DJ Gregory is atypical of your average successful DJ. For a start, he is not in it for the glory. He has a sense of humor, he approaches production in a unique way and he creates seriously good music but he does not take himself too seriously, all of this making him a super-cool character.
Tirelessly looking for new sounds and beats he travels the world in search of inspiration and it is this urge that has been particularly evident of late, returning as he did from a trip to Brazil and Angola and literally bursting with new ideas. Listen to his tracks and you can hear how much he was deeply influenced by the sound of the South American and African continents.
His travels do not stop there. Here he tells us about Bali - the Indonesian ‘Island of the Gods’ - where he will be performing again at the annual beach festival ‘Junction’. Now, Defected Records has invited him to put together a new mix that perfectly reflects what you would hear if you were actually there, dancing in the sun with the sand between your toes…and funnily enough he has managed to nail it.
It’s been almost ten years since the Africanism project and founding your own label Faya Combo. What’s changed in your life since then?
Nothing has really changed that is that obvious, I still do what I’ve been doing for the last ten years, releasing one record out of 20 that I would hold in my computer for months, listening to more & more music (all kinds), gigging here and there.
Tell us about how you feel about these original Gregory releases...
All those releases are great memories, they were most of them heavily supported by most of the DJs back then, I’m so glad I did it because it reflects a certain time and era.
How has your sound developed since these records? Do you think you are a better producer now? Or do you think that they were perfect for the time?
Like most people I think my sound is getting a bit more electronic, also with these new tools it is easier to experiment with ideas, however I don’t think new technology will allow you to be better because it’s about ideas to me. Now those tracks from the past are not perfect for sure but they have their thing going on.
What pisses you off the most about being a DJ?
Nothing pisses me off about being DJ, I feel so lucky I can express myself in front of an audience.
I want to ask you about Brazil and Angola...you have spent a lot of time there recently. What is the attraction for you?
It is very simple; I had the opportunity to go there with my friend Frederic Galliano whose has been there a lot, as I wanted to see what was going on with Baile Funk (Rio Favela music) and Kuduro (new electronic music from the slums in Angola). I couldn’t miss that. It's been above all the expectations that I had and meeting and recording with all those great people was a bomb.
You obliviously spend a lot of time programming your drums - what’s your secret?
Yeah I do spend a lot of time, maybe too much. Because actually I put as many layers as I can into the production then I keep what I think works. As an old schooler mpc drum programmer I know work inbox (on the computer) which is quite cool because the amount of tools you can use today is just insane. Now the secret is when I start to dance I know the beat is ready.
You are working with the mighty Sidney Samson and Gregory Salto now. How are these producers influencing your sound and what are your feelings about working with them?
I‘m more the kind of guy who takes his time, what I really like with Gregor or Sidney it s that it has to be done now. It is a fast and furious process, so I really enjoy working and spending some time with them.
Is the Bali ’10 mix a good reflection of your sound when you are playing out?
Pretty much. I tried to give different flavors from Afro ish (French Fries ‘Predator’ or ‘Dama S Salon’ I did with Sidney Samson) to much deeper moods (Boris Werner remix of ‘Lost in the Streets of NYC’, or ‘Les Enfants Du Bled ‘ by Soha. The project I had with Julien Jabre or Jairo Catelo ‘Suspicious Mind’ (one of my favorite cuts of the year) and certain ruff cuts like the classic ‘Ok Alright’ by Buddha Khan (Props to Leroy Style for reminding me of this one) or going with the new Quentin Harris which is dope by the way!
Someone told me you sampled the Vuvuzelas from the world cup for your records, is this true?
Nope but I could have, it’s a quite dope sound actually!
Tell me about your experiences of Bali? What do you like the most about their culture?
I’ve been to Bali several times for the junction festival, vibe is great. Weather is amazing the island is just dope and Indonesian people are just so kind and welcome you the best they can. About the culture I’m quite fond of those curly knifes (real ones of course).
Is there a big dance music and clubbing scene there?
Well Bali has quit a lot of places, Jakarta has a lot too and there are more and more very good local Djs, the scene is getting there big time.
Tell me something about DJ Gregory that only you know...
This year there’s going to be more from Brazil and Angola but next is another story, so look forward to it.
Gregory will be playing at the Junction Festival, Bali on the 31st if July.