Co-owner of AZZUR, and label manager for OFF Recordings, Melokolektiv has an impressive resume. With records released on Crosstown Rebels, Get Physical and Kindish, the DJ and producer is destined to take 2017 by storm. Torture the Artist had the unique opportunity to speak to the man himself about topics such as his latest EP, ’In Between’, fellow musicians who inspire him, his life near the French Riviera, and what to expect in 2017.
Torture the Artist: How was the year 2016 for you, and how will 2017 be the same, or different?
Melokolektiv: 2016 was intense for me as I worked a lot managing both AZZUR and OFF. Our crew organized four open-air parties during the summer and this venture has kept me out of the studio for far too long. In September we decided that the new year would be focused on producing and releasing more music. It’s time for me to return as an artist under my Melokolektiv project. During the next couple of months I will release more music, notably two EP’s on AZZUR before the summer. I’m really excited because I think that finally my balance relies on producing quite a lot of music. When I don’t release music I feel unproductive.
We created AZZUR because we wanted a platform with no restrictions.
Torture the Artist: Give us some insight into the vision at AZZUR, and how has this affected your upcoming EP? Also, can you tell us a little bit more about the EP itself?
Melokolektiv: We created AZZUR because we wanted a platform with no restrictions. In the past we constantly struggled to find the right label to release our original music or we had to adapt it to the label standards in order for it to be released. So the idea behind AZZUR is to give our artists the freedom to express themselves and to release the music they want to. If Konvex & the Shadow decides he wants to release a reggae album, we will support and release it. Of course in return we expect high quality music. Our artists can release anything they want, but it needs to be outstanding. We also strive to help our artists develop not only their careers, but also their musical skills. We all need to grow and we believe that success will come faster if we all help each other. Many labels pretend to do this, but sadly, only a few really do it. For the ‘In Between’ project, I had many listening sessions with several of my label partners. They helped me improve the tracks and surpass myself.
I want to talk about the vocals on the EP, sung by Inma Gomes. We’ve been friends for a while now and she recorded the vocals more than one year ago. I’ve always admired her work and I felt I had to wait for the right moment to finish the track. I must admit that at the beginning I did not feel up to the task.
I’m not the type of artist that doesn’t give a damn about the dancefloor and only focuses on developing their own art.
Torture the Artist: Your music has been described as ‘raw’ and melodically designed for the dancefloor. What are a few of your secret weapons that have been well received by your audiences?
Melokolektiv: I’m originally a DJ, not a musician. By my standards, the most important thing is to make people dance. I’m not the type of artist that doesn’t give a damn about the dancefloor and only focuses on developing their own art. Maybe one day I’ll create another project for that kind of thing, but Melokolektiv is all about making people dance or at least making them enjoy their night out. So if one day I have to play some Drum ’n’ Bass or Rap music to make people dance in a club I will do it without hesitation.
A very influential DJ, and one of my all-time favourites, Laurent Garnier is able to play all types of music without loosing his credibilty. I remember one day I was playing in a public park in Lyon. The party was free and the crowd wasn’t really into electronic music, so I ended up playing an edit of a French Rap anthem called ‘113 – Tonton du Bled’ and people started singing the lyrics of the song which they knew by heart. I’m not doing music for techno purists anymore.
For the ‘In Between’ EP I wanted to collaborate with someone who had a fresh perspective.
Torture the Artist: Your previous releases have reached the likes of Blond:ish, Damian Lazarus and Laurent Garnier, to name a few. Which artists from the electronic music scene inspire you and who would you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Melokolektiv: A few years ago I would’ve said Frank Wiedemann, Gilles Peterson or another big name, but at the end of the day I feel it’s more interesting to collaborate with people outside the electronic music scene. One day I’d love to collaborate with a talented percussionist, or an amazing musician or singer. For the ‘In Between’ EP I wanted to collaborate with someone who had a fresh perspective and that’s why I contacted my good friend and vocalist, Inma Gomes. I think she brought something new to my music and it feels good. Nothing is worse than being stuck in one genre or working process.
Torture the Artist: Growing up near the French Riviera, you must know the region and its culture well. What places could you recommend for a night out starting with dinner, followed by a drink at a bar, and then some dancing at a nightclub?
Melokolektiv: Ah, this is hard to decide. If you were going to Marseille I would recommend ‘La Boite à Sardine’ to taste the finest Mediterranean seafood cuisine and then I would recommend ‘La Dame Noir VII’ for a drink and lastly, ‘La Dame Noir Dancing’ for all night clubbing to some amazing ‘dark disco’ music.
But if you were going to Avignon I’d recommend ‘Chez Antoine’ as it’s one of the best Italian restaurants I know. And of course, the theatre I founded, ‘Bô Theatre’, but only if you went during the summer, as it is only open then for ‘Avignon Theatre Festival’. And last, you must go dancing at the ‘Vol de Nuit’ parties which always have the finest house music DJs, such as Fred P, DJ Q , SecreteSundaze, Delano Smith, and Makam.
Torture the Artist: Being a musician is quite demanding and also requires a lot of travel. How do you relax when you’re not on the road, and what is your ‘ritual’ when you get back into the studio?
Melokolektiv: Nothing helps me relax and recharge my batteries than a walk in the nature and a swim in the Mediterranean sea with my wife. We have many wonderful places around here and that’s the biggest reason why we’ve decided to stay around. I would miss the sun too much if I left.
Torture the Artist: Besides the AZZUR or OFF Recordings events in France, where else can people see you play in 2017?
Melokolektiv: Our next AZZUR showcase will be at ‘Sisphos’ on June 24th in Berlin. It’s by far one of our favourite clubs on earth so I can guarantee it’s going to be something special. I can’t wait!
Melokolektiv’s ‘In Between EP’ is out on Azzur, March 14th 2017.