Photo: Press (Marylou)
It’s become somewhat of a tradition over the years to recruit DJs whose CTM Festival sets stuck out for our Groove podcast. This is also true in the case of Marylou, who only had an hour to fill a small room in Berlin’s labyrinthic SchwuZ. Starting off with electroacoustic sounds and slowly working her way into dub territory before letting breakbeats emerge, she not only drew in the crowd but made them dance. It was that rare thing: a DJ set that was both uncompromising and seriously fun. The same can be said about the Groove mix of the Berlin-based, Morphine-affiliated selector and host of two radio shows at Rinse France and Cashmere Radio, respectively. Get ready for an hour of adventurous sounds that is full of twists and turns, crammed with unusual music and overflowing with joy.
How did you get into electronic music and what did your first steps as a DJ look like?
I grew up with a dad fond of electronic music, and spent my teenage years in the dub and reggae scene in the south of France. I still collect a lot of roots and dub, and it definitely shaped my tastes. I was also listening to a lot of electronic music. There was a pretty vibrant and daring alternative scene in Bordeaux, with collectives like Tits and Acid, Organphantom or the cafe Pompier. 15 years ago, when I arrived in Paris after my studies, I worked in a jazz club and in the meantime started to go out in clubs to listen to DJs, dig for records and eventueally travel for that too. I got close to the Sonotown people, the most daring promoters at a time when you only had a choice between Rex or touristic or posh places. They were really beyond. I started to write reviews and draw for their webzine, and became part of Bastion, throwing parties in Batofar. I recall telling everyone that I would never be a DJ, even though very supportive friends tried to push me to it. I’ve been known by many around as a serious house dancer and curious listener, first and foremost. Why pretend I’m more than that ? In 2015, I started to do radio shows on Rinse when my dear accomplice Myako invited me for the first time and I became a resident shortly after. It’s through radio that I shaped my narrative and cinematographic style of sharing tunes, and I was glad to share music for listeners I don’t have to face through a DJ booth. But then Brice Coudert was the first who dared trusting me to be behind the desks for his most adventurous line-ups at Concrete. I still think of DJing as a craft rather than an art by itself, I don’t feel I’ve ever graduated from being a selector to becoming a DJ either. But recently people started to trust me as a club DJ, too.
You have also worked under the moniker Oiseau Danseur. How would you describe the difference between what you do under those two names?
At the time I was making visuals for musician friends, I named my instagram account Oiseau Danseur and I used it when Kassem Mosse invited me to release a mixtape and perform with him at Café Oto. I wasn’t comfortable putting my real name on a mixtape with other people’s music, even though they all agreed, so I used Oiseau Danseur. There’s no real distinction between my real name and my pseudonym, I just like to use both in order to be able to play around or not to be recognised. I would say Oiseau Danseur is more used for creative projects and Marylou for radio and DJing.
You are a painter, but have linked it with your work as a DJ: “trance and ritualistic practices” are central to both. What exactly does that mean?
(laughs) This could sound pretty cheesy at first but I’m a long-time anthropology and musicology enthusiast. I’ve always craved for any form of ritual and trance as they profoundly lack in our society. Not for their exotic nor orientalist connotation, I’m not trying to replicate rituals or trances in a clumsy way but for their meaning in a community, for the poetry, the spirituality, and, moreover, the brutality of it. Daily rituals or rites of passage create meaning. I think rituals are close to music practise, especially in improv jazz. Art without ego can be craft, can’t it? Isn’t art brought to us by ego-centered machists, romantics or capitalists? I also find this relation in so many dance music styles, and not only the most obvious ones. I’m fascinated by questions of identity and what it means in such a world in which we live. I try to question them without, I hope, offending anyone. Rituals are the meaning we give to our gestures and dances, our routines, my way of transmitting sounds or colours is all about them. Ideally in chaos.
As a painter, you have also contributed artworks for labels such as Mathematics and lavibe. What approach do you follow when working on these kinds of paintings?
I think the process of the artwork I make for music releases really depends on the type of relation I have with the person for whom I’m working. I’ve always felt pretty free, even though I’m not very good at commissioned work. I did a few proposal for Jamal Moss, but for LaVibe, Brice Coudert always chose something I had already produced. That happens often for friends in music like DJ Lyster’s YOUTH label, or Dan Thorman’s And Not Or event series in Bristol. For Bastion, our former party series, it was very different because every party was based on a theme and I always had carte blanche to express myself. No method, just the moment and flow, trance it is!
