GREMS INTERVIEW 08/2010 English

…little by little I began to ask myself “Well, why the fuck
 don’t we put hiphop on this kind of track?”. So I tried…

– Dat’ : So, how was the release of your new album Broka Billy? Like Sea, Sex &
Grems, it looks like you did all the promotion by yourself, and it 
seems quite complicated to find it.

Grems : Well, for Sea, Sex & Grems, it was a pain in the ass to buy it, but 
that was on purpose. Just before releasing it, a very bad thing
 happened to me, so I couldn’t care about the album anymore, or about 
its promotion. Shouldn’t have been released actually, but people told
 me it was really good so we did a limited edition available in Lazydog 
and JustLikeHipHop. For Broka Billy, it’s really different. It’s
 actually going pretty well; you can find it in big places, like Fnac 
or Virgin, but not always in the music section. And you can at least
 order it everywhere.
 And it’s great, the album is going really well for the moment. We 
avoided Internet downloading for 3 weeks. Well, ok, since then we’ve 
been screwed by P2P but it’s like that for every artist now so… And 
we’re doing it well with the promotion – it’s a little quiet during 
summer, but we’re going to burn everything in September, with new
 video clips, exhibitions, and other cool stuff.

– I may be wrong, but it seems like you completely lost your mind on 
this album, like you wanted to create an LP without limits or 
shackles, risking some really fucked-up material. And it’s this risk 
which makes the album awesome.

Ah yes, it’s definitely different than the last 3 albums, like the 
trilogy, and it’s not like Roules a Levres either [the other Rap/House
Grems project, with Disiz]. I didn’t really want to do something 
really fucked up. Just quality, something I like. Even if i didn’t 
produce the CD, I know how to make music so we did it in osmosis with
 all the producers. Not following trends. Just making something 
completely different. Unique. From another world. It’s not even trying
 to push forward things, but just making a totally singular object. And 
it’s odd, this album is really twisted, but it seems to be more
 understood by people than the others.

– What happen with your producer Troubl, and his Genius track for La 
Barbe? It may be your most ‘Detroit’ track, one of the best produced
 you’ve ever had. But on the other hand, you cut it at 1minute 30 !

Ah yeah, this track is a pure Deepkho track. This kind of production,
it’s when I piss off Troubl so much that he creates something awesome 
like that. There’s 2 years of discussion and reflection behind
 something like that, ‘cause I wanted to sum up all my albums and 
projects. And, well, even if the track is short for everyone, well, I 
have the rest of the track somewhere for me (laughs). But I like this 
verse so much, I like the fact that it’s not going any further, it’s 
just beginning, slaps you in the face, then it stops. The intro had to 
be great, to make you understand immediately that the album will be 

– Ok, so, whether people like or dislike your album, it seems like 
everyone agrees for the track Recontre Avec Un Ballon. I’ve even made
 my Japanese friends listen to it; they can’t possibly get the lyrics
 but they’re all crazy for it. How’d you have the idea for a track like 

Well, it was my friend’s idea, she’s the one who said some of the
 sentences in the chorus. The lyrics aren’t misogynist; it’s about a
 girl raping a guy. Everything comes from this idea. And, well, I know 
that my porn-rap tracks are always the most listened, and it’s funny
 ‘cause Casse Moi Le Cul and Merdeuse are the tracks I did all by
 myself. So I draw the foundations of the track, and after, we did a 
lot of work with Klimaxx, who did all the production and totally 
killed it. By the way, the other Klimaxx track, his remix of Dimanche,
is seriously tremendous. I’m traumatised by this one. Klimaxx really 
knows how to deal with music, he knows instantly what to create and
 where you wanna go.

– And with guys like SonOfKick or Opolopo, who seem quite far from 
hip-hop and more deeply in electronic music, how did you manage to
 work? Because we feel a real osmosis on the tracks

Well, for me, Opolopo is the best brokenbeat producer ever. To have 
him on my album, and have him work with a french hiphop mc, it was 
just improbable. And the most improbable thing is for the LP, he 
produced the most improbable track he’s ever made (laughs). He didn’t 
make a 100% Opolopo track, but a crazy hybrid thing.

For SonOfKick, it’s Simbad, whose tracks I listen to hundreds of times 
a day, who introduced him to me. They both live in London, and they 
were making hiphop originally, before moving on to something more 
electronic. And they’re sound designers too, so when you hear the mix, 
it’s awsome. And so yeah, in the end we were very good friends with 
SonOfKick. We even have a band together, called Mika Miki, we do 
everything between us, lyrics and music. This guy knows everything 
about music, doing really unbounded hybrid fucked-up stuff, like the 
track Carlos, which is a real Broka track made by SonOfKick.

