Dyed Soundorom: The Apollonia touch

White soul, black music and DC-10: RA’s Todd L. Burns talks to the French DJ/producer.

Dyed Soundorom’s story is an uncomplicated one: Boy goes to party, boy loves party, boy continues to party. Soundorom’s deeper relationship with music began when he invited Dan Ghenacia to play at a local Parisian club. Ghenacia was pushing West Coast deep house at the time, inspired by a brief spell in the United States. Transfixed by the deep but groovy tracks, Soundorom had finally found his sound.

Ghenacia was a bit older than Soundorom, and subsequently began Freak N’ Chic, a label that brought a coterie of young artists to the wider world. They were largely French, Soundorom among them. But a business disagreement eventually led to the imprint’s dissolution. Now Ghenacia and Soundorom are back, along with Shonky, with a new venture: Apollonia. The label picks up where Freak N’ Chic left off, a reflection of the trio’s maturation process that has seen them become Circoloco regulars. The label—and their back-to-back-to-back sessions—see them bringing together all of their influences into one place where, as Soundorom puts it, « white soul meets black music. » We caught up with Soundorom in advance of his appearance at this year’s South West Four festival in London.

 

I’ve heard that you are living in Ibiza this summer—and over the past few summers as well. How has the island changed over the years in your opinion?

In a really good way. The first time I went to Ibiza was in 1997, and it was mainly about progressive and commercial house. Since then, for me, there has been an increase in good music on the island. Now you can go out almost every day and listen to underground music. Of course, the commercial and mainstream scene is now really big in Ibiza as well. The likes of Ushuaia are putting on massive lineups with big production, which is bringing a new crowd to the island. Even though this is not my cup of tea, I think the Ibiza market is booming with a strong choice of commercial and underground parties. Everything is well balanced.

You could say that the 2012 season has seen some of the biggest changes in the last few years—Hawtin moved to Space, Carola now has his own night on Fridays, my close friend Jamie Jones is doing really well with his new night Paradise. I’m happy to say my own residency at Circoloco at DC-10 on Mondays is as important as ever to me, and the party has gone from strength-to-strength in the last few years. It’s strange to think back to 2009 when there was no DC-10 for most of the summer… For me it’s been consistently the best club for quality

music over the past ten years. Ibiza just isn’t the same without it.

How has the music changed over the past few years at DC-10 in your opinion? Have you noticed that you’re doing more of this or that?

The music has always been very versatile at Circoloco, and it is great that the promotors give a chance to new talents who then become the major artists on the scene. I think about Luciano, Loco Dice, [a:rpia:r], Seth Troxler and Jamie Jones. DC-10 bet on these new talents. That’s why it’s not the same thing from one year to the next. I think that’s the power of the club today.

It seems like you have done a lot of remixes, but not a lot of solo productions lately. (At least according to your Discogs page.) Is there a reason for that?

Well, honestly I love doing remixes simply because I can start with an idea. I haven’t done a lot of solo productions recently because I’ve been trying to change my way of producing. I bought some hardware, which is something new for me. I used to always work on the plane or whereever I could with headphones and a laptop. But I’m not really having fun like this anymore. For my personal production, the process is a little longer. I am building a studio in Berlin, but I am travelling a lot so it takes time. My next solo project will be a release on Apollonia, I am working on an EP which should be out by the end of the year.

Tell me about the Paris scene right now, and how it’s changed over the past few years. It seems like there are a lot of solid clubs in the city, but that it’s hard to do something a bit out of the ordinary.

It was, but not anymore…I don’t think it’s hard to do something out the ordinary in Paris, we were just missing the venues. I left Paris about three years ago, because I needed a new adventure. It always had a very good underground scene, although not so many clubs, so I often ended up at the same party each week. But in the last two years I feel like Paris is back. Rex is still the main club, but there are also new places like Showcase, Social Club and more underground parties like Concrete, Katapult and Sundae. I’m in Paris every couple months for my residency Ring My Bell at Rex Club and I’m always surprised when I see all the parties running the same night. So, yes, I can say that Paris is going really well at the moment.

You have recently helped start a new label called Apollonia. It’s obviously early, but can you tell a difference between the sound that you’re making there as opposed to what came before with Freak N’ Chic?

