Interview: Jerry Bouthier (Continental, Kitsuné)
A Parisian DJ-producer who set up base in the British capital, Jerry Bouthier is first and foremost a busy dj strikingly passionate about music in all its forms. His ties with Continental Records, Vivienne Westwood, Kitsuné, BoomBox/Ponystep etc have made his name a fixture in the fashion world and beyond, from London to Paris, Milan to Tokyo.
Originally a club dj for whom unsurprisingly it is essentially about making people dance, Bouthier – always open to a wide range of music sensibilities and schools of thoughts – developed a challenging approach focusing on heart-melting emotions and tantalizing, at times hypnotic, atmospheres while remaining funky and danceable.
His latest mix/compilation is ‘Kitsuné Trip Mode’, a different kind of dj mix inspired by the escapists’ moods of the catwalk and supported by the prestigious online concept store Net A Porter, which is out next week on Kitsuné, the groundbreaking Parisian label renowned for fusing music and fashion under one stylish roof.
Today, Jerry Bouthier stops at SerialGK for a little chat about music, influences, fashion shows and his next plans. Read our interview below and get to know him better. He’s definitely an artist worth keeping an eye on.
Zac: DJ, producer, music director, label owner, fashion soundtracks! How do you manage your time?
Jerry: “Oh I can’t complain, it’s all great fun. Music’s the main thing I’m truly passionate about, so it doesn’t take much to ignite my appetite. All these jobs are glued by one thing, sourcing music for various uses. I’m like a filter, a lot of my time is spent checking out tunes and sorting them out by styles, projects, designers… All tracks can serve a purpose, it’s just a question of working out which…”
What made you decide to turn to music in the first place? Where do your musical influences come from?
“I owe it to my parents who were big music fans. There were always lots of records at home, and good ones too, psychedelic, soul, pop… soon enough I started to collect my favourites. By the age of 13 I probably owned over 100 albums. It helped that one of my dad’s best friends was music journalist for one of the main French newspapers receiving tons of promos. We used to go to his some Sundays and come home with bagful of vinyl, the nutter would dispose of them in his rubbish shoot. His caretaker had worked it out and was selling them off!
I’ve always felt it was a good thing to move on with the times, as long as new stuff is exciting me and there always is – particularly in this day and age with so much out there. Although there can be pretty lean times too, that’s how it goes, things change all the time for better… or worse.
After years of vibing off to all kinds, i’ve come to realise that it was possibly my very first records when I was 6 or 7 year old that had the most impact on my tastes. Film soundtracks such as Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001 Space Odyssey’ and ‘Clockwork Orange’, ‘West Side Story’, the Jacques Demy movies (‘Peau d’Ane’, ‘Les Demoiselles de Rochefort’, super cult in France), as well as Tamla Motown, Beatles, Chicago, lots of stuff… The richness and diversity of orchestras and choirs had a profound impact on my emotions (the more the merrier for a child) and has stuck with time. As much as I love guitars and synths, orchestra and voices are powerful tools to reach out to the next level.”
Your new dj-mix compilation for Kitsuné is inspired by “the escapists’ moods of the catwalk”. Tell us more. How did you chose the tracks? Which is your favourite one?
“After a few years producing soundtracks for fashion shows, I noticed the process of mixing tracks together was quite different from doing a dj mix. For a start in fashion shows it’s not about making people dance, you’re less drawn to songs and vocals, there can be a few but it’s the mood, the successive atmospheres, that matter most because you don’t want to distract too much from the clothes. At the same time the musical backdrop is make or break at a show as it can truly mess things up and ruin the designer’s vibe if wrong. So you end up cutting and splicing bits of tunes, focussing on one breakdown or a particular line, and often you end up getting rid of the rest and totally rejigging the tracks around to cater for your needs. It opened up my mind in a big way.
Maybe you could do the same thing over a longer length of time like a 1h mix (fashion shows tend to be between 10′ and 20’), and not totally squeeze out the groove element as it’s sometimes the case on the catwalk, so that it’s still dancey. I started to experiment putting mixtapes on my Soundcloud (the series Heart & Soul) and quickly realised these turned out to be great home parties mixes, quite trippy/after-hours, funky and still musically evocative, emotionally charged, a bit lovey-dovey…
Although when I dj I always try to be as eclectic as possible cos I enjoy much stuff and don’t see the point in dividing music, I noticed that with this approach, I could blend in almost anything in the mix (thanks to Vivienne Westwood and other luminaries always pushing the threshold), electronic genres I wouldn’t play out like minimal or whatever, but folk too, world music or classical even, given that the mood and melody worked in the mix.
In the end, it’s all a question of timing and order, getting the right link to the next track at the right time. I do the same with the MiniMixes I produce for Kitsuné, I pick up my fave sections of the tracks off the new Maison comp or else, and recreate my own logic and melodic/emotional path out of them, trying to make some kind of sense out of the sum of it all. All the components become linked together in one main recording, the overall soundtrack, rather than it being a succession of tunes. It can be quite mind-blowing and much fun to work on cos this infinite palette of sounds to work with brings endless possibilities.”
