Todays guestmix is from a man responsible for some of our favourite output over the last few years ‘Jacques Renault’. Jacques (Yes its his real name) has a plethora of strings to his bow curating and managing a number of great labels like ‘On The Prowl’, its offshoot ‘OTP Party Breaks’, vinyl only ‘Goodnight Moon’ and the burgeoning ‘Let’s Play House’ which began as a series of parties that flourished into a label he currently runs alongside his partner in crime Nik Mercer. ‘Lets Play House’ seem to be nailing it at the moment with releases from lots of HOD favourites like ‘Dead Rose Music Company’, ‘Fantastic Man, ‘Bicep’ and ‘Toby Tobias’. Quite the stable. Not happy to rest on his laurels for very long Jacques and Nik recently announced the launch of ‘Goodnight Moon’ a vinyl only label. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this project as it has potential to be a bit special.
Jacques strikes me as a man who doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is a rare attribute among producers. This mix is for having fun/getting messy to, simple. However it’s not all candy coated disco like you may expect and Jacques ventures into some deeper territory with the wonderfully complex and polarizing ‘John Talabot – When The Past Was Present (Pachanga Boys Red Remix)’. You can nearly feel the sweat dripping from the roof to Daniel Avery’s “Drone Logic” which is a bit of a monster. There’s a few unreleased little gems peppered throughout this mix, including a first peek at the aforementioned ‘Goodnight Moon’ label with ‘Almost – Polyphony’ which incidentally is one of the highlights of this mix when paired with ‘Emotion II Emotion – Can’t Help Myself’. We cornered Jacques and Nik, shined a spotlight in their eyes, waterboarded them and managed to squeeze some info from them.
Listen to this mix on Soundcloud: HERE
Tracklist under interview
Firstly to break the ice, who’s the better DJ, Nik or Jacques?….3,2,1….fight!
Nik Mercer: Definitely Jacques! Before we started, I played around a little with DJ’ing, but never got much of anywhere. When we began LPH, Jacques and I made a pact of sorts, though; we agreed that I’d stay away from DJ’ing so that I could better handle management, A&R, bookings, promotions, and so forth. So Jacques wins by default! I’m kidding. He’s one of my favorite DJs and I’m very happy to work with him!
You guys obviously like to work together, so much so you’ve decided to do another label together ‘Goodnight Moon’. Can you tell us a little bit about why you thought another label was a good idea and what you hope this label to stand for?
Jacques Renault: We were receiving an abundance of demos that we really liked that didn’t fit into the schedules and vibes for both LPH and On the Prowl, so I thought it’d be fun to start something else.
N.M.: Jacques came to me with the idea and I immediately jumped on board since running LPH with him has been such a pleasure. My contribution was the concept that we make it into a eight-part series, each release representing one of the phases of the moon. Both of us wound up really digging the idea of creating something that has a defined beginning, middle, and end.
‘Lets Play House’ seems to be doing strong things, being New York based, how have you found the label received in your home city compared to abroad?
N.M.: Well, we started solely as a party in late 2009 and that’s how we began to build our reputation. The only people who knew of us in ’09 and ’10 were fellow New Yorkers and friends of our from overseas who were on our email list or came to town when we happened to have a gig or just kept in touch.
J.R.: When Nik and James Friedman had the idea to start a label, we prepared ourselves to become more of a global entity. After the first release, I often deferred to Nik and James when it came to label signings―it gained momentum faster than I’d anticipated. But, around the summer of last year, my personal audience began connecting me to Let’s Play House, which was exciting to see.
N.M.: I think, also, as we added to our catalog and put on more events, more people started noticing us, which helped spread awareness in Europe, a market we wouldn’t have been involved in had we not started putting out records. Also, we’ve worked exclusively with European distributors, which has only helped expand our reach across the Pond.
So, basically, we have two separate yet united brands: One is based predominantly in NYC and revolves around parties that people really enjoy; the other leans more to the EU and focuses on 12″s, which, to be honest, are a little difficult to find stateside.
You guys are still doing regular parties, whats in store for those lucky enough to live in New York?
J.R.: This weekend we’re working with the Dong & Pony Show to bring Graeme Clark and Craig Smith over for two sets―one by 6th Borough Project and another by the Revenge. Mark E is joining them as well as me and Paul Raffaele of D&P. That’s on January 26th at (le) Poisson Rouge. In February, we have Session Victim at Cielo on the 22nd.
