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12.07.2019 | Words by: Jasmin Hoek

I remember first coming across Bambounou’s music online quite some years ago. Both his tracks and his DJ sets had a house-y groove and intricate percussion, combined with elements of footwork, baltimore club, Hip hop and R&B. I fell in love right away with ‘Heroic Deeds’ from one of his first releases Alpha on YounGunZ Entertainment. Because of it's catchy bassline and smooth Beyonce vocal sample. After Alpha, he released several tracks on Parisian label ClekClekBoom. Next to his solo productions, some more collaborations with French Fries started popping up, like heavy-bass roller (and another all-time personal favorite) ‘Hugz’. Which samples Kotton the Cutie’s Baltimore classic ‘I Just Wanna’.

Around the same time Modeselektor approached him for a release on their 50WEAPONS label. And before the label quit in 2015, it became home to Bambounou’s 2 albums, several solo EPs, and another shared one with Margaret Dygas. In 2018 Bambounou returned with a more off-center sound with a trippy polyrhythmic record on Don’t DJ’s DISK label, and another one earlier this year on Whities. That once again showed off his versitality as a producer.

This Saturday marks Bambounou's 5th time of djing at De School. A good reason to catch up with him on producing, playing and his hometown Paris.

Q: Even though I think you have a distinctive sound, I feel like your sound has changed a bit over the years if I compare your ClekClekBoom releases to your latest one on Whities. Is that true?

A: When I first started producing my skills with tweeking synths were still quite limited. I was working like I had a MPC and sampled over a beat. So yes, many of my first tracks were pretty much sample based. At some point I realised I was actually quite good at producing, so started to go a bit more into synths and exploring that more. My main tool was the DSI Tempest synth. But I have to say, now I’ve also gone back into using samples a bit more. Sometimes using only hardware makes it sound a bit cold, and that what samples really add for me; some different kind of warmth.

Q: So where do you get your samples from?

A: Pretty much anywhere. From the internet, Youtube, to really old records from all kinds of genres.

Q: What’s your most unexpected source that ended up making a great sample? 

A: I recently used a lullaby from an album with soothing baby music as a sample. 

Q: What pushed you into a different direction producing wise?

A: I spend a lot of time in the studio, and I always like to challenge myself and push my own boundaries to try out new things. As a DJ, I want to make the audience explore new rhythms and new sounds as well, so in a way push their limits as well. That doesn’t mean I don’t like a classic 4x4 track or don’t play them. I do, I love it, but I just like the combination of both. 

Q: I feel like your DJ sets are always really danceable, but never “easy” or “predictable”. Are you also consciously pushing the audience in a way?

A: As a DJ, it’s your job to make people dance first of all. Next to that, I want to make people discover a new rhythm, create different atmospheres, change it up, create something unexpected. That’s what I personally find more interesting to do as a DJ, and to experience myself as a visitor in a club as well. I think something can be both dance-y and challenging.

Q: Do you produce with the dancefloor in mind?

A: Yes, for sure. I always go back to the studio after a weekend of DJing very inspired by the atmosphere, the places I play definitely influence me as well. I try to recreate or make the sound to how I memorize the vibe of a club in the studio. Sometimes this can be from a specific club. Actually, I've used my experiences at De School as inspiration before as well.

Q: Do you play a lot of your own productions while DJing? 

A: I do. I go to the studio every day, but not everything I make I consider to be worth a release on its own. Some of those tracks are good to play though. To those I just give a fake artist name and still play them out.

Q: What if somebody asks for a track ID for one of these?

A: Ha ha, then I’d  be honest and say it’s mine.

Q: Back to one of your very first releases. On ClekClekBoom you contributed to these compilations named Paris Club Music in 2014 and 2015. What’s the Parisian club scene like today?

A: I’m sad about Concrete closing. It’s always important for a city and a local scene to have one steady club. Not only because of the club itself, it’s an important introduction for everyone that’s interested in electronic music. It’s like an entry point for people that are interested in going to more underground warehouse parties or more experimental music.

Besides, Paris has a good Hip hop scene. I hope in the future there’s going to be more crossovers between our genres. At somebody someone has to be like “fuck it, I can make this kind of beat too.” I’m very much interested in the possibilities between these different kinds of music.

Bambounou plays our basement this Saturday alongside LNS and Tammo Hesselink. Tickets are still available here  and at the door.
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