This month Carhartt WIP Radio accords a hearty welcome to ClekClekBoom, a diversified record label from Paris which started life in 2007 as a website, initially to promote the music of the Baile Funk DJ Sandrinho from Rio de Janeiro. In 2011, ClekClekBoom founders Jonathan Chaoul (aka Ministre X) and Adrien Creuse (aka The Boo) met the talented producer Valentino Mora (aka French Fries) and re-established themselves as a label to release what they call 'Paris Club Music' - a blend of dubstep, grime, house, garage, techno and many other styles rolled into one. Since then they keep it rolling with almost monthly releases by artist like French Fries, Jean Nipon, Chaos In The CBD, Manaré, Coni, NSDOS, Aethority or Aleqs Notal. Lateley ClekClekBoom been so kind to provide Joaquim Bayle, Clément Vanpeperstraete and Nicolas Decatoire with some music for their new film Öctagon featuring Valentin Bauer, Edouard Depaz and Carhartt WIP skateboard teamriders Bram De Cleen and Joseph Biais. Now Aleqs Notal prepared with label co-founder The Boo an exclusive ClekClekBoom Carhartt WIP Radio show that gains a deep insight into their multidimensional sound galaxy. To get a deeper impression about their French urban music style we talked with both about the label and their sound and vision.
(Aleqs Notal and The Boo, photo by Gauthier CDG)
Hello Aleqs, Boo, can you introduce yourself shortly to us and our readers? What do you do for ClekClekBoom and in general?
Aleqs: I'm Aleqs Notal, real name Alexis Talneau, DJ and producer living in Paris and working with ClekClekBoom since 2011. I've released an EP called A.E.T. in 2014 and some different tracks on various ClekClekBoom compilations. Also, I play on Rinse France every Sunday for the ClekClekBoom Show.
Boo: I'm Adrien aka Boo, Parisian born and raised. Co-founder of ClekClekBoom with Jonathan “Ministre X” and Valentino “French Fries”, s/o to them. I am also the visual director of the label and all-time DJ. You can add improvised accountant and renowned monomaniac.
How did ClekClekBoom start? What was the impetus behind the start-up of the label in 2007?
Boo: ClekClekBoom started in 2007 only as a website, a platform to showcase different producers we had around us, from Rio, London, Paris and more… slightly leaning on what I call “urban club music”, like Baile Funk or Baltimore club. In 2011 Jonathan and I sat down with Valentino “French Fries”. Acknowledging the fact that we were surrounded with talents, we decided to develop the entity into a proper label. You have to make a difference between being an online retailer (sort of), and running a record label, the purpose is not the same. So we had to define a real precise musical identity, something we would want to produce and that has nothing to do with what the website was offering.
What process do you follow for getting new artists?
Boo: There’s many ways really... it might be by discovering someone’s work from demos we receive, by having one of the artists introducing us someone he know or met. Or by total hazard, just like it happened with NSDOS for example...! French Fries and Bambounou were just hanging around in an art gallery for an exhibition opening and got hooked by the music airing. They thought it was just a CD playing, but then stepping into the other room they saw those two guys twisting up every kind of hardware and synths, the rest is history.
On what future projects is the label working on now?
Aleqs: We have a few things in the pipelines right now. There’s a white label ready to roll, produced by a new french artist called Caslau. We also have a new EP from NSDOS forthcoming in spring, and for this summer the Volume 3 of our yearly Paris Club Music compilation, gathering exclusive tracks from the label camp. Then throughout the year I guess you can expect a second Various Cuts alongside another artist EP, just left to know who it’s gonna be...
If you could describe the heartbeat of ClekClekBoom to someone that hasn’t felt it, what would you say?
Aleqs: The heartbeat of the label is a human felling, a real friendship between all the guys. We all come from different background, don't have the same age either, so the sensibilities are different but complementary. I think you create something strong when you share all your influences and your experiences. Some of the guys come from soul, disco or hip hop, others grew up with reggae or have history with Drum and Bass. And somehow, everything comes together in harmony.
What distinguishes ClekClekBoom from other record labels in your opinion?
Boo: I would say it’s the way we try to put all our musical influences together, shake it all down and come up with something totally personal. Those peculiar musical vibes from Chicago, Berlin, Detroit, London, New York that every artist is influenced by and like to use their own way... but at the end all the picks are made coherent also by going through the musical mind of the label, Mr French Fries. That boy is good, a real nature-given talent.
What do you wish personally for ClekClekBoom Recordings' future?
Aleqs: The best future for us is to keep on releasing good music, expanding the name, meeting more artists either for collaborations on different projects. Playing more and more all around the world and reaching more people.
Boo: Also we always push every artist to grow their own profile and career, that could mean releasing material on other labels as well. We don’t see it as something against nature, on the contrary, I think it’s good for the artist as well as ClekClekBoom.
Can you give some general advice to someone who plan to start a label?
