Deja Vu Traxx is part of the legendary UK house night Deja Vu which was established in Hull way back in 1992. The brand is a clubbing institution and the second longest running house night in the UK. Over the last 20 plus years they have brought many of the world’s biggest & best DJ’s to the city including Todd Terry, Sasha, Darius Syrossian, wAFF, Patrick Topping, Jamie Jones plus many more.
Label manager and co-owner Lee Jeffrey‘s music has already began to resonate with the underground house scene over the last few years. Lee is also resident for Deja Vu and has played alongside some of the biggest names in house music including Sasha, Darius Syrossian, Patrick Topping, wAFF, Jey Kurmis, Audiojack, Skream, Eats Everything, Cajmere and a whole load more.
Daz Pearson caught up with Lee to find out more about the label and how well its been received since it launch, also to find out more about the first wave of artists who have been signed.
Hi Lee thanks for joining us on Decoded Radio. It’s exciting times with the launch of Deja Vu Traxx. How much work is involved in setting up a new label?
Hi, thanks for having me. The setup of the label came together really quickly in the background; myself and my label partner knew what we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to go about it – we set the dates for the first EP to launch the label, and set about getting the ground work sorted in registering the label and selecting our distributor. There is a little work required which most new labels will come across – things like logos, artwork, contract drafts etc, but the logo was key when the design work was happening and we wanted to follow suit in conjunction to what the Déjà Vu night does on its flyer designs: clean simple and to the point, and I think we have achieved that.
The Deja Vu brand name is widely known in the UK clubbing community. Although Deja Vu Traxx is in conjunction with the club brand I believe it is running solely as a separate entity?
Yes that’s right – this is totally separate to the club night, although it still shares the famous Déjà Vu logo. Several different label names were pitched but nothing really clicked, but with me being resident for the club night, the question was asked if we could use the Déjà Vu branding to launch the label; the Déjà Vu boss, Terry Spamer, instantly loved the idea and gave his blessing.
You could say the label is a long time coming with the club brand now into its 25th year. What made it feel like the right move to launch the label now?
The idea of launching a label has been bubbling away at the back of my mind for a long time and it was after a good chat with my now label partner Dom, and also coincidentally Josh Butler when he headlined for us last year, that we thought why not make it a reality? After a few days of chat the wheels were in motion and we have never looked back – Dom and I share the same passion for what we do and I think this is why we work so well together.
The first release was your own ‘Bitter Sweet EP’ last November with 3 original tracks. How has the support been?
The support on the EP has been great with ‘Bitter Sweet’ and ‘Get on’ receiving the most support, I was very pleased considering it was the launch of a new label and it takes time to build a following, so to see ‘Bitter Sweet’ sat in my personal Beatport top 10 is wicked.
And more recently No Rules’ Soda Pump EP released end of Jan which has gained a lot of media love and support. Were you expecting the label to be so well received?
I always knew that we didn’t want to be another generic tech house label and wanted to push sounds across the whole house and techno range, I have supported the ‘No Rules’ guys’ music since they started making music – they have a very unique sound that I love, their music reminds me a lot of Malin Genie and that general Apollonia feel. I was so happy for them to receive so much media coverage as I really do feel their music should be heard by a wider audience – it’s always hard for new producers to break out and be heard but hopefully we have helped them a little.
As resident of Deja Vu you know the brand as good as anyone. Although the lineup over the years have been so diverse from Sasha to Patrick Topping will the label follow the musical diversity the headliners bring or stick to a more trademark house sound?
One thing we said from the word go is that we will always listen to – and consider – everything that gets sent to us. It’s so easy for a label to fall into the trap of releasing the same sounds over and over – it can work on a certain elvel when your fans know what to expect, but we think that it’s even more of an achievement to release a variety of music where the one common feature is quality. Looking at the range of music we have signed already, and a selection which I have included in the guest mix, it really shows that we are not just another house label and want to push what we feel is quality music.
