Pigalle

Wax Poetics After Dark

June 26, 2017

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Super psyched to announce the first Wax Poetics After Dark in Paris this Friday!

We’ve teamed up with Le Pigalle and have the homies Chris Read and Leroy Nockolds coming over from London to spin only the finest of records with yours truly. On the night we will be celebrating the artists that grace the pages of the magazine, so you can expect plenty of quality hip-hop, funk, soul, boogie, disco, and more…

Come party!

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Vintage Shopping in Paris

March 13, 2017

I recently put together a list of my favourite vintage shops in Paris for a friend, and figured it could make a useful blog post for anyone else looking to find some sweet second hand threads in gay Paree. Being on the border of Montmartre and Pigalle means I am spoilt for choice when it comes to cool and quality options.

There’s something so much more romantic and inspiring about vintage finds, whether clothing or interiors or records. Evoking another time or place. Another version of you. Perhaps a past or parallel life.

Here are my 5 favourite neighbourhood spots:

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Chine Machine

100 Rue des Martyrs, 75018

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Troc en Stock

6 Rue Clauzel, 75009

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Mamie Blue

69 Rue de Rochechouart, 75009

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Chezel

59 Rue Condorcet, 75009

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Celia Darling

5 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009

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February in Paris

February 28, 2017

My round up of sights and sounds from the past month in Paris.

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*^A pretty private street I found tucked away behind the Eiffel Tower^*

Music

Everything I’ve heard from the 79.5 so far has been perfection, so I’m very much looking forward to their full album Predictions due out later this year on Big Crown Records. “Boy Don’t Be Afraid” dropped around Valentines and is a delightfully sweet Springtime love song. Reminds me a little of Luscious Jackson, and as a former flute-player I dig the flute riffs.

79.5 – “Boy Don’t Be Afraid”

 

I re-discovered Aussie band Pond earlier this month after sitting next to them at one of my favourite local spots Les Ptits Gros. They also have their album The Weather coming out later this year in May on Marathon Artists, which I look forward to hearing too!

Pond – “Sweep Me Off My Feet”

I’ve been listening to My Bloody Valentine’s 2013 album MBV a lot recently, suits my hazy incense-burning morning vibes perfectly:

Also revisiting Sonic Youth’s classic Daydream Nation:

I caught two great live shows this month – the first being Fantastic Negrito (hot off the heels of winning a grammy) playing at La Maroquinerie, and then seeing the man Alex Cameron (such a dude!) play at Point Éphémère on the canal.

Eating & Drinking

Living right by ‘SoPi’ (South Pigalle) I really am spoilt for nice places to eat and drink. At a friend’s recommendation I recently sampled Terre et Sel on the Rue Condorcet – such delicious wine and food! I cannot now recommend it myself enough. Yummy red wine and burrata below:

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As mentioned above, one of my very favourite local spots Les Ptits Gros is a true gem – the food is great and the happy hour is splendid. Here is me and my homie Mekael (a dope photographer who visited this month from Los Angeles) enjoying the €5 champagne:

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Another delicious place to eat outside of Pigalle is Nanashi – Parisian Bento – I’ve visited and rate both the restaurants in the 3rd and 10th arrondissements. And for cafe vibes there is the delightful cafe/flower shop Peonies in the 10th arrondissement. My buddies after lots of caffeine and chat outside Peonies:

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For partying I’ve had some fun nights out at Le Fou on Rue du Sentier (a very good Old Fashioned), and Le Pigalle Country Club, in (you guessed it!) Pigalle! Getting ready action shot:

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*Birthday babe Jennette in Le Sans Souci*

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*View at dusk from the Sacre Coeur*

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Soul Clap in Paris

February 18, 2017

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Back in October I had the pleasure of kicking it with the Soul Clap guys, Eli and Charles, in Paris on the day of the release of their self-titled album Soul Clap. We chopped it up about the album’s recording sessions down at George Clinton’s studio in Florida, favourite French records and artists like Daft Punk and Air, and personal music memories that influenced their creative direction. The interview was conducted at the Hotel Amour in Pigalle (one of my favourite local spots), in the comfort of the most pimped out hotel room I’ve ever set foot in – the entire ceiling was covered in motorised disco balls (see the picture above)!

