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An interview with Versatile label owner DJ Gilb'R

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05-09-2012 | 10.20

On September 15th the Parisian record label Versatile celebrates it’s 15th anniversary at Trouw. For 15 Euros at the door, you can join in on the festivities. Although the label is versatile, my talk with label owner DJ Gilb'R had a very limited subject: the number 15.

What kind of kid were you when you were 15?
‘I was discovering life and having fun. Smoking my first joint, listening to John Coltrane. I was living with my parents in Nice. I think they know I was smoking, but they acted like they didn’t. The first heavy relationship I had with music was with jazz. It really got me tripping. I have been attracted to music since a very young age and I used to go to my grandparents to play crappy records on their turntable. They also had a tape machine with which I made recordings. It was just for fun, I had no idea music would become my job.’
 
Have you ever played for just 15 people?
‘Yes, of course that has happened. I think it has happened to every DJ. You can have great fun with just 15 people if they are really into it. But if they're not, it can be really shit. But it's the same with 400 people; if they're not into it, it can be torture. Years ago I played at Hotel Shanghai in Essen, Germany, for a small crowd that was not so enthusiastic. Then I was constantly thinking ‘when will this finish’. But I have to admit I played some weird stuff with broken beats, like Theo Parrish’ track Smile. Not easy to dance to.’
 
15 is the magic constant of the unique order-3 normal magic square. What has been the ‘magic constant’ in 15 years of Versatile?
‘Curiosity, definitively. I put effort in not doing the same thing over and over. In the early days of Versatile we did a lot of disco house. Recently I ended up working with singer Nicolas Ker from Poni Hoax. And Zombie Zombie teamed up with I:Cube, doing 1 live gig only. When I started to listen to jazz, to rap, to funk, to hip-hop, I never thought I would like new wave, or synth wave, or rock. It’s the same with collaborations; every time I work with a new artist I would never have thought we could work together. That’s the magic thing that keeps my spirit entertained; other artists keep bringing me things to discover. We have a studio in the basement of the Versatile office. Etienne Jaumet records there, but also folk duo Herman Dune. Witnessing this interesting mix of artists has made me realize that music is something totally open. When you like music, you can like any type of music and you can work with basically anyone.’
 
Did you ever experience something fun or important in the 15th arrondissement of Paris? 
‘Nooo, it’s too far! It’s too far from where I live, I’m sorry. There are mainly offices there anyway.’ 
 
Wine typically consists of 15% alcohol, so I assume you’ve put it on your rider?
‘Wine? No, I don't like to drink wine after eleven o'clock. Wine goes best with food and is not the type of alcohol suitable for the night. I write champagne and vodka on my rider. But speaking about wine, I personally like Côtes du Rhône and Irancy which has a m...’
 
Sorry for cutting you off mid-sentence, but it’s the end of the interview. We spoke for exactly 15 minutes, from 15:00 to 15:15!

Text: Tessa Velthuis