You are also involved in Rabih Beaini’s label Morphine Records. What is your role there exactly?
I’m involved in different ways and assist Rabih. This generally includes everything related to communication, social media, and Bandcamp, but also the production of events. I try to follow up with things that are too much for one, especially since we opened the Morphine Raum in Kreuzberg, a project space with a wood workshop and a listening and recording room which takes most of our energy at the moment. We aim to connect the improv scene and the electronic music one in order to help maintain the fragile ecosystem of musicians in the city and beyond, by producing them or offering shelter during a tour or for a residency. The interesting part for musicians is that their traditional recording session would end by a last one that is open to an audience, which takes the whole experience to a different level. We are also asking ourselves about possible new formats through which we could share music in a time when shipping and material costs have risen exponentially. Opening a space for listening and building, where you can meet and create, is our answer to that.
You are hosting two different radio shows, one for Rinse France and the other at Berlin’s Cashmere Radio. How do you go about programming those two, do you follow different approaches?
I think both approaches evolved over time. After leaving Paris, I pre-recorded my shows for Rinse showcasing new tunes through my own approach to storytelling. Cashmere Radio became my home radio and I try to invite new guests every month and highlight artists who I think are underrated or deserve more attention. I like to keep it as diverse as possible, inviting a lot of Arabic or Asian artists, and also musically it is more experimental than club-oriented, I guess. The plan for next year is to make it a platform for Morphine Records and Raum and to invite artists related to the label, or broadcast some recordings made there which are not meant for a release—to go a bit forward in supporting the community around us.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
I rarely record myself in clubs. I wanted to share an accurate picture of a deep listening dance, and recorded it in the Noisy rooms in Berlin where I often practise or record mixes for podcasts. We’re about to have a nice set up for DJing at the studio, but the recent hustle to get CDJs around has slowed down this project.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
We’re releasing an album by the band Slumberland and the singer Sainkho Namtchylak this autumn—obscure, hypnotic krautrock made with a battery of sewing machines and other mechanical self-made instruments, combined with the avantgarde yet traditional mongolian vocals from Namtchylak. It’s pure intensity. The project gamut inc. is a drony and bassy experiment around drums, very gamelan-like! you can follow our programme and releases on our Instagram page. I’ll myself go back to painting soon and will support DJ Bone for his ADE special of his Homeless Homies project by presenting portraits to sell for their auction. In the meanwhile, I have really nice gigs coming up like System Revival at OHM on the 29th of September with Monolake and Wata Iragashi, and I will in Kazakhstan for Zoe McPherson’s residency at Bult right before! Also, there will be a new festival happening in a former E-Werk in Luckenwalde, insanely curated by Khidja, with Suzanne Ciani, Dopplereffekt, Breadwoman, Decha, and Alicia Carrera. I’ll play the closing together with Lena Wilikens.
Stream: Marylou – Groove Podcast 351
01. Chewlie – Die Berge, Sie Schweigen
02. BIPED – Back To The Water
03. Model Home + Saint Abdullah – Technical Standpoint
04. DE-TÜ – Roadblock
05. Kadapat – Tedun
06. DK – Sacred Creatures
07. Zimoun – Guitar Studies III
08. Hassan Abou Alam – Shmoolaire
09. NY Graffiti – New Mask (Rainstick’s Hippie Homeboy Dub)
10. Only Now – OTime Suffocation (feat. Kamaljeet Ahuwahlia)
11. Lostsoundbytes – Burundi Black
12. Lurka – Heat Mover
13. Tinariwen – Arawan (Deena Abdelwahed Remix)
14. Loxy & Overlook – The Harbinger
15. Joe McPhee & Hamid Drake – Endangered Species
16. Aria Rostami – Bobol
17. Siu Mata – Celsius
18. Soft-Bodied Humans x Swordman Kitala – Bagan
19. Jana Rush – Break It (Remix)
20. 4amkru – Mask off
21. La Materialista ft N-Fasis – Taka Taka (Siu Mata Edit)
22. Dalibor Cruz – Never Sort Yourself Out For Them
23. CRYSTALLMESS – The Devil Is a Lie!
24. PTWIGGS x FALSE PRPHT – Wicked City