As you probably know Freak N’ Chic was Dan Ghenacia’s label, and the plan there was to build a crew around Dan. It was a platform for the sound we were making and home to the early releases of Shonky, Jamie Jones, David K, Terry and myself to name a few. Dan was forced to close the label due to a business disagreement and then after a year of reflection he called Shonky and I to be partners in a new venture.

Apollonia is firstly an imprint, but also our back-to-back-to-back moniker—the concept being very simple: rotating one record each throughout the set. As we’ve been working and playing together for a very long time now, we really complement each other’s sound. The name Apollonia is a reference to Prince’s band Apollonia 6 and a nod to what he called the Minneapolis Sound—a mix of white soul and black music—something we can relate to from an electronic music point of view.

Really, the difference is Freak N’ Chic was a great label for our early producing years. With Apollonia we want to be more conceptual and define what we do and who we are. We’re going to release some fresh tunes, plus an album from Chris Carrier & Hector Moralez by the end of the year. But we’re also going to repress some tracks that are very important for us, like « Underwater » by Point G, as well as working with Kerri Chandler.

Dan’s style heavily influenced Shonky and I from the beginning at the Kwality afterparties at the Batofar in Paris—a way of mixing different styles but always keeping the groove with a strong personality. This is what we always try to do, we don’t want to sound the same. This is why it works so well when we play together. And this what we hope to deliver with the label.

What was it about Chris and Hector’s music that seemed to indicate to you that it was right for Apollonia specifically?

I was with Shonky and Dan when we received their album for the first time, and we had a first listen. Then a second one. And then a third one. In the end, we listened to the album six times in less than 48 hours. We were so into it, as it is a real journey full of influences such as hip-hop and jazz. The album is the story of two guys—Chris and Hector—spending a night together in a studio and talking about their hip-hop influence. Each track is one episode of the story. We want to support the mixture of white soul and black music, and this album is a great definition of that sound.

« Serato was a cool experience,
but I haven’t looked back at all. »

I saw you playing off a laptop at our RA party at Sonar, and I was curious to hear how you arranged your music folder-wise on your computer.

I actually wasn’t playing with a laptop, I think it was Nicolas’, he probably left it plugged in while I was playing. I started DJing in 1998 using vinyl, but like lots of other DJs I went with the digital revolution and used the computer for a few years in 2006. I stopped using Serato two years ago, though, and I’m back to vinyl and CDs. Serato was a cool experience, but I haven’t looked back at all. It got to the point where I had too much music in my computer. I missed going to the record shop every week and also looking into my collection instead of looking into a hard drive to find an old track.

The experience of DJing for me is so much more fun with vinyl. You have to work with the records you have to make something special. The amount of tracks I have is more limited of course, but I know my music and think I play much better with them. Unfortunately there are a lot of events where I can’t play vinyl and I end up having to play CDs, because they don’t really take care of the vinyl decks anymore.

The vinyl decks always used to work, but now I’m lucky if they do. I speak to lots of DJs who have the same problem. Mr C was even thinking about doing a little video to explain how to plug decks in correctly so that you can avoid feedback or technical problems… So, to all the promoters who will read this interview who want to help to keep vinyl going, please guys… do something!

You’re constantly in airports and in hotels. What are your must-have items when you travel?

My computer. We are happy together, we can spend weeks together… But seriously the most difficult thing about travelling is being on my own, so having a computer with me allows me to stay in touch with my family and friends. I also make sure that I never forget my Apollonia box where I can put my money, keys and whatever… We made them especially for the Apollonia Showcase at DC-10.

The idea of the box came about last summer, it is called a tam tam in Spain. It’s a cult object of the ’80s. Dan had one when he was a child on his holidays in Mallorca. He found one last summer, and kept it around his neck. We realized that all the people more than 30 years old were so excited when they saw it, saying, « Wahoo, I haven’t seen that since I was a kid! » People younger than 30 were asking whether it was a fan or a vibro. [laughs] We realized that this simple object was getting a lot of attention, so when we had to think about promo objects we naturally wanted to have an Apollonia swim box to help to promote our first party.

Published / Wednesday, 08 August 2012

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Photo credits /

Header and portrait – Anna Massignan

Apollonia live – Andre Buljat