"never trust a DJ who doesn't dance" jacques greene

Jacques Greene hails from Montreal, he makes R&B infused dance music and always leaves you wanting more. He's one of those you'll never really know that much about other than he’s Canadian, he’s mysterious and he makes damn good music.

by James Hutchins
24 March 2014, 6:00pm

Jacques Greene by Nik Hartley

When it comes to Greene's music, there's an air of constant anticipation, people never really know when or even if they are going to get something new from him, but when he drops, he always delivers. In a time where every Tom, Dick and Harry is taking an old R&B vocal and chopping it up, pitching down, giving it a "modern twist," Jacques Greene brings a form of distinctive originality to the table. His enchanting character, combined with his production techniques and a brainfull of pop and R&B knowledge allow him to add a sense of personality to each record and after a conversation with him, I can now hear even more of him in his music.

Jacques returns to Lucky Me with another slice of rhythm and blues infected house music, due out 28th April in the form of the Phantom Vibrate EP. The self-confessed synth geek has a recent obsession for J & K-Pop and never trusts a DJ who doesn't dance!

That's what pop music should be, it's pop tarts, it's a great bowl of honey nut cheerio's, it's zero cynicism just straight fun.

I was looking for info about you and it seems you've always been quite a mysterious character. Has that always been a purposeful thing?
I think it was kind of an anti-thing. It's more like being illusive than mysterious, I'm not wearing a mask and my name is quite ordinary. There's no big theatrics around it, so it's not like trying to shroud an identity in mystery but just avoiding theatrics. I think part of that then is being a little more reserved, and a little more "what's the deal with this guy?" not "but who is he, really?" I'm not trying to start a scavenger hunt.

So you're a big R&B fan?
I would say that a ridiculous amount of my listening time is R&B and rap music.

If you could have written any R&B song in the world, what would it be?
Are you that Somebody, Aaliyah. The beat in that song - I always go back to it. As a producer, that era of Timbaland is something that always blows my mind. Not understanding how those weird drum patterns got to be so popular, there's something so weird and idiosyncratic about all those songs and then they connected with so many people. There's something fascinating about that, and that song in particular is a great song.

You said you've got more of an appreciation for pop music these days?
It's been forever. In highschool obviously, I liked all of that but it's only when FutureSex/LoveSounds came out I was like holy shit pop music can be incredible. Once again, Timbaland. I think he was my gateway. FutureSex/LoveSounds was even crazier than so much stuff happening in underground music and since then I listen to every pop record that comes out. I'm fascinated as a fan of pop music but also just from the archaeological point of view, I love being aware of pop culture to understand the zeitgeist. I think the last few months now I'm really looking up Japanese and Korean pop acts just to try and understand that.

Yeah there's this new Girls Generation single called Mister Mister, it's awesome. And Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is all I've been listening to on tour, because whenever I'm hungover and in an airport and everything's grey and I'm hating life I just throw on this Kyary Pamyu Pamyu song and everything's okay. The best thing about J-Pop is the entire aesthetic, that's why I like it. It's a statement, it's hyper real, there's zero cynicism, it's straight to the point of what pop music should be, that's what I love. It's pop tarts, it's a great bowl of honey nut cheerio's, it's zero cynicism just straight fun.

Kind of purpose built...
Yeah and I really respect that, I love that. Something with a purpose, an honest purpose.

Jacques Greene by Nik Hartley

Do you feel that artists are more honest in their music and interaction with their fans?
I think so. I think irony and all of that is inevitable in a postmodernist society, it's only going to get stronger. But there's still something to be said for sincerity, and I think that's always what ends up connecting more and on a deeper level. Because we can all relate to a joke but we can all really, really connect with real emotion.

Are you quite honest in your DJ sets and live sets?
I think I'm almost known for wearing my influences on my sleeve, like being very, very honest. If there's a song I'm currently obsessed with, I'm probably going to play it. I don't really care if it's not cool enough or not. My whole thing with DJing is when I first started out I was told by a DJ to never trust a DJ who doesn't dance.

Any musician who tries to sell a hundred dollar t-shirt looks like a dick.

And it creates a much better vibe when you see the DJ dancing…
Not that all eyes should be on the DJ, I have all my theories that DJ's should be hidden, like it should be more about the crowds. But if you happen to see the guy, and he might as well be doing his taxes behind his laptop then that's a sad sad thing. I would rather quit or turn down a show if there's no music in the world that I like. If I don't like it, someone else should take my spot.

I'm hearing talk of an album…
I've got so much music done. I'm sitting on playlists and playlists and playlists. It's something I've been working on for a long time, and because I take these things seriously and my ambitions are quite high, I'm quite comfortable taking my time. I am an experimental artist, I think people don't consider that because of the pop side to my music, but every record I've done I've always experimented with something new.

Do you get fear after you've released something?
Always, a paralysing fear of death and constantly afraid. But then I'll find something and I'm like wow and I gain back all this confidence. With this next record, I'm just really happy that I finished it and I don't know of anything else that sounds like it.

Did it take you long to find your own lane?
No, I think I always did. I think it's more defining the boundaries of it and also recognising that. Recognising that I've always made records that are a little idiosyncratic, a lot of DJ friends would tell me they loved the song but why does the kick pattern have to be so weird, it's really hard to mix. I don't care, there are so many club tools out there, I don't need to make one. If you want straight kicks, there are a lot of people making music with straight kick drums; I don't need to be one of them. I fucking love dance music but not all dance music needs straight kicks.

You're also quite big on fashion as well?
I still talk all the time to a bunch of friends who make things and we want to do stuff. I think it needs to have another name just because I don't want it to be related to the music side of my life. I was on my way to study it before I got a job and before I quit to do this, it's definitely a part of my life that I have a big appreciation for it and ideas within it. But after seeing how lame that whole Kanye West thing looked over the last 12 months, I just want to do it on terms that are completely separate. Any musician who then tries to sell a hundred dollar t-shirt looks like a dick.

Would you like to get involved with fashion as Jacques Greene and make runway music?
I've done that before, I did runway music for a haute couture show in Paris last year and it was a piano piece. It was for Rad Hourani, the first unisex couture show and the first Canadian designer to be inducted into the order of haute couture in Paris. Which is a big deal, there's not that many haute couture designers.

If you could create for any show, who would it be?
Raf Simons, that's for sure. He's now back in top shape, that Sterling Ruby show was insane. He's the greatest.

I was looking at your Twitter and it looks like you have some crazy fans, I saw one guy wrote "I would only let my girlfriend leave me for one person and that's Jacques Greene…"
That's was the wildest tweet I've ever seen. I've never really dealt with insane fans, I don't really have crazy ones that bring things to the show. I had one guy tell me, whenever he listened to one of my mixes from last summer - "every time I listen to that song, I feel like the world's most beautiful tranny". And I was like that's sick. That's so cool, I love that someone would connect to that song in that way.  


Phantom Vibrate LDN tickets, NYC tickets, MTL tickets


Text James Hutchins
Photography Nik Hartley

Jacques Greene
Body Party
Raf Simons
Lucky Me
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nik hartley
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never trust a dj who doesnt dance
new jacques greene
phantom vibrate