Boo: First of all, don’t do this for the money, cause you won’t make any! Haha. Well not just by releasing records anyway. You must do it with you heart or it's gonna get the best of you. First of all, think through of what you want to see for your label, it has to be genuine to you, cause even though we all know that we all evolve and rethink our paths, one day or another you might have to defend or justify the choices you've made. Then I would say, keep your head on your shoulder at all time, but mostly, have fun and get surrounded with people you trust, it helps moving forward, especially when the going gets tough.
(The Boo, photo by Jérome Hervé)
How does living in Paris shape the work at ClekClekBoom?
Boo: I told this in an older interview… many people see Paris as the “City of Lights”, a place of endless romance. Truth is, Paris is a cold lover, a rough place for anyone who’s not financially at ease or just mentally weak. Like every metropole you would say... but it has this omnipresent aggressive patent, either physical or psychological which gets even deeper under your skin. Lots of urban culture has flourished from this, no surprise we have a hardcore hip hop scene for example. Working here provides a feeling of urgency but that’s what keeps you going and makes you want to push things further.
Aleqs: A good thing about it is that we’re somehow in the middle of this big place called Europe. It gives a lot of opportunities to make things happen in other countries and cultures which are just two hours away from here, being able to deejay in great clubs either in London, Amsterdam or Berlin. For example, I went to Panorama Bar to see French Fries playing, and the next day I was spinning records with all of my good friends of Bass Cadet Records for an awesome birthday party. It was just so easy to escape from Paris just for a week-end and come back home with lots of fresh vibes.
In the last years the electronic music scene of Paris exploded. What is good and what is bad about it?
Aleqs: I only see good sides out of that. It's motivating to see the evolution of the Parisian scene. There are a lot of very good labels in Paris like Antinote, My Love Is Underground or Latency Recordings. All of these guys bring something new in this Parisian music culture. Also Paris has a lot of very good clubs like Concrete, Rex Club or Djoon where you can find the best DJs in the world. Personally, I find my inspiration every time I see one of them. More than that, the music scene explosion helped to sustain lot of good record shops like Heartbeat or Syncrophone just by the fact that more and more people are back on digging vinyls to find good independent music.
What is Paris missing for being an international renowned club capital like Berlin, London or New York?
Boo: We still miss more venues with a proper sound system. There’s a lot of club owners in France who prefer working on building the image of their place through some network hype and name dropping, and totally underestimate the musical side of things. But this state of mind tends to change with the new generation of promoters. It’s also fair to say that many government laws are bringing the nightlife down, so many regulations have been put in place upon clubs that it’s almost impossible to exploit a venue like the way you're suppose to.
Aleqs: By the same token, I think the mentality of the crowd and club owners is not the same here than Berlin, New York or London. Of course there is a real community of music lovers in Paris, passionate people who want to make things happen in the club music scene. But some people who are running clubs don’t care about that and just want to make money, or want to book DJs but don’t want to pay for it. Those are the same people who make it difficult for the crowd to enjoy the night to the fullest, because of too expensive drinks or exaggerated door tickets price.
Is Paris still good for musical subculture in your eyes?
Boo: In my opinion, Paris subculture has never been that good since the 90s. This recession going on pushes people to express and develop themselves in all kinds of alternative ways. Music-wise, it’s showing up by a multitude of independent labels, in the electronic scene and beyond. Even the “rave” state of mind is having a revival, events like 75021 are taking over artists-residency buildings outside of Paris and drain over 3000 youngsters eager to party all together to the rhythm of house and techno. Another example is the Ballroom scene, one of the most alternative scene there is, which is growing stronger every day. I can tell because I have the chance to be a part of it as a DJ with the House of Ninja. Anyways, you can really feel that more and more people are interested in going back to realness and to dig deeper into things.
Please recommend two upcoming Paris based artists which you feel that deserve attention.
Boo & Aleqs: Hard to mention only two names, really... but we’re always eager to check the new materials of fellow artists like DK aka 45 ACP, part of the Antinote crew, dropping some serious jams on different labels.... we could say Low Jack but he’s not upcoming anymore, so that slot belongs to NSDOS! The production keeps getting better and better, there’s a new EP coming soon... not to mention the live act which is definitely sick. Got to catch this up if it ever comes in a club near by.
Aleqs - you are a DJ so you are up-road every now and then: what are you most looking forward to when you come back to Paris from foreign places?
Aleqs: I usually want to see my closest friends when I come back to Paris. Going to record stores, talking about music and life in general, sitting around the best Japanese food. But honestly, I always want to go back on tour.
You are also a producer: how do you usually start a musical piece?
Aleqs: It depends on the vibe. Sometimes I start with a melody, playing with the synths, but I usually start a new track with the beat. I love jamming with the snares or the hi-hats. I don’t know why but they inspire me. I can ear a melody just listening to the drums. I have some habits but I don’t have magic recipe so it depends of my mood.