Check out the full Wax Poetics feature with the video for their single “Synthesiser Girlfriend” here.

I had a great time chatting to Eli and Charles, such nice dudes. Afterwards we rolled to their show at Nuit Fauves, a neat club on the River Seine, and my buddy DJ/producer Jamurai from London happened to be in Paris and came through. All round good vibes and memories!

Peep the interview below…

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Tell me about the recording sessions for Soul Clap. What was the atmosphere like?

Eli (a.k.a. Elyte): The original recording session was down there [at George Clinton’s studio] in Tallahassee, Florida.  We went down there not expecting anything, at the very least we would get to see the vaults of all the tapes of a lot of the P-Funk stuff, and just maybe we could meet George Clinton. So we just went in there and got loose and started jamming the two of us, and getting to know the musicians down there. Then all of a sudden George showed up and said “bust the studio,” and we just carried on working on music. We got the hang out with him there and played him a bunch of stuff.

Charles: Obviously leading up to that P-Funk had been a big influence for us. We played him a piece of music we had already worked on using Ableton that was little samples of Funkadelic songs, lots and lots of samples. His ears really perked up then because he could hear the original ideas re-contextualised. I think that showed him that we weren’t just a couple of chumps [both laugh]; that we knew the music.

 

Do you feel like you learned a lot working with him? If so was there anything in particular? 

C: We learned a tremendous amount working with George Clinton. Just the inspiration and confidence of having a titan like him say “hey, that’s cool what you guys are doing.” And I noticed being around him that he really responds well to people who are confident in themselves and have their own thing going on. I think that’s a beautiful thing to put forward.

E: Also the way he works in the studio was almost like how a producer works on a computer. You see how the recording process used to be, having to pull all these musicians together to play the parts that were in his head and guiding it to become a piece of music. It’s much easier now where you can do all those parts separately, but that’s still how he thinks. He teaches each person what he’s hearing and then records, so that was really a learning process seeing how he works.

 

I interviewed Shock G 3 years ago, and he described it like there was before working with George, and after working with George, that his life was better after. I’m just curious if that’s a common experience? [All laugh]

C: I think Shock G said it right. I can totally understand that. It’s like there was an unknown, but now there’s an experience and a known, and we’re carrying it forward. So that’s a beautiful thing, and why the album is so magical. You get a sense that we’ve accomplished what we set out to try to create musically. That’s why this is a self-titled album. In many ways a new beginning I think.

E: All those years finally paid off.

 

Do you find you go through phases where you get a little obsessed with certain types of music or certain artists?

E: Definitely. I would say right now, hip-hop is finally exciting again. It’s been super exciting for me, starting with Kendrick’s album [To Pimp A Butterfly]. Plus that whole explosion of exciting jazz and funk coming from L.A.. Kaytranada, he’s working with this guy Mick Jenkins, then Chance the Rapper is doing all this exciting stuff too. It feels like hip-hop is in an exciting musical place again. The first time since I was a kid, which is so cool.

C: I’ve been listening to a wide variety of things, but I guess artists that jump out are Little Dragon, Death Grips, and we saw Herbie Hancock in concert a few weeks ago.

E: We’ve been listening to all the Herbie Hancock we can.

 

Do you ever notice a difference in the different cities you play, in that the crowd has a different feel? Or does it tend to be a similar vibe at most of your parties? 

E: I think our parties bring an eclectic crowd to them because we play a range of music, but we’re based in dance music and house music. There’s a big difference from the U.S. to Europe, and the the U.K. to Europe is another thing. We’ve been touring for 6 or 7 years, so you really get to know a country. We always try to bring a general funkiness to the equation, which I don’t think necessarily always happens at a lot of these dance clubs. So that brings us a universal family of freaks.

C: I like that [both laugh].

 

Being that we’re here in Paris, do you have any favourite French records, producers, or artists?

C: We’re Serge Gainsbourg fans.

