Listen back to our first show on Data Transmission Radio, hosted by residents DR, Mondé, Sciran & Shaw James. We held an exclusive 20 minute interview with Djebali – we talk about what he has coming up this summer, his musical hip hop roots, his first solo album 5, his labels and much much more.

There is also the opportunity to win a signed copy of Djebali’s album on both vinyl & CD and 2 tickets to our event with him at Hidden in Manchester.

Hi, Djebali how are you? Thanks very much for taking the time to talk us, are you up to much this weekend?

Yes, I’m good thanks, it’s my pleasure. This weekend I played on Thursday. It was really good, I had the weekend off, which I don’t often get – so I’ve been enjoying it. I’m going to go see friends but for now I’m spending time in the studio.

The weathers getting better and summer is on the horizon, have you got any exciting plans you can share?

Well, I’m going back to Ibiza – it’s been like 5 years now I’ve been going there. I’m going back to play at DC10 and I’m also going to make the Hi Ibiza opening party, which is the old ‘Space’, so it’s going to be happening at like the end of May just for the opening and then I’ll be back at DC10. I’m really excited as I heard they’ve rebuilt everything inside the club.

Yeah, a lot of people weren’t sure about how it was going to work at the new Space club after it closing down but the lineups are looking pretty good.

Yeah, the lineups seem really really cool, I’m playing there with my friends from Apollonia and they’ve got some other great DJ’s playing.

Rex Club has played a big part in your career, from being introduced by Terrence:Terry to now hosting your own nights there, do you think being associated with such a great club has helped your career?

Of course, because you know Rex is a legendary club and has been running for about 27-28 years now so it’s a pretty big reference for electronic music in Paris. Even if there are a lot of different, new, good things happening in Paris, Rex is always still a great place to go. When I started my parties, I did it in another place for the first year and the guys from Rex club were telling me ‘Man, you have to do your party in Rex club you belong to it’ and it really helped me because especially for people outside of France (of course people inside France aswell) but it gave me a great place to go listen to French dance music. Everyone knows about Rex club – so to be playing there and to be resident there is a big step in the career.

Obviously Rex is probably one of Paris’ most famous club alongside Concrete, but apart from those 2 are there any other smaller clubs in Paris you would recommend that people might not necessarily know about?

To be honest, because I’m not often in Paris during the weekends, I don’t usually go to different clubs. There are quite nice clubs, but working really well aswell is ‘pop-up’ parties and like one time events in a big space, or little bit just outside of Paris, people are really crazy about these types of parties. They can a fit a lot, alot of people just in like ‘one shot’ parties.

I’m sure there’ll have been a few of those with it being Record Store Day today?

Exactly, before going to the studio, I was given a little tour of this place called La Roue Tourne in Paris, there were different crews selling records, it was pretty nice.

Did you find anything?

No, I was just hanging out really and there to see the people, I wasn’t really digging. I’m digging like everyday, or every other day.

Yeah, you’ve got to! So, I read elsewhere that before you got into mixing House, you were more into your Hip Hop. Is that correct?

That is correct, exactly yeah. When I started I was into French Hip Hop & Funk. So, yeah I was listening to a lot of French Hip Hop, which was pretty strong during the 90’s.

French Hip Hop has had a great scene over the years. Who would you put down as your biggest influences in Hip Hop?

There are several but I would say In Idéal J whose in a group called Kery James, who is the singer who is still running. I follow this group a lot.

Do you still listen to Hip Hop?

Not so much because I’m not really into the new scene, I’m sure there is pretty cool stuff but I’m…

The sounds changed a lot hasn’t it.

Yeah I’m sure there are a lot of other pretty cool stuff, but I just don’t get the time to listen to it, I’m still listening to Kery James, he’s still making albums though so…

We heard that the MPC is the focal point of your studio, which is obviously known for having its roots in hip hop, is this something you use because of your Hip Hop background?

Yeah definitely. Because when I was started to get interested in all the different kind of gear (hardware), and I was seeing all the Hip Hop beat makers were working with the MPC’s especially the 2000 mixer and the 3002, so yeah it probably was because I was searching for these kinds of songs and trying to fit it into house music.

Yeah I think that must be quite a French thing because I think Phil Weeks uses the MPC.

Yes, Phil Weeks also uses the MPC and he’s also got that kind of Hip Hop groove as well.

Exactly, you can hear the influences there. We’re both producers ourselves and love your sound, I think it’s a very distinguishable sound, can you give us one tip which you think contributed to the Djebali sound?

I would say it’s all about those rolling grooves, is what I focus most on. I’m no Mozart, or playing any crazy kind of piano or whatever. So I focus on beats and on grooves. You don’t need to have every type of synthesizer.

At the end of last year you launched your first solo album, which we’ve got a copy of ourselves – we see that you’ve been touring the album, which was your favourite event from the tour?

I would say it’s all about those rolling grooves, is what I focus most on. I’m no Mozart, or playing any crazy kind of piano or whatever. So I focus on beats and on grooves. You don’t need to have every type of synthesizer.

Yeah sometimes it’s just about making best use of what you’ve got.

Exactly, yeah.

It’s dance music init, it’s menna make you dance!

