Interview : Dj Damage of Jazz Liberatorz (Paris, France)

MMM - Dj Damage, can you introduce yourself and tell us how you started making music and what put you into hip hop ?

I'm DJ Damage, a 48 years old turntablist who started 30 years ago. The first reason why I started deejaying is that I grew up with a few friends around me that were really into music. The first vinyl record I was looking for was "Get Back" by the Beatles, when I was around 5. Then in the 70's most of the music I listened to was tainted of soul and jazz (O.S.T. from movies and series etc.). Even mainstream music was influenced by Afro American music. At the end of the 70's when the junction between disco and funk started, I was in my pre-adolescent period and I bought my first vinyl records which were mostly funk. Then later emcees started to put spoken word on that music, which became rap music. Like most kids at this time we started spinning on pieces of cardboard laid on the floor, and tried to scratch using our parents hi-fi system's turntables. And one day I stepped in a DJ cabin in a disco where I saw a pair of 1200 MK2 for the first time : The holy grail !! And so I started working to buy my first turntables...

When did you start being interested in music production ?

Quite late compared to when I started deejaying. I was a bit averse to the digital world, I started knocking up some remixes and medleys using a tape recorder with two friends, and then one thing leading to another I came to grab an Atari 1040 Ste with Cubase 2 to make my friend's sampler (Akai S950) work, which helped me get a foot on the ladder.

Do you think that production completes deejaying in terms of creativity for an artist's fulfilment ?

I think that it's a logical consequence when you want to cross to the other side, the fact that you have a vinyl record in your hands with your name written on it is really a great pleasure for a DJ !!!

Currently what takes up most of your time, Damage the DJ or the producer ?

My four kids... (laughs). Let's say that at the moment I have to free up more time for myself to work on music production. I've got a lot of ideas and I really want to make a new album that would follow up on "Clin d'oeil" (DJ Damage is a cofounder of Jazz Liberatorz).

What do you prefer in deejaying and what advice would you give to amateurs DJs who want to make mixes ?

Sharing music, make people dance and discover new artists. Regarding music recording there are many possibilities arising to every one. Thanks to digital every budget can afford to gear up for a good end result (endless topic).

Since you're a DJ and a vinyl records collector, do you record your productions in analog ?

Let's face it nowadays everything goes through digital. I mostly sampleaudio files from vinyl rip or good quality CD reissues. Nevertheless it's true that retaking your production through an analog mixing desk and finalising it on magnetic tapes warms the sound up.

What do you think about new digital tools for making or playing music ? Even though I wasn't particularly keen on using digital when I started out, I must admit that Serato made the job easier for me, it's very convenient to have your entire record collection under your arm. At the moment I'm trying to find a compromise between producing and playing live, by using tools such as Maschine, Akai Touch to name a few, which offers great possibilities. I have to dig this.

How have you met Mahdi and Dusty ? Was Jazz Liberatorz trio naturally formed ? How did you come to create the group ?

I met Mahdi during the radio show Rapslam which I used to host with my brother in sound JD. He came with his group for performing a freestyle. He was already a beatmaker at that time, and thereafter he created a beatmaking combo with Dusty. From this moment we started to gather together regularly, they often came to my studio to record samples and then we started to produce hip hop beats together.

Jazz.. Where did your interest to this music genre came from ?

Actually my father used to listen to it sometimes, I think that's by hearing Jazz at home that I started to be interested in the music genre.

Isn't it too complicated to produce when you're three beatmakers ? I think that Jazz Lib is a large cooking pot in which everyone adds his own ingredients, what we do is sound cuisine !

Are you guys working on a new project ?

Yes we do, I can tell that we are going to work on a new LP from the beginning of the year 2017.

Let's talk about your other project "Mr Bop", how this idea came to you ?

I wanted to make an LP on which I would revisit 30 years of music without specifications, but as for the two first EPs it's off a little... (laughter) !!! I want to experiment and express the musical movements that flow into my soul as a DJ (jungle, broken beat, house, soul, techno, trip hop).

Is there an upcoming Mr Bop project ?

Yes, a new EP which is oriented towards UK new talents.

What's your favorite tracks of all time ?

I will kick into touch, I recommend that you listen to my mixes on Souncloud !

Now it's time for the culinary question, what food is the most Hip-hop in your opinion ?

Something convivial, food that is a rib-sticker, and slightly spicy.

Interview by Magical Mystery Mix