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In Depth: D’Julz – Part 1

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D’Julz is one of a relatively short list of artists who have forged a reputation based around consistency over a career spanning decades. Julien Veniel is the first to admit that despite a twenty year old career, of which much of it has been spent in the foreground of the underground scene, he is not one of the “superstars” of the scene. A certain realism punctuated by self-assurance shines through the Parisian’s character. This is someone who has held down a residency at what is undoubtedly Paris’ biggest club, The Rex, over those two decades, not forgetting his own reputable Bass Culture record label, some marquee releases (“Da Madness” being re-released in 2013) and a packed tour schedule that takes in regular residencies at the very heart of underground electronic music, Circoloco at DC-10.

Having long been associated with the infamous Parisian nightspot, the club being a focal part of D’Julz’s career, we were excited to hear that the two had teamed up for the club’s debut release on their upcoming record label. More often than not such arrangements appear to rely largely on chance with the involved parties fortuitously coming together at “the right time, in the right place…”. We couldn’t have caught D’Julz at a better time with another upcoming residency at Circoloco, the Lola ED Vs Half Baked Sonar party and his collaboration with friend Phil Weeks on The Rex Club Music label. Here’s what he had to say about the collaborative project.

There has been much excitement at Rex Club launching it’s own record label. You’re on the burgeoning imprints inaugural EP alongside Phil Weeks. Talk us through how your involvement on the release came about.

Well, basically I have been friends with Phil Weeks for many years. We’ve been doing our own thing; him with Robsoul and me with Bass Culture, he has a very Chicago sound and I have this thing that is maybe a bit more eclectic but, you know, always playing things from each other’s labels too. We managed to find some things in common in our tastes and last year I released my first EP on Robsoul and when he signed those tracks we discussed the possibility of doing some music together. It was a time last year when I wanted to, for a change, do collaborations. I did one with Franck Roger and because I had been in touch with Phil I thought “let’s do something different”. So the first track we worked on was “Two Miles Away”, which is the B Side of the “The Rex EP”, and to be honest we didn’t really know what to do with that track; we thought of doing a side project under a group name released on a different label to our labels. Then Molly (Emiline from The Rex Club) approached me and said that they were going to start the label and that they wanted something from me, being the main resident, as the first release. At this time I didn’t have my own solo material ready for release but was doing this thing with Phil and thought it would be perfect for the label, as we both have our own night at the club, and so I sent her the first track we were working on and she liked it. After that we decided to do a second track, which ended up being the A Side… she wanted us to choose a remixer and Alec was in touch with David, Trus’me, so we asked him to get on board. It really just worked out, although originally it was just Phil and I jamming in the studio with no idea what to do with the music… it was just perfect timing when The Rex approached me.

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Cool. So completely unlike almost any other profession where business deals rely on meticulous planning…

Well the thing with music and creative jobs in general is that when you have a specific goal it kind of blocks your path if anything. Sometimes, when doing things without a specific purpose you find that you actually have more freedom. It can just work like that whereby you make the music and then along comes the right project to which it fits. That’s the way I work.

The EP itself seems to embody this philosophy with it’s breadth in sounds from one track to the next. Did you have an idea about how you wanted the release to sound? The B side is certainly a lot darker with a more techno slant to it than the A side.

Originally the idea was that it would be different to the stuff we do as solo artists. The track that you mention to be more techno, that certainly is very different to the stuff that I would usually do and the stuff that Phil would do. I would have definitely not approached it in the same way if I was doing it by myself. The A side though is a perfect balance of the two of us, it highlights my housier side and is very much Phil’s area also, so you recognise Phil’s groove and base, there’s the disco loop on top and it’s a bit more uplifting and summery. I don’t know. I just feel for whatever reasons it’s a good combination of both of our styles.

The other thing to consider is that The Rex have launched their label, which has to be representative of all of the sounds they have in the club. That’s not only house but also a lot of techno. I think you will see this throughout not only this release but also the next few on the label. I think the second release will be Fred P for example.

And were these the only two tracks or did you make a few and then pick your favourite two?

We only made these two actually. We worked quite fast getting the ideas together but then it took a long time finishing the tracks. We started it before the summer of 2014, we were both touring a lot throughout the whole summer and then didn’t finish the tracks until September. We found it quite difficult finding time when we could both work in the studio together and we really didn’t want to work online, sending parts of tracks to one another. For me it’s really important to have this live energy in the studio. So yeah, we sent the two tracks individually to Molly as we finished them and she liked them both. If she hadn’t I guess we would have made a third one, but she liked both so all good! Perhaps we will work together again in the future, we don’t have anything specifically in mind at present but it could definitely work again.

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I guess that whilst you need to knuckle down and make the most of the precious time you have in the studio when collaborating, you still need to have a good vibe in the studio. It has to be enjoyable.

Yeah… I mean, even when I’m on my own it has to stay fun. All my best tracks were made when I was really really getting into them and at some point started dancing in the studio. As soon as it stops being fun, I would say 90% of the time, it’s bad for the end product. At that point you need to stop, work on another track and maybe come back to it later so that it’s still fun to work on it. Being in the studio together is the same thing, you’re in the studio working on a track and after a while you’re stuck or it’s becoming too much like work and at that point you need to try something else. We were very lucky though; we didn’t struggle too much. There was a lot of spontaneity. It’s dance music right, so you have to listen to it and dance on it right away. The music that we are doing is dancefloor music. We’re both DJs and that’s what we know how to do well and so we didn’t think too much, we had to make something that would make us move our ass in the studio you know!

You’re not alone in your feelings towards the dancefloor as I feel there are quite a number of French DJs with similar philosophies. You mentioned Franck Roger and the Apollonia boys to name a few, who all produce similarly dancefloor orientated music.

Well I still have fun making tracks that make people dance and that make me dance. That’s what I’m good at. There are a lot of other producers like Pepe Bradock who take things to a totally different level and that’s because they have more of a musician’s approach to it. It just depends on where you come from and what your knowledge is. I definitely consider myself more of a DJ than a musician, “tools with character” I would call it. I don’t want to do boring and stereotypical tech house; I still think you can make quality dancefloor music with a bit of soul to it. It doesn’t have to be stupid and boring. It’s a hard thing to do and that’s what all of these producers that you mention have in common.

To be continued…  Catch D’Julz at the Lola Ed vs Half Baked Open Air party at Barcelona 21st June. Click here for more details.

Connect with D’Julz online:

www.facebook.com/djulz
www.soundcloud.com/djulz
www.bassculturerecords.com

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