A Parisian club kid in the early 2000s, Djebali has grown into one of the most accomplished house producers from the city’s new generation of talent. Driven by his own self-titled imprint in 2011 and several sub-labels in the last few years, together with gigs at high-profile clubs around the globe and a back catalogue full of classic house grooves of the highest order. He is one of Paris’ shining stars…
Djebali was first backed by long-serving Paris head Terence:Terry: at the legendary ‘After Party Is Not A Crime’ nights, before making numerous appearances at Rex Club and holding a residency at the Freak N’ Chic Batofar parties between 2008 and 2010. Since then, it’s been a steady rise up the ranks, with Djebali’s hard work and ingenuity taking him around the world.
Pushing the scene forward in his hometown, Djebali has brought a glittering array of talents to his party at Rex Club, Ideal Juice, 1 episode every 2 months. The party has also been held at locations outside of Paris, hitting Ibiza Underground, Iboat in Bordeaux, Special Case in St Petersburg, The Basement in Tunisia, as the UK stopping by London & Liverpool.
Tell us something about your residency with ‘Ideal Juice’ at Rex club?
I’ve been running my party called Ideal Juice in Rex Club for just over two years now. There is one edition every two months, more or less. I am more than happy to be a resident of this legendary club… they’ve repped 26 years of pure underground music. It’s a honour to be part of it. Everything is amazing there: the sound, the team, the energy of the crowd. I am always hyped to play there because I can invite who ever I want – Rex Club have given me total freedom regarding my guests so I can invite all the many artists I love. So far we’ve had DJs like Delano Smith, Nastia, Dorian Paic and MCDE and live acts such as Premiesku, Point G, Cobblestone Jazz or Christian Burkhardt. The last party was with Cab Drivers Live (one of the best live I saw recently) with Enzo Siragusa from Fuse and the next one will take place in April with two of my good friends: The Mole and Tuccillo. That will be a killer.
How did you get into electronic music production? What’s your musical background?
I first came into DJing when I was around 15. Back then, I managed to buy my first pair of turntables and mixer and jumped into it. Production came later, around my 20s. At the time it was just for fun, using software called Reason. Eventually I got more and more into it and my first release came to life in 2007 on Jay Haze’s label, Tuning Spork. I used to listen a lot of funk and soul music in my tender age, as well as French hip hop. By the way if you’re curious about here’s a mix below, [available online at Don’t lose the magic, Marcus Barnes’ blog] strictly filled with French rap favorites.
Your sound is very unique, what do you think sets you apart?
To be honest, I don’t know, really. I trust my ears and emotions. My sound has evolved a lot already, from my first releases on Freak n’Chic to ( djebali ) Series or more recently the Once A Month project, I launched early 2018. That said, I agree there is a common DNA, a “bind” between all these tracks I’m putting out. I’d say this unique sound is probably due to the hardware I’m working with, and the way I’m mixing the tracks.. I do everything on my own.
By reading some of your interviews it looks to me like you are more than just a “bedroom producer” fiddling with a bunch of synthesizers. You have an advanced setup, a console, outboard effects, and everything is interconnected with a solid signal flow using a midi box and a patch-bay. Did you study or take any courses related to music technology or are you self taught?
I used to be a “bedroom producer” & I think loads of us get started this way. Then, as I was (and still am) passionate by the audio pro world, I looked for and found an audio engineering program. It doesn’t teach you how to produce, but to understand all the equipment and tools, you have to be able to record (instruments) and mix a track, under frequency and dynamics terms. I think that you don’t have to follow a class to succeed in producing, but personally it helped a lot in the understanding of how everything works and how the hardware should be used in the right way (console, Eq, Fx etc…)
Take us through your creative workflow.
One year ago, I bought a new sequencer called Cirklon. It changed my workflow. The MPC3000 used to be at the center controlling everything: Now it’s the Cirklon which does the job! Every synths and drum machine I gathered are directly connected to my console, an old Amek, and controlled by the Cirklon. It allows me to jam easily and find out ideas quickly. My patch bay allows me to make crazy routing through all my external FX and compressors. When I got the main idea, I start recording every element in Protools. And then I make the arrangement in the box and use the patch bay to add more FX or mixing modules. Afterwards I do the mixdown back on the Amek.
Could you reveal to us your business relationship with French artists like Apollonia, Jay Haze, Point G and Freak n’ Chic posse?
My relation with Jay Haze (who s not french) is simple: I jreleased my first EP in his label Tuning Spork. I met him once but he moved to South America and we didn’t stay in touch. With the guys from Apollonia it’s more of a family thing : I ‘ve known them for about 15 years now and we’ve lived together for the last four seasons in Ibiza. Point G, I was introduced to him throught Lionel Marciano who ran Real Tone with Franck Roger for many years. We became friends and I really wanted to have a remix from him… in the end he remixed my track ‘Reputation’. All the crew from Freak’n’Chic is the same story as Apollonia, I know them from the days when I started to hang out in Paris at the parties they used to do. Way back when!
Who is the DJ that inspires you the most?
Ricardo Villalobos! A DJ who never stops touring, but releases a lot of music! He built up a perfect workflow that allows him to optimize every minute passed in his studio. Regarding DJing, a lot of people have inspired me, and will keep on inspiring me. For me, the level of DJing has increased a lot those past 5 years. I constantly meet very talented DJs, already known or not!
What are the criteria for a track to be released on your label?
I focus mainly on the vibe of the track, but there is one rule that’s never changed… it has to be groovy! If my hips move while I’m listening to the demo, it’s a win! There are many artists on my label, all with different touches. Kokaz is completely different from Chris Stussy or from Jonny N’Travis or even from the new release by NTFO (for whom I did a remix by the way) but they all have one thing in common: a lot of grooves!
What do you advise young producers who want to make it in the music business?
It seems basic, but to believe in yourself. One of the first things I learned is to trust your ears. It’s not about having the same sound of this guy or that guy, but more to make it personal. If it sounds good to you, if it’s the result you’re looking for, that’s it! Period. My second piece of advice for young producers would be to connect with others producers, whatever their age. In a way, that’s what I’m trying to do when an artist releases on my sublabel ( djebali ) Present – the platform I’ve dedicated to newcomers. Once his original track is out, he will have to make the remix of the original from the following EP. This way, I create connections between them and I truly believe that we are stronger together. Networking in music is as much important as other activities.
What’s the thing that you despise most in the music scene? What do you do to change it?
That “network” thing. It would have been great to be able to play every club just thanks to your talent. There are thousands of geniuses out there, DJs or producers, but they may never succeed because they’re in a wrong or nonexistent network. It’s a shame, but I guess this is not happening only in the music industry, it’s just how things are. If I had the solution, I’d be glad to share it with you – but unfortunately, I don’t! That’s why I’m trying to give back by backing artists with (djebali) Present, or by giving advice to young DJs and producers I meet on the road.