“Sensimilla…marijuana” Those of a certain age will remember the famous refrain from Étienne De Crécy’s seminal house track ‘Prix Choc’. It remains one of my favourite tunes of all time. Revered by such house dons as Carl Cox, it embodies everything that inspires me about the genre – sultry, hypnotic, atmospheric – I imagine myself in a smokey south American jazz club at two in the morning in a haze of intoxication.
This was released in 1995 as part of De Crécy’s first solo album Super Discount which brought acclaim from all parts. Mixmag said “Every track of this album is simply sublime…Every single one is quite simply essential.” Although it appeared to be a compilation album he wrote most of the tracks, crediting them to different aliases, but also worked with his friends Air and Alex Gopher.
He had no reason to be bashful about taking credit. The year before, he and Philippe Zdar (later of Cassius) had made music history by instigating the birth of French house as Motorbass with their album Pansoul.
In 2008 he began a five year tour and with his Beats’n’Cubes, a piece of performance art devised by the Exyzt collective - a giant structure within which De Crécy would perform - he became a festival favourite.
On Super Discount 2, released in 2004, there came a change in tone that echoed the slightly harder techno influences of his early days, but with the release of the third installment he is bringing back the funkier vibe of the original. Instead of collaborating with producers, this time he has chosen to work with a diverse set of vocalists - ranging from De La Soul to Madeline Follin (Cults).
He tells us he chose the vocalists, not through the plentiful connections he would have built up over the years, but simply from his Spotify playlist - and it tells you everything about the respect he commands, when almost all said yes.
Given the achievements in his career and his great experience – he has been effectively touring as a DJ for 15 years – we could forgive him a little arrogance or world weariness, but he comes across in our interview as modest, generous with praise for fellow artists, and full of joie de vivre - a party DJ who wants the crowd to “have fun with good music”. I mean, that’s what it’s all about...isn’t it?
How is the tour going so far?
Very well as we already played almost 20 times BEFORE the album's release!
How does your new album compare to your previous work?
Hard to say!! I realised after I made it that this album could be the junction or the sum of the first Super Discounts. Compared to the music I used to play in the Cube, this album is pretty much more sweet house music !
What made you choose to work with the specific vocalists you did?
That was very simple! Actually I chose the 10 artists most listened to on my Spotify account! Fortunately they almost all answer positively!
Do you have a visual performance piece similar to the 'beats and cubes' show?
I play with a big SUPER DISCOUNT sign that lights with the music! The show is a bit more colourful and funky.
I read that from 2008 you were touring for more than 5 years. How did you find this experience?
As a DJ I’m touring for more than 15 years - almost every weekend! I was touring for five years with the cube!
I decided to make a show rather than a new album because I didn't feel the music played in the Cube had any sense in an album format. I thought those tracks (Welcome, Binary, No Brain etc ) were meant for the stage, to be played very loud on huge system to thousands of people. That was really amazing to work and progress on a live show for so long. I had the time to change the show three times (music and visuals) and to make it better and better!
Over this time what was your best and worst experience of touring?
I played with the Cube at Coachella in 2008 and, because the show needed complete darkness, I was programmed the last on in the Sahara tent, then technically I was the headliner! All day long all the people from the festival (technicians, sound engineers, people from the organization) came and said: “Hey mate! We’re really looking forward to your show!” I was terrified! Happily the show went great and that was one of my best memories!
The worst - when I played in a festival near Paris and the backstage was in a hotel. When I asked for the key of my room at the reception the guy said: “Ah! Welcome! You’re Étienne de Crécy’s father?”
What do you want people to get out of an Étienne De Crécy experience - what do you want them to feel?
I play so people can have a good time partying. I want them to have fun with good music. I'm looking for the good trip! …without insulting their intelligence…
Who are your favourite DJs/other artists?
Ah! There are so many of them! Right now I’m really amazed with the G-house scene; Amine Edge & Dance, Sharam Jey, Kolombo.
But I also love the new French Techno generation: Gesaffelstein, Brodinski, Maelstrom and Louisahhh and the American electronic funkateers Oliver, Poolside or Willie Burns.
One of my favourite tunes of all time is Prix Choc - can you tell me something about the making of it? (ie how long did it take, how did it develop from an idea)
Like all the tracks from the first Super Discount, Prix Choc was made in a hysterical hurry! I had to deliver the track very fast because I didn’t work at all till the last minute.
The sample was technically difficult to loop as I had to remove a saxophone solo. Then I needed to use only the small part of sound between the note of the solo and bring them together. That may sound easy today with the technology but I was only working with S1000 and Atari 1048! (old people will understand!)
When you’re constructing a track - do you let your mind take you wherever or do you have a set plan in mind of what you want to achieve?
I’m not a musician, I can’t imagine any music before I’m in my studio and doing some sound!
There’s two ways I’m doing music: the first one is when I try to copy a track I love. Hopefully I'm a really bad copier, then no one can find out which track has been copied! The second one is when I play with synthesizer, then I get some strange sound then that inspires a new tune
Going back to the start of your career, what made you decide to make music in the first place?
I always wanted to make music but I have a terrible groove! Technology allowed me to make music, that’s why I’m doing electronic music!
What do you think of the current state of dance music?
I always loved the electronic music because it’s easy to make. Then there are a lot of people doing some tracks, a lot of new stuff , sometimes good, sometimes bad, but there are so many tunes out every day that you can always find something good! I love this frenetic production and the fact you must dig to find diamonds! And the diamond won't be worth nothing three months after you found it!
Etienne De Crécy Presents 'Super Discount 3' Feat. Dave & Pos (De La Soul), Alex Gopher, Madeline Follin (Cults), Tom Burke (Citizens!), Julien Delfaud, Kilo Kish and Baxter Dury will be released on 19th January, pre-order it here.