DJ Greem (C2C) & Mighty Mezz (Caravan Palace) recently were in Buenos Aires, their second gig together in Latin America, after São Paulo and before Rio de Janeiro. They agreed to do an interview. This is what they had to say…
How did you get started making music?
Mighty Mezz: I began long ago, at the conservatory when I was a child. I started by playing the violin, and several more instruments. Then with the jazz I started bands left and right. And as a DJ, it happened at the very end when I began to produce some electronic music.
DJ Greem: I didn’t begin in a traditional way. I began express as DJ. I had never played an instrument. I discovered the turntable towards 97, I began to mix and to buy records. And in fact it is by the deck and by the hip-hop which I managed to try and really dig what there was behind samples. There are groups as The Roots who really tempted me to produce and play instruments. Thus now I fiddle with several things, but the turntable really stays my main instrument.
How did you meet electro-swing?
Mighty Mezz: It was in 2005. At that time I was not still in Caravan Palace, but I already was looking for things like that. I was especially interested in Gipsy Jazz. Thus I tried to make this kind of production. Then I met the guys on Paris. They had rather the same ideas at that moment and this is the way we met.
DJ Greem: It’s funny because in fact I didn’