With 20 years of deep tech theory etched into his CV, Parisian producer D’Julz has flown the flag for French electronic music long before Daft Punk had even graduated from high school. His monthly Bass Culture events at the French capitol’s Rex Club are the stuff of international party legend and his label, also called Bass Culture, can be found in the playlists and record boxes of all discerning, tech-minded DJs.
Earlier this year he released the wonderfully warm and warped “Special Day” on Circus Company, so we thought we’d see just how special things are for the house veteran right now…
Let’s talk about special days… If you could think of a perfect day, what would it be?
A special day or a perfect day? They’re two very different things!
Of course! Give me both…
Well Special Day was originally called Election Day, because I made it when the last French president was elected. That was quite a special day. I’m not sure how it will work out for the country but on that day there was a lot of hope. So that’s a special day for me. Now a perfect day? I hope my next day in Ibiza will be a perfect day; July 22nd is one day before my birthday and I’m playing Circo Loco. Having a great set at an amazing club followed by my birthday… That’s perfect for me.
Big time. Are you in Ibiza regularly this summer?
I never stay too long, just three or four days but I do come regularly. At least once a month throughout the season, maybe more.
Nice. Let’s go back to the “Special Day” EP for a minute. “Nuage” is awesome…
Thank you! Sometimes you go into the studio with no clue on what you want to do. No preconceptions or ideas, you just sit down and see what comes out. That’s “Nuage” for me. I actually started it years ago but never thought it would find a home. When Circus Company asked me for another track for the release I thought it would be perfect. The jazzy vibe couldn’t be on a better home than Circus Company. They took it right away. It’s the most musical track I’ve ever done, I’m very proud of it. I’m glad you like it and I’m glad it’s got a good home!
Ah… You’re one of those producers who’s currently sitting on a mountain of unfinished tracks, right?
Yes, it is a mountain! It’s very easy to have an idea and put it together quickly, but arrangement and mixing down is the hard thing. Especially finding the time between flights. I need more time to commit to the studio.
My main issue is not knowing when to finish the track. It’s great to have that perspective and distance and be able to return to things when the time is right. Other tracks, however, are done in one go; “Special Day” was done in two days.
Speedy. Tell me about Bass Culture… 17 years at the Rex Club? That must be one of the longest running club nights in Europe!
Possibly! I can only think of one older one; Domenic and Harry at Sub Club in Glasgow have been running Sub Culture for a long, long time. Maybe we are the oldest night? I’m so proud of it. Most importantly it still feels like the first year I’m doing it. I know that’s a cliché but it’s true.
I’m never feeling tired or bored of it. It doesn’t feel like a routine. I keep the line-up fresh and the crowd is always changing every few years. I think if things felt tired or boring then I would stop and do something new.
I hope my next day in Ibiza will be a perfect day; July 22nd is one day before my birthday & I’m playing Circo Loco...Do you ever change the décor or do people enjoy the familiarity?
I’m not a real promoter; I don’t have time to promote the night entirely or do the décor. Rex give me freedom to pick my DJs but the rest is done by them. They change the lighting and decoration when they think it’s necessary and I always trust their judgement. They’re a great club to work with in that way.
You were one of the first promoters in Paris to invite big UK DJs like Ralph Lawson over in the late 90s, right?
Yes, that was a very inspiring time when I got signed to 2020 Vision and found myself playing in London and Leeds a lot. I was meeting some amazing DJs and I really wanted them to play at my night. Terry Francis, Nathan Coles, Eddie Richards, Ralph Lawson and of course Kenny Hawkes. He was a very good friend and mentor for me. It was an influential time for me and it showed in Bass Culture’s programming.
What did the Parisian club community think of that sound at the time?
They were refreshed! The whole filtered house music thing blew up a year or two before, so when I was bringing over all the dubby, techy house guys from the UK and the US West Coast, it was a breath of fresh air. A good break from filtered disco; everyone was getting fed up with that and wanted something with more techy attitude.
What’s the French scene saying right now?
There’s so much talent, it’s very very healthy. We’ve always had a lot of talent in other genres other than house and disco but it’s only being picked up on in the last five or so years. There are some incredible techno and deep house producers emerging right now, but what’s most interesting is the development of the party scene.
Paris has always been very limited to Berlin or London but the club scene has exploded. It’s crazy; the dancefloors are packed, there are a lot of warehouse parties, boat parties, festivals… I didn’t see it coming! It’s going to inspire a whole new generation. They’re going to kick ass!
Nice! Tell me about Da Madness… Why did you return to that particular track for a remix package?
As strange as it sounds, it’s my only release on Bass Culture! The whole idea of the label was to sign new people and nurture talent and support great music.
So in three years I’ve only done one release, one remix and one edit. I didn’t get remixes of “Da Madness” at the time but things worked out nice and naturally; I’d heard The Martinez Brothers play an edit of it and I thought it was really good. They hadn’t any plans to release it, it was just a DJ tool that used a Phil Weeks bassline. Phil was cool with it so I thought I’d put together more remixes. Rolando had supported it so I asked him for a techy remix. And also Doc Martin who’s having a bit of a comeback right now. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time and I really wanted to introduce him to the new audience.
Did Doc Martin ever go away?
Not really, but he’s kept himself busy in America. He was in Europe a lot about 10 years ago. He did a fabric CD and played all over the continent. He was a big name over here. You’d have to ask him, but I think the long haul flights were getting to him. He’s always been huge in America but I can see him playing over here a lot more again. He played Circo Loco for the first time and he’s coming back over to Bass Culture. I’ve always loved his music, he’s a legend for me.
For sure. So what else can we look forward to from you?
I have a few remixes coming soon, I’m finishing a new EP for Ovum and I’m also working on the very first Bass Culture compilation. I want to introduce the label’s history to a new audience and summarise the first chapter of the label. It’s going to be a busy summer!
Catch D'Julz playing Circoloco at DC10 on Monday 22 July