Poussez' lascivious taste in music encompasses ‘funk to techno with all the myriad goodness in between.’ Both individually and together, Jafar and Maxime have been making serious waves on the scene since the late 90’s, with Jafar’s roots in the UK techno circuit DJing for nights like Eurobeat2000 and Universe's Final Frontier, toiling with the acid-techno scene and it’s day trippers and squat parties, whereas Maxime, based in Chicago and San Fransisco, soaked up the West Coast vibes of house music pioneers such as DJ Garth.
Bound by a blistering passion for electronic music and the perfectly encapsulating atmosphere of the extended set, whether they’re building beats for three hours or twelve, their immense energy is driven by a belief that you get out of music what you put in. Nurturing artists like Kris Wadworth and Andy Touchfingers' 9-piece soul outfit Poetiquette, to Andreas Saag and Nacho, who’ll be joining them in the Room Three takeover next Saturday, the pair also run the fun-loving Uptownboogiedown parties and compile a noteworthy podcast series with regular mixes from the label roster, plus some very special guests.
But before fabric gets a piece of the Artizan charm, we asked Poussez to dig deep into the touchstone moments of their history so far and deliver us a taster mix which surpassed our expectations - as soon as you see the tracklisting, will know you're in for a rare treat.
1. Ed Davenport - Lustre - Liebe Detail
2. Eddie Leader - Ummmm Well - Huddtraxx
3. Delano Smith - Change is Coming - Sushitech
4. Axel Boman - Paris 2006 ft Kornel Kovacs - Play it Down
5. Serafin & Roman Bruderer - Dream Sequence - Mountain People
6. Mutiny - Swimming with Sharks - Ovum
7. Delano Smith - Wires - Sushitech
8. Itamar Sagi - One Million Oaks - Soma
9. Meat & Chris Wood - Backdown (Sascha Dive Mix) - Murmur
10. David Durango - Supernature (Matthew Styles Mix) - NRK
11. Tony Lionni - Precious ft Marvin Belton (Deetron Remix) - Freerange
12. Satyr - Roadrunner - Liebe Detail
13. Rennie Foster ft Moka Only - Connect like Four (Samuel L Session mix) - Rebirth
14. Makam - Hide & Seek - Soweso
15. Cuartero - Caminando - Soulman Music
16. Kris Wadsworth - Detroit to London - BOE
17. Dachshund - Oak Glen - Highgrade
18. Poussez 'Ode to Fabric' - Artizan Music
Can you tell us how you two came to meet? Set the scene for us and the story of how you formed Poussez and the Artizan Music label back in 2004? Jafar: As independent artists we'd both been chipping away a long time. I put out my first record on Dave The Drummer's Hydraulix in 1997, whilst Max was releasing on Dust Traxx. My belief has always been you get out of music what you put in. Nothing is going to land in your lap, so I went to work for various labels, distro’s and music PR’s - anything to learn as much as I could. I love every facet of the industry, but it takes no prisoners. The more you can do to connect with people, the better. When I met Max in 2004, I instantly recognised a kindred spirit, a man with the same intense burn in his soul for electronic music. We truly vibrate at the same frequency.
Max: We actually met at a friend’s BBQ and immediately got chatting about music, DJing and production. We then scheduled some sessions and instantly had a vibe in the studio with very similar tastes. Both of us share a passion for the deeper side. One thing lead to another and Poussez was formed. At the time, Jaf was already running Artizan Music with Andy Touchfingers, whilst I was busy heading up the art and music collective 4bit with my friend Pete Nawara. 4bit was about combining live art, graphic design and electronic music, showcasing it at events around East London. When Pete moved back to Chicago, I decided to join the Artizan ranks. Everything felt really natural about it. Of course now I completely regret it. Haha. Just kidding.
What’s the best thing and worst part about performing and producing as a twosome? Jafar: You can clash as a twosome, but Max and I have always been fortunate enough to have this synergy, we don’t always agree but its more that we are open each other’s weirder ideas. It probably helps he’s one of my best friends too.
I guess if there was any negative, it’s from the DJ side - we never have long-enough set times. We're big fans of long sets, like 10-12 hours. To quote a much-hackneyed expression, you can really ‘take them on a journey maaaan'. We once played a gig in a Brixton pub with Andy Touch, from lunchtime New Year’s Day until 5am the next morning. Nuts, but oh so rewarding.
