THE DJOON EXPERIENCE.

THE DJOON EXPERIENCE.

Ideally situated in the vibrant Eastern quarter of Paris, the Djoon Club has gained a reputation as one of Paris’ leading clubs. DJ and dancers alike, make a pilgrimage to Djoon. Indeed, some of the biggest names in music have headed to Djoon. However, it’s not just a stopover for superstar DJs. Quite the opposite. Unknown artists and DJs have rocked Djoon’s dance-floor ,with their unique brand of music. They’ve provided a soundtrack that’s been truly eclectic. Everything from Chicago house, Afro-Beat, techno, deep tech and soulful house has kept Djoon’s dance-floor filled. Soulful, funky, eclectic, innovative and cutting-edge describes Djoon’s eclectic soundtrack. That’s why dancers flock to Djoon’s doors from around the world. For many, it’s not unlike a spiritual awakening.

For dancers, heading to Djoon is not unlike a pilgrimage. Their place of worship is Djoon’s wooden dance-floor. To globetrotting dancers in search of salvation, rather than visit cathedrals and temples, clubs like Djoon are where they gather to worship. Religion it seems, is so passe. It was for previous generations. Instead, dancers seek out the best clubs, which undoubtably, for anyone who heads to Paris, means Djoon.

It’s no wonder dancer, DJs and artists make regular pilgrimages to Djoon. Always ahead of musical trends, innovative and influential, describes Djoon, one of Europe’s top clubs. The reason for this, are Djoon’s DJs. They’re leaders rather than followers. So, it’s no surprise that Djoon is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary. To celebrate this landmark anniversary, Djoon decided to release a CD. The Djoon Experience was released by BBE Music on 27th May 2013 is the perfect way to celebrate Djoon’s tenth birthday. 

The Djoon Experience is a double album, which was compiled and mixed by Black Coffee and Joe Clausell. Joe Clausell’s mix features on Disc One, while Black Coffee’s mix is on Disc Two. The two mixes are a tantalizing taster of what a night at Djoon is like. Both mixes are an eclectic, with Joe Clausell and Black Coffee showcasing not just their unique style of DJing, but their taste in music. For anyone whose yet to make a pilgrimage to Djoon, The Djoon Experience is a tantalizing taste of what you’re missing. After hearing The Djoon Experience, which I’ll now tell you about, you’ll be packing your bags and heading to Djoon to join the faithful and worship the gospel according to Djoon.

DISC ONE.

Managing to secure the services of a superstar DJ for The Djoon Experience shows how well respected the club is. During his hectic DJ-ing schedule, that sees Joe Clausell traverse the world numerous times, Joe found time to record a set for The Djoon Experience. This wasn’t the most orthodox mix though. One night, when he was playing in Tokyo, Joe set up turntables, mixer and tape machine in his hotel room. With the equipment ready, Joe called a few friends. They partied in his room, creating the right vibe for the master to get to work. What follows Joe says, isn’t: “about the perfect beat, but the soul and the funk.” Amen. Let the party start.

For Joe’s mix, he’s selected twelve tracks, which in his Tokyo hotel room, he mixes together over seventy-eight minutes. This is a musical journey you want to experience. Setting the scene is DJ Fudge and Ezel’s Call My Name, which features Mani Hoffman. It’s a slow burner, but when after two minutes, the dramatic, soulful vocal is replaced by a myriad of percussion and later piano. Gradually, the track reveals its secrets and undeniable beauty. You just hope Joe’s not set the bar too high?

He hasn’t. After all, this is Joe Clausell we’re talking about. Although essentially a house mix, Joe explores the different sub-genres. This he describes as a collage of the music he plays and loves. In making this collage, Joe doesn’t forget about the soul and funk. From the pulsating, hypnotic, deep house sound of Distant People’s My Love Song, we move to tech house, which comes courtesy of Ron Trent’s Cross Roads one things stays the same…the soulful vocals. During these tracks, Joe uses the EQ and effects well, but moves through the gears on The Bayara Citizens’ Electric Afrika. Remixed by Joe, he becomes a Jimi Hendrix of the turntable, jamming, transforming the turntable and mixer into an instrument. That takes skill. You bow at Joe’s altar, which is the DJ booth. Then knowing it would be hard to replicate what’s gone before, he throws a curveball.

