Jerome, Derradji, Still, Music, Patchworks, Delano, Smith, Seun, Kuti
Jerome Derradji — Still Music
By John C. Tripp
French Algerian born, Jerome Derradji moved in the America six years ago. Now living in Chicago, Jerome created his very own independent label Still Music – a boutique label that has been making a few waves internationally since its inception. With early praise from DJ / producers like Laurent Garnier, Rainer Truby, Charles Webster and magazines like BPM, XLR8R, Grooves and Straight No Chaser to name a few, Still Music is proving itself to be one of the more exciting imprints around. Still Music has strong ties with rising talent such as Frenchman Bruno Hovart aka Patchworks and was the first label to release a record from Amp Fiddler’s Project CAMP AMP. The labels other ties with Detroit were also strongly showcased on the excellent album (and forthcoming DVD) In The Dark. As a DJ, Jerome has played and promoted countless parties in both Chicago and Detroit with the acts like The 3 Chairs (Moodymann / Theo Parrish / The Godson / Malik Pittman), Amp Fiddler, I:cube, Jimpster and many others. His eclectic style is similar to the music released on Still Music: from techno to afro via deep jazz and disco with a strong touch of Detroit House. Jerome is resident at the Chicago Demon Days party. (bio courtesy of Demon Days)
Mundovibes: Can you give us some background on yourself and why you started Still Music?
Jerome Derradji: I’ve been involved in the music industry since very young, my first DJ gig was at 15 and I started my own band at 18. I bought my first record when I was 12. basically music was always around me and i always wanted to start a label. Kinda fascinated with vinyl i must say – mostly jazz and soul. After I moved to the US, I found myself working for numerous music related jobs and I ended up working at Groove Dis where Dirk (van den Heuvel)gave me a lot of room to start P&D’s there. I basically got the confidence that I could start my own imprint from that experience. I started Still Music simply because I wanted to release and expose a side of the electronic music scene that i believed needed more exposure.
MV: What types of music does Still Music represent?
JD: Pretty much everything “soulful”. It can be a dirty house track from Detroit or a jazzy tune from France, it makes no difference to me as long as it has soul. I try to get Still Music to represent music that can actually speak to you at anytime. basically I like to see the label as a medium between each artist and their public.
MV: What is the label’s mission?
JD: Our mission is to grow so we can get our artists to grow along and develop more maturity in sound and creativity.
MV: You have both artists from Detroit, Chicago, Tokyo and Paris. Would you call Still Music a global label?
JD: Yes definitely, we also have artists from Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Italy….. no borders of any kind for us.
MV: Are you concerned with musical tradition at Still Music and how are your carrying it forth?
JD: As a musician, I believe that I understand the process of creation, this helps me respect and appreciate the works that I get from our artists. We have a lot of true musicians on board – accomplished keyboardists, singers, bass & guitar players – but I think that music can be made in so many different ways that only the result counts: how the final mix can carry on an inspiration, a message, a groove…. This is the basis for the A&R here. Music needs to make you wanna dance, cry, laugh, party, think…
MV: Tell us about the artists represented by Still Music?
JD: I find our artists to be very unique and extremely talented. The common factor is that each artist involved with Still Music gives his best towards the final product. Be it Amp Fiddler dropping some stunning soul tracks, Patchworks covering Brothers On The Slide to perfection or The Godson sharing an exclusive slice of deep Detroit house.
MV: How do you develop each release, what is the process?
JD: Mostly it happens like this: An artist will send us music, I listen to it around 200 times and then if we love it we basically sign it that day. After that i start thinking in terms of remixers, final production, marketing and sales projections. The idea is to create a piece of vinyl that showcases the best the artists has to show at that precise moment and what he inspires in other more established artists.
Each 12″ becomes a small LP of sorts.
MV: You have a uniqe grahic image. Who is repsonsible for this?
JD: I am and i am not. Back in France i went to art school for 10 years, i gained a strong artistic vision out of it. This really helps me everyday in taking design decisions for Still Music. I wanted the label to have a strong identity in sound and design which i think are totally linked. But all the designers involved with us really created our image: Julian Carow, Uncle Geez ( he did our logo), Scott Shelhammer (the fantastic paintings for Delano Smith’s 12″) and lately Richard Coulson from London (he did our superb site, our brand new t shirts and most of our sleeves)
MV: What is your strategy for marketing and promotions?
