Jeremy Underground – Interview

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You may already know from reading the blog, but a few weeks back, whilst in Berlin, we saw Jeremy Underground Paris live at the Berghain/Panorama Bar (check out our review of the night here). The next day, we caught up with the Parisian vinyl head and founder of My Love Is Underground, a label which re-releases lost gems from the golden era of House Music. So it was only right we met up at The Record Loft, a lovely dance music record store in the heart of Berlin. Here’s how it went down…

Jeremy Fichon a.k.a Jeremy Underground Paris, 27 years old, coming straight out of the Parisian Eastside and founder of My Love Is Underground, welcome! 

Yes yes. Thank you! 

What did you think of your set yesterday?

I was stressing out a bit before hand, because playing at the Panorama Bar is an important step for anyone I believe… I’ve been thinking about it for the last 2 months. But then I went for it, I was jumping around all over the place, and it all went really well! But to be honest, a DJ is never truly satisfied by his set, we’re all slightly perfectionist and what not, but globally I am happy with myself. All I saw were smiley faces for 4 hours, there was a real good vibe, the people were very receptive, which is always a treat. 

And for the set, was it mostly going with the flow or did you have it all organised? 

I had a few options, but always try to vary the styles. I started with 15/20 minutes of ‘Rare Groove’, to show that I don’t only listen to Electronic music. Although I couldn’t really play too much of it as it is a House/Techno club. But I always like starting with a few different things. Then I alternate the genres: I played some very deep stuff a la Needs, late 90’s, then more MLIU style, “NY-Dubs-93″, then slightly faster UK Garage London 95 stuff, followed by Acid & Hip House tracks Chicago 1988 mode, verging on Techno, to finish on some real Deepness… I try to showcase all the facets I love in House music. Which is something I’ve only been doing recently. When I started touring 3/4 years ago, I was very focused on “MLIU house” straight dubs-break-stabs, I would play that for hours on end, but it got me bored. I now try to explore the various sides of House music that I love, like playing techno groovy or slowed down UK Garage, which I do quite often.

And the climax of your set?

When I played “Brooklyn” by Kerri Chandler towards the end, the light technician switched off all of the lights, we were in the dark with a super deep track, and I thought to myself “fuck this place really is magical!”, because even the light engineer understands the music!

And how did you feel the crowd?

I’m always keeping an eye on the crowd, and if people aren’t feeling it, it stresses me out. But all I could see were smiles so it was all cool. A young chick even came to ask for a track ID, which is something I almost never see elsewhere. It’s a very high level crowd. The title of European clubbing mecca is totally deserved. I sometimes hear people criticise the place “because there are too many tourists” but honestly, I would love tourists like that everywhere I play! (laughs)

By the way, I heard you were ok with giving people track ID’s as long as they reciprocate?

I actually enjoy sharing and exchanging…

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…Well in that case, I suggest I give you a few ID’s from tracks I like and you can give me some of yours. (laughs)

Haha. With pleasure! Music is made to be shared. When people ask me for a track it’s cool, but it should never just be a one way stream. These days with internet, people post “Track ID?” and don’t even say “please”, thinking you are going to drop it like that. But the basis of music comes from digging. So in that way, when there is a real idea of sharing, and exchange, I am all for it. That’s how I see music. 

You gave away the track ID’s on You’re a Melody #1 though…

I’m the one who had to put in the whole playlist on Soundcloud! We discussed with Sam (a.k.a Floating Points), that for the first one (they have released 2 more since) people should talk about it. So in order to have some impact, we should write the whole playlist. (Besides one gem that I wanted to keep secret). If kids started listening to the tracks we played that night, thanks to the playlist, it could only be a good thing for humanity! (laughs) 

I couldn’t agree more… So to conclude on this passage, it’s safe to say that you’re first impressions of the Panorama Bar were pretty positive. 

Oh man, I have one thing on my mind, and that’s to play there again! I really hope to come back regularly as it really is on another level. 

So how is your My Love Is Underground compilation doing?

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It’s doing well! There were 3000 copies pressed and they’re almost allgone I heard! 

It’s a 100% House music compilation of course, but don’t you at times feel clustered in House, especially as you dig many others styles like Funk, Disco or even Jazz?

That’s an excellent question! When people book me, I never know if they are familiar with that aspect of me, who really digs Soul/Funk/Disco etc… I sometimes find myself in a sort of schizophrenic state where I think “right, it’s time to play a bit of Disco now?” but for all I know, the dude that booked me did so because he likes My Love Is Underground and maybe doesn’t give a shit about Disco… So it can be complicated at times.

But doing a “House Only” compilation wasn’t a problem at all, as for many years I would only listen to that, and it still remains my specialty. I know House quite well, whilst I am still some kind of a beginner for 70’s music. I know my strong points as well as my weaker ones. So yeah, I obviously love music from the 70’s but I can’t consider myself a specialist. I still have many things to learn!

However, I am currently finalising a 100% “Rare Groove” compilation with the Psychemagik guys. They make some kind of disco edits but also all sorts of weird Rare Groove compilations. They saw me play a 7” set of Soul/Funk, loved it, and came to see me after my set suggesting the idea of the compilation. So it should see the light early 2015. Its super interesting for me to do this or nights like “You’re A Melody” with Floating Points, because it allows me to show people that I don’t just do House. Of course I am a House DJ, who owns a House label, but I also enjoy good music in the more global sense, some good old Black, Groovy, warm and Soulful jams.

