The most French name in the world

Jacques Renault interviewed by Melon

The most French name in the world

07-06-2013 | 10.32

Aankomende zaterdag staat Melon samen met de New Yorker Jacques Renault op Ratio? Melon sprak een paar dagen geleden met hem over zijn passie voor fietsen, de scene in Amerika en zijn Franse naam.

Hi Jacques, thanks for having a moment to talk. I remember we met at Warm – Plastic People in London 2009. I’ve always wondered since why you’re named Jacques Renault. You have nothing to do with French or Canadian people right?

"My story is that my mother is Mid-Western and my father first-generation American, so he was an only child. My grandfather and grandmother moved to San Mateo, California. They were spending six months in Cali and six months in France and go back and forth. Then my parents got married and I have two older sisters with French names; I was kind of the surprise kid haha. So when they were growing up, they went to a French school but when I came around, I didn’t go. We didn’t really spreak French around the house and therefore didn’t carry a very good accent. So I have possible the most French name ever with a French father, but never really spend enough time to dive into my French background."
I heard that you were a talented violin player growing up. How did the whole violin thing come about?
"My mother always had classical music on the radio, so I started doing that and then I discovered different types of music. Every time I discovered something new, my mom would say: “You can play whatever you what, but you have to continue to play the violin.” So that’s how I ended up playing everything I could get my hands on, collecting instruments, recorded on my own in high school and stuff like that.
Growing up in Washington D.C, I was surrounded by punk rock. I loved it and when all the post-punk people started DJing in the ’90. That's when I discovered the turntables after being in a couple of bands that didn’t really worked out haha. The rest is history."
Do you still play the violin?
"I still have a viola now, but I rarely use it. It’s at the house and I do a little string stab every once in a while."
After living in Chicago and Washington D.C, you now call Brooklyn, Williamsburg your home. With EDM (Electronic Dance Music) exploding in the States, do you feel that the scene you moving around in is also expanding?
I would say that everyone in the music community that we’ve been involved in for years now, would probably just cringe when they hear EDM of anything like this in America. The reality is that it’s a younger generation that doesn’t really have a background in dance music and sometimes they just seek the bright lights and the drugs. I feel that they don’t understand the history that actually brought it up to this. The way I keep hoping is that EDM and the craze in the States in a stepping-stone to understanding the history behind it all. And it kind of is, because years ago I would only be playing in the big cities (Los Angeles, New York , Chicago) and then coming to Europe for gigs, but now I go to all sorts of different places where you wouldn’t expect anyone to know me. You see that with a lot of people, traveling to different places. Everyone is really excited about what’s happening in the past couple of years. A lot of people have been talking about the last decade and how different it has been in New York compared to the past. But it’s really growing and there’s a new generation of people getting into analogue gear for example, so now there are more live acts than you can count. If anything, I definitely see it as a positive stepping-stone.
I completely agree, I’m also playing in the States more nowadays. Sometimes I see people arriving at a party at 23:15 and doing a little stretch before dancing all night! On a totally unrelated note: I heard you really loves bikes. Can you tell me more about that?
"One of the biggest things I love to do is building bikes. I was a terrible skateboarder when I was growing up. Then I got into BMX, track bikes and then fixed gear. But now everyone's got a fixed gear and I’m a bit too old for that haha. Personally, I think there’s no fun in buying a bike that’s already made; you always want to add to it. Get new wheels and there’s always some new toy you can get. That’s sort of an ongoing thing for me. In New York everyone rides bikes; possibly one of the best things to do this time of year."
At Trouw we have a Resident of the Month that gets to put their favorite dish on the menu. I personally often found that DJ’s have a real passion for food. How about you?
"I think it makes sense. It’s one of the great things about being able to travel and going to new cities. You arrive at a new city, you wanna see it and then you have a nice dinner. I’m always like: “let’s go somewhere you enjoy eating”. It’s one of my favorite things about traveling: learning about the cuisine, the customs and just discovering the city with friends and locals."
So how about your own culinary skills?
"In my next life I’ll probably be a proper wine nerd and I’ll know everything about cooking, but for now I’m a terrible cook to be honest. I never follow recipes and find it hard to stay on task. I avoid cooking with meat and spices all together, but I can do anything with vegetables. When I’m at home, I go to the fruit and vegetable market every day. I don’t really know why, but vegetables are just a no-brainer to me. I can also cook a mean fish."
Then you’ll probably love the Trouw restaurant, which is based on fresh veggies from local Dutch farmers. Let’s have a bite there, maybe the BBQ might also be lit so you can throw a fish on there!
“That sounds good! I’m in Amsterdam until Tuesday, so plenty of time for good food, bike rides and proper relaxation!”
Thanks for the chat Jacques, see you this Saturday!
"See you soon!"