Interview: DJ Deep

Recent years have seen a wealth of musical talent emerging from France. Producers like Voiski (who delivered our 82nd instalment of the Truancy Volume series back in 2013) and Antigone, as well as labels such as Construct Re-Form and Syncrophone have helped to re-establish France – and Paris in particular – as one of techno’s current focal points. Their contributions build on a long lineage of excellent electronic music emanating from the city. In a career now spanning two decades, one man who can claim to have been at the heart of much of this is Cyril Etienne des Rosaies, known to most as DJ Deep. From his early days as a resident DJ for Laurent Garnier’s legendary “Wake Up” parties at Rex Club, DJ Deep’s commitment to his craft has seen him build a reputation as a hugely skilled selector. As his latest effort for the L.I.E.S. podcast shows, it’s a reputation that is richly deserved. Outside of the booth his label Deeply Rooted is equally well regarded, while his latest studio collaborations with Roman Poncet on Tresor have been mainstays in the arsenal of many DJs across the continent and beyond. Ahead of his appearance at this year’s Gottwood Festival, we caught up with Cyril to discuss the origin and process of these collaborations, Paris’ current musical landscape, and his plans for the remainder of the year.

Hi Cyril, thanks for stopping by. How’s 2016 been for you so far? What have been the highlights? “Thanks for having me. 2016 has been really nice for me so far. I’ve been busy with lots of nice gigs. Playing recently in Porto (Club Gare) and Lisbon (Europa Sunrise) in Portugal were both really great experiences. I’ve also been hard at work in the studio. We just finished remixing Saint Germain “Real Blues” with Roman Poncet and I’m preparing to release “DJ Deep Cuts Vol. 2” on my label Deeply Rooted.”

Speaking of your gigs, Gottwood marks a rare UK festival appearance from yourself. “Yes! I hear the vibe at Gottwood is pretty unique so I would like to make sure I present an original and hopefully inspiring selection of sounds. I take each and every set as a new challenge and really try to feel the atmosphere of the place and transmit my passion for music through my selection.”

Parisian and French techno more generally seems to be in a really healthy place right now. What are your views on the scene at the moment? How does it compare to when you started out? “Yes, there are a lot of Parisian talents here at the moment, whether it is fantastic DJs, producers or label owners. It’s good to see Francois X get the success he deserves, and also to see our local prodigy Roman Poncet become successful with his various aliases. The scene seems to keep growing. There is now a wide variety of clubs and parties within the city which somehow develops a dynamic ‘competition’. I mean that in a positive way. I am hoping that passion for music is at the centre of this growth. I do not mean to be negative here at all – and I also think this is a global thing and not something which is isolated just to Paris – but when I see a young DJ, producer or label owner and this person tells me for instance that he is “so passionate about techno music” and that this music “is his life” and I later find out he is unable to name one Derrick May record then I question myself. You know, how can you be so passionate about one music style and know nothing about its history, yet still be a DJ, producer or label owner?”

Over the last year or so you’ve been working very closely with Roman Poncet under various guises. How did your relationship come about? “I met Roman when releasing his record “The Opening EP” on my label Deeply Rooted back in 2014. There was a nice vibe going on between us and we quickly found ourselves at Roman’s studio experimenting with sounds and music together. Soon after came the concept of Sergie Rezza, under which we put out an album on Desire last year. Then we conceived the idea of a more techno leaning project and released three records on Tresor as Adventice. We also have a more house-focused side project Fang and, all being well, we should have much more to come!”

Can you tell us what makes you and Roman a good fit with one another? How do ideas tend to come about in the studio? “It’s a very natural process. Roman is a heavy worker and he constantly brings new ideas which makes him very inspiring to work with. I also try to come up with ideas and concepts on how to approach certain projects. We basically try to keep vibing of each other in a natural and spontaneous way. For instance, I play a lot of records to Roman and he is very spontaneous in his way of expressing himself through productions. My input can help inspire him in the beginning of a track and then his groove may inspire me with a reference to another track that will lead to another, and so on. We are in the studio together almost everyday. Both of us have busy touring schedules, and that can take time and energy, but it also serves as a great inspiration to us as we are able to feel people’s reaction to music every week. It really helps to keep us connected to the people we are trying to ‘speak’ to.”

One of your aliases, Adventice, has also developed into a live show. Was this always planned? “It was not at all intended to be a live show at first. The idea of playing it on stage came along while preparing our Sergie Rezza live performance. We found some fun ways of mixing the analog and digital equipment we use on stage. Having spontaneously experimented with it we decided it could be a fun thing to do with Adventice. There are quite a few Adventice shows coming up. The next one is in Lyon for Reperkussound Festival at the end of the month.”

In the past I’ve seen you describe yourself as a “filter” when trying to select music for your sets or even for your label. Does the seemingly endless stream of music out there ever leave you feeling very weary with this whole process? “The fact there are so many releases every day is definitely challenging, but I think it’s fascinating too. I’m very fortunate in that I like a wide range of different styles of music. That means I can always keep myself refreshed by moving from one style to the other. It also ensures I’m always excited about discovering more great music and more sources of inspiration.”

What can we expect from the rest of the 2016? Are there any plans for any new solo material? “Yes, I’m hoping to release “DJ Deep Cuts Vol. 2” on Deeply Rooted around April or May time. That’s a straighter techno four-track EP. I also intend to release a more house-focused solo EP in the coming months, also on Deeply Rooted. There are plans to release some more collaborations with Roman Poncet on the label in the near future too, but we are still discussing under what alias.”

DJ Deep will be performing at this year’s Gottwood Festival, which takes place in Anglesey, Wales, between the 9th and the 12th June.

Matt Gibney