Max: I think in terms of production, it's a god-send. At the beginning of my career, I produced a lot by myself. It's nice, but also kind of introspective and a little lonely. Music is better when shared, whether listening or making. With a studio partner, you have someone to encourage you, bounce ideas off and someone to reign you in when you go off on a crazy tangent. I often do haha. Of course, you have to understand and respect one another’s choices. Jafar and I do. Sometimes an idea might at first be uncomfortable, but then you take a break and hear it in context and you 'get' it.
In terms of DJing or performing live, there are certainly some negatives; 2 sets of flights have at times stung us in landing more international gigs. For the most part however, it's great to vibe off each other playing music together. It's also good because I often just steal Jaf’s drink when mine is finished.
Do you share the same musical tastes/influences & are there any stark differences between you both? Jafar: My roots on the UK techno circuit djing for nights like Eurobeat2000, Analogue City or Final Frontier, saw me working the squat party scene a few years, so I perhaps draw more reference from those crazy 303 days, whereas Max was based in Chicago and San Fran soaking up the west coast vibes of DJ Garth et al. If anything, Max is a bit more experimental than me. Don't get me wrong, I'm open-minded about most forms of quality music, but when it comes to deeper house and techno, I definitely have a particular vibe in mind. Max will surprise me with some wobbly, fidgety nugget he's dug up that I would never have thought of using. It’s the crazy German in him haha. It works well for us, both behind the booth and in the studio.
Max: Yeah, we both dig a lot of the same stuff, but despite this, we both surprise each other in unearthing new material during our pre-studio listening sessions. Jaf will play me something that I haven't heard and vice versa. I've always been influenced by music that has nothing to do with our genre. I rarely listen to electronic music at home and prefer instead soul, disco, Latin or French dinner classics... you know. I engineered in a few rap studios in California before moving to London and opening a recording studio in the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Working with a massively diverse client base has always taught me to appreciate other styles and genres and draw inspiration from them.
Where do you think Artizan Music sits within the current disco/house scene? You’re latest 'Discuits EP' is a serious dancefloor burner. Both: Thanks very much for saying so. 'Discuits' has been a really, big hit for us, the vinyl which features a new mix by Detroit's ace Kris Wadsworth, is on its second pressing, so really chuffed with the results. We are as much into the nu-disco scene as we are our techno and house. So we are producing slo-mo stuff as much as we are experimenting and pushing our techier sounds forward.
We like to think that Artizan has quietly gotten on with it, not paying too much attention to what the ‘hottest’ thing in Europe is right now. Tastes are fickle, especially with the instant gratification of the internet. Better to focus on what you believe in and love.
We're really proud of our roster. Andreas and Nacho are of course joining us on the 27th, but we've also got Demarkus Lewis, Rithma, John Larner and Rich Medina in the states, Spieltape from Russia, Pete Dafeet, Funky Transport, Rhythm Plate & MrCenzo in the UK, Blacksoul in Croatia, our Italians Eightbitrate & W10 and of course our Canadians, EZLV.
What’s Artizan music policy and how have artists a range of artists like Andreas Saag, Kris Wadsworth, Demarkus Lewis (USA), Nacho Marco joined the bandwagon?
An artizan is a master craftsman so our mission statement has always been showcasing artists we admire who we feel are top of their game. For the most part, that has taken the shape of deep house but also techno, nu-disco or tech-house. Our 3rd release even came from Andy Touchfingers 9-piece soul outfit Poetiquette, with a remix by Yam Who? We like to keep things broad, but discerning.
In terms of how these artists have joined us. It’s all about cultivating long-term friendships and building a little family. We love and respect each and every one of our artists and have worked hard to form good friendships, as much as having them join the label. We’d probably all have a Sunday roast if we could afford everyone’s air fares haha.
Aside from Artizan you’ve had releases on top imprints, Toolroom, Champion Standard, Blacksoul, Huddtraxx, Pesto, Universal Vibes to name a few. What have been some of the most memorable releases to date & the most challenging?
The Toolroom EP was probably the most challenging, as it took the longest to write. Some of it is slo-mo house/ nu-disco, some more peak-time. It was hard to know which label to target. Toolroom have a really professional team and knew exactly how they were going to get the best out of us.
