French DJ/producer Joakim Bouaziz is a musical jack of all trades, initially working in classical music before bringing his talent to rock, jazz and electronic music. Bouaziz’s musical eclecticism shines brightly through Tigersushi, the Paris-based indie label he runs which counts diverse releases from Maurice Fulton, Metro Area, Ivan Smagghe and John Tejada to its credit. While working in the studio has been an important part of Bouaziz’s career, his live bands has been winning over fans for some time — except for in America. In advance of his band’s U.S. debut at Terminal 5 in New York City, opening for Holy Ghost!, we caught up with the venerable artist and talked to him about his live show, playing Afrika Bambaataa‘s records earlier in the year and why his music videos are so damn good.
You’re playing your first-ever live U.S. show in New York on Halloween. What should those who haven’t seen you live yet expect?
Three people on stage: drums, bass, synths, pedals/FXs and vocals. We’ll play some tracks from the previous albums and a new one. It’s always a bit different from the records, because I like when a live show doesn’t sound exactly like the record [and has] surprises. Don’t expect a “I press play, I’m pretending I’m turning knobs but I’m actually reading my e-mails” type of live show [laughs]. It’s actual live playing and there’s always room for improvization in the live tracks because otherwise I would get bored on stage and I know one thing: I hate doing boring things. Males and females are welcome to dance to it.
“It was almost emotional touching those records, especially the ones that were used by Bambaataa in his DJ mixes (the records with two copies inside the sleeve and a Zulu Nation sticker). It’s like touching an important piece of history.”
Will Halloween influence what you wear on stage for this show?
I actually just realized I didn’t think about a costume. In France, Halloween is not a huge deal so I usually don’t do anything unless I’m playing at a specifically Halloween themed party. So right now, I’m open to any suggestion.
What have your experiences DJing or visiting NYC been like?
Very varied, just like the millions of different faces you see in this town. From MoMA PS1 Warm Up to underground barely legal Brooklyn parties, from fancy hotel clubs to BAM on a Saturday night, it’s all so different that I can’t really say there’s one specific thing about playing in NYC.
Speaking of New York, you got to play some of NYC hip-hop/electro legend Afrika Bambaataa’s record collection at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise a few months ago. What was that experience like for you?
It was almost emotional touching those records, especially the ones that were used by Bambaataa in his DJ mixes (the records with two copies inside the sleeve and a Zulu Nation sticker). It’s like touching an important piece of history. Afrika Bambaataa made the connection between funk, white electronic music (Kraftwerk) and what was to become hip-hop. You could understand that browsing the collection that included classic funk records as well as weird early electronic music, new wave, jazz, early techno music… No boundaries.
One of the things I’ve found most interesting is that you put a lot of care into your videos. “In the Cave,” “Forever Young” and “Find a Way” are just a few of many great clips. Why are videos so important to what you do?
I’ve always been very attached to visuals. Artworks, for instance, are such an important part of the musical experience. Today, videos became almost more important than artworks because quite often it’s the first and sometimes only visual aspect of the music you see. A lot of people even listen to music mostly on YouTube, so the importance of a good video that reflects the music is more important than ever. I was also lucky that a lot of talented people around me proposed to make videos.
“Heartbeats” has proved to be another big single for you. The video is especially interesting as you edited it yourself based upon footage you shot from all over the world. Knowing that you’ve also created your own artwork, what prompted you to put on the director’s hat for this video?
I wanted to do something with those images for a long time. I still have a lot of unused footage. And after messing around with some of those footage in a video editing software, I realized it actually worked on that song, and that I could do another similar video for the B-side “Another Light.” So why not do it? I’ve always been a big DIY believer. It’s the basis of the Tigersushi aesthetics too. I also feel like editing moving images is very similar to the way you edit music, except it’s somehow simpler because you only have one layer most of the time when you edit video, it’s more linear.
What else is in the works in terms of releases and tours for 2013? Any plans yet for 2014?!
A new single before the end of 2013 and an album coming out early 2014. I also made a cover of William Onyeabor for Luaka Bop, a track for Phonica’s 10-year anniversary and an edit of a friend’s band Limousine. All of those should be out before the end of the year.
Obligatory final question: when is your next album coming out?!
OK, I lied. Any final thoughts? Grievances? Shout-outs?
If someone reading this has a great Halloween costume for a tall guy like me, please contact the magazine.