We had the chance to have a chat with the incredible Move D whilst he was playing at Concrete in Paris with the Electric Mind/ Hydra crew a few weeks ago. What follows is a rich in depth conversation with the German producer about the young French music scene, Paolo Conte and his best cosmic space t(r)ips.
You are playing for electric minds tonight. Can you tell me a little bit about your collaboration ?
Of course, I’ve known them for 8 years or something. Dolan is also playing tonight he’s the main guy, at the time it was small parties at Shoreditch in a small attic under the roof you could reach and open the window it was a photographer’s studio so it was all in white.
It was small parties with 300 people maximum, it was really nice and wild you had to go up a small staircase, even the staircase was already jammed with people smoking Then Dolan and AJ went on to do the Hydra which they still and it’s a lot bigger, it’s still nice but I really relate most to the early days parties. I think Dolan is the same. They ranted a big place and stopped using because it was not personal enough. Dolan is a good friend and a great DJ.
What’s really impressive with your productions and DJ sets is your diversity in genres, you did so much different things, ambient, house, the great project Conjoint with the jazz musicians. It’s funny because depending on who you would talk people would define you as a house artist or a techno artist. What’s the origin of this diversity ? Do you think it’s your strength ? What genre are you concentrating on right now ?
About the diversity I guess it’s due to the fact of how your brought up like if your parents listen to one kind of music maybe you end up being a person that only likes one kind of music. But i was lucky my step-father had an amazing record collection and trusted me when I was 4 old to play with his super freaky expensive stereo, and i could spend my days listening to those amazing records.
At the time I couldn’t read or speak any English so I was picking records by the artwork, and didn’t care if it was french music, or classical or avant-garde or whatever.
So at that time I realised that music was the most fascinating thing of my life. There’s phases where I dig especially house music, phases where I like ambient or jazz. I think at the earliest stage in your life or career your probably better off concentrating on something so people know how to market you. It was a problem for me, like at the time i was making ambient i was probably playing techno so people would book me for the ambient room and where surprised when i played techno. So you have to thing out the whole marketing aspect.
But now as I get older I feel I have a lot more freedom, and people are more open minded. And maybe people who like me are more open than the average and i feel the freedom to do this stuff which I wouldn’t have dared to do in the nineties.
I would have not have played The Beatles or James Brown in a DJ set but now I totally would.
I think it’s the bonus after a certain age and people are bit more forgiving. I remember in the 90’s, and especially in Berlin, people where so specific if you played one breakbeat tune to a more techno crowd everyone would leave, because there where 20’s and it was not their music.
Today is a better time. (a song of Paolo Conte passes…) I love this guy, really he talks about women with a lot of respect, the other guys like Gainsbourg would be more sleazy although i think he doesn’t think about them in a bad way. But Conte is more « La donna, siempre la donna ». It was a distraction (laughs) but still it fits about the diversity.
Have you got any production routines ?
If I wanted to make a record that people would dance to, I would not listen to the last D.Ko records as much as I love it because I think it’s too close, and it’s already been done.
It would almost be like stealing or watering down your ideas. If I feel like i can translate this kind of music or whatever kind of music (referring to Paolo Conte) to electronic or dance music, I’m not talking about sampling but some idea of it. I think it’s very good if you can take inspiration on lots of things, especially jazz as a big teacher. People are scared of jazz but if you treat it the right way, if you quote it the right way then people start to become less afraid of it.
Are there any french Dj’s and/or labels that you particularly follow right now ?
MD : I already mentioned D.Ko, I would also add Skylax and … I’m so shit with names. I was playing Rennes maybe half a year ago and they gave me one vinyle compilation of local Rennes people and there is one track on it and again I don’t the name but it was so good. It’s great if you can play some things that no one is playing and i feel like the french scene had been overlooked for a while, but it’s coming.
But for me like when I discovered Mad Rey’s Quartier Sex, I knew it was such a huge track and whenever I played it people where totally overwhelmed by it.
Even though it has success I feel like it’s still underground. It’s a great feeling and reward when i feel like i can contribute to spreading a tune that maybe people wouldn’t have noticed too much.
It happened some times, where I would play the song and then they would sell the whole lot in one day, like for Matsumoko’s Drafting under the stars, it has great accordeon sample a bit like french variety music , which I did note like at first but then realised it was not a sample but a real recording of a musician. The story of how I got was also nice, I was dancing Tokyo in a nightclub and a guy came up to me and only said « Move D san » , couldn’t speak a word of English and he just gave me the record. I get a lot of amazing records that way.
Are you a nostalgic ?
I like music that’s really accessible, even commercial but it doesn’t have to be from the charts, lot’s of great music outside.