I think our most rewarding release has been 'Modern Identity.' The original seems to have struck a chord with people – few folks comparing it to Maya Jane Coles, which is a nice compliment, we dig her stuff (the YouTube video is getting on for 8000 views, not bad for a niche slab of deep house). It was also great to have Saag's lovely interpretations.
What can be a challenge when you are writing, is whether any label will think what you've written fits their current vision: you can write a great deep track, but if everyone's looking for a more minimal tech sound, it’s going to sit on the shelf for a few years. Not every sketch an artist makes is going to be the final oil painting, so maybe you squeezed out a turd. It happens.
How do you plan on making the Artizan takeover at fabric next weekend a night to remember alongside Andreas Saag (LIVE), Nacho Marco and Ezlv. Can you tell the readers a little bit about these artists & how they are special to the label?
Artizan Music at fabric is for us, the culmination of all the love and energy we have ever put into this scene over the last 20 years. All our London parties, collaborations with the likes of Mulletover or Retox, all the releases we've ever put out, all the touring we've ever done. For us to play the best nightclub in our home city, the Nation’s capital, is truly one of our proudest moments.
Our UK designer Pete Hawkes also runs 'Pest is Best' clothing and has designed some limited edition commemorative T-shirts especially for the event, we’ll of course be bringing a few spares to chuck into the crowd. Every artist will be giving their all; EZLV are flying in from Canada just to play the first hour. Andreas is back for another live set, after wowing us all at our last East Village party and Nacho Marco's DJ sets are always special. We’ve all been crate-digging for a real deep house and warm techno throwdown. Definitely plan on rocking till 6am.
You also keep busy with your podcast series, featuring Artizan's roster and the infamous Uptownboogiedown parties. Tell us about the vibe and message of these - how do you work to keep them fresh and exciting each time?
Not every consumer of dance music is a DJ, they love the music but they don't buy it, that's why you need the parties and the podcasts. People can love what you do and, if you are lucky, be loyal to what you do in other ways. We've been very fortunate to have the love we put in reciprocated by so many good folks over the years (thankyou), but one must never take that for granted. The day you stop caring, is the day others do. Have passion for what you do and people always pick up on that. This business is fickle, incredibly competitive and ultimately quite transient. People grow-up and move on, whereas those industry grafters stay and get older. You've got to keep relevant, but also not become a cynical, jaded old bastard. The day music no longer excites you? Then it’s time to move on and do something else! Fortunately we’re still like kids in a sweet shop in that respect
The podcasts are mixed and compiled by us with regular mixes from the label roster, plus special guests like Jozif (Wolf n Lamb), Rocky (XPress 2), Chris Woodward (Buzzin Fly) or Ben Parkinson (BOE).
As for Uptownboogiedown, we've been running parties in one form or another for over 12 years. Before UTBD, we had label residencies at Neighbourhood, Cherry Jam and The Telegraph, Brixton. We then took over Sundays at Notting Hill Arts Club for a year - Mondays were never quite the same!
UTBD has always been about exposing us, our roster and key headliners that share our vision. Previously that has included Charles Webster, DJ Deep, Pepe Bradock, Atjazz, Shur-i-kan, Diz or Milton Jackson. I think what keeps it fresh, is our attention to detail or the positive 'fun' element. Underground music can get too po-faced if you aren't careful. We like to be the antithesis of that, whilst keeping the music bang on point. For a while we were giving out illuminous 3D specs on the door, it became a bit of a UTBD trademark.
What other things are you and the Artizan crew working on that we should be looking out for in 2011?
We have 2 more releases planned before Christmas – one is from Estonian producer Estetique and the other a collaboration between ourselves and Swedish techno producer Jesper Aubin. Jesper also runs the HouseMusicWithLove blog. Both artists are in our humble opinion, ace!
Poussez has more material forthcoming; obviously for Artizan, plus a release on BWO records and we’ve just been asked to remix Mateo & Matos which is a real compliment. Always been fans of their stuff.
On the events, we’ve got Tom Demac and Norman Jay joining us in the next few months. We’re also planning more collaborations, and a series of warehouse parties for early 2012. No frills. Just us, a headliner and Function One. Simples.