E: Daft Punk, obviously. Homework is one of the best albums ever. Charlotte Gainsbourg too had some really awesome stuff. I recently found out Tony Allen played on a couple of her albums, which is amazing. I think he lives here now, so he’s done a lot of work with French musicians including Charlotte Gainsbourg. Also gotta shout out Air, so good, and I.Q., one of our favourite house producers.

C: Breakbot too.

E: Phil Weeks. Another great house producer from here.

C: Just going back to Daft Punk, all the amazing French stuff, that really left an impact on us as disco house ravers in the nineties.

 

Did you ever listen to an African disco guy from the seventies called Jo Bisso? He did a lot of stuff here in Paris. The record label was Disques Espérance. A friend gave me a record of his and I’m trying to find out more about him. It’s very cool, definitely worth checking out. 

C: Sounds really familiar.

E: You know what deserves a shout out is this compilation series called Source Lab, which was actually one of the first house CDs I ever bought. I had been into acid jazz and kind of stumbled upon it, and it was just really dope french house, trip-hop, and acid jazz. The house music jumped out at me.

C: How did we forget? Dimitri from Paris!

E: Oh the best!

C: Duh.

E: Definitely the king of the edits.

 

Do you remember what the first records that you bought were?

E: My dad’s really into jazz so I started going with him to a place called Stereo Jack’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I’m from. I started buying stuff that I was into, that was when I got really into John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. But soon after that I found hip-hop and started buying hip-hop records, then house and jungle.

C: First record that I owned? Jeez that’s a tough question. It was probably digging in a used record shop, but I can’t really remember. I do remember it was drum & bass and jungle that pulled me in the electronic direction. I was listening to LTJ Bukem and Goldie in my headphones in high school and going to the record store. A guy named Francis Englehardt, who many people probably know from Dope Jams in New York, I remember he gave me a bunch of Ganga Kru records, so like DJ Hype and DJ Zinc. Those were some of the first records I clearly remember. Plus walking into Satellite Records. That’s sort of before I even realised I was into house music.

E: I actually really clearly remember going to a record fair, when I realised I wanted to buy records, and bought a record by a group called Krush – I thought it was DJ Krush – but it was actually some electro stuff…

C: Was it breakdance music?

E: Yeah [grinning]. And I didn’t really get it at the time, but I still have the record. I will always keep that one. [laughs]

 

It’s funny when you talk about DJ Hype and all the drum & bass – it takes me back – you know how when you are a teenager and music just makes you feel really cool? I went through a break-beat / drum & bass phase. [all laugh]

C: Yes! Still does today. There were a couple of kids in high-school that were older than me that were definitely junglists, I just remember them outside smoking cigarettes with big caffeine pants on. I was like “what’s going on? These guys are cool as hell!”

 

That inspired you?

C: Yeah. In America we had jungle sky, liquid sky, and DJ Soul Slinger. That was really cool music, to this day still, This Is Jungle Sky, Volume 2.

 

That’s cool. I find it can be hit and miss when you go back and return to music, sometimes it really was as good as you thought it was, and sometimes it’s not. So it’s nice when you can say: “this really was quality.”

C: Yeah. That stuff was the most futuristic, forward-thinking music.

 

Anything else you want to say about your new record?

C: Should probably mention crewlove.us – our collaborative crew website. We have a subscription based service where people can go and get all of the music, there are lots of perks there for members.

E: Crew love is true love.

Moving to Paris

January 14, 2017

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I’ve long been a bit of a gypsy, and on August 30th, 2016, I followed my little life-long dream of moving to Paris for one year. I’m now four months in and feeling just about settled. After staying in a string of Airbnb spots and sublets, I moved into my own dreamy studio in Montmartre at the start of November.

So far it’s been a lot of fun to explore, discovering dope record spots like Tago Mago (where I was introduced to Silver Apples!!!) and Superfly Records (where I picked up Tropical Gangsters on vinyl for €5!), finding my favourite local bakery Pain Pain (the best almond croissants) and favourite bistro Buvette (the best chocolate mousse), and I’ve hazy happy memories of bars like Le Sans Souci and L’Embuscade (killer cocktails at both).

