Life through rose tinted glasses

1205 terrence

Frenchman Terence Benhaim has been a constant figure within underground electronic music for the last fifteen years. Emerging from Parisian’s club scene in the late nineties and still unmistakably thriving today, his productions grace the catalogues of Freak ‘n’ Chic, Robsoul, 20:20 Vision and more recently Real Tone with his ‘Hustling People’ EP. Whether as :Terry:, DJ Terry or Terence:Terry, somewhere within his various monikers the chances are you’ve heard him laying down some deep, broody tech house around the worlds dance floors. Establishing his own imprint just last year, now on its fourth release ‘La Vie En Rose’ is going from strength to strength as Terence welcomes artists, old and new to the production fold. As guest mixer on Just Jack’s radio show this week, we caught up with Terry for an exclusive Just Jack interview.

You’ve been known to flit between various versions/monikers of Terry – :Terry:, Terrence:Terry, DJ Terry – what’s the deal with that?
Well I first started out DJ’ing in Paris as :TERRY: The points were inspired by a really famous graffiti artist from New York called :DONDI: as at the time I was really involved in the hip hop culture. My first residency was at Dyed Soundorom’s party at ‘Les Bains Douches’ and later I became involved with parties like the ‘Kit/Kat’ at club 287, a massive after party in Paris, it was really incredible! As well as Rex and my own party at Nouveau Casino called ‘Players’. My style around this time was really a mixture of US house, deep house and techno with some European house, tech house influences too. I then began to have some gigs outside of France and to travel around the world – London, Berlin, Ibiza and beyond…This is where I started to see different places and experience new crowds. The special moments at Sunday morning or day parties were what I was feeling right then. Musically it changed my taste a bit too, it’s always a different vibe than playing a party on a Saturday night. The period I lived in London was a really rich human and musical experience for me, so after leaving I decided to add Terence to :Terry: to mark a new period, a new step in my career.

Do certain records fit with a certain Terry, or one day you feel like being one of your monikers and the next day another?
No I’m now very much feeling every day as Terence :Terry:… Double T in action!!

Has your idea or perception of what you do for a living changed throughout your long career?
You know I made my first record when I was 27, I’m almost 36 now. Throughout the whole of those nine years I’ve been very passionate, maybe now more than ever. I’d say that I’m really in love with what I do. I dedicate all my time and energy into that, with all advantages and disadvantages that come with it. Other than the decisions to live in other cities and countries, nothing has really changed as a DJ, except my new baby (label) La Vie En Rose.  I’m really proud to be running my own label now, listening, discovering new talents – and most of the time its people who were following me back in the day, which is like a real honour for me! I like this idea of being responsible for running a project – for each release I’m trying to do the best I can to promote and to develop because they are trusting in me to give good results, I’m really loving this new challenge.

As someone that’s been an established artist for quite some time and upheld a lengthy career – looking back would you make any different decisions along the way?
Yes, when you work like I do, passionately, spontaneously… especially as an excited young guy following his dream, sometimes looking back on it there some choices you would like to have done another way.

Over the last 15 odd years regardless of year, genre, trend or prominence – is there some or one label or artist that you’ve always loved and continues to play?
Yeah for sure, people like Juan Atkins, Derrick May, Maurizio, Blake Baxter, Richie Hawtin and others from Chicago like Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles, Larry Heard, Derrick Carter, Scott Grooves… just to name a few! From Europe people like Ricardo Villalobos, Baby Ford, Zip, Thomas Melchior, Jerome Pacman, Mr G…

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‘La Vie En Rose’ was started with the intention to encompass a mix of genres. I’ve heard that stemmed from your experiences selling vinyl in London and experiencing a mix of styles?
In fact I was buying records in London when the Eurostar arrived, to sell them in Paris at the Puces of Clignancourt market. The platform I’m trying to build is not going to be a one-dimensional music label as I’ve always loved many different styles, be it electronic or other genres of music and especially yes, when I was selling records back in a day at the flee market in Paris. I’ve never only played one genre either, my collection is really mixed. For me there’s quality everywhere, it’s all about the moment, the feeling you have to play this specific track. Since the beginning of my career what I try to develop and express is to take some elements of every style and make something modern, futuristic. This is what I want for the label direction. But if I was to define the style of the label, basically it’s something new, fresh and for the club.

