DJ Yass

The Parisian DJ talks more stamina than Jack Bauer and teaming up with Bruce Willis

Interview

Hello there! How are you feeling?
I’m fine, but I only just woke up – I hadn’t slept for 45 hours because I’ve been busy working in the studio and seeing friends.

Two days! That means you’re as hard as two Jack Bauers.
Yeah, but he’s more busy and stressed than me. My job is hard work, but it’s not really very stressful.

So you won’t be appearing in 24 any time soon, then. Do you work this late very often?
It’s usually only once every two weeks. It’s tough – sometimes I’m writing songs or remixing and I finish late, then during the day I can’t really sleep. And sometimes I have some gigs where I finish around four or five and then I have to get a short flight that I can’t sleep on that same morning.

You started out DJing hip hop – what made you change to house?
When I started [around 1986] I was 13 and hip hop was big in France, so I played that. Five or so years later, there was a new wave of electronic music sweeping across Paris. My friends invited me to some rave parties so I could see what it was about, and I was amazed to see people dancing in forests to this music. The energy was crazy.

Do you miss hip hop?
Not really. Some of my friends play me modern hip hop and I say, ‘It is fake, it is really commercial.’ Nowadays house music it is more hip hop in spirit. But sometimes I listen to De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest – things I liked when I was young. But they are just memories now.

How did playing in Paris affect your career?
Paris was really a good base for exporting my music, because I grew up in a very strong French scene, surrounded by French DJs who were like my brothers – Daft Punk, people like that. I saw them developing their sound in Paris and then exporting it to the international scene, so I grew up in that spirit.

Has that pioneering spirit led to encounters with famous people?
Because I did some VIP nights in Paris, I became noticed by some famous people. Bruce Willis, for example – he came up to DJ alongside me, just for fun. But the VIP crowds weren’t my thing really – I tend to want something more playful, with clubbers who just want to party and have fun.

Have you thought about collaborating with Bruce again?
I’d like to, but I’m not sure about his taste – he’s more into rock than house. But if he wants to work with me he can call and I’ll try to work something out, no problem. [laughs]

What will you be playing for us when you come over here?
I will play funky disco house and some electro too at the start. I’ll try not to be too commercial at the beginning to see how far I can push the crowd. Then, when I find the way to make them dance, I will do the job. It’s my first time in Dubai so it’s really important for me to make sure that everyone is happy.

DJ Yass plays Alpha, July 2.

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