Moving to a new city has been lonely too at times for sure, but I’m very lucky to have connected with and befriended some very cool souls over here. I’m very excited for this new year and am going to round off this little post on my top feel-good track right now: Prefab Sprout’s “The King of Rock ’N’ Roll’ … Enjoy!

Paris, October 2015

October 10, 2015

Last weekend I took a little trip to Paris for my birthday. I went there solo, stayed in the 18th arrondissement, and had the most magical time.

Me on the train …

Me on the Eurostar

Song of my trip : Jefferson Airplane “Today”

On the Sunday morning I went to the Hotel Amour on the Rue Navarin for breakfast (see below) and got chatting to the most fascinating woman next to me named Bernarda. Upon first glance I had assumed she were French, reading Le Parisian with such Gallic style, but as soon as we began talking I could hear her wonderful mix of American and Franco tones. It turned out that she had grown up in New York, and moved to San Francisco in 1968. Can you imagine? A time when you could hitch-hike around the country and when people really believed in positive change to come.

Hotel Amour

The weather was beautiful, so I spent most of the afternoon enjoying the Autumn sunshine the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. It was my first time there, and felt stuck by how different the landscape is to the other, more manicured, parks in Paris that I had seen before. The nature feels more overgrown and wild in Buttes-Chaumont, and made me yearn for Yosemite in California. Right now I am reading Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur, which likely magnified my impulse towards some sort of earthy and celestial connection with the world.

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Upon a friend’s recommendation I then went to Le Comptoir General just by the canal. It is a very cool and well-curated spot with exotic, laid-back interiors. I was there on a Sunday afternoon, and would like to go back at night next time.

Back in Montmartre on Sunday night I met a young photographer who took a few pictures of me as I sat on the Rue des Abbesses writing. I learned a new phrase “parentheses,” which similar to the grammatical context means a moment that is inserted within, but separate to, the bigger story. A unique pocket of time. I like the sentiment a lot.

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The next morning I went to Bernarda’s for breakfast of coffee and bread with honey. She showed me her incredible apartment in the 10th arrondissement and we continued to chat about our Paris, London, San Francisco, a shared love of film, and to share life stories. It was remarkable that we had only met 24 hours previously.

I then sat and wrote at Les Deux Magots for part of the afternoon, before exploring Saint Germain des Pres in the rain. I passed the Cinema Etoile, and remembered seeing the brilliant Portuguese film Tabu there in 2012.

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It turned out I left my hat at Bernarda’s, and so returned to the 10th to collect it. This time her husband was home, and the three of us sat drinking tea, laughing and discussing John William Waterhouse, happiness, atheism, and family ties. It was all very unexpected and wonderful.

That evening I went for dinner at Buvette in Pigalle – a delightful spot I recommend whole-heartedly – and got chatting to a writer (and fellow vegetarian) from Boston named Diane. We talked about creative processes and travel, and she let me try some of her Croque Forestier. We parted ways on the Rue Henry Monnier, and I hope we reconnect when I one day get to Boston.

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On my last day (Tuesday) I explored Montmartre and visited my favourite vintage boutique Chine Machine. I found some vintage YSL flats for $12 as well as a Maison Margiela blazer for $45.

On the Rue Des Martyrs I somehow got talking to a charming gentleman who asked to take my picture. He wore a tweed jacket and possessed a very unique aura and way of asking questions. He asked what I did in life and we talked about both being writers. He turned out to be Francois-Marie Banier, the notable Parisian photographer, novelist and bon vivant. I feel incredibly honoured to have had my photo taken by him, and hope to one day see the images.

A glorious twist of fate rounded off my trip, as a friend I made at Washington Dulles airport in 2011 got to Paris a few hours before I was due to leave. Lauren: a magnetic free-spirit from Pittsburgh who I hadn’t seen in nearly 5 years. I busted a move on the metro to meet her at her hotel in the 7th arrondissement (so exhilarating), and we enjoyed strong cocktails while catching up. I love that lady – so fun, ambitious, and dreamy – and hope it isn’t another five years before our next rendez-vous. The perfect end to a magical trip.

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