Tuesday 8 March 2016

Posted by Will Sumsuch | File under : , , , , , , , , , ,
Record shop owner, renowned DJ and one half of respected production duo The Amalgamation Of Soundz, Jean-Claude has been a mainstay of London’s music scene for almost 4 decades now. Alongside artists such as Kruder & Dorfmeister and Saint Germain, The Amalgamation of Soundz championed a genre defying, jazz influenced style that became the soundtrack to the late nineties and early naughties for many music lovers. Their 2003 Fabric compilation is a slept-on classic, flying in the face of convention with cinematic elegance and off-kilter weirdness whilst retaining the DNA of the pair’s memorable DJ sets, which included a Glastonbury appearance in 2005. More recently, Jean Claude has been busying himself with new projects of late: namely running his record shop If Music, hosting shows on NTS and Soho Radio and curating a series of compilation albums. The latest of these, A Journey Into Deep Jazz (out now on BBE Music) sees Jean-Claude digging deep into his formidable collection and emerging with a fantastically eclectic haul of rare musical gems. We caught up with the man himself to find out more.

How did you get your start in music? Were you collecting records for a long time before you began DJing? 
Apparently I was obsessed with buying and owning my own music since the age of six (so the story be told by my late mother). I had my first ever DJ-gig at the age of fifteen for the school party.

You clearly have wide-ranging musical tastes. As a DJ, do you pull it all together in a way that makes sense? 
As a DJ I have learnt that unless it is a residency each gig has to be approached as if it’s the first time. If it’s a Fabric on a Saturday night, of course I’m playing Disco, house/Techno and I will throw as many breaks into that mix as I can. If it’s a Plastic Peeps (legendary and sadly missed London venue Plastic People) scenario then I’m going stupidly heavy and playing the most obscure shizzle I can get away with. When it’s a Glastonbury, you hit them with the shit they know and want but, everything with my own way of delivering the party. We all have the same records, it’s just how one plays them. The right notes in the wrong order or maybe the wrong notes in the right order!

You've been a DJ for well over three decades now. Please describe how you've seen the scene change and evolve in London during that time. 
 I have DJd man and boy for nearly forty years and the evolution of the DJ is hand in hand with technology as it constantly evolves. For the past ten years or more it’s been all about turning your back on vinyl and the basics, to let the computers do all the work for u. Not surprising really, with the advancement in technology that has transpired over the last twenty years!

We hear your record shop, If Music, has just moved to new premises… 
We are coming up to our 14th b/day and after a seven year absence we have returned to Soho (our 1st spot was in Green’s Ct. back in Jan. 2003). This time we are on D’Arblay Street, right opposite where Black Market Records used to be (serendipity? For sure).

What's it like running a record shop now compared to back in the 90s? 
Indie record spots like ours still function in the same way they always have: we break acts, we turn on the players from all over the world to the latest heat and the classics they need, we introduce the next generation of new talent to the established underground Dons and Donettes and even to the major labels so, the wheels of the music industry keep on truckin’. Running a small record emporium has always been a ***ed up double-edged sword: on one hand, great to be surrounded by brilliant music all day and have the dream job where no two days are the same but, not likely to make millions from doing it. Saying that, one doesn’t do it for the money, I guess.

Your 'Journey Into Deep Jazz' LP on BBE is a very special compilation. How did you go about selecting (and ordering) the music? 
I chose an X amount of records from my collection. Whatever we were able to license was licensed and hey presto, job done!

What's next for Jean-Claude? 
We have the label tie-in with Ninja Tune, so, we will have an array of artist albums continually released on IF Music, there are a host of different comps I’m putting together for BBE et al. There’s the NTS & Soho Radio shows which are a lot of fun, gigs and a busy shop to run……

Jean Claude's 'Journey Into Deep Jazz' is out now on BBE Records.
Check out the 'If Music' online store here


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