And by the way, the big big thing coming up before Christmas: The 
Disiz & Grems LP, produced by Simbad and SonOfKick. It’s done,
 recorded, 18 tracks, going to kick ass. And don’t worry, it’s not a 
“Rouge à Levres Enhanced” LP. There will be shitloads of super deep
tracks, hiphop, 2step, dubstep, broken beat… we wanted to go 
everywhere and have fun. We’ve wanted to do that for a long time, so 
we found some time, everyone went to London, and we killed it.

“I say out loud what everyone thinks. Without censoring
 myself. And Broka music, it’s a style we invented, mixed with deep
house from Detroit…”

– Where did this love for Detroit techno come from? What do you 
particularly like in it?

Well, because it’s warm. Warm. I’m interested by this music since the 
start of 2000. I’ve always loved weird stuff, deep dance music like
 Crystal Waters, and sought little by little to find stuff of this 
kind. Always deep, uh, and I saw gradually that stuff like 
Technotronics were already kind of Deepkho-ish. Before that, I was 
listening a lot to the beat génération, Jay Dee, Pete Rock, stuff
 which marked life for me. And, one day, I chanced upon a Master at
 Work compilation, 3 CDs of deep techno-house, and I was like, “What 
the fuck is this, it’s so awesome”.

But I liked stuff a little bit darker and dirtier, so I began to 
discover detroit techno, with Moodymann, Theo Parrish, Omar S, super
 fucked up tracks, like just a dirty rhythm box, dirty beats, 
everything is dirty, but totally deep at the same time (laughs). So I
 fell in love with this, but especially Moodymann, who possessed me as
 much as Jay Dee. Those two guys, they’re the same for me, same spirit,
 same approach, but in House for Moodymann.

So yeah, little by little I began to ask myself “Well, why the fuck 
don’t we put hiphop on this kind of track?”. So I tried, and the first song like this was Merdeuse, at the end of my first album. Later I
 discovered stuff like Metro Area, and some Broken Beat, both by myself 
and with friends sending me shitloads of sounds. But, always deep,
 always warm. Not like all this cold French electro. In France, I’m the 
only one to do it, but you can find a few bands doing that, like 
Capitol A.

– I dusted off my old Source Lab compilation a few days ago, with all the 
original French Touch wave, like Etienne De Crecy, La Funk Mob, Air, 
Cam and so on… you always talk about Detroit, but guys like De Crecy
 and his Motorbass, La Funk Mob or even Mr Oizio, they didn’t inspire
 you at all?

Well, stuff linked to Crydamoure is similar to what I was talking 
about before. Otherwise, old stuff like De Crecy, it’s
 good, but I didn’t listen to it very much, and I’ve not really been
 inspired by it. Mr Oizo is cool too, but it’s really a hybrid, so it’s 
a little bit different. So really, in fact, for me it’s mostly Broken
Beat and Deep Detroit stuff: dirty tracks with lots of space in them,
 well built and full of melodies.

– To spit words like a machinegun, with sentences going everywhere, back
& forth like a machinegun, complicated rhymes. Where did this flow 
come from?

Ah yeah! It’s polysyllabic. Well, I just listened to lots of MCs, in
fact. Lots of American MCs have a flow like that, like Busta Rhymes
 who really traumatised me with his flow, or Wild Child. So I wanted to
 do that, this way of talking super fast, and suddenly stopping in the 
same sentence, and blending all the words together. And I’ll never be 
happy with a mono-syllabic-french-style-rap-rhyme. That doesn’t work, 
unless you’re a fucking good lyricist, or if you’re Mr Crazy like Le 
Jouage, who can have amazing flow even without rhyming. That guy’s 
incredible (laughs).

– For English or Japanese readers, who don’t understand your lyrics, and 
who mostly know French music for the Electronic side, how would you
 describe your music?

(…) Well, I say out loud what everyone thinks. Without censoring
 myself. And Broka music, it’s a style we invented, mixed with deep
house from Detroit.

– So, for your other main activity, you do design. Is it completely
 fucked up like the music industry, or is it still ok?

Ahaha, but everything is fucked up mate (laughs). Everything is fucked
 up anyway, times are changing. Ok, well, this year was strange for me, 
quite quiet, since I released two books. But if you work as a 
designer, you have to spread your work as much as possible, like a 
normal job, where you throw your CV eveywhere. So this year was kinda 
complicated, but I spread shitloads of my designs, so jobs are coming
 back. With a weird job like design, you always have good and bad
 months, it’s never stable. I don’t have an agent, it’s a risk, but I
like it, there’s advantages. It’s me, nothing else.

– Yeah, actually, when you say you spread your work everywhere, there 
was your t-shirt on Star Academy [the french Pop Idol / American Idol
show] and other sneaky stuff on big TV programs. How did you manage
 these weird product placements?