Your latest single under your project with Andrea Gorgerino, JBAG’s Through Blue, features the singer of Polish electronic band Kamp! How did you guys meet and end up making music together?
“It was through their original label DiscoTexas (Moullinex, Xinobi and Hugo Moutinho in Lisbon), who asked JBAG to remix their debut single ‘Cairo’ a few years back. From that moment on we fell in love with Kamp! and its invaluable singer/songwriter. It was only a question of time before we would meet, sample their great live performances and become good friends. These guys are proper gems, talented, on the good stuff, humble as fuck with the right open-minded attitude. If they stick long enough at it they could become the first Polish act to make it internationally, they truly deserve to.”
Which is the ideal place to listen to your music?
“With Continental – and Kitsuné too for sure – the aim is to offer music that you can live with at all moments. It may be dancey but it’s about sharing feelings, singing along to, boosting your confidence, making you feel alive and in touch with the world around you. It’s not so much where ‘to listen to music’ but where that music can take you. Without sounding clichéd, if it’s good, wherever you are, it can have a profound effect and make you escape.”
What was the first record you bought?
“Honestly I have no idea. As mentioned before there was a lot of records at home whilst growing up, and it didn’t take me long to master the art of borrowing my dad’s without returning them haha. Don’t know, the first 7” I bought must be Soft Cell ’Tainted Love’ or Blondie ‘Dreaming’ I reckon.”
London, Paris. Which is your favorite destination?
“Paris is a fantastic city for a romantic break, or er… if you’re old and well off haha. So much culture and good restaurants, it’s fascinating. But for me, it’s all been about London since I was 14. Although it’s changed a lot over the years – or to be precise due to globalisation it’s the rest of the world that’s changed a great deal, as the same things have become available everywhere, resulting in the British capital becoming less unique – still for me London’s the place. And it’s now become the capital of Europe, with sooo many foreigners living here, thousands and thousands attracted by what I call the London myths (gigs, clubs, fashion…), not forgetting all the other immigrants who come here to work or study. Its main downfall? It’s become too expensive, geared essentially at rich people and as such is chasing creative kinds away, a situation which is now affecting music scenes and venues, a real shame…”
How do you chill out?
“Like everybody else : ) I tend to favour intimacy with my loved one and close friends rather than doing it in public places mind. Hence the importance of mixtapes.”
What’s next? Should we expect a new JBAG single soon or other releases on Continental records and Kitsune? Any fashion shows?
“Yes keeping busy. The second part of JBAG’s single with Kamp! is out monday 1/9/14 with remixes from Mjolnir (Jakarta), Saint Pauli (Hamburg) and James Curd (Adelaide), check the instrumental finally out, it’s proved popular with djs, the song’s lovely too.
More to come on Continental soon, such as the 2014 versions of ‘No Memory’, a lost cult classic from 80s discopop band Scarlet Fantastic as well as new material from Reflex, Cyclist, JBAG (we’ve started work on an album)… This year JBAG has kicked off its live DJ set thing which is me deejaying and Andrea’s playing keytar over our productions, remixes and other current faves, a bit like a gig. It’s way more interactive and entertaining than two guys behind the decks and has given us a new angle which feels comfortable and fun. Andrea’s an amazing musician, definitely JBAG’s main asset, he owns that stage! I’ve already dubbed him the Italian Jimmy Page haha.
As far as Kitsuné goes, ‘Fashion Trip’ is my 5th mixed cd for them but I’m only an ambassador for the label you know. It’s exciting contributing once more to this imprint for which I’ve got much respect for; it seems a long time ago now when Gildas and a handful of assistants were squatting Daft Punk’s office in Paris’ 18th quarter. Hopefully KTM will hit a chord with music lovers, it aims at delivering something a little bit magical and for sure more feminine than most dj mixes, like an audio movie that can nurture your imagination and fantasies. It’s a personal project I’m really chuffed about, it sounds a bit silly but I’ve almost build religious connection to it, the idea of trying to touch on beauty’s purity and perfection makes it a fascinating goal.”
What are you most excited about right now?
“To be honest between the explosion of EDM and the house revival, things could be a lot better (and imaginative) right now cos i’m not convinced any of it is really gonna lead anywhere. The democratisation of music on paper is a fantastic idea, but in reality it’s a bit of a nightmare with everybody and his dog aiming at becoming famous out of very little and in no time at that. Yet I do believe that when things get pretty bad, with so little fresh musicality and honest emotions about, there can only be a turnaround waiting to happen. Maybe it’s just me but I find it difficult to choose between the over-commercialisation of the charts and the aridity of the underground scenes. In my opinion the best stuff’s always what’s in the middle. Coming from all sources the tracks in Kitsuné Trip Mode are melodic in grand and naive ways, there’s an emotional thread throughout, some of it is a little arty and out there yet there’s always space for interesting musical developments, so after all the turnaround could be nearer than we think.”
JBAG’s Through Blue (feat. Kamp!) EP1 and EP2 are out now on Continental Records. Get them here and here, respectively. JBAG’s latest “Asia tour” mixtape can be streamed here. Kitsuné Trip Mode, mixed By Jerry Bouthier is out on September 8th 2014. Stream a minimix below.