With the revival of the French House scene, some dynamic players have started to take centre stage. One of these figures is STUFF, a DJ and producer originally from Grenoble who had his introduction to the circuit around 2007, fraternising with such influential local acts as Acid Washed and Kiko. Since producing his first releases on David Carretta's well-respected Space Factory label, he has now started moving into the genres of house and low Miami bass and is a soldier at CUFF label. We talked to him about his background as a DJ and producer, and asked him what guidance he would give to new, aspiring artists.
Can you tell me how it all began? Did the DJing or production come first?
Since my early childhood I was totally into this music, especially "synthetic" music, so I began by learning production. I really wanted to understand how all these sounds were made which seemed so futuristic!
Where did you learn your skills from and on which equipment? Were you self-taught or did you take a course?
I was self-taught. I learned all by myself, alone like a geek, experimenting on the first equipment I had which was an old analogue synthesiser called a Realistic Mg-1 (which was actually made by MOOG) and a Roland TR 707 which was about 14 years old!
When DJing, what is the set-up you request and why?
I now use Traktor Scratch+ and an X1 Kontroller. I used to work with vinyl back in the day, and on CDJ too. However, today we have these wonderful tools which can help you really personalise your set using a lot of wonderful FX. I don’t think the audience give a shit about how you make your cook - they just want a musical trip! So for me, it's the best way to make it really personal.
What do you think about beat-syncing software? Is there a place for this or is it just taking away from some of the magic of DJing?
I think the most important thing is the result and not the way that it's made. Some DJs are able to make huge sets with beat-syncing software; others are better at producing an old-school flavour. It's all subjective I think.
When producing, which DAW do you use and why?
I produce in Ableton Live because it's so complete. The software already has everything you need to make a good track and I know all its parts and tricks. I think it's truly designed for our kind of music, and so I can work really fast on it!
Which part of the production process do you find most pleasurable and most challenging?
I love the beginning of a track, when you jam on the keyboard to find a sound or a melody. It's the most exciting part for me. I’m a bit lazy so I don't like to spend that much time on the structure, the details, the mix and all that kind of thing, but today the level is so high that it really can make the difference, so that’s the challenge for me!
What do you do if you hit a brick wall when producing a track and lose your inspiration?
I have produced for many years now, and lots of different kinds of stuff too. My experience is that you always make your best track when the process is really easy and everything happens really fast. My best tracks were made in a couple of minutes, so when I’m not inspired, I stop! It can be nice to watch some movies/TV shows for example - sometimes you can find some dialogue which will give you inspiration; maybe a rhythm, maybe a melody, or maybe just a title.
What projects are you currently working on and what is lined up for you in 2014?
I have a lot of music coming out soon; an EP on Time has Changed records with a really cool remix from German Brigante, and the long awaited birth of my homie's label CUFF, run by my brothers in arms Amine Edge and DANCE - it will be huge. I can't wait for my first release on it. The feedback is awesome and we are already planning a lot of gigs all around the world!
Any tips for our students and readers who also want to find a job out there which involves music and DJing?
Trust yourself and don't be in too much of a rush. You need to really understand all the aspects of this job; it sometimes can take a bit long to learn but if it’s your passion, then it's also a pleasure at each step!
And last question: what does it take?
It's pretty simple: you need big balls! In order to say "Hey! Listen to me. I’m here and this is good music which you will love now!”
You can check out STUFF more online at:
At Become A DJ we’re all about turning ideas into realities. We’re dedicated to giving the guidance and know how to those wanting to take the plunge into the DJ World. This new “What Does It Take” series will give you an insight into the stories of a range of widely-established and rapidly-rising DJs that are already making careers within the DJ industry.
Launching the series this week is Sixty69nine. Hailing from Belgium, where he holds key residencies at some of the country’s top House music hot-spots – Sixty69nine is taking his love of music and carving himself a career out of it. With the likes of Tomorrowland and The Yacht Week already ticked off of his DJ bookings bucket list – he’s a man on a mission and isn’t taking any prisoners on his way up the DJ career ladder.
More than just a DJ though, Sixty69nine is a proficient producer who has enjoyed success in the Belgian dance charts and has a discography with some impressive labels in house music circles. Day to day he even works for Belgian national radio constructing playlists and mixes that go out to the whole nation.
Thanks for talking with us today. We want to get some insight into your journey so far with music. Can you tell us a little about what it was that first pushed you towards picking up the headphones both as a DJ and producer?
Music is all about passion and I want to share my passion for music with as much people as possible. At first you start off with playing other people’s music. But after a while you start making your own edits of existing tracks to create more of a personal style. The next logical step is creating your own original tracks. The best feeling in the world is playing a track that you created yourself and seeing a massive reaction from the crowd. Goosebumps! And as a certain Swedish house role model of mine always says: Goosebumps never lie!
What did you learn to mix on to begin with?
A very cheap 2 channel DJ mixer and 2 turntables.
What tips would you give to first time buyers of DJ gear?
Try to save up money till the point you can afford something that works/feels like the industry standard in clubs and festivals.
What are your views on beat-syncing software? Is there a place for them or is it just taking away some of the magic of DJing?
A ‘real’ dj should be able to beat-match without any help from software. I personally never use beat-syncing software/buttons but I don’t judge people who do. The most important thing in the end, is that the people on the dance floor have a good time.
Which headphones do you rate highly for DJing?
I absolutely love the Sennheiser HD 25s.
High-end DJ equipment is getting more and more expensive every year. Are you someone that chases the new technology?
I always keep an eye on what’s moving and changing. But for the moment I’m quite happy with what I’m using during my gigs. A USB key and a pair of Sennheiser HD25s. In my rider I always ask for a pretty standard set-up: DJM 900 Nexus with at least 3 linked CDJ 2000s. And of course a pair of good stereo monitors in the booth with an adjustable volume control on the DJM 900 Nexus. Pretty funny how technology has taken DJing to the next level. I started out with heavy crates full of vinyl and now I can carry all my music in one simple USB-key.
You work for a national radio in Belgium. Tell us some more about your day to day roles and how you managed to get work in that field?
I make daily mixes that are being used during the office hours playlists. So every hour, two tracks are being mixed. And I make those mixes in Ableton Live. It’s nothing like mixing live for a crowd or mixing only house music but it’s fun too!
Any tips for our students and readers that also want to find a job out there that involves music and DJing?
Get your name out there! Make sure you have a good product to work with and try to get in touch with the right people without being too pushy.
Thanks for the insights into your work! Last question – What does it take?
It takes a lot of hard work. It’s good to see that you guys offer guidance and education to people who want to get into this business.
You can check out Sixty69nine more online at: