in music, and to keep in touch with my soul. If you can do that you’re onto a good thing.
Every artist grows with their music, how do you see your production style and technique change over the years? Has the digital age has opened up new creative doors?
Sure, it’s changed it massively. These days the vast majority of music I make is 100% focused on the dancefloor, which usually means it has to be structured in a certain way. However I always try and harness something a little extra: a feeling or emotion that I can capture in the record to make you feel a little something extra where you hear it. Something that brings memories back for you, and makes listening to it a personal experience.
If there was one absolute essential piece of studio or DJ kit you couldn’t live without, what would it be?
Only my headphones – I love them! Other than that I’m not a gear junkie, I change things a lot. I’m not someone who’s obsessed with collecting synths, I just use whatever works best at the time.
Musically, who would you say has been a driving source of inspiration in the house music world?
I can say that Danny Tenaglia and Dennis Ferrer have both been mentors to me in different ways. They both manage to mix so many different house styles into a single record, which is quite a skill. Their records are just heaven to me.
Is there that “one track” this year you just have to always play?
Dennis Ferrer’s remix of London Grammar ‘Sights’. A perfect record!
Thanks for chatting to us today CJ. You can follow more at:
1. CJ Jeff – Dance
2, Nick Curly – The Voodoo
3. CJ Jeff – Unify Together
4. Samu.l – Good Die Young
5. Athea – Capoeira (Leonardo Gonnelli remix)
6. CJ Jeff – Side Effects
7. DKA – Fireworks
8. CJ Jeff – Army Of One
9. Chris Liebing, Loco Dice – Keep It Low feat. Chris Liebing (Jimmy Edgar Remix)
10. Skream – Settled