For example Ian’s Dury’s « Wake up and make love to me », that was dance music before dance music. You just play it and it works. Even though there is a lot of nostalgia I think there is a lot more freedom today.
Yes the 90’s where great and everybody was warm, and they where long endless parties. And it was great but musically I think it was never better than now. When I started as a producer In The early nineties if you went to the techno record shop there was only US techno or some Holland Gabber or some hard techno from Frankfurt. There where a few genres and pretty much everything was inside the genre. But today if you spend too much time in a record store you can spend so much money there is just so so much great music, not all about dance.
What do you listen to at home ?
I generally don’t listen to dance music in general at home, i would rather listen to some Paolo Conte. Yeah I really like music and elephants.
One bad experience ?
It’s great when the whole DJ thing is not just about the money, like when you can have a good relationship with everyone, especially the promoters. One time I played in Paris, the promoter was okay but i wasn’t really feeling it, like he left after my set.
I was taking a dump in a backstage, 30 seconds later someone is knocking at the door. And i’m like it’s occupied, then they come again and I said it’s one minute and then the door opens. I got really pissed off (laughs). I yelled at the guy and I just left, not cool.
But this is the reality it’s not always with the nice people and you just ask yourself why ? So it’s really nice to meet people like Mouloud, Pete and Brice (from Concrete). You know they’re just ravers like I am and they are just here to make this happens and it makes a big difference.
Some think electronic music has reached a certain limit ? What’s your take on this ?
I think everything has two sides. Yes there are records made in 1988 and I play them today and they sound more fresh and cooler and everything, and better than what’s trying to be made in that Chicago house genre today.
So it leaves you with the question does it kind of make sense to keep working in the same direction or genre ? And I think not, so that’s probably why i’m diverse. If I had to stick to one genre I would probably end up hating it. What makes it is the variation, same thing about the music production ; i would not really try to imitate.
It’s fine to imitate if it’s fun but I don’t think it ‘s good if it becomes a religion
Because then you are miming something that happened before, and you probably won’t do any better and even if you do the same quality you still end up doing something that someone else was making 25 years ago, and not making any progress. That’s a bit of a problem.
But on the other it’s the market that make the producers go certain ways, if they realise old school deep house is having a come back they’re going to go that way, to get a gig etc. I can’t blame them for it. But if you think about music for me it’s always about making new things and re-appropriation . I think we can see both phenomenons. You can go to a record store and find so much stuff that’s left field and you can’t really say what it is, it’s is own thing. A great artist or album always emerges.
There’s so much great music today. Producing music has been democratized a lot, in the 80’s or 90’s even if it was already more attainable you still had to buy a 909 or something, today in theory everyone can make great music with their mom’s PC, as much as I like hardware.
I think today they are more producers than listeners (laughs).
The whole scene is not moving is synchronicity : Paris since 4-5 years has become amazing again after it’s rise in the nineties. Everything is going in cycles. Like for the moment it may be not so great in Berlin, but it can still change. It’s different in all places. Like US is so much cooler now. Any how it’s amazing how music can take down boundaries and frontiers, it’s a blessing to work in this field.
Music in tough times ?
With bad news all the time in mainstream media it’s very important that we can look up a certain ideal in music scene. People are much nicer these days. I think raves changed that.
When I started djing in a local club the bouncer would look at your clothes and see if you would spend money on the bar. It’s not really like that anymore.
The establishment look down on us and think it’s all about the party but they forget what makes us good, we are good people we have a good codex. It’s usually at the techno parties that people are careful and friendly. Being older I’m super proud to be part of this. We have to be proud and educate the rest of the world.
So for you the selection, the building of the set would the most important thing way before the technical aspect of mixing for a DJ ?
Yes, I think the attitude is also important. In the 90’s it was lame to have your real name as a DJ, the thing was to have an obscur pseudonyme and white labels.
I see guys that are posing with their private jets, and i’m like « what are you doing ? » . What’s the example your giving ? Its Bullshit.
Same with interacting with people at a party. You CAN be nice too. But the most important thing for a musician is just to keep focused on the music at all times. As DJ on the contrary of course I want to build something, but I would also fail my mission if they really didn’t like it. It’s all about a compromise. The challenge is to make them have a great time but to sneak in cool tunes that they may not feel at first but that will slowly make their way.
I personally have a lot of respect for local resident Djs, it’s hard sustaining variety and renewing yourself when you play at the same place all the time.
When I played at La Machine with the Sonotown’s, their local resident gave one of the best warm-ups i’ve ever seen.
You wanted to be an astronaut when you were younger, can you give us three tracks you would listen to while floating in outer space ?
These are my three space tracks
Thanks Move D !
• Playlist Bonus by Move D •