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Label Spotlight: ( djebali )

For our first Label Spotlight we take a look at French starlet Djebali's label...

Label Spotlight- ( djebali )

Who's in charge? Djebali

When was it born? 2011

Where is it based? Paris, France

Notes: With just three releases in the catalogue- and a fourth waiting in the wings- ( djebali ), captained by its eponymous bossman Mehdi Djebali, is already seen as one of the finest Gallic exporters of deep, classically inspired house music. Owing more to North Eastern USA than standard French electro fare what the imprint lacks in experience has so far been made up for by critical responses to the handful of tracks it has bestowed on our ears. With that in mind we contacted the man with the plan to find out a little more.

Djebali on running ( djebali )...

You're already known for releases on imprints like Freak 'n' Chic and Tuning Spork, both fine labels. What made you decide to set up on your own?

Well when you're a producer and you want to get your tracks released the traditional route is to send them to record labels and see if they get signed. But something I don't think a lot of people realise is that this process can take a long time and the release might not be put out until a year after the track was made.

With smaller labels it can be quicker but then it's usually only a digital release, no vinyl. One thing that's really important to me is that the music I put out is really fresh, so my idea was to set up my own label to get my music out there instantly. Initially my aim was to release an EP a month, but in reality even I couldn't do it that quickly! With masterings and test pressings it's hard…but so far we've done well, with one every couple of months.

( djebali ) as a label is still pretty new to people, if you were going to try and summarise the imprint's ethos and stylistic direction what would you say? 

This really is music that captures the mood of the moment, as I explained these are tracks that I have only made a few months beforehand. It is also only my music, produced on analogue equipment, and only released on vinyl. Releasing on vinyl is very important for me, I'm a big vinyl lover and collector and it feels very special to have a physical version of your music.

In terms of the style you can call it deep house, or house, but really I just try to make something warm and timeless, as I'm inspired by a lot of old school house tracks that still sound great 10 or15 years on. The releases on ( djebali ) are not banging tracks for peak-time dancefloors, but something a little subtler, to listen to at the afterparty for example, or at home with friends… hopefully creating some good vibes.

( djebali 03 ) ‘Urban Posture / Sure Shot' is your latest release, for those that haven't had much experience with your work is this representative of your sound? 

Well, Urban Posture is a housey track while Sure Shot is a bit deeper, with melodies and harmonies, so they both define me well in terms of the style I like. But ( djebali 02 ) for example is more raw, more emotional.

I have also released on other labels and play peak time as well as deeper, afterparty sets so I can turn it up or down a notch as needed. My track ‘Reputation' on Nordik Net would be a good example of my more dancefloor-focused style.

You were out in Ibiza at Space and DC10 last year, how did your experiences compare with expectations of those events and do you have any plans to return? 

Summer was actually my first time ever in Ibiza. Space I played back2back with my mate Shonky for the UGroove.TV party, which was a great experience and a lot of fun. Before playing at DC10 for Circoloco my friends Dan Ghenacia and Dyed Soundorom, who have both played the party a lot, talked to me about their experiences and reassured me for the show. But honestly, I was really nervous!

I was opening the Terrace and all our Paris crew were there. But the vibe in that place is just so amazing! Actually I've already returned to play the 2011-12 New Year's Day party, which was again a great experience. This time it was more of an island crowd and the club was full the whole day and night. I really hope to be back playing the Terrace again this summer.


Djebali on dance music...

You're on the Lola Ed artist agency roster, home to much fresh French talent, many of whom- including yourself- still play vinyl and CDs when in a club. Is traditional DJing still as prominent in France when compared with 10 years ago?

Over the last ten years the number DJ's using vinyl has definitely decreased because of new equipment like Serato making it easier to bring only a computer and two vinyl controls. However, in the last couple of years I would say there's been a big resurgence in house DJ's or even just fans buying records again. Vinyl shops in Paris like Syncrophone are busy! Using only digital or Serato is too automatic for me; you can't beat the feeling of searching through your record bag for the next track to play.

How would you say the electronic scene is overall in Paris right now, any hidden gems we should be looking into?

Well Paris at the moment is really improving, with new talent and ravers entering and following the scene. In the last couple of years promoters like Share The Pool, Sundae, Concrete, and Weather have started more underground parties, using different venues outside of the usual clubs. Before there were only parties on Friday and Saturday nights, whereas now there are good parties on Thursdays too, and afterparties running all day Sunday.

Arguably France, in terms of dance, is best known for mainroom electro. In recent years though there seems to have been more heads down, stripped back French producers appearing. Has there really been such a shift, or are we imagining things?

I think the rise of electro attracted more people to the dance scene and as a consequence more and more people are becoming interested in underground dance music. Deep house and house is now being played at all the major clubs in Paris like Showcase and Cirque Bonheur, which wasn't the case a few years ago.

Rex Club has catered for quality house and techno lineups for a long time now and it seems like there's more up and coming producers coming out of the scene. But it's not just in France, I think the global music scene is nodding towards deep house, whereas things were more techno inspired a couple of years ago.

2012 is all about predictions (Armageddon etc). Last year was unarguably marked by house music's return to dominance; do you care to take a guess at whether the genre will remain as prominent over the next 12 months?

If the Lola Ed crew has anything to do with it then yes. Firstly there's the launch of Apollonia, the new label of Dan Ghenacia, Dyed Soundorom and Shonky. The first release from Shonky, ‘The Minneapolis Touch', is a real nice deep house EP, all the tracks are really strong and I think it's going to do really well for him.

The guys will also be doing Apollonia showcases around the world at key parties, getting their music out there. I also think this summer will be even bigger for DC10. Circoloco has gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years, and though not strictly limited to house music, it's definitely an important place for the music to grow and influence DJ's and crowds from all over.

Then for me, I have just done remixes for Inland Knights on Homecoming Music and Nick Turner on Turquoise Blue, as well as more releases to come on the ( djebali ) series. In fact ( djebali 04 ) is almost ready. And, of course, I'm hoping to play a lot this year, in Paris, Ibiza and beyond, helping to spread the deep house vibes.

Contact Djebali...

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