As if to let dancers draw breath, the tempo drops, thunderous drums take centre-stage, before my favorite track unfolds. Geoffrey Oryema KelKweyo, remixed by Joe is a real fusion of styles. Everything from Afro-Beat, jazz, soul, Acid House, funk and soul is thrown into the musical melting pot. Add Geoffrey’s heartfelt, spiritual and soulful vocal and the result is the highlight of the mix. Next up is The Kick and Bass Rerub of Gregory Porter’s 1960 What. This seems fitting. One impassioned vocal following another. Accompanied by blazing horns and backing vocals, this jazzy track is given a makeover. Dramatic, enthralling and uplifting, it’s truly irresistible.

Miranda Nicole’s Kissing You sees Joe drop the energy slightly. Not much. Just a little. Josh Milan’s Honeycomb Vocal Mix seems to energize the track. It bursts into life, with Nicole’s sultry, soulful vocal drifting above the jazzy arrangement. From there, the energy continues to build.

Joe’s decision to pair Kuniyuki’s Set Me Free then Sean Kuti and Egypt 80 back to back is a minor masterstroke. The two tracks work so well together. It’s as if Kuniyuki is setting the scene for seven glorious minutes of Afro-Beat courtesy of Sean Kuti and Egypt 80. If you’ve not realized it by now, a night a Djoon is a very special place, with an eclectic and irresistible soundtrack. Continuing in a similar vein is Joe Clausell’s With More Love. A mass of percussion and pounding drums, there’s a real pulsating Afro-Beat influence. Gradually, it decides to reveal its subtleties and surprises. Spanish guitar, celestial synths, keyboards and a loved-up, soulful vocal play their part in this twelve-minute epic. Through dudicious use of the EQ, plus high and low pass filters, Joe drops parts of the track out. Relentlessly, he teases the listener as the mix reaches a crescendo. Has Joe peaked too early?

No. There’s no drop in energy when he drops Reggie Dokes’ Once Again. It’s literally an explosive bundle of energy and electricity. Dramatic, with thunderous drums, percussion and washes of twisting synths, it’s another scene setter. As the baton passes to The Djoon Experience’s Old Landmark, which features house veteran Kenny Bobien, the track takes on a spiritual quality. This is fitting, giving how a visit to Djoon is the modern equivalent of heading to worship. Clubs are temples, DJs preachers and music is the word. Kenny, complete with gospel harmonies, has the believers dancing in the aisles. Having worked the faithful into a frenzy, Joe Claussel says amen, and the word, it is house.

DISC TWO.

With The Djoon Experience being a double album, and Joe having thrown down the gauntlet with one of the best mixes I’ve heard in many a year, the pressure is on South African DJ Black Coffee. 

Back in his native South Africa, he is a legend. Forget Coldplay, Mumford and Son or any number of tedious bands, which I wish I could, back in South Africa Black Coffee and DJs of a similar stature, are treated like rock stars. House music provides the soundtrack to everyday life. Everywhere you go, house music fills the air. Not any kind on house music. Pulsating, percussive and vocal lead house music. That’s the type of music you hear on Black Coffee’s mix. 

Black Coffee opens his mix with Black Coffee’s We Are One, which features a true musical legend, Hugh Masakele. Straight away, you’re hooked. Soulful and heartfelt, thanks to Hugh’s vocal, the arrangement is percussive and incredibly melodic. It benefits from a lazy, laid-back sound. This slice of musical sunshine puts the vocal at the centre of the arrangement. Hugh with passion and sincerity, pleas as the arrangement meanders along. Seamlessly, G Family’s People With Bullets proves to be the perfect track to follow We Are One. Both songs have understated, laid-back arrangements which, gradually, unfold. Similarly, both tracks feature vocalists who deliver a message. Here it’s Nombongo, who has a different style, but is equally effective. Another equally talented vocalist is, Tumelo, who on All Alone, is joined by Vikter Duplaix. Together, they produce a deeply soulful, melodic track, whose arrangement is subtle, allowing the vocal to take centre-stage. There are similarities with the previous two tracks. Just keyboards, percussion and drums accompany the vocals. This proves perfect, as is Black Coffee’s song selection so far. As the tempo increases slightly, the soulfulness and vocal led tracks continue with Julian Gomes Love Song. Sultry, seductive and soulful, stabs of synths, drums and harmonies accompany Bobby’s vocal. Then it’s all change.

DJ Kent’s Sunrise has a darker, edgier sound to the previous tracks. That’s until the vocal sweeps in. It transforms the arrangement with it seductive, soulful sound. It’s a perfect contrast to the rest of the arrangement. After a change in style, we return to familiar territory.

