Brooklyn based Jacques Renault is a troublemaker, but in a good way! Born and raised in Washington D.C., he moved to Chicago in 1997 and felt in love with Dance Music. Tapping into the well-established Drum 'n' Bass scene, he held a residency at Smart Bar and became a buyer at the legendary Gramaphone Records shop. This wide, raw exposure to House music lead him straight back to the classics of Disco and to New York City, where he landed in 2002.
As a DJ, Jacques has held residencies at New York's famous venues Happy Endings, APT, Tribeca Grand and 205 Club, and has been a guest around the globe like Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro or London. With his remixes, edits, original tracks and collaborative project Runaway, he has released music on internationally acclaimed New York labels DFA, Razor-N-Tape, RVNG INTL, Throne of Blood, Italians Do It Better, Editions Disco, as well as Mule Musiq & Crue-L, Permanent Vacation or Rekids, to name a few.
In 2009, after nearly a decade of playing for others in NYC, he linked with Nik Mercer to launch Let's Play House, a roving house, disco and techno party as well as a highly acclaimed record label that's released material by HNNY, Francis Inferno Orchestra, COEO, Luke Solomon, Huerta and more, including Jacques Renault as well.
For our first episode of Wemoto Radio, we speak with him about his introduction into producing music and his approach with using samples to create his distinctive mixture of deep, soulful house music.
You are originally from the DC area, why and when did you move to Brooklyn?
I moved to Brooklyn in 2002 after living in Chicago for undergrad. A typical story I guess - I had a few friends here and moved with a job. I've been lucky to visit a lot of cities over the years and I still love living here.
How do you think living in Brooklyn has influenced you both musically and personally?
Even though we live in a world where we have access to everything my environment is still pretty important. For example, I always bring my laptop with me wherever I go but never feel myself working on music anywhere else. Maybe it's a comfort thing or it's just that this is where all my stuff is, but there's just no place like home.
What’s your studio looking like? What’s your favorite piece you won’t miss?
These days I'm surrounded by my records and a few synths/effects. I can't live without my Roland RE-201, I pretty much run everything through that.
Do you have any hobbies or passions outside of music?
hmmmm well when your job is your hobby there isn't much time for anything else! I have daily routines and do normal things like cook, exercise and go to the movies like anyone else. When all the admin stuff is done and out of the way the most joy I have in my day is the time to make music.
You release a lot reworks of soul, funk and disco music. What element makes you feel to edit or remix it? Is it the vocal, the rhythm, the melody or anything else?
It can be really anything in a track that grabs me gets me to mess with it. I'm constantly listening to music purely thinking about how I could flip it and use something in a track. Having fun with samples never gets old.
How big an influence did 90’s Hip Hop have on your taste in music, and has this taste continued since those younger days?
I grew up with 90s Hip Hop on the radio so it was always there but I was more of a punk rock kid before DJing. The DIY approach is still in my blood these days.
We are big fans of your label Let’s Play House. Can you talk a bit how that came up?
The label came about after doing events for a few years and wanting to do more. Runaway (my project with Marcos Cabral) was our first release and it just grew with producers we like from all over.
Your full-length “BK Club Beats, Breaks & Versions“ on LPH came out earlier this year. What was the idea behind that?
One of my earliest influences was Frankie Bones and his Bones Breaks series, I always admired those and that era of NYC house in general. I wanted to do an albu that combined all the sampling and editing I like to do and make a fun party album for the club, home or on the go.
You started playing the violin at an early age. Do you play other instruments and does this knowledge help you in the process of making music?
Music was always encouraged at home and when I was interested in another instrument I would just pick it up and take lessons. I played classical first because of my parents, then also jazz and punk as a teenager. I had a pretty good set up in our basement growing up that had guitars, basses, drums, amps and a four-track which I used for my first attempts of making songs on my own. It paved the way for my desire to explore production and what I wanted to eventually do with music.
Do you produce also other kinds of music like drum n bass or hip hop? And is the process of producing a different kind of music something that keeps you challenging musically speaking?
My first release was a drum n bass record actually, Jungle is how I got into DJing. I wouldn't say that's too different but I've worked with bands and that's another process entirely.
How do you decide what material you release on LPH and what goes on other labels?
I usually work on a few tracks at a time so I have a small batch of tracks that go together. I don't have homes in mind from the get-go but sometimes there will be a track that clicks and I'll send it to a particular label to see what they think. I like working with different people since everyone hears potential differently. There's no real recipe but if I have a goal with a label that helps and when something bites that's always nice. I've had plenty of misses like anyone else but will often reopen old sessions that maybe weren't working before and turn it into something new too. Since storage is cheap I try not to scrap projects entirely, there's always a reason why I started something in the first place.
Which artists made the biggest impression on you lately and why?
We just released a new EP from Manakinz that I'm really into. Speaking of batches of tracks, James "Harri" Harrigan and Max Raskin sent us a bunch we liked so it was a lot of fun putting the record together. They blended a few different genres creating something very fresh to our ears that's been getting an excellent reaction on the dancefloor.
How do you approach a DJ set? Do you plan what you will play, or do you decide spontaneously?
I like to go through records and files every week to mix things up with old and new tracks. I don't really plan too much ahead but like to have a fresh bag and work with the mood of the room with what I got, keeps things interesting.
Finally, tell us about your mix and the feelings behind it.
I prepped the same way I do for gigs with this mix, of course! Some tracks I brought out again and there are new bits too like an extended version of "One More Time" from my LP. Hope you dig it as much as I do.