N.M.: We’ve also got HNNY playing a smaller, local thing on Thursday the 24th and Honey Dijon DJ’ing and Midnight Magic performing live on February 8. And the date isn’t confirmed yet, but we’ll have Tiger & Woods back in late March. We’re really looking forward to that since we’ve brought them over three times so far.
Your sleeve artwork on ‘Lets Play House’ is extremely recognizable, whose idea was the design?
N.M.: Thanks! Early on, we decided we wanted to work with a single designer who would be dedicated to all of our graphics, whether they be flyers or sleeves or labels or stamps or T-shirts and so forth. So we approached our good friend, Drew Heffron―who had done some work for DFA amongst other clients in the past―with our idea, which he was in to. The rest is history. We owe him a lot: While Jacques and I had a visual concept from the get-go, Drew was the one who distilled our blather into something tactile and visually appealing.
I think that the arrow idea came about as an effort to incorporate the house into the sleeves in a subtle and nuanced fashion. A house is, after all, an arrow. We like what he came up with because it helps highlight the labels.
Did you guys grow up around vinyl, when did the love affair begin?
J.R.: I started collecting punk rock records when I was in the 7th grade. Growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I was surrounded by a thriving music scene. But I didn’t discover dance music until ’96, which is when I started buying and collecting with the intent to DJ. It’s been the same ever since.
N.M.: My father had a really wonderful―yet relatively small―collection of punk and post-punk 7″s, EPs, and LPs that I poured myself into as a kid. I was also into more modern stuff myself, but it was when discovered his Yellow Magic Orchestra albums that I really started getting into electronic music and started focusing more on disco and house and the like.
Being from the land of ‘EDM’ what do you make of the popularity explosion and what it stands for?
N.M.: Well, it’s a good thing in the sense that it theoretically opens LPH up to a wider audience. However, as with any trend, it takes a while for that popularity to trickle down to the taste-makers. We try to make our parties (and our records) accessible in the hopes that newcomers to these genres will use them as a springboard for further exploration.
J.R.: Yeah, we’re not directly a part of the EDM wave in America, where it’s more about huge raves and really big acts, but, like Nik said, we hope that it winds up being a gateway drug for the listeners who want to dig deeper.
N.M.: The thing about America, I think, is that pop and punk and Top 40 is most easily accessible to younger people. You can’t really get into anything resembling LPH until you can drink, which means you have to be at least 21. So this “EDM” stuff is more of an acquired taste; it’s a genre you find after you’ve been in punk bands in high school or gone through a hip-hop phase or whatever.
What labels do you both respect the most on your side of the Pond and ours, and what sets them apart from the plethora?
J.R.: It’s relatively new, but Nathaniel Jay and Bianca Rose’s Love Revolution label is on my radar over here in New York. As for Europe, I’m always a fan of Sound Stream and like the new one. Also, My Love Is Underground, Skylevel, and Wolf Music… to name a few.
N.M.: We have very similar tastes… and, yeah, the list goes on and on! We’ve both been really liking what the Waze & Odyssey guys have been up to. Back to America… ESP Institute is a favorite. I love New Kanada. Oh! And Running Back is always a much-loved standby.
What’s the best party you’ve ever played at? Tough question I know!
J.R.: Most recently, Cabin Fever’s party at Panorama Bar because I got up at 10 AM, had breakfast, and went straight to the club to play a four-hour set, which I’d never done before. The most memorable was at the Sydney Opera House. Something that makes your mom proud!
What are you both most excited about for the coming year, doesn’t have to be music related?
N.M.: This is our first full year for LPH Records, which is really exciting for me―I’d never operated a label before starting it―so I’m really looking forward to all the releases we have scheduled. The lineup feels tight and curated and is definitely a reflection of my mood… there’s a lot of bright, up-beat and up-tempo stuff in there. Stay tuned! Otherwise, I’m very eager to bring LPH on the road, but I’m not certain that will happen in 2013. If it doesn’t, I’m making it a point to get out of NYC for a real trip―it’s been a couple years.
J.R.: As always, I’m looking forward to the trips I’m planning and have planned for the spring and summer. I enjoy travelling to play. It also always makes me appreciate New York even more.
Finally, the question everybody wants to know the answer to, crunchy peanut butter or smooth?
N.M.: Crunchy. Please, read into that!