Moving onto some of your recent and more personal accolades Steve Lawler opened his NightLIFE radio show with your track ‘The Expression’ and Jacky featured your track ‘Reject of Life’ in his Rinse FM mix last month. Are you happy with the consistent exposure your productions are gaining at the moment?
I couldn’t be happier, and to be featured as the opening track on Steve’s show truly blew me away. When I first started with Déjà Vu many years ago, Steve was the headliner in the main room and I was in room 3, but being able to meet him and speak to him was like meeting your favourite footballer for the first time as a kid – I won’t say ‘star struck’ but it isn’t far off… Ever since then the flyer for that event has sat in my studio as a constant reminder never to give up, even if you’re at your lowest.
From experience, I know how hard it can be to get your music heard and being played out there – constantly sending demos to labels and hearing nothing back; so with that in mind we want to welcome up-and-coming producers to the label and help push their music. I wouldn’t say it’s our sole concentration but if the music is good enough why reject it purely down to the fact they not yet ‘big’? To me it’s wrong and it’s not what I’m in this game for. A good label develops and grows as a family, rather than chewing up and spitting out release after release with no further investment in the artists – you only need to look at labels like elrow and Dirtybird etc to see this working, it’s definitely something we hope to achieve with Déjà Vu Traxx too.
There are a massive number of amazing producers rumbling away, ready to pop – far too many to list! But there are a few who immediately come to mind who feel like they are all on the same path as myself and love what they do – names to watch out for are Elliot Adamson, Del-30, Cal Johnstone, Ian jay, Nico Luss, Luke Davidson, Richy Profond & Jack Swaffer and Cardiac to name a few. This list could easily be 30 plus long.
Deja Vu Traxx has only released 2 EP’s however, all the tracks featured on your showcase mix are released or due for release over the next few months other than the closing track which is one of your own. Can you tell us about some of the producers involved?
Ok, so this next wave of releases is comprised entirely from tracks we have handpicked or requested ourselves – the only ones to come in on our demo email is from Ettica & Angelo Raguso, FAW9 & West Minds, we instantly loved both EPs and signed them straight away. We have some great music forthcoming from Josh Lee who sent us a couple of demos which had serious potential, after a bit of back and forth between us, Josh worked some more on the tracks and we sealed the deal on his ep; I’ve heard Josh’s music circulating on the scene for a while now, a few of his tracks have been part of my sets and always go down a storm, Josh has become good friends with the label and we look forward to working closely with him on future projects. Our next release is from an Australian artist who goes by the name of Kid Only. His work on Criminal Hype really caught our attention and he’s really doing something special with that classic house sound, as soon as we launched the label we approached him and signed a 2 track EP – he was only too happy to sign to us knowing we had already been supporting him. Later in the year we have a really big one coming from a talented producer from Greece who goes under the name of Red Weeller; he has been supporting my own music for many years and always has included my tunes in his mixes. He’d been sending me original productions well before the label even became an idea, so once he knew Deja Vu Traxx was on the cards he submitted a great EP which we couldn’t say no to. We want to work closely with each artist and try to get the best out of the EP for both us and them, we treat them like part of one massive Déjà Vu family – it’s not just a case of signing a track, releasing it, then forgetting that the producer ever existed.
I’d like to wrap things up now and thank you for your time with featuring Deja Vu Traxx with Decoded Magazine. Is there anything you would like to add for our readers and your fans?
The one thing I get asked a lot is how do you get signed, or get your music heard by bigger names, and what I always tell them is never ever give up as you really don’t know what is around the corner. I have nearly called it a day so many times and sold the lot, but then a decent record deal lands and the fire is alive again. Get yourself out there at gigs, introduce yourself to DJs – the way Steve Lawler got hold of my track was from me attending a festival and after introducing myself I passed him a USB loaded with unreleased tracks; you never expect anything off it but there may be that one chance he will listen to it and he did with me, so why wouldn’t the same happen to you? Like many others I started at the bottom and it’s a hard journey, but if you believe in yourself and don’t just follow trends, but instead make music your feeling, your time will come eventually. Again, thanks for having me and I hope you enjoy the label showcase.
