If there’s anyone who can be called a cornerstone of Paris’ electronic music scene, it’s Julien Veniel. The prized DJ and producer has been spinning regularly in the French capital for more than two decades, emerging during the heyday of the city’s rave scene. Following a brief stint in New York he famously returned to Paris to found Bass Culture, the much-loved party that’s taken place monthly at Rex Club since 1997. Through his residency at the party he’s become synonymous with a classy, slow-burning style of deep house and tech house, a sound that’s translated through Bass Culture’s imprint and helped inspire many of the city’s new wave of DJs around today. He’s also put out a string of excellent records of his own through the likes of Ovum, REKIDS and Robsoul, but recently his focus has turned to his own imprint’s 10-year anniversary. Ahead of his all night long set with us this Sunday, he told us more about his plans for Bass Culture’s latest milestone, accompanied by a recent Rex Club live session capturing him in full-on party mode.
Summer has started getting busy, so in between gigs I'm trying to finish a couple of new tracks and remixes, which is not so easy when it's 40 degrees in Paris!
Where did you source the records from?
It was recorded at one of my recent Bass Culture parties. It was still early in the night, so you should feel the transition going from the warm-up vibe to more a peak-time one as the club was filling up. It's an honest representation of the music I’ve been playing in clubs lately.
Does your record bag change a lot between gigs?
My bag changes progressively, I add a maximum of 5-10 new records in my set every week. Some I’ll play only once, others will stay in the box for months. I might change my selection according to the size of the room or the time of my set. My bag will be different If I’m going to play a short set at a festival or a small club for a longer period, obviously.
You’ve been a part of Paris’ scene for longer than most. With the news of Concrete closing, what do you make of the electronic music scene in the city at the moment?
Concrete closing is sad. Symbolically it shows that we are entering a more difficult time for the scene. There have been warning signs that the honeymoon is over for about a year or two. Clubs and festivals were having a hard time filling up and the authorities were getting tougher with semi-legal events. I’ve seen this cycle before here and in other cities. We are lucky to have had seven amazing years in Paris and I'm sure it'll come back, but we’ll have to be a bit patient.
Is there anyone who’s exciting you in Paris at the moment that we should check out?
Despite what I just said, there is still a vibrant underground scene here and some new collectives are keeping the good vibes alive. For example, Districkt and the RA+RE crew amongst others.
You’re well known for your ties to Rex Club. Do you think you’ve learned more about DJing from staying in one place or by venturing out to other places?
Both really. I believe it's important to experience it all in order to become an accomplished DJ. As a resident you learn to do warm-ups, which is an extremely important task for any DJ to learn. You also learn to play longer sets and you can experiment more because you are in a familiar environment. On the other hand, you can sometimes become spoilt and too comfortable, that’s why playing often in different clubs or situations teaches you to adapt and to find different ways to deliver your music as best as you can, no matter what the circumstances.
You’ve also been playing with us for a long time. How would you draw a comparison between the London and Parisian crowd?
London is definitely a more cosmopolitan city – there are people from all over the world on the dancefloors of London’s clubs. Paris has a 95% French audience, but you have true music lovers and connoisseurs in both scenes.
What’s next on the horizon for you and Bass Culture?
Bass Culture Records is 10 this year, so I’m preparing some special Various Artist EPs, which will land after the summer. I also just finished the second release from my other label, JV Recordings, that will be coming out in a couple of months. Over the summer I have some big dates that I’m excited about… on 16th August we’ll host a Bass Culture takeover room at Vagabundos at Amnesia in Ibiza. That same month I’m off to Asia on tour and in September I have a weekend of gigs across the Atlantic in the USA, which I’m really looking forward to.