The label is growing, now on its 4th release – tell us about the evolving life of ‘La Vie En Rose’?
Well the first two releases were from young talented producers Kevin Malandrone and Maxime IKO, both definitely ones to follow. Then after a change in distributor we released ‘Key Of Love’. Back in a day this track from U S H (born out of a malfunction with one of his machines!) was published on the label Denote and a few copies were pressed. We decided to re-release it because it was for us and also all for the Freak n’Chic‘s lovers – a masterpiece and a proper underground hit. We also got an amazing remix from my friends Hold Youth aka Le loup and Seuil. We have just released the fourth EP: Rafael Murillo Feat. Jaw ‘Background’ and the next ones coming from the young French young producer Remi Mazet, including a remix from Boris Horel. Both really talented guys, Remi just did a brilliant track featured on the last Hot Waves compilation and Boris has an amazing release on my friend Seuil’s label – Eklo ‘Rhythm Tramp’. Following that, La Vie En Rose will be releasing an EP by my friend from Tenerife, Hanfry Martinez (Overall label boss) which we worked on a track together for – ‘Sunday Gathering’ with a remix from Dyed Soundorom.

What’s the story behind the latest release ‘Background’ from Rafael Murilo featuring Jaw from dOP?
Well the release was born out of collaboration between Rafael Murillo, a young Parisian producer who is making amazing music at the moment and Jaw, the singer of dOP. They were both super natural in the studio together, jamming on it. One day my friend Vincent Vidal, who’s part of the band Playrec (Rafael and him), sent me this track ‘Background’…I was like wow! Then we got some nice remixes from Alexkid, Hanfry Martinez and Woman (my new band with U S H). We’ve had some really strong support and feedback so far and an amazing release party a few weeks ago at Nouveau Casino in Paris.

There’s a strong French connection amongst the artists and labels you’ve worked with – Chris Carrier, Phil Weeks, Franck Roger etc – why do you think your circle has remained very close to home?
Well all of the Parisian producers you mentioned, as well as others from my booking agency Lola ED, we all evolved around the same time. We were playing the same parties and vinyl shopping at the same record stores. So this Parisian crew has become pretty tight, we have a lot of common influences and we all know each other really well too, it’s been almost more than ten years now.

France, Paris in particularly seems to have been going through a strong period within the house and tech scene…new venues arriving, a more active scene, a really strong artist set – what are your thoughts on that?
It’s true that the Parisian scene is coming back really strong, with a new generation of young producers and promoters coming through. I think Paris is definitely being influenced by cities like London and Berlin with this new way to go out, listening to a DJ on a Sunday afternoon in a cool place. Also, the fact that you can easily fly to other cities to listen these days to dance and listen to music, to share all kind of things. I’m now actually living in Madrid so getting to know the scene there. I have a Thursday residency at ‘Colt’ at Charada club. To describe this party you have to be there! There’s an after / Saturday night / Sunday afternoon vibe all rolled into one. It’s a really interesting crowd of designers, fashion people, journalists and actors from Madrid. It reminds me of the times I played ‘Kubicle’ when I was living in London.

For you as an independent artist you recently put out the ‘Hustling People’ EP on Real Tone, what’s coming next in the production line?
I have a remix out on Overall this week and another for my friends at 1trax for Jamie Funk. I am also going to play for them at Sonar alongside Matt Tolfrey, Huxley. I’m really buzzin for Sonar this year, can’t wait for the Lola ED vs Half Baked pool party on Saturday 16th June with the whole crew! Right now I’m also working on an EP for label Turquoise Blue which is due for release in September and a remix for Unlike-music, a new vinyl-only label based in New York. I’m also finishing an EP with my band Woman and an EP for my label La Vie En Rose. Woman is a band I formed with my old friend USH – the name came from our girlfriends who also know each other really well – U S H is a talented musician who has a large background of producing. Basically the idea is to make music maybe a little bit more accessible to our past and common influences.

What keeps you up late at night & gets you up early in the morning?
Playing records as late into the night as possible and getting up early to go to the studio!

Mondays are generally the lazy day in this industry, the weekend’s activities are obvious…but what’s the average Wednesday like in your world?
The average Wednesday is when I go back to being calm. 100% you will find me in my studio, or helping my girlfriend’s new project (www.audreyterenceagency.com) it’s a fashion/events/communication agency helping French fashion brands in Spain and also Spanish brands in France with their communication with magazines like Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Elle, Grazia and so on as well as on important websites and blogs. So that’s another thing keeping me busy!

Lastly, thank you for putting together your amazing mix for us – what were your thoughts, desires and intentions for the mix and its content choices?
I wanted to show the new house vibe I’m feeling at the moment, showcasing a lot of the amazing music around me by my friends.
Thanks to Just Jack… Big love from La Vie En Rose

Interview by Hannah Briley