Whether it’s through his productions, radio shows, parties or club sets, D’Julz has been at the forefront of electronic music since his career first began back in 1992. A firm DJ and fan favourite alike, his ability to transcend genres and trends has seen him hold one of the most consistent levels of success of any modern day DJ/Producer. A run of form that is at its strongest, today. Not one to shy away from the media spotlight, and ahead of his performance in London for NoFitState, we caught up with D’Julz to chat about his career, warm up DJs and his label Bass Culture.
Can you tell us a little about the Paris scene in the 90s and who inspired you musically to become a DJ?
Like every birth of a new scene, it was a very exciting time. Even more for me as I turned 18 in 1990 so I was discovering the nightlife at the same time I was discovering a new form of music. The club scene back then was pretty limited musically speaking, beside a couple of good house music nights at clubs like the Rex ,Le Palace and Le Boy . Back then the most exciting thing was the rave scene and its freedom. That’s where I started to deejay. 1991/92 is when it really started to grow bigger for about 3 years, then the authorities managed to stop pretty much everything (basically just before it could have reached the size of German, Belgium or UK scenes). As the rave scene was dying and things started to move to clubs which started to become more interesting. A new breed of promoters were migrating to the clubs and so did a lot of DJs, including myself.
Back then, my influences were local Parisian DJs who had started DJing 3 or 4 years before me such as Guillaume La Tortue, Jerome Pacman and of course: Laurent Garnier. A few international Djs were also very influential for me like Dutch DJ Dimitri, Italian DJ Francesco Farfa, Koenie from Belgium and Derrick May amongst others. In 1993 I moved to New York for a year which opened me up to other influences
We understand back in the day you used to be a resident at a party co promoted by David Guetta – Scream. Can you tell us about Scream, how you got your residency and working with David?
This happened much later, circa 99, early ’00. Besides my Bass Culture nights at the Rex Club had already begun, I was resident for different parties like Magic Garden (which kind of perpetuated the rave spirit) and Scream. Scream was the biggest gay party in Paris at that time. It took place every month in a big theatre. This party was co organised by David Guetta, he had stopped DJing a few years back to promote events and run businesses with his wife. He is a nice and professional person. I never had problems working with him and even though we always been into different kind of music (now more than ever haha) there’s always been a mutual respect I guess.
Comments by fellow Frenchman Laurent Garnier at the Red Bull Academy have nearly gone viral regarding warm up DJs. As a long time DJ, one who has played his fair share of different time slots, do you find the concepts behind warm up and warm down are understood by the new generation of DJs?
I couldn’t agree more, and I couldn’t have said it better myself! Warming up is the most important slot in a night. Every DJ should learn to do this properly before playing at any other times of the night, but I don’t want to generalise about this generation. I’ve had young DJs playing amazing warm up sets before me lately.
Do you have a favourite time to play? A time when you feel you can properly express yourself musically?
Personally I don’t have one favorite time slot, each moment can be exiting and I would be bored playing only warm ups or only peak times sets, I enjoy the diversity and the challenge that comes with it. Some DJs become lazy and stop taking risks because they play only at peak time. Warm ups, closing or after hours sets are the best way to step out of your comfort zone creatively and to expand your musical spectrum .
After another sensational season Ibiza this summer, what are your views on the closing time changes? Will it affect the island at all?
I don’t know…we’ll see. It’s not the first time these kind of changes have happened there. I remember a few years ago when morning parties became illegal in Ibiza, it was tuff the first year but quickly everybody adapted by doing afternoon parties or villa parties instead. Things are flexible there. One way or another it’ll still remain the party island for many years. I’m not that worried to be honest.
You had the radio show over the summer with Ibiza Global. How did that differ from your show on FG back in the day?
I haven’t done this in while so it was great to have this opportunity. The FG shows were done weekly in the radio studio. I was just presenting the 20 new records I had bought that same week in a 1 hour mix. The show for Global was mostly live recordings taken from various gig I played this summer, including a few Circoloco ones. In addition every other week the show was about having a guest mix by an artist of my label: Bass Culture.
We’ve always had a soft spot for your productions. You’ve been on some fantastic labels over the years. Could you tell us about some of your highlights?
First of all, thank you for the compliment. I had tracks that had an impact in my career because they were more successful than others like: ‘Acid Tricks’ , ‘Ze Theme’, ‘Just So You Know’, ‘Da Madness’… but the tracks I am usually the most proud of can sometimes be the less popular. They are the ones that age the best. The ones that when I listen them few years later I think “How the f… did I come up with that?!”
Have you ever had a eureka moment? Was there one track, or a period of time where you thought “..everything I’m making I really like.”?
I’m very critical and it’s very hard for me to be entirely pleased with anything I do. That being said I refuse to let this feeling block my creative process. It’s just hard to really know what I think of the result and it often takes time and distance to realise it’s good or not. However, every now and then the work flow is very natural and I make the tracks in one go, without thinking too much…it’s usually a good sign. If I start dancing making it’s another really good sign. Basically the more spontaneous, the better.
I guess your studio has changed over the years too. How much of your old hardware do you still have, and d’you still use them?
I do, and I keep buying hardware (vintage or new) but I use both, hard and software. It really depends of the project I work on. Sometimes I use only classic hardware, (MPC, 909, Juno…) Some other times only Ableton (when it’s a more sample based track for instance). Most of the time it’s a combination of both.
I wonder if I could talk about remixes a moment. Recently you’ve collaborated with Rolando and Phil Weeks, two very capable artists in their own rights. I was talking to Kolsch recently and he was telling me about working with Michael Mayer (one of his heroes). He mentioned a period of time where you need to work each other out to find your dynamic, is this your experience too?
Collaborations and remixes are to very different thing for me. I had years when I was making mostly remixes. The last 2 years I did mostly collaborations with artist such as Cassy, Franck Roger , Phil Weeks, which were very positive experience, the work process felt very natural each time. It’s like a good back to back, you need to forget the ego and find the common ground. Generally I always try to find a balance between remixes, collaborations and my own productions. Right now, my own work is the main focus.
When your making a solo track, do you have a specific work flow?
No rules really. It depends of my mood, my ideas, the environment or the time I have to work.
And of course, your new single is out on Bass Culture, the first solo EP in almost 3 years on the imprint…
The main purpose of Bass Culture as always been to sign other artists’ music; this explains why I didn’t release so many EPs of mine on BC. Moreover I found it extremely hard to be the A&R of my own music, due to the lack of perspective I suppose. It’s a lot easier for me to send a few tracks to an other label and let them choose their favourite ones.
Tell us about Bass Culture. Anything you can tell us about coming up in the new year?
The next release will be an edit I did of an old Liz Torres track. I have been playing a lot in the past few years but took forever to license, so I’m glad it’s finally ready to come out . Next year I already have EPs from Lady Blacktronika and Mr G in the pipeline… Also Steve Rachmad just sent me a bomb, that will be coming out after.
Lastly you are going to be playing Nofitstate on 28th November. How long has it been since you played in London and are you looking forward to your return?
I’m lucky to play regularly in London, it’s one the cities where I have played the most in my career so i have a special relationship with it. I always look forward to coming back .