No need to introduce him anymore. D’Julz, also known as Julien Veniel, is about to celebrate 30 years of his career, his 50th birthday, and the 25 years of his famous Bass Culture residency at Rex Club, Paris. “2022 is going to be an important one for me,” he says, sitting in a Parisian coffee rue Montorgueil, a few streets away from the historical club. An important year means a fresh new start, renewal of the old, and moving forward. “That is the whole Bass Culture philosophy after all: living in the present, without forgetting your roots.” Trommel had the chance to catch up with him to discuss his long standing career, the new generation of producers and diggers, and his new projects for the year to come.
First big announcement: the relaunch of Bass Culture Records with a four tracker EP produced by the boss of the label himself, which will be distributed by his new collaborator Yoyaku and released early 2022. “I needed something new,” he says. “After 11 years with the label, I was wondering if I should start a new one, or continuing with this one. And I thought that if I was going to relaunch the label with Yoyaku, I might as well start with a release of my own.” And as part of the something new, the logo of the brand changes as well. “The label enters adulthood now, I thought I would focus more on the ‘Culture’ than the ‘Bass’,” he adds.
Born in 2009, Bass Culture Records is Julien’s home for experimenting with musical eclecticism while maintaining a strong house imprint. With this approach, he has been releasing music produced by people from different influences, genres, generations and backgrounds. “And finally it all makes sense,” he says. “At the end, it is harmonious. They all meet somewhere on a musical level. The label is eclectic without going to the extremes.”
The label manager recalls he got this sense for eclecticism from being a DJ in the 1990’s, when people were mixing different genres more easily and freely. “We would mix everything together: Chicago house with UK breakbeat with techno from Detroit to more progressive stuffs. At the time, genres were not that extreme and it worked perfectly,” says the DJ. “It was before house became softer, techno became heavier, and breakbeat became Drum’n’Bass“ he explains. “This mixture is a part of me now. You can find it in my artistic choices as a producer, as a DJ and as an artistic director.” Confirmed. Look at Bass Culture’s catalogue and you will see a panel of electronic music history, from John Dimas’ first solo EP in 2010 to, more recently, Leo Pol’s productions, as well as some releases made by legendary producers such as Mr.G or Steve Rachmad.
This approach follows the spirit of the Bass Culture residency at the Rex Club which he started in 1997. It is now the club’s longest continuous residency. For his parties, he selects artists from different horizons and musical orientations, always looking for the finest DJs. D’julz was the first to bring Raresh to Paris back in 2006, he keeps inviting house legends such as Lil Louis, whereas he always leaves space for the young generation, aiming to promote new talented diggers.
“They are reinventing a music I have always known, a music I have seen the birth of,” he says. Indeed, today’s house and minimal generation is playing a lot of music from the 1990’s, but far from the classics, they are digging the very rare records and are reinventing an old school sound to make it their own. A boiling environment that could not be more inspiring for Julien. “They are playing stuff I bought when I started. I love it, it touches my roots. I am on a known territory here,” he says. “And at the same time, they are completely renewing this style I have always known, they are playing it differently, they are playing it with a new ear. They bring something fresh to this sound, they are revamping it. It’s absolutely amazing to see.”
“The fact that we are re-listening the same stuffs is also concerning– this music is meant to be reinvented and to keep evolving in my opinion. But I remain optimistic, I think the new generation is learning. They are absorbing 30 years of musical history, digesting it before moving on to new territories” adds Julien. “I personally live this revival as a reboot, a way to get back to my basis, before transitioning to something new.”
The revival of the 1990s is mirrored by the revival of vinyl, which now has an impact on manufacturing and production. The release of vinyl records is getting slower and slower as all the manufacturers are busy repressing classic albums for the majors while new labels are popping every day. “It became hard to release music because you know it won’t come out before at least six months, if not a year” he says. “But it makes me think twice now. If I’m to release only three to four singles per year on Bass Culture Records, I really want to focus on music that will pass the test of time…”
Another big announcement for the end of 2021: D’julz is starting a new two-hour monthly show on Rinse France, the French branch of Rinse FM. The program is inspired by his ‘Home Diggin’ mixes he live streamed during lockdown.
During these times, the artist started to dig deep into his own 15 000 records collection and rediscovered plenty of gems in the process. These mixes aiming to keep him busy and active at the beginning became a weekly and later a monthly rendez-vous with his community. When clubs started to re-open, he decided it was time to stop. “People came to me asking why I had stopped. I didn’t know that it had an such an impact,” he says. So he is now transposing the concept in Rinse’s studios, starting with him only, but he plans to invite other DJs on the show at some point. “It is an honour to have a show on Rinse. They are always searching for up and coming artists so the fact that they would have me was a nice surprise.”
You have understood it, D’Julz has grown strong, full of ambition and projects. You might want to watch his space very closely. In the meantime, you can listen to his last Rinse show here, and catch him at the next Bass Culture party at Rex Club on 4th December alongside Beau Mot Plage crew and Berlin-based duo The Ghost.