Decoded Radio hosted by Ian Dillon presents Deja Vu Traxx with Lee Jeffrey.
Decoded Hot Picks Chart Countdown
#4 Madloch – Fiction (Martin Roth Remix) [Sound Avenue]
#3 Piemont – Save Me (Original Mix) [Definition Music]
#2 Fur Coat – Transcendental (Original Mix) [Last Night On Earth]
#1 Raxon – Sin Control (original Mix) [Ellum]
01. Piemont – Elastic (Original Mix) [Definition Muisc]
02. Khen – Mountains Air (Original Mix) [Bedrock]
03. Reboot – Pollo al Sillao (Nakadia Remix) [Get Physical Music]
04. Dousk – Sometimes Shugga (Scott James Remix) [Beat Boutique]
05. KINTAR – Mother (Original Mix) [Bad Pony Records]
06. Oliver Schories – Clancy (Original Mix) [Parquet Recordings]
01. No Rules – Tingling (Original Mix)
02. Ettica – Groovalution (Original Mix)
03. Angelo Raguso, FAW9 & West Minds – Agujetas (Original Mix)
04. Red Weeller – Maddox (Original Mix)
05. Josh Lee – DTMB (Original Mix)
06. Kid Only – High Street (Oringal Mix)
07. Ettica – Groovalution (Orignal Mix)
08. Angelo Raguso, FAW9 & West Minds – Cavern Grooves (Original Mix)
09. No Rules – Soda Pump (Orignal Mix)
10. Lee Jeffrey – Bitter Sweet (Original Mix)
11. Josh Lee – Bring It Back (Original Mix)
12. Red Weeller – Jump Street (Originasl Mix)
13. Angelo Raguso, FAW9 & West Minds – Guayabo (Original Mix)
14. Lee Jeffrey – Kahuna (Original mix)
15/02: Nube Music: 4pm-6pm ART (GMT-3) www.nube-music.com
16/02: Casafonda: 10pm-12am GMT www.casafondaradio.com
16/02: Radio Bondi FM: 1pm AEDT (GMT+11) www.bondifm.com.au
16/02: Tenzi FM: 8pm-10pm IST (GMT+5.5) www.tenzi.fm
16/02: Radio Ettlingen: 2pm-4pm (GMT+1) www.radioettlingen.de
16/02: Krafted Radio: 10pm-12am GMT www.krafted.co.uk/radio
17/02: DNA: 10pm-12am ART (GMT-3) www.dnaradiofm.com
18/02: Midnight Express FM: 10pm-12am CST (GMT-6) www.midnightexpressfm.com
19/02: Tempo Radio (Red Stream): 10pm-12am CST (GMT-6) www.tempo-radio.com
20/02: Mio Radio: 3pm-5pm UTC (GMT+2) www.mioradio.net
21/02: Studio Lux FM: 11pm-1am CEST (GMT+1) www.studioluxfm.com
21/02: Global Mixx Radio: 10pm-12am EDT (GMT-4) www.globalmixxradio.com
22/02: Soundtrip: www.soundtrip.gr
23/02: Casafonda: 10pm-12am GMT www.casafondaradio.com
23/02: Radio Bondi FM: 1pm AEDT (GMT+11) www.bondifm.com.au
23/02: Krafted Radio: 10pm-12am GMT www.krafted.co.uk/radio
24/02: Danceradio.ca: 6am-8pm EDT (GMT-4) www.danceradio.ca
25/02: STROM:KRAFT radio (Electronic Channel): 11pm-1am CET (GMT+1) www.stromkraftradio.fm
25/02: Deep London: TBA www.deeplondon.org
26/02: Safe House Radio: 10pm-12am GMT www.safehouseradio.co.uk
On rotation: Inside My House Radio www.insidemyhouseradio.com