But yeah, I am kind of stuck in the middle, as they are not really the same worlds, and the people are different. It’s hard to get my friends who are into Soul/Funk to understand House, and vice-versa. Unfortunately for some people in Europe there isn’t much of an inherent bridge between the two, so I try to juggle between them. 

And to come back to House, what do you think of this new generation of House producers such as Jay Daniel and Kyle Hall…?

Those guys come from Detroit, which is a scene I have never really been into. I was always more into the New Jersey/New York side of things and then Chicago. I love Theo Parrish and Moodymann as DJ’s though, these Detroit legends are the only American House DJ’s that play interesting music, but talking about their productions I have almost none of their records, except some classic early ones. I am not necessarily in admiration in front of any new kid from Detroit, as 95% of the people are… I did enjoy Jay Daniels’ release with Sound Signature last year though, but it’s not the type of sound I’d play out.

Your are becoming increasingly famous, we’re booking you at the Panorama Bar, at the Rex, at the Dimension Festival and even at Glastonbury! Aren’t you scared of loosing touch with your fans. I read in an interview that you wanted to set a limit to our success.

Whatever the gig, I don’t change my mindset or the music I play. There is a natural glass ceiling that comes in at some point. I will never become too big, in any case. It’s a bit complicated to theorise, but wether I play a small gig in Eastern Europe or the Panorama Bar, it doesn’t change much for me. I attract people who are into the same trip(go digging for gems, respecting music from the past and so on…)

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Being from Paris, and making your name out there, what do you think of the current movement happening there right now?

There is a renaissance in the clubs, a new record store even opened… But Paris is still Paris. Everything is fucking expensive, and we keep breaking your balls when your in a club, so it has it’s limits. We’re very far from the likes of Berlin or London. To answer your question, I am from Paris but I made my name in the UK. Half my gigs are there, my agent is English, and most my records are sold there. It’s the Brits that are loving MLIU first. In Paris, besides Techno, there’s not much happening… Like everywhere else to be fair though, it’s not only a Parisian problem. Quality nights like Mona where you only have Deep House and Disco DJ’s remain rare unfortunately. 

I actually remember at one of those nights at La Java in Paris last December, Betino invited a saxophonist (Fred Melo Sax) whilst he was mixing vinyls, are you attracted by that kind of project?

I am not a musician, and Betino isn’t either actually, but to be honest it wouldn’t really be adapted to my style, so I don’t think I would do it, no. In my House sets it wouldn’t work at all, but even with my more Rare Groove sets it wouldn’t be my thing. It’s cool to watch though!

Do you ever plan on doing a record sale at your house, like Nick V did?

I already sell them but on Discogs. I live in the outskirts of Paris, and going across town with a van full of vinyls to sell for peanuts, isn’t really my thing. Nick can do it as he invites people to his house. They would never come to mine in Bry Sur Marne, and I wouldn’t necessarily want them to! (laughs). However, I do spend my time on Discogs selling and buying vinyl there. 

Was it Nick V that invited you to do your “Originals” playlist on 22Tracks? How did that happen?

Nick had explained the 22Tracks project to me, one of the things he was working on besides the Mona nights. He suggested it to me…

…And what convinced you? 

It appealed to me, as there are plenty of records I don’t get the chance to play in clubs: Jazz records and so on. It’s a good opportunity to give these records a bit of life. It takes me a while as I have to digitalise all the songs I put on my “Originals” playlist. It’s not about grabbing mp3’s from my hard drive. I have to record everything from vinyl. Again it allows me to showcase myself as an amateur of good music in general, not only House!

And when will we have the honor of a 22Tracks night with yourself, Nick V, Molly and others?

You have to ask Nick about that. I know they have something like that in mind. They have already done 22Tracks nights. One of which was at the Bellevillloise last year with the whole team…

Last few words. Any “Underground” trip planned soon?

I haven’t done one in like 2 years (just leave with my back pack to some weird location). But I’ve been lucky enough to play in Kazakhstan twice in a year. And I’m gonna play in Georgia (Caucasus) in June and stay there for a week. Otherwise, I’d love to visit Kamchatka, Iran, Bhutan, Tajikistan and some other places like that.. But these days the priority is music!

And what about your next marathon? Tell us a bit about that…

I fucked up in the last one, I really struggled, I finished walking in 30 minutes more than I did last time, so I’m planning on getting my revenge in the Fall. I haven’t chosen which one yet. But in any case, every year, I try to do the Paris Marathon. I try to do that to stay in shape and steer away from the numerous traps of nightlife, which can really make you crazy if your not mature about it. Running is a good remedy to all the problems you find in the world of the clubbing! (laughs)….

Well I think that ties it up nicely! See you soon, and good luck for the Rex.

Yes! Thanks mate… 

If you like what you hear, we strongly recommend catching one of Jeremy’s live sets, as you will not be left disappointed, and make sure you follow him and his label “My Love Is Underground” on Facebook, Soundcloud, Discogs and Youtube.

Until next time, much love.

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