MUSIC: The Soul (Music) of Paris Resides at Djoon Club
THE DJOON EXPERIENCE: Q&A WITH CLUB OWNER/DJ AFSHIN ASSADIAN (PARIS)
At the inception, Djoon Club opened its doors to anyone seeking refuge from mediocre music and a night of pretentious partying. The standard remains in place at what has become synonymous with offering the best in soulful House music in Paris. “People don’t come here to show off, they have a natural style and they wanna enjoy themselves,” Djoon owner and DJ Afshin Assadian tells Tania Fuentez Media in an exclusive interview. Weekend in Paris not in your budget? No worries because the Djoon Experience may be closer than you think, according to Assadian (trust me, you’ll want to read on).
NOTE: All photos and graphics provided by Afshin Assadian, Djoon Club
TFM: Resident Advisor describes Djoon as the most soulful club in Paris with just the right mix of live international DJ sets and a “great purified space.” How did it all begin and who’s behind the nightclub’s successful run over the years?
Afshin: It all started almost 10 years ago, at this point I’ve been working in the Parisian night scene both as a promoter and club manager, and I realized that the commercial pressure always prevailed over the quality of the music. I wanted to find a place that would be new by its concept, its welcoming and its crowd, a crowd that would be cosmopolite and mixed, which is rare in Paris. Then I found this empty space in a deserted district away from the main party places in Paris and I had a crush! At first, the artistic direction came naturally with help and advice from deejays and promoters who were the pioneers of the adventure, such as Cheers (Greg Gauthier, Sven Love), Dance Culture (which by its concept allowed an entire generation of Parisian dancers to find a place where they could express themselves every Sunday, dancers who have remained one of the main ingredients of our identity and of our crowd), The Five Beats (Lionel Marciano & Franck Roger) Animal House (Alex Finkin, Dj Reverend P), and many more who adopted the mindset of the club right from the start, as well as many European or U.S. DJs.
After this first period, Lionel Marciano took a bigger part in Djoon’s development as my AD, because I thought the place needed a new inspiration, and he knew how to bring a programming that kept our soulful roots while staying curious and open to other artists, some emerging, some already well established (Seth Troxler, Kenny Dope, Maya Jane Coles, Dixon, Ame, Moodymann, Loco Dice, Spinna, Wolf and Lamb, Dennis Ferrer …). For the last two years, we’ve been working closely on Djoon’s identity, with the creation of our label, “The Djoon Experience,” which strives to promote events, artists and music that conveys our vibe and our personality.
TFM: What’s happening with Paris’ underground dance culture? What’s in high demand musically and how do you stay atop the public’s shifting tastes? What makes Djoon so unique in comparison to nightlife counterparts in other urban meccas like New York, London, Ibiza, etc.?
Afshin: If you ask me, the underground dance culture in Paris is doing good because we had a long period in Paris when clubs were under a lot of pressure, but it seems like today there are more and more places for music to express itself more freely (Rex Club, Social Club, Showcase, la Bellevilloise …) and you have lots of promoters creating parties in Warehouse and unexpected places like we used to do it in the 90s. As for what’s in high demand musically, I wouldn’t really know because I’d rather follow my instincts and be open-minded to any and all soulful styles from House to soul or Nu-Disco, etc.
What makes Djoon so unique is first of all its architecture, its size which makes it a small club but yet not too small, a great sound system, the fact that we’ve been struggling for the last 10 years to defend quality soulful music, and of course its crowd, an outstanding mix of dancers and people from all horizons. People don’t come here to show off, they have a natural style and they wanna enjoy themselves. I would say those are the Djoon’s recipe (and probably any good party).
TFM: Soulful House music’s global reach steadily grows at a time when pop trends and over-the-top EDM theatrics can overshadow this well-established genre. Why?
Afshin: I think you have to think of soulful house as soulful music, quite literally. Music with soul. I was coming back from a party with Tony Humphries 7 or 8 years ago, and he was telling me how soulful House would eventually come back, because it works in phases. It’s a cyclic phenomenon, and quality music always manages to come back to the front row. I think he was right, and the only thing we can do is to stay true to our colors, to our identity. And this Music has passionate supporters all around the world who keep spreading the word! The last parties we had at Djoon with emblematic soulful artists like Louie Vega or Black Coffee have proven that the genre was rich, without borders and still able to attract an ever younger crowd.
TFM: Nights at Djoon often leave memorable impressions on its visitors. Are there any stand-out performances that come to mind? What hand has Djoon played in discovering new talent or giving a career boost to veteran artists.
Afshin: One of the most memorable parties was one gig Louie Vega played at Djoon. We posted a video of the party on YouTube, where you could see Louie playing in broad daylight, in front of barely 10 people, and we had a guy who commented on the video saying the party must have sucked, that the club was empty … in fact it was 8 a.m. and Louie was still spinning for the last survivors, the guy just could not be stopped!!!
Also, the 15 anniversary of Cheers with La India, or Osunlade with his band and Theo Parrish for a tribute to Ron Hardy, greats memories! The first time Black Coffee, the Martinez Brothers or Culoe de Song came at Djoon for their first gig in Europe, it was a real discovery, you really felt like seeing new talents rising. Another time, we had Timbaland and Kanye West who came at Djoon, not as guests but for the party, which was funny because the crowd that came to see them had nothing to do with ours. It was really weird! We had John Legend (live) and Daft Punk, who came at Djoon for after shows, which were also nights to remember! There also was a time when I was so tired I saw a reservation for the restaurant, for what I thought was a group of pharmaceutics called Placebo, and it turned out to actually be the band Placebo …
TFM: Upcoming events at Djoon worth noting? Does the club ever take the party on the road (i.e. various music festivals in Europe and abroad).
Afshin: As a matter of fact we have a lot of noteworthy upcoming events, with our resident party, such as the Motown Party, My Grooves, The Bridge, Colors, Tribe, Meets …, and of course some guests. We’re working on a number of tracks on our label, as well as our first compilation which will come out on BBE and be compiled by two great artists we know and love, it’s a surprise !! As for taking the party on the road … it’s always a pleasure!!, and after the amazing time we had in Rome for the IPM (International Promoters Meeting), we’re working on our next Djoon Experience party at the Amsterdam Dance Event, for the third year this October, with Black Coffee, Manoo, Rocco, Culoe, Alex Finkin, Tony Barbato, Leroy Styles and myself. We’re also planning a gig in New York and a special event in Miami for the next WMC (Winter Music Conference). If other promoters or festivals have any special ideas in mind, they’re welcome to share them with us! And last but not least, in a few months, we will open a new venue, more focused on live scene … we’ll give you more details asap. Finally, I would like to thank you for this interview and also all the people and DJs From NYC who showed us so much support and friendship!!
Djoon Club (Paris): http://www.djoon.com/
The Djoon Experience at IPM 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn1NLqK-y_A
The Djoon Experience at ADE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voLZ2ZNcjQw
Djoon on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/djoonclub/