From his early pioneering work as part of the Africanism project to founding his own seminal Faya Combo imprint and the countless collaborations and projects on either side of these landmark achievements, Gregory’s tribally influenced, dancefloor-minded beats are without equal in the house world.
Never before has the term ‘House Master’ been more justly awarded.
It’s been a good year for this guy, that is a fact. Take it from us, he is a super-cool character and a must see DJ, tirelessly looking for new sounds and beats he travels the world in search of inspiration.
It is this urge that has been particularly evident of late, returning as he did from a trip to Brazil and Angola and literally bursting with new ideas from working with the local artists. Listen to his new tracks outlined in this album and you can instantly hear how much he was deeply influenced by their sound.
It’s not like he has burst onto the scene, in fact it is quite the opposite. He has been a prolific DJ since the late 90’s where he began his production career, but it was a special project undertaken by fellow Parisian DJ Bob Sinclar that put him on the map. It was the now legendary Africanism project that was to have such influence on his production and little did he know that the Afro House sound he cultivated here would become his signature style. Here he shares some of his thoughts with us…
Please introduce yourself and tell us where you are from.
I am Dj Gregory form Paris; I have been living in Amsterdam for the past 2 years. I am visiting London today for a photoshoot for all my projects due in the forthcoming year.
Let s start off with an obvious DJ question. What is the production that you are most proud of?
So far without any doubt ‘Elle’ is my favourite track it took 3 years to create, I put all of my feelings in to the track and after coming out in 2003 I am still crazy about it, it is my favourite track.
How did you end up going to Angola, it isn’t the most obvious of destinations for inspiration?
I don’t know how but last year I was called by Frederick Galianeux, A French producer regularly visiting Africa, We spoke about new electronic movements such as; baile funk in Rio and Kaduro in Angola. He told me he was going to Rio meeting up with friends and recording some Baile funk singers. He invited me and offered to show me around, I was blown away by the trip and we managed to do a lot of recording whilst we were there.
A month after this we went back again for 3 weeks, then a month and a half after this he called me up and invited me out to Luanda to see what was going on out there and to introduce me to more of his friends and do some recording of Kaduro singers which I could not refuse.
The main idea of the travelling was of course to get inspired by the rhythm but also to get a flavour of the scene.
How did you come up with the track Paris Luanda?
Paris Luanda is funny because we were working all day, at the end of the day we were speaking with the boys working with us, I don’t know why but all of a sudden one of the guys just dropped the lyrics for Paris Luanda and we just went from there.
I love the idea of travelling and making the music at there, finishing it at home but for me it has to be made at the place.
You get involved with the whole creative process with your releases including drawing the artwork for the sleeves, tell me about this.
Artwork is something I have done for a while, I did art School when I was young. When I draw it shows me where I am; I can look at my art and see if I’m feeling good balanced or if I’m angry, it reflects in the characters that I draw.
Do you think you think that you still have something to learn about being a DJ?
If I look seriously I think I am a better DJ before than now, the effort we had to put in back in the day with the vinyl, searching the right mixes, tuning and everything to me was extremely creative. Of course now we have more tools making it easier to mix but the music has changed.
It is not the same way of putting records together now, its like food sometimes you feel you want sushi other times spaghetti. Personally I like everything so there is a lot of stuff that I did and do that are very much sample based. But there a lot of tracks that I did and that I am about to do where everything is played, even the drum. A lot of stuff with analogue synthesisers, musicians Etc. If you pick up ‘Don’t Know Malendra’ or ‘Solaris’ everything is played in those records.
This is not the first time you have been crowned a ‘Housemaster’ right?
I was doing music with my French friend and fellow producer Julien Jabre for a few years; we had this project name called Soha. When Julien released some superb tracks we thought it would be a good idea to do a project with him which lead to the first Housemasters.
So that was the first housemasters, now there is the second edition mixed by myself. In the compilation coming out in November are some classics, including all the new tracks I have done in the past 2 years with my Dutch friends. There are collaborations with Gregor Salto, Sidney Sampson and Nikolai Dimitrov. A bunch of remixes for kelis ardeux and a lot of producers that most people don’t know but are pretty well known in Holland and I’m very happy about it as they are going to get discovered after this mix.
Ok lets round off with a few classic house tips. What are your all-time favourite house tracks?
‘Can You Feel It?’ by Mr Fingers, ‘Can U Party?’ by Todd Terry, all the first Transmat stuff by Derrick May, all the early stuff by Carl Craig… in fact everything by Carl Craig, all the Chicago acid house period – Tyray Cooper, Adonis and Marshall Jefferson of course.
DJ Gregory ‘Housemasters’ is out Dec 6th.
Words Toni Tambourine
Images Joel Anderson