Natz Efx’s Surroundings, sees another change in style. It’s still house, but with jazzy twist. This is thanks to a flute. The percussion that features on most of the tracks is ever-present. So is another soulful, impassioned and needy vocal from Cherieyes. She’s accompanied by strings, flute and guitar as the track takes on a graceful, elegant, jazzy sound. A perfect way to follow Surroundings, is with Sai and Ribatone’s Avenue Of Dreams. It features yet another deeply soulful. This time, it comes courtesy of Thiwe. The songs could’ve been made for each other. They fit perfectly. 

When Black Coffee drops another of his own tracks, Don’t You Give Up, it’s guite different from the two previous tracks. It features a fuller arrangement, where synths, drums and percussion combine. They combine a meandering, hypnotic arrangement. One thing however, stays the same..the vocal. It’s soulful and is delivered by Vuyo with power and passion, that’s crucial to the track’s success. Bucie’s Get Over is another example of Black Coffee’s ability to pick the right track, at the right time. With stabs of horns, keyboards, washes of synths and thunderous drums, gradually, the track reveals its secrets. The tempo increases slightly, while the vocal is at the heart of the arrangement. Sassy, feisty and dismissive, it’s all these things and more. Very gradually, the tempo increases with Martin East Project’s Making Memories. Vocal led and soulful, wistful strings providing the perfect as the drama increases, and elements of jazz and soul combine with house. It’s a compelling combination, one that sets the scene for the closing track.

With Key’s Snow’s You and Me closing Black Coffee’s peerless mix, you’re hoping that he doesn’t blow it now. He’s one more hurdle to jump and he’s created a flawless mix. Straight away, this slice of deep house chugs along. A standup bass and emotive, pleading vocal are at the centre of the arrangement. Joining them are hissing hi-hats, drums, washes of Hammond organ and harmonies. As the song gradually reveals its secrets, you realize Black Coffee has chosen well. Uplifting, hook-laden, soulful and irresistible, Black Coffee has cast his spell over the dancers. They become his followers, his disciples, and as the track finishes, his disciples give thanks to Black Coffee, thanks for the soundtrack, one that’s soulful and dance-floor friendly.

The two mixes that comprise The Djoon Experience come courtesy of two leading DJs. These mixes have several things in common…quality and song selection are two. Another is the DJs passion. That becomes apparent in the approach taken to the mix.

Both mixes that comprise The Djoon Experience, which was released by BBE Music on 27th May 2013, are very different when it comes to style. Joe Clausell’s mix isn’t a smooth, seamless mix. He admits that. For Joe, it’s all about the music, the soul and funk. He literally throws himself into the mix. Frantically, he works EQ and effects. Deploying low and high pass filters, echo, delay and numerous other DJ Ninja tricks, he’s constantly transforming the sound. Cutting and adding bass and treble, Joe’s constantly working the EQ. This is to boost the energy and dynamics of the mix. Increasing and decreasing the drama, Joe does both. Confident in his song selection, he throws himself into the mix. So what if the beats briefly clash. This is live music, while the party people create a vibe in Joe’s Tokyo hotel room. That’s what makes the mix so compelling. Joe you realize, has given part of himself while create this mix. For that, we should be grateful. 

Black Coffee’s mix is very different to Joe’s. It’s smooth and seamless. He eschews the effects and EQ that Joe uses so widely. It’s as if Black Coffee wants the music to take centre-stage and shine through. It does. His song selection is flawless. Songs blend beautifully into each other. It’s as if they were separated at birth. Melodic, percussive and pulsating, the vocal is at the heart of each track. Mostly that vocal is deeply soulful. For many people, they may think this is yesterday’s sound. It’s not. I could just as easy argue it’s tomorrows sound and that a new musical trend is unfolding in South Africa. After all, every musical trend starts somewhere? 

Of the two mixes, which you prefer is down to personal taste. I like both mixes, but for different reasons. Joe’s mix is vibrant, bristling with electricity and energy, and like a double shot expresso, is incredibly potent. Black Coffee’s mix soulful, percussive and melodic, smoothly and seamlessly mixed. Which mix you prefer, will be down to taste and which style of DJ-ing you prefer. Personally, I think both the mixes on The Djoon Experience are a fiting homage to Djoon, which over the past ten years, has established a reputation as one of Europe’s top clubs. Indeed, Djoon is where discerning pilgrims in Paris, searching for salvation and spiritual awakening head. Until you can make your pilgrimage to this musical nirvana, then at least The Djoon Experience will give you a tantalizing taste of what awaits the musical pilgrim. Standout Tracks:he Bayara Citizens Electric Afrika, Reggie Dokes Once Again, Black Coffee We Are One and Tumelo All Alone.

THE DJOON EXPERIENCE.

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