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DJ Gregory interview: Tropical Soundbytes

Author: Stuart Evans
Monday, January 23, 2006
French house might not pack the same punch as it did several years back, but DJ Gregory is keeping the gallic fires burning.

So the festive season has departed. No more presents and only the month of January to immediately occupy the mind. Forget the stereotypical image of France being a 35-hour a week working paradise where baguettes and bakeries are more frequent than overtime, most of the rumours are nonsensical.

Modern day France has given house music many things to celebrate; from the exquisite playboy mansion sound of Dimitri From Paris to the soulful musings of Bob Sinclar, France appears unparalleled in nurturing its home grown talent into greatness.

Included in the Parisian basket of beatmasters is Martin Solveig and now, the latest member of team France, Gregory Darsa, aka DJ Gregory. He may be best known as one of the original members of Bob Sinclar's well regarded Africansim project, but Gregory is and continues to give more.

Gregory emerged in 2002, a freshman to his fellow Parisian DJ veterans in the commercial stakes, with the underground hit of the summer, Tropical Soundclash. As the record gained momentum it was soon picked up by Defected Records. Suddenly Gregory was in demand. "It's funny, Soundclash only took 48 hours to make," he admits.

"After the first Africansim Bob [Sinclar] wanted to work on Africansim Volume 2, but I felt that it was too quick as I didn't want it to follow the original that quickly. I wanted to make a record that was close to something that I'd previously done before, only this time I wanted it to be stronger and fresher."

The result was Soundclash, a record which Gregory says took him by surprise at the success it enjoyed. "Well, each time I played it I had a very big reaction. Sometimes you know that it's going to be a big track, but each time it's still a surprise."

It's a sound that defines a DJ and Gregory's sound is one of hard-hitting, sometimes vocal, Caribbean-flavoured house music. In the early '90s he was leading the way to establishing a new sound for house music. His emergence came thanks to an invitation to spin at fashionable Paris club TGV, where the beautiful people and deep house lovers meet and play.

He was an instant hit with the crowd and soon become a regular behind the decks at other trendy establishments. It wasn't too long until he found himself playing alongside Daft Punk and Dimitri From Paris. He explains that he has been playing his residency at TGV for over 10 years. "I try to bring something new every month, to keep things fresh," he says.

He may have been plying his trade for a while but he still has to argue his case to play the records that he wants, thanks to the Paris club's tough music policy. "The girl I work with has a tough music policy, which means that she really knows what she wants to hear. There's plenty of stuff that she likes but I don't like and I won't play."

He laughs as he explains that that girl normally gives in to his requests. "She is very well known in Paris but if a track's going to be big in a club she gives in and says, "I hate that track but I understand that you have to play it.'"

His career now forming and maturing, friend and fellow contemporary DJ Deep led the way for Gregory to move into production and delve a little deeper into what house music could offer. Deep introduced him to Shazz and St Germain, which kick-started his musical production occupation.

His inaugural track, No Pain Without Your Love, was well received. This was closely followed by his debut recording, a collaboration with Julien Jabre called Faithful.

Some time later, via a chance meeting in a record store, he hooked up with fellow music enthusiast, Bob Sinclar. Realising the considerable mutual admiration and respect, Sinclar (who was at the time into hip hop), invited Gregory to release tracks on his Yellow Productions marker.

They continued to collaborate in the studio, leading the wa