JD: Right now, being a small underground independent label, marketing is done mostly in house. The goal is to let the most people know about our releases the cheapest way possible! We have a great mailing list for the usual tastemakers and we also created a series of email lists that target different layers of population: from industry people to the electronic music afficionados… All this combined works pretty well and we have been able to get nice press, nice dj support and sales without going bankrupt hiring PR companies for a single 12″ release. I also think that releasing quality music is the best marketing strategy you can have… Djs playing our tunes everywhere in the world is what makes everything happening.
MV: How important is digital downloading to the label?
JD: It is important because even if it doesn’t replace traditional distribution, it complements it. At the end of the day our mission is to spread our artists’s music all over the map. Digital downloads allow us to be featured 24/7 on a ton of cool sites and be in a mainstream store like itunes while you will never be able to find a still music 12″ at virgin, which means that we can reach a totally different audience. It is essential for our artists and their music. Also if you take the South Korean example, there are almost no new cds or vinyl being manufactured, music is distributed mostly digitally!
MV: You have a sub-label in the works called “Past Due”. Tell us about this.
JD: I actually have two new labels in the works. Past Due is a project that i’ve been dreaming of for a long time now! With the help of Rob Sevier – aka the soul investigator- we decided to create a label that reissues mostly disco and modern soul from the midwest.
The entire concept is to trace a parallel between the past and today. Most of the artists on Past Due are totally unknown but they had a short fame at the time and their music is absolutely brilliant. We are going deep in this project. We managed to find master tapes and are scheduling heavy remixes. The entire idea is to pay our respect to artists that started it all and spread their talent around the world. We are scheduling a bunch of mad 12″ and a nice cd compilation this year. The second label is going to be a techno label, i guess being around Carl Craig and Gamall at the Demon Days party kinda rubbed off on me… we are scheduling a bunch of releases on this one too with some newcomers and also some cats straight out of UR…. Also to make sure i am busy enough, i do a lot of consulting for Ron Trent’s Prescription and Future Vision labels. Here I act as a production manager.
MV: Are you happy with the label’s success thus far?
JD: Definitely, Still Music went way beyond my expectations in a very short time. I truly owe that to all the artists that entrusted us with their music and all the people that support us and buy our records everyday.
MV: What are the current and forthcoming projects from Still Music?
JD: There is plenty to be released. Next week we are releasing the first 12″ from Benjamin Devigne, a nice piece of deep jazz & house that is getting a nice buzz and we’re already preparing his full length. We have a pretty full schedule for the next year or so:
Albums from Patchworks (featuring Spacek tbc, Amp Fiddler, Paul Randolph, Darius Rashau) & Paul Randolph (featuring Amp Fiddler, Moodymann…) are in the works right now. We have upcoming 12″s from Moses McClean from West End fame, Charles Matlock (our first Chicago signing) with Phil Asher rmx. Phil is also taking a spin at remixing the recently released On My Heart hit from Isoul8 and Paul Randolph. Rondenion just finished his new 12″ for us and it is mindblowing! We also just signed Gerald Mitchell from Los Hermanos (UR) for a very special 12″ that will ravish fans of Soul City and we are expecting a massive remix on this one – a secret for the moment. And we are also finalizing the release of IN THE DARK cd/dvd (with a 30 min documentary shot in Detroit), there should be a tour in the US and in Europe with Djs and screenings of the movie.
And there is a lot more coming, we are signing new artists every month, the biggest concern being how to release all this fast enough! Oh yeah, i’ve also been recently asked to get involved on the A&R level for a Bob Marley and Ray Charles remix project due to be released on a major label in the US. If we are lucky enough we may have a chance to see some of the mixes released on wax on Still Music…
MV: You are also a DJ. What are you sets like?
JD: Well it mostly depends where I’m playing. Pretty much you can expect deep soulful house music that dives into jazz, disco, acid house and ends up techno!
I also love to play straight African and Brazilian music – i opened for Seu Jorge , Boubacar Traore & Konono #1 last year and it was a blast to play music so obscure to most americans.
MV: What do see in the future for Still Music?
JD: A lot more releases and maybe a little more focus on album projects. I love releasing 12″ but it gets time consuming and leaves me feeling like there is still more music that needs to be heard…