Well, for the t-shirt, it was awesome. And the candidate wearing it 
was the biggest dickhead. It was crazy, on the TV they censor all the 
brand names, but on every interview with this dumbass there’s a giant 
“Grems” on the screen. Perfect move (laughs).

So like I said, I spread things around a lot, and it always pops out
 at some time or other, sometimes where you least expect it. There was 
even the French Minister of Culture, who was wearing the Grems watch I
 designed for Swatch, on the cover of L’Express [a very popular French 
political magazine]!. You could see my watch everywhere in the 
magazine, like “the minister wears this watch to criticize the
 bling-bling rolex of the president Sarkozy’ (everyone laughs).

Grems’ Girlfriend: Well, could have been a response to Seguela,
 Sarkozy’s friend, who’s said that you’ve fucked your life up if you
 don’t wear a Rolex by 50.

Grems: Well, Sarkozy, Seguela, or both (laughs). It’s so great to 
infiltrate the media like that. There were even the children of the 
Princess of Monaco wearing my Grems watch in celebrity gossip
 magazines. Lots of people collect Swatches so this can help too!

– Do you still make street graffiti?

Ahah, yeah, I did that all summer! 30 days, 30 pieces!

“I may be a hybrid between
 rap, Detroit techno and gothic punk…”

– London. Paris. Tokyo. What do these three cities call to mind?

London: It’s awesome.
 Paris: It’s a shithole.
 Tokyo: It looks awesome. I’ve got to go, I’d love to do some 
exhibitions there. It’ll happen someday. For now, the book is 
spreading everywhere. And Opolopo is quite famous in Japan, so I hope 
my track with him will get around a little bit there. I don’t what to
 do and who to call to make a concert in Japan, but trust me, if I play
 there, it will be a fucking mess (laughs). But it’s very hard to make
 links and connections there. Maybe I just need to spread the Broka
Billy LP more. In France, it’s ok, but in other countries too, with 
all the producers of the LP and their networks, DJs who like it – hey, 
even Starkey is spinning my tracks. And the track with Machinedrum has 
really good potential. That guy doesn’t fuck around (laughs).
 Why is Paris shit? Well, just look around you [there is nothing around
 us; no-one in the street, everything is closed]

…yeah, it really surprised me, Paris in August is completely dead, there’s nothing. Clubs are closed, no gigs, it’s strange…

Yeah man, there’s nothing in Paris. Just people complaining. In
 shitloads of countries, in August, it’s going on everywhere, but no t
here. And the worst: if you try something new, everyone here will say 
it’s shit. French people are interested by nothing. And we are really 
skilled; in France, we can do really good stuff, but we are clearly
 not open-minded… if you’ve seen some French music recently, it’s a 
little bit depressing.

– So, something I share with you – where does your fascination for Punk,
 Gothic, high heels and tattoos come from?

Well, I think I’m a punk inside my head. I may be a hybrid between
 rap, Detroit techno and gothic punk (laughs). For this last style, 
it’s not really about the music, more about the clothes and the
 attitudes, I think it’s totally awesome. I love Gothic Punk girls so 
much, I think they’re incredible. There’s shitloads of girls like that 
in Tokyo, yeah?

…ahah, yes, Tokyo is the perfect town for this…

Ah, lucky bastard (laughs). So, this subject inspired me for lots of
 weird songs. 
Les Gothiques is a track I love so much, it was important 
for me to do it, the song is filled up with love, and nothing else.
 Some people ask, “Hey did you just make this to piss off the Goths?” so I answer “Shut the fuck up, did you listen to the lyrics dumbass?” (laughs). Maybe it’s because I have 5 different origins, or that I
 travel a lot, I don’t know… but I really like stuff like that. Even
in the hiphop world, it’s funny. Everyone is street, has a ‘street
hiphop look’, so I really like to have this mixed 
street-punk-weird-gothic mind…

– Last question I always ask: 3 discs you’d advise for readers. Old CDs,
new ones classics, what you want, but nothing too corporate…

Mmmm, hard to say … no-one wants to help me?

Well, James Blake, as I always say. His new EP is amazing. The last
 Moodymann too, cause this guy is unbeatable. 
And, ah, a hiphop one, something the Japanese might know: Maspyke! 
It’s signed on Jazzy Sports, the Japanese Stone Throw. It’s an
 American band, but signed there. It’s old-school hip-hop, but sounds 
real. So yeah, Maspyke, really cool when you like dirty hip-hop, with 
noise and good beats. Makes you want to listen to hip-hop again

La Barbe By Grems Prod Troubl. from grems miki on Vimeo.

Grems – Rencontre avec un ballon from leneopen on Vimeo.

Grems interviewed by Dat’ / Chroniques Automatiques

English saviour is Darren_w / Japanese Translation by the amazing Kumi Kimura

Pics by Dat’

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