Jacques Renault is a man of many traits. The classically trained musician is responsible for Brooklyn’s nomadic ‘Let’s Play House‘ parties, consequently setting up a label under the same name, but above all he has proven himself to be a top quality producer with tracks such as ‘In the Middle of the Night’ and ‘Pianos on the Beach’, as well as through notable remixes like Midnight Magic’s ‘Beam Me Up’. His first long-play, Zentrum, (which was released last month) perfectly epitomises the New York dance scene with its house and disco rhythms, and a range of collaborations from friends and local New Yorkers.
However, before he was New York he was Chicago, and before he was a DJ he was a vinyl junkie, and before that? Well before that he was studying as a classically trained viola player. As a result, his musical knowledge is both broad and deep, making him ideal for an insight into the industry we work in today.
Here’s what he had to say:
Obviously house, disco and techno are all American inventions, yet many now say that the US has lost its roots with the rise of EDM and chart-friendly dance music. How do you view the current state of the industry?
Things are always changing and evolving, I always remind myself to live in the moment and embrace it. Early house hits in the UK charts 25 years ago played a huge influence on mainstream music just like underground music does today. The rise and fall of EDM will just be another piece of the story. I often say and hope that this phase is a stepping stone to those who want to know more about the history and culture of the music.
How has your education in classical music affected your understanding of dance music? Do you ever find the two complimenting each other?
The closest those two worlds have become for me is once in awhile I’ll record myself playing string stabs or something like that. It’s definitely helped that I know what key I’m playing in but you definitely don’t need a formal music education like I have to make dance music. I often admire those who don’t know music theory and create incredible things with machines.
Who has been the single biggest influence on your musical career?
Your latest release Zentrum was out last month. How did you find the process of making an LP? Did you learn anything along the way?
I had opportunities to work in some incredible studios so it felt natural to invite a bunch of friends to record with me and put an album together. I had accumulated something like 30 or so tracks over 2 years and I slowly figured out how I wanted to space it out. I purposely opened myself up to never ending options, I think next time I’ll give myself a few more limits and have a tighter time frame.
The album seems to transit between disco and deep tech house. What were the main influences when putting this together?
I’ve been doing singles, remixes and edits for a long time so I wanted to do something that wasn’t that. I think it’s important to switch things up and that’s honestly all I wanted to do. It was album time!
Reading about your nomadic parties ‘Let’s Play House’ it sounds like something reminiscent of those original warehouse raves of the Detroit and Chicago era. Do you think your time in Chicago has moulded the way you perceive the scene?
I always felt that I was late to the rave scene since I didn’t go to one until 1997 when I landed in Chicago. I definitely felt like I had missed something but things always change and now I talk about things from 10 years ago. When I started traveling more and more I saw how people worked and organized all over the world, I felt like I could contribute to the growing scene here in New York. Starting Let’s Play House with Nik Mercer was something I knew we had to do.
You’ve worked with numerous labels across the globe and entertained an equal amount of clubs worldwide. Where is home for you now, and how much do you get to see of it?
I’ve spent months at a time in different cities over the years like Vienna, Berlin & London, but Brooklyn has always been home. I still love it here!
Was establishing ‘Let’s Play House’ as a label a difficult task? Or did your previous knowledge of running a label make this a smooth set up?
When the LPH label started I already had some experience since I was doing On The Prowl records with Marcos Cabral. So when Nik and James Friedman from Throne of Blood got to talking about it, Marcos & I kicked it off with a Runaway single for the first release. Smooth ever since 😉
If you could tell your twenty year old self one thing, knowing what lies ahead for him, what would it be?
30 is not old, dude.