Are you testing new tracks during DJ sets? If so: how important is the reaction for your ongoing work?
Aleqs: Yes sure, I play some of my tracks to know how it sounds. It’s important for me to understand how I could step up my level of production. I’m also always nervous playing unreleased tracks because I never know what the crowd reaction will be, but if the vibe is good, I throw it, trying to bring my own personality in my DJ sets.
And what is coming next from you? Any future releases in the pipeline?
Aleqs: I've just released a new track called Mare IMB in the last Various Cuts #1 with Jean Nipon, French Fries, NSDOS and Barbara Ford. I also have a new track on the next “Paris Club Music - Vol. 3” compilation, called "Ceos Vision". I'm still working on my sound to be better and to find my signature. Maybe you'll hear my music soon also on CCB or others labels...
How did you both select the tracks for your Carhartt WIP Radio show?
Aleqs & Boo: We wanted to showcase a good glimpse of the ClekClekBoom camp, with a selection of past, present and future tunes… but trying as well to stick to the mind set that we are today.
What is your musical background and what are your biggest musical influences?
Aleqs: I personally come from the hip hop scene. I was deejaying for a French hip hop act for a few years, listening to a lot of rap music and jazzy stuff. The natural evolution for me was to learn more about music in general, the history of soul, funk and disco. Later I discovered house music and I started producing at the same time. So I can say that my influences now, come from Chicago, Detroit or NYC.
Boo: I grew up with French and US rap music, which dragged me into soul and funk as I was digging for every original samples. I had a fascination for drum breaks. By the time I had enough money to buy a couple of turntables with my lifelong friend Ministre X, with who I started to go night-clubbing to the rhythm of house and garage, I was also discovering the Jungle and Drum and Bass scene in which I dived deep into for more than 10 years… Also having my own radio show was great and writing reviews, doing interviews for fanzines, going back and forth to London to grab promo records, the real deal. Alongside that I was continuing to collect a whole lot of different music. Until the day promoters offered me the opportunity to play all that music for a more opened crowd… I ended up being resident DJ at some of the most exclusive venues in Paris, going abroad for big fashion parties and all, the good life! But eventually I felt the need to come back to my roots, to something more raw and underground. That's when ClekClekBoom happened.
(Aleqs Notal, photo by Jérome Hervé)
How did you first get into music and when did you decide you wanted to make your career in music culture?
Aleqs: In 1999 I saw a video tape of scratching DJs... I wanted to do the same. I started deejaying around 2000 with one turntable and one tape player. When I grew up, I bought some records and I improved my skills in order to participate at a DMC French championship in 2005. I won it so I had the opportunity at this time to make a World tour, during a few years, with a French rap band. It was the begining for me, learning every day with sound engineers and older people. The best experience I think, when you are 20 years old…
Boo: My first occupation was actually a graphic designer, I got onto that path around 15, classic high-school dropout… but I started to DJ at the same time and really it took over naturally in my heart and in my life. The click for me happened probably the first time I deejayed in a club and had this unique feeling when you connect with people on the dancefloor. Very cliché, I reckon!
What makes a track exceptional to you? Tell us a classic that you feel is really outstanding and describe what it is about it that moves you so much.
Aleqs: If you are in a deep vibe and you are listening to music with the same atmosphere, obviously you will be affected. For example this is what happens when I’m listening the instrumental of Can U Feel It by Larry Heard. I don’t know why but this track moves me so much. Sometimes a track can remind you of a girl or special moments. We all have our landmarks.
Boo: It's all about the sincerity of the emotions that are being transmitted from the track. It doesn't have to be complex. For me a song like Cigarettes and Coffee by Otis Redding, which is I think my favorite tune in the world (paradoxical enough knowing that I don't smoke and hate coffee) is giving me that. That peculiar feeling as if the track has been written only for you.
What are three albums that you'll absolutely never get tired of listening to?
What are your favorite spots and secrets in your hometown that you would recommend to somebody that comes around for a visit?
Boo: OK, this is for my nightlife people. There's no so much places to eat in Paris coming out of the clubs at 4 AM… so here's two classic spots of mine: Chez Denise, 5 rue des Prouvaires 75001 (closed Sat. and Sun. nights) old school brasserie with french dishes and nice pieces of meat, and Babylone Bis, 34 rue Tiquetonne 75002 (beware cash only), afro/west-indies cuisine with zebra and pics of celebrities who had dinner there since the 80s, very colorful.
Aleqs: If you like real Japanese food, the best Udon and Karaagé are at Sanukiya, 9 rue d’Argenteuil 75001. If you prefer the traditional French food, I recommend you my friend’s restaurant called Le Petit Platon, 4 rue de Paradis 75010. They got some very good natural wine and a very high quality menu. Finally, if you like football and you just want to have a drink, I can recommend you a bar from my football team friends, called Le Ballon 17 rue de Mazagran, 75010.