Jack de Marseille

jack de marseille

Over the past thirty years, Jack de Marseille has focused on keeping the dancefloor alive and has embraces a wide spectrum of genres. The man who has been called the best French DJ by the specialised press is adventurous: his sets blend and often confront a range of rhythms, energies and atmospheres. Jack has witnessed thirty years of electronic music history and has a unique ability to digest, assemble and transmit the movement’s roots as well as its contemporary and emerging ramifications. With no boundaries. This attitude is reflected in the “Back to Origins” parties he curated, which provided the public with a starting point – the mid-eighties – but no defined ending. The DJs who played with him on these occasions were pioneers and figureheads who are still active today. In similar vein, Jack also organised the “Jam in the Box” sessions, which showcased current productions – some of which may become tomorrow’s old-school milestones.

Jack’s beanstalk is his insatiable curiosity and unquenchable thirst for sound. He fell for the erotic disco sound of Cerrone’s Supernature, the first record he bought, but also goes for Grandmaster flash, which subtly transfers the bubbling flow of the Bronx into Kraftwerk’s icebox. Jack is fascinated by the energy of Rose Tatoo’s hard blues, but is also attracted to Nitzer Ebb’s EBM. He appreciates Afrika Bambaata and Cameo’s synthetic funk as much as The Specials’ hybrid ska. Jack, the much respected DJ, has always lent an attentive ear to the full range of rhythms and sounds – black or white, melodic or industrial, from Berlin, Brazil, South Africa or Canada. In the 1990s, Jack climbed to the top of the beanstalk and played in the most respected and iconic clubs and festivals throughout the world: Astropolis, Sonar, Sziget, Trime Warp, Nuits Sonores, Awakenings, Transmusicales, Rex, Ministry of Sound, Berghain, Fuse, Rox, Fabric, Tresor and Weetamix to name a few. In 1997, he became Jack de Marseille, an alias used by French TV presenter Jean-Marie Cavada when he introduced the French DJ during one of the ‘Marche du Siècle’ programmes, the then leading cultural show. The same year, Jack was the first DJ to take part in Daft Punk’s tour.

Jack could have been content playing DJ sets throughout the world. But he is firmly rooted in Marseille, his home town and over the years, he has become a key player of the city’s cultural life. In 1992, he organised the legendary Atomix parties, which were held at the Belle de Mai, an ex-industrial site which was to become one of the city’s cultural hotspots. The Atomix event attracted a huge number of ravers who danced to the sound of never-ending hypnotic sets. He also played for Marsatac, Fiesta des Suds and Fête du Panier. His involvement in the local life is also illustrated by his residency on Marseille-based Radio Grenouille. But Jack did not intend to solely remain ‘behind’ the decks: in 1995, he opened a record shop in Marseille, Wax Records, which he ran until 2003. This space allowed him to provide aficionados with advice and to promote a vast range of sounds, including house, techno, ambient, dub and drum’n’bass. In the 1990s, Jack also started to produce: Submerge, his first E.P., was released on Ozone Records in 1997 and it didn’t take long for him to take the next step. He set up his own record label, Wicked Music, in 2001. Many artists, some of whom are his friends, released tracks on the label, which unsurprisingly offered a wide range of genres and artists, including David Caretta, EDP or Trisomie 21.

Jack is certainly not narrow minded and he is always up for something new. In 1999, he worked with Maison de la Mode de Marseille as part of fashion shows organised for Paco Rabanne, JC de Castelbajac or JP Gaultier. He is a free man, and his only concern is to spread the right message about the electronic scene. As a result, he contributed to the soundtrack of the 1997 live version of Trainspotting, he played for the 1998 Techno Parade in Paris, the 1999 Love Parade in Berlin, a Chinese music festival in Canton in 2002, for the Marcéleste event, for the official opening of the Marseille Capital of Culture event at Dock des Suds in 2013, as well as for events abroad, in places like Cape Town or Rio.

As Jack has pointed out, ‘a well-placed cut between two tracks will always work better than a dodgy mix’. Jack was a tennis coach and knows that technique is not enough, in sports and music alike. One needs elegance, humility, experience and, of course, personality. These qualities he shares with Laurent Garnier and the mens’ paths crossed on many occasions. Jack was a resident at Rex Club for 13 years, played at the Transmusicales in Rennes, and appeared on a TV show about electronic music, along with Eric Morand, manager of the mythical FCom label. A purist and an explorer, Jack pursued production and his first album, ‘Free My Music’, was released in 2002 on Wicked Music and Distributed by Wagram. Seven years later, he released ‘Inner Visions’, a musical introspection and mental exploration. He produced remixes of tracks for his friends Anthony Rother, Audio Bullys, Scsi-9 (Smooth sunset in 2011), Neil Landstrumm (April acid in 2014).

In 2015, Jack launched the Jack in the Box Festival, an annual event held in Marseille. Jack explains how it began: ‘It started in 2015. Originally, it wasn’t about setting up a festival, it was about celebrating 25 years in DJing. Garnier played on the Thursday, we had an acid party on the Friday evening with Andreas Game and Alan Raine and on the Saturday, LB Dub Corp and Karim Sahraoui from Transmat. Pierre-Alain, Aurélien and myself thought about this…and it’s an idea I had been toying with for some time…and I was a resident here and organized a number of parties, and the Cabaret had more and more experience…so I thought, why not organize a festival? The event for the 25 years of DJing turned into a recurring event, every year at the end of July.’
The festival has been hugely successful, and has allowed crowds to dance to the performances of world famous artists as well new talents. A documentary about the festival (BEHIND the BOX) was recently released, with interviews of a number of artists who played for the latest edition.

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