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INTERVIEW | Jacques Renault

Jacques Renault is an old school dude. He still records synths live and he embraces the un-quantized. His brand of homemade analogue house and disco has come to define New York’s contemporary sound as music with a genuine human touch. Originally from the DC area and influenced by its punk roots, you can tell that Jacques is a big believer in DIY. He releases music on his own label, Let’s Play House (LPH), and runs a roving party by the same name. 

It was a pleasure chatting with him about his influences and dance music in New York.

You’re originally from the DC area. Can you talk about what is was like growing up here? What was your musical upbringing like?

Jacques: I started playing the violin at an early age and eventually discovered punk and all that DC had to offer in middle school. The family rules were simple: keep playing classical music and I could pick up any other instrument I wanted to. So I started [a] collection [of] guitars, amps, percussion, mics and had [a] 4 track and then eventually keyboards etc. I’m still buying stuff to use and test out today.

Has DC impacted your musical sensibilities?

J: Dischord when you think about it was sort of a role model for me, release your own music and also your friends’ music. It’s funny to realize how many producers / labels are doing this idea today.

There seems to be a sort of crossover point between punk rock and disco in your music. Do you think there are many similarities between the scenes?

J: The similarities with punk and DJ culture are not far off to me. Or at least in our circles of the scene. Everyone comes to dance music from a different place but the other easy connection is hip hop.

Let’s talk LPH. Lots of great releases recently, including your own debut LP. What was it like making your first full-length? 

J: Thank you! I had an opportunity to work in a fantastic studio and wanted to take full advantage of it so I invited as many musician friends that were available to come in the studio to record with me. It turned into a real collaborative project and I took a slightly different role, producing and featuring with multiple people. We all had a blast.

Can you talk a bit about how the idea of LPH came about?

J: Nik Mercer & I started doing Let’s Play House parties partly because we thought it would be fun to host some talented friends in NYC. The label roster formed organically out of the guests from our events as well as hitting up people we knew that would be into the releases.

What sonic characteristics are you looking for in a LPH release?

J: If something is too clean I’m easily turned off. I like dusty gear and creative sampling, a human touch or a mistake here and there. It’s a fine line of playing it safe and making it something to reach for, right? I also try not to be too selfish and not only think about myself, I want others to buy it too! A big part of the balance is working with Nik on what we end up releasing or not. Always good to bounce ideas around with someone that has similar taste but different ears.

LPH is pretty synonymous with New York’s house scene. How has New York changed since you’ve been there? 

J: 10 years ago I wouldn’t have thought that big clubs would be here but I’m happy they are. Places like 285 Kent or the Market hotel for example really paved the way to all the options we have now. It’s pretty cool that there is such a massive following for this music. When the clubs had no more room to grow in Manhattan it had to expand somewhere, I’m happy it was Brooklyn.

Who are some movers and shakers in NY right now?

J: oooo well I’ll have to shamelessly plug two newish favorites of mine, Max McFerren & Octo Octa that recently remixed tracks from my Zentrum LP – Those will be released real soon!

Where do you buy records?

J: Lots of places in BK these days like CO-OP 87, Superior Elevation, Halcyon, Rough Trade the list goes on…also I still like to go to shops when I’m on the road and online too.
Looking forward, what have you got planned for the next few months?
J: Some good stuff out on Let’s Play House including the Zentrum remix packages and then I have an edit album for Local Talk as well this summer. Plus a few things I’m not quite ready to chat about 😉

You can stay tuned to Jacques Renault through his Soundcloud, Facebook, and Twitter. Be sure to listen to samples from his debut Zentrum LP below.

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