Gregory Darsa might be reluctant to call the revival of his Point G alias a “rebirth”, but if you listen to the records that he has put out in the last 18 months it certainly sounds that way. Growing up in Paris in the 1980s and early 90s, Darsa established himself as one of the brightest stars of what would turn out to be the French capital’s golden generation of house music stars. Alongside DJ Deep and Alex From Tokyo, Darsa first came to the city’s attention as a co-host of the legendary ‘A Deep Groove’, a daytime show on Radio FG. At the same time, he was in the studio teaching himself how to produce, and putting out rough and ready records under aliases such as Cheesy D, Hardcore and Point G (or .G, as the early records spell it).
As Darsa’s production knowledge and studio finesse improved, his style, unsurprisingly, became more polished and moved away from the rawness that had characterised those early 12”s. Under the alias of DJ Gregory, Darsa established himself as a master in playful and percussive house music, rising to prominence in the so-called ‘French touch’ scene alongside contemporaries such as Cassius, David Guetta and Bob Sinclar. In the years after, whilst the latter two artists took the sound of the French underground to the mainstream, Darsa continued to ply his wares to the more discerning listening public, releasing a steady stream of acclaimed compilations, putting out well received records and becoming a regular figure at the parties that Defected used to throw in Pacha Ibiza.
Then two years ago everything changed. French house producer D’Julz got in touch and asked if Darsa would consider re-issuing ‘Chicken Coma’, a track that he had made in 1997 as Point G. At first Darsa was surprised that a track that he made from a time when he didn’t know his way around a studio was still popular. But then he came to understand that, as he tells I-Voice during our interview, “nowadays people are so educated with the digital sound that they want to hear something a bit analogue and dirty”.
Music is freedom. In certain respects. There are two options, you either play the corporate game, which allows you to go on TV & radio & reach certain people who aren’t that much into electronic music.
Or, you follow your own delirium. Which is what I do...Whilst Darsa didn’t re-licence Chicken Coma (and the original is still only available on the hard-to-find original 12” ), he did make the decision to reissue other tracks from that period, most notably the track ‘Underwater’ which came out on Apollonia last year. But more than that, Darsa made the decision to shed his DJ Gregory alias and become Point G again. The result has been a blistering series of numerically-titled limited vinyl releases and a captivating live show. On the back of his most recent vinyl release, Point G #4, and his forthcoming live appearance at Kehakuma at Space Ibiza, I-Voice skyped with Darsa at his home in Paris.
When you revived the Point G alias after fifteen years, did you feel that house music needed to get back to something earlier? That it had lost something?
Yeah, but I think it has been like that for a while. Even in 2006 or 2007, with the emergence of minimal, you could already tell that house music was changing.
Were you feeling tired of what you had been doing as DJ Gregory?
Yes, yes. You work on having a certain point of view for a number of years and then you realise it doesn’t make sense anymore. But, rather than going from one style to another, which I think is a bit silly, I had to wait for a few years [to see which direction to go in].
Was it a strange transition going back to making music as Point G, considering that both you and music production technology had changed?
For more than ten years when I was working as DJ Gregory I had developed production skills and learnt how to work in big studios, how to work with musicians, how to work with 80 channel mixers. So of course, going back to making music in the way that I did when I was young and had no clue about the production process was strange. It pushed me to reinvent myself.
Are you using the same analogue gear that you were using back in 1996?
Yes, the main difference now is that I record everything on the computer.
I remember reading an interview with you and it talked about how when you were making music as Point G in the 1990s you were smoking a lot of weed and that cannabis had informed those records on some level. Are mind-altering substances still a gateway for creativity for yourself?
[Pause] That’s a key question. Music is freedom. In certain respects. There are two options, you either play the corporate game, which allows you to go on TV and radio and reach certain people who aren’t that much into electronic music. Or, you follow your own delirium. Which is what I do.
Through the years I could have done what so many of the people who I knew did [and become corporate]. I didn’t do what they did, because I truly believe that music is something that is way more than just something you hear in the club. I like the idea of doing something that does not meet corporate expectations by doing something such as what we are talking about [smoking weed].
You mentioned working alongside artists in Paris who have taken the more corporate route, figures such as David Guetta and Bob Sinclar. How do you now feel about that period when you were working with them?
Everybody is looking for something. When you are young and join a group of similar young people, you often think that the group is looking for the same thing. It’s not the case. Certain people want something and others want something else. So you might interact and work together for a little while, but if you’re looking for something different to the others around you, you’re going to take a different path. I wasn’t interested in getting a big profile or getting more work.
If you make an effort to look at what is going on and to buy vinyl, it means that you are interested. I don’t want to show this music to everybody, or to release a track that has to be played everywhere. No, that is not the purpose of this music... And what do you think it was that you were looking for?
I still don’t know. I have the feeling that music comes and goes too easily. [Throughout my career] I’ve had many opportunities from different labels to record an album, but I never have. I’ve done a few compilations here and there, but never an album. That’s because for me it is more important that my music lasts. I sometimes see records that I bought in 1989 or 1990 and they are still here because of something that makes them unique, and there are a few tracks that I have made that are still here today. That for me is important, and far more important than using heavy promotion or marketing to say what I have done is amazing.
Let’s talk about the records that you are putting out, such as the new numerically titled Point G records. Are these tracks that you had been working on for a while? And why did you decide to release them as limited-run vinyl only records?
They were all made one or two months before they were released. They were pressed on vinyl, because vinyl asks [the buyer] to make an effort. If you make an effort to look at what is going on and to buy vinyl, it means that you are interested. I don’t want to show this music to everybody, or to release a track that has to be played everywhere. No, that is not the purpose of this music.
That’s why so far, I’ve kept it vinyl only. I only want to speak to the people who are really into this music. I’m asked for press photographs [for the releases], but I don’t want to give press pictures! I’ve got a drawing [of me] that I like and this is the way I want to do it.
Do you think that these days there is too much promotion around music?
When I get newsletters from DJs and I see that they have a press picture that makes them look as if they are a superstar and that they are advertising that they are available to tour in Asia or something like that, I get the impression that everyone is just trying to be bigger and do more than everybody else.
That is sad for me. I understand that everybody is trying to make a living and struggling, but I don’t think that this is the best way to achieve anything.
You’re coming to Space in July to play live. You’ve got a long history of coming to Ibiza, is it a place you’re fond of?
Honestly, I don’t visit that often. I love the island and if I could come more often, I would. I remember visiting for the first time in the late 1970s when I was a kid and I saw all the craziness. Of course I didn’t go to a club, but I had all these images and this Balearic feeling. And I still had that feeling when I went back when I was 17 and, with my friends, I went to Space when the terrace was still open-air. They are amazing memories.
You’re playing live this summer rather than djing. Do you prefer playing live these days?
No, I’m a DJ. This is what I am. But a lot of people were wondering where I was music-wise, so I thought it would be good for a year or two to do something else other than DJ sets. It has been an interesting experience, because I play my own music from the beginning to the end and people tend to go for it straightaway or they don’t get it at all.
Is the Point G music project something that you envision that you will continue with in the foreseeable future or do you to plan to wrap it up?
I don’t know. I’m going to make a Point G compilation or a long format of some kind, and then we’ll see what is going on.
Final question, you’re a staple of the Parisian house scene. If we were to come to Paris for a night out, where would you take us?
If I took you out in Paris, I would take you to listen to one of my best djing friends, DJ Deep. We’d go wherever he is playing!
|Point G Online|