Cesar Merveille has long had an appetite for art, jazz, fine wines and good times, and his musical palate is equally refined. Cesar traverses styles from house and techno to Latin and tribal funk: From his uplifting ‘Chocopop Jazz’ track to the downbeat ʻMaayancholyʼ featuring Guti, which was remixed by Luciano and released on Cadenza. From recording for Circus Company, Safari Electronique, and Wolf + Lamb, to fusing grooves on Visionquest with label co-founder Ryan Crosson. Cesar’s sound is always evolving, always challenging, always turning heads – and it’s getting louder every year.
You started your career in London’s much-loved T-Bar. Their line-up over the years seems to have had everyone from the house-techno world & everything in between, how much of an influence was that for you?
T-bar had a huge influence on me. I was there all the time until we got a residency. I had the chance to hear so many different and amazing artists; it really opened my music taste. It’s also a great family. It was such a pleasure and honour to have been part of it.
Your earliest music influence was jazz being played around your home. How did you end up falling in love with the guitar? The piano or sax or trumpet or clarinet seems like more ‘jazzy’ options.
My parents were into music but didn’t push me to learn any instrument. I started to play the guitar when I was 14-15 and discovered jazz a little later. I was fascinated by the way songs were arranged and played, it broke all the more traditional ways of the pop and rock I was listening at the time. I find it very inspiring.
Considering that an artist pours all his influences into his art, did your graphics and media background / visual design company help in developing a more nuanced aesthetic / getting more varied inputs into your work?
Yes, it definitely did. The creating process is very similar but with different tools. I’ve always been interested in artists that combine both arts like Christian Marclay. A visual can inspire music and vice versa.
You’ve lived in three major European capitals moving from Paris to London and now Berlin. Do you have a favourite city?
I love them all for different reasons. Paris is where I was born. It’s such a beautiful city. I love walking, going from cafes to restaurants and jazz clubs, it has some of my favourite museums too. London is where I spent all my 20s, developed my music, it really became home. I met most of my best friends to date and definitely had the best parties! I’m now in berlin for two years and it’s more relaxed, there is space and time, I can afford a much better place than in London. It’s a different pace and I really enjoy it.
Again and Again on DRM sounds like a cacophonous alien jazz spaceship flying through a bleepy techno galaxy. I read an interview with Ryan that said you’ll have 27 versions of that tune. How hard is it considering all your jazz affiliations that you have to pen down one final version to make the cut?
For Again and Again, we had a lot of versions but we were not entirely happy with all of them. The last one was the best of them and the choice was easy to make. But otherwise I find that the first takes are very often the best ones even if they are not perfect. They have the momentum, which is the most important.
Do you approach your DJ sets in the same way that a musician might approach a jazz solo? Do you see the production and DJing bits as part of one big picture puzzle?
Producing and DJing are two very distinct things. Nowadays, you have to be a producer to be able to DJ and it’s a terrible mistake to think like that. Not all good producers are good DJs and vice versa. They are two different art forms that require different skills..