At the end of last year we saw you launch your first solo album, which we’ve got a copy of ourselves. We see that you’ve just been touring the album, which what you’re favourite event from the tour?

I was lucky to have a lot of good places and I played in some new territories; for example Australia, that was my first time there. But I also played in a lot of other clubs I usually play in too like Nordstern Club in Basel, Switzerland. There is a party called Sash in Sydney, that was really really amazing. They had like a daytime event and a night time event, I played both like 3 hours and was something really special and on top of that, because it was my first time there it’s always surprising – but in a good way.

Also in Argentina I played there already, but that was amazing as well. I was pretty lucky to have a really nice gigs for the tour.

Obviously the album is called ‘5’ what’s the story behind the name there?

Yes actually there is, the name came to me pretty easily actually for two reasons. First reason, it was the five years of the label and the other thing was that I did the album in like 5 months. So I was like yeah, let’s call it 5.

It’s quite a rarity to see an artist album from a house producer these days, what made you want to write an album?

When I started the Djebali series with the production I did, quite a lot of people were asking me “Why are you not doing an album?” and I really wasn’t interested in it at all. I was like “No, no, no. It’s not my thing”, but then I don’t know why but my mind changed and I was feeling it, because I wanted something special to try and close the five years of label and to make a point.

It’s nice to really look at it from that perspective and quite nice to produce as a series of tracks as an album and have a progression of a sound and to compose it AS an album.

Yeah because when I work on EP’s, what I do is I’m working on one track – it’s done, finished. Ok cool, onto another one I finish, boom, Ok cool that’s finished. And for the album it’s totally different, I wanted something choreographed and like a real story, so that’s why I worked on all the tracks at the same time and I was writing the album with every session open to have something that would be like story. So yeah, I worked really differently for the album.

You can tell you’ve put a lot of effort into it, it sounds great. Also, you’ve got 4 record labels at the moment, Djebali, Djebali presents, Djebali reworks and Djebali extra. It’s quite an interesting concept to have them split into 4, what’s the reason behind doing this?

Actually it’s really simple, because I didn’t plan anything at the beginning. So I started Djebali because, it really was just a project to release my own music that’s it. There were a lot of good labels around me, like my friends label. So it wasn’t to release a label it was just for my own music. So I said “Yeah, let’s call it Djebali” because it was just like my music and that was it. And then there were a lot of people sending me tracks, and I was thinking that this could be interesting. So I started to do ‘Djebali presents’ and aswell I wanted to do some remixing of the back catalogue at one point so I said let’s make ‘Reworks’ and also I did some tracks with friends which don’t fit so I made ‘Djebali extra’ and put all the other music there.

Yeah you’ve had some big guys on the ‘Djebali Presents’ one with like Mr KS and people like that. So, have you got any releases or special artists lined up this year on any of the label?

I’m not really sure right now, I’ve got some different options. There were some guys sending us some stuff from Russia and they are really, really good. Also, some guys from France that I’m really looking at, at the moment. So, nothing is planned yet, because the thing is with this label, I don’t really need to have a big schedule, I just release when it’s coming. So if I spend 6 months without releasing it’s not a problem. I’m just waiting for the right project to release.

We bring you down to our first Distinct Manchester birthday May bank holiday weekend on the 26th at Hidden, which we’re really looking forward to bringing you down. Last time we saw you playing Manchester was at the now sadly closed but legendary Sankey’s, have you played in Manchester recently?

I’ve played in Manchester a few times, but to be honest it’s hard to remember for me because the last couple of years was for Sankey’s I think. Before was for really small clubs, really small venues.

What were your experiences, did you enjoy Manchester?

Yeah the people are really into it! I love the energy and everything it’s a great place to play, I love to go. In England in general there is a really nice scene, Manchester especially, Leeds as well, you have a really strong energy you can feel when you play.

We see your ideal juice is Tequila, have you got any funny Tequila related stories? If not, I’m sure we’ll be able to make some on the night.

Haha I love Tequila that’s right.

Last question, do you have any hobbies or interests outside of dance music?

I love cinema, I love a lot of different things but to be honest it’s hard to be able to do what I like with all the gigs and the time in the studio. I’m always running out of time, so I try to go to the cinema or spend time with family.

You don’t have a lot of downtime, so thanks very much for taking the time to speak with us today, we can’t wait to bring you to Manchester in 5 weeks time. Bring your dancing shoes we’ll show you how we do it in the north.

Djebali has kindly provided us with a signed copy of your album ‘5’ which will be available to win as part of our competition on our facebook as well as free tickets to come see you on the night. For your chance to win check out our Facebook page by searching for Distinct Manchester.

Before you go we asked you to provide a classic track that always finds its way into your sets, can you please introduce the track and explain why you chose it.

When you asked me about it I had a lot of options, but actually had just had some sad news about a really well respected producer called DJ Ali who just passed away. I played a lot of his tracks so I wanted to make it special because of him. The track is called ‘You Don’t Know’ and it’s a really beautiful track.

Distinct Event with Djebali
Tickets: skiddle.com/e/12957041

Follow Djebali online

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/djebalidj
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/djebali
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Djebali
Website: http://djebali.com

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If you’d like to contact a member of our team, you can do so at info at disinctmanchester.com