Lars Bjarno Jensen, Mikkas Skulstad and Frantz Thomasen formed the Danish/Norwegian trio Djuma Soundsystem with the intention to create something more edgy than the cliché etnic Ibiza house dominating the dancefloors at the time being. The first attempt to transform the dance floor oriented music resulted in “Les Djinns”. What happened next, could just simply be described as a straight journey towards stardom. Or maybe not. Frantz Thomasen dropped out to consent his own solo career and it was not actually until 2006 when, the renowned record label Get Physical Music, very wisely decided to release the “Les Djinns” (Trentemoller remix) the real journey towards the sky limit began. Infact the decisive pick up of Get Physical Music was three years after the original release on Capitol/EMI; another example of how great tracks under the wings of major record labels with delicate taste, are translocated into the ears of the big mass.
After the success of “Les Djinns” the anticipations for yet another radio smash hit were enormous. Instead Djuma Soundsystem held on to their inital ideals, to create innovative dance floor tracks. Why do the same thing twice when you can do something new?
This is really the essence of Djuma Soundsystem, to strive for reforming the dance floor music continuously. Listening to Djuma Soundsystems productions are enough evidence that this is what Lars and Mikka still do. It is therefor not very surprising that these guys have a lot of interesting things on their minds and that is why hmwl.org just had to get a word with them:
<HMWL>To me, music is the voice of the universe, how dedicated are you to what you do?
<Djuma> We love being surrounded by good music, perhaps that is the reason why we started producing ourselves, we thought there were too much bad music in the world and wanted to make a difference.
<HMWL>Have you ever imagined, say in a parallel universe where you did not end up making music and dj:ing,what you would do then?
<Djuma> Mikkas would probably be working in the movie industry, I would probably be working in a supermarket, caught up in a loveless relationship..haha, no if I had to choose something else I think I would be working with kids.
<HMWL>Playing in Rio at new years eve in front of a million people, must have been an amazing experience. Is it still overwhelming to play for big audiences or just yet another simple snack of everyday food?
<Djuma>Playing on New Year’s Eve was amazing, I am sure we will never play for that many people ever again. The funny thing is that when you are playing in front of that many people, you don’t really get nervous, Well I don’t anyways, it is too surreal, it does not feel like an audience anymore, it’s more like a wall of people. Often it’s much more scary when you are playing smaller venues, because you get to look your audience in the eye, which is a great thing as well, the thing you miss when you play bigger venues. So to answer your question we would have to say, it is amazing playing for a big audience, it is definitely not an everyday snack, it is fun but we do prefer playing the smaller venues.
<HMWL> Looking at your schedule for the spring, it seems you guys will stay really busy playing at several locations all over the world. I also looked up the word “djuma” and found out that it means “roar of the lion” in Shangaan. Moreover, Djuma was the name of the boy also known as the “Wolf Boy” that was found in 1962 by oil explorers. Combine this information with the fact that “djuma” is the word for Friday in arabic, it feels consequently natural to ask you if you are wild creatures going “it’s all gone pete tong”-style on tour?
<Djuma> Haha, the rock and roll answer would be a big YES! But that is not the case, in order to function as human beings and be able to do your work in a professional manner you have got to have a functioning brain. We do party, that’s part of the job, but we have got to be a little sensible, we can’t work if our brains are mush..
<HMWL> What place or venue is your absolute favorite to dj and/or party?
<Djuma> Our favorite spot has got to be Hardpop in Juarez, the audience and the club are amazing, the most “up for it” crowd we have ever played for. The city in itself is terrible, the most violent city in Mexico, perhaps this is why the crowd are so perceptive.
<HMWL> Your recent bootlegs on Junkies vs Rain is a very pleasant funky tribal
affair with seductive vocals. Meanwhile the bootleg on DJ Godfather’s
“Lookin’ on da flo” is characterized by more suggestive and techy layers of sounds subtly combined to the dirty lyrics of DJ Godfather. How do you manage to maintain the high quality level of production over such long time?
<Djuma> Well, we produce the tracks we like to hear, I am glad you like it, we try to keep everything we make warm and groovy, plus we test the tracks out on dance-floors as well.
<HMWL> I have come to the conclusion that I’ll for ever and ever stick to my
beloved house music, yet I have found my self listening to and be inspired by sad indie pop as well over the years. If you give your self a moment to be introspective, do you find recurrent themes in your production and perception of music? What inspires you to produce music?
<Djuma>We are inspired by all kinds of music, I love jazzy stuff, Mikkas is into disco and we are suckers for melancholic rock and pop tracks as well. I guess we combine a little of everything when we produce, we like our tracks to be groovy, melodic and I don’t know why but, they tend to have a bit of sadness about them as well. I guess it is some kind of distilled version of the music we love.
<HMWL> Since the release of Les Djinns in 2003, and after Trentemöller lay his
hands on the track with a remix, you climbed to the very top of the
electronic music scene at the speed of light. Have you ever looked back and contemplated over the turn of events?
<Djuma> Yes we have looked back, believe me, Les Djinns became a radio hit in countries such as Greece and Belgium and we had to decide where we wanted to be, if we wanted to be a pop act or an underground thing, we decided we liked the underground better and thought that the Djuma project would have a longer life span in the underground so we decided not to make another Les Djinns even though everybody told us that was the thing to do.
<HMWL> And now your also setting up a new record label! What is the purpose and vision of the new label?
<Djuma> We had a few tracks that we really loved but they did not fit the minimal or the tech house “boxes” so we decided to release them ourselves because we thought they needed to be released. We want to use the “Djuma Sounds” as an output for our own tracks and incredible tracks from other producers we pick up along the way.
We want to put our own spin on it so we will try to make sure that every track gets a Djuma Soundsystem remix.
<HMWL> Last but not least, in today’s house/techno scene, there seems to be dispersed opinions about the use of new dj equipments. First the vinyl had to give room for cd-players, and now there’s yet more equips to fit on the stage; What’s your opinion on the impact of new devices? Is it good or bad for the dj-scene?
<Djuma> I think it is good when used creatively, but unfortunately we see a lot of people with pre-programmed sets on their computers, when I go out I want to hear people doing creative things, performing, but most of the time I see people starring into laptops, not connecting with the crowd on the dance floor.
<HMWL> Thanks & good luck in the future! we’ll be following you with excitement…
<Djuma> Thank you too!