Some have already obtained small successes, spending years in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to shine and others have barely left their bedroom studios. Some aim for headlining festival stages, others aim for nothing in particular – but all of them have developed a sound with the potential to turn heads. With this feature we shine a light on some of the most interesting new musical talents our tiny country has to offer.
West-Flanders may not be the busiest province when it comes to nightlife, it did manage to produce one of the most exciting new young DJ’s in the country. Jasper Derluyn aka JazzDee is a welcome fresh breeze in a house and techno world that can be quite rigid at times. The Roeselare native prides himself on being a versatile DJ without limits – and he’s not lying. When we saw him at Het Depot in Leuven, he effortlessly blended sun-drenched house music with African percussion, euphoric disco and smooth funk. After announcing a monthly Kiosk Radio residency and few high profile (inter)national gigs, the time felt right to get this man in front of our camera.
Hi Jasper, could you explain us how you first got interested in this DJ thing?
I first started getting interested in DJ-ing when I discovered my dad’s vinyl collection in the attic. I took any record that looked interesting to my room and listened to it on a budget turntable. It didn’t take long before the needle broke, so in the hunt for a new one I learned more about the subject and through a friend I got my first deck of turntables. Fast forward a few months and this pair reached the end of its lifespan as well. Now I knew I had to make an investment, so I managed to save enough money to get my own proper pair. After this point it didn’t take long before I taught myself how to beatmatch and scratch. And that’s how I got here.
You know how to scratch? Is that how they do it in Roeselare?
Well, it’s how it started for me out there, yes. At the time, there was a strong hip hop scene with loads of local DJ’s from the area that were into scratching and turntablism. One such collective was Pelzen, who promoted parties with more alternative music and hip hop. When I saw those guys scratching like pros I immediately thought ‘let’s go’. And so I started practicing each day.
If you stay true to yourself, there will always be people that will rally behind you.
As a versatile DJ, do you feel any pressure sometimes to go in just one direction? Often promoters prefer DJ’s of who they know exactly which genre they will play.
It’s true that if you play a particular genre, you could get more bookings faster in some cases. This wouldn’t work for me, though. Being versatile is in my DNA and I’m confident in the quality of the music that I select. It’s always going to be obvious at some point if a DJ plays tracks that he or she doesn’t fully believe in. I may be a romantic sometimes, but I do believe that if you stay true to yourself and your selection, there will always be people that will rally behind you.
Does it not work out sometimes? Are there times when you follow your heart, but none of the stuff you play resonates with the audience?
That can always happen of course, especially when you take a booking that may not be 100% your thing. I’m sure many DJ’s will be familiar with the request phenomenon. In most cases when I get these requests, I don’t even have these tracks with me (laughs). But being a versatile selector can actually come in handy in these situations, as there are many different directions you can try out. If none work, then you just got to realize you’re in for 2 very long hours (laughs).
Why do you choose to use turntables and Serato (vinyl emulation software that allows you to turn your turntables in a controller for your digital library) in a digital CDJ world?
I learned how to play with vinyl, so it’s my weapon of choice. I added the Serato method because venues are often lacking a proper turntable setup. Think: a constant sonic feedback, vibrations that mess up your needle, etc. Connecting a Serato interface with those record players makes dealing with these issues a lot easier. Additionally, you’re able to take a lot more music with you, which allows you to be reactive to the vibe of the party. Scratching and beat juggling become a lot more manageable as well. If you want to do the same tricks with real vinyl, you’re going to have to buy two copies of the same release. When you practice a lot with these, the records wear out and you can buy yet another copy. Those things add up down the line. Being a vinyl DJ is an expensive hobby that’s hard to maintain for a teenager (or anyone really). That said, I’ll never give it up completely, because I love real vinyl too much. I still prefer to play actual vinyl and I’ll often sneak in a couple in my DJ-sets. Additionally, the hunt for a particular record or discovering a hidden gem in a second hand crate is so much more satisfying than buying your music online. Buying records in a record store often forces you to listen to music without any prejudice, because you have no idea what to expect. That’s how you discover new stuff.
I love radio. There’s this casual and relaxed atmosphere that’s unique to the format.
You seem to be in love with radio, not only do you have a monthly residency at Kiosk Radio, you’re a frequent guest at Red Light Radio, Operator Radio, etc. What is it that draws you to this format?
I love radio. There’s this casual and relaxed atmosphere that’s unique to the format. You can literally do whatever you want on there – and there’s no audience to judge you (at least not in your direct line of sight). Every week I discover new music I would never be able to play in a club and radio offers a perfect platform for that. With a residency, you can also invite guest-DJ’s over and build a more complete version of yourself as a DJ around your name.
We know you also make your own productions. How come we haven’t heard any so far?
At the moment these are still raw loops and draft ideas trapped in my Akai MPC. Yes, I’m still a bit of an old school nerd when it comes to production. Eventually, I will put these out, but I want to be really confident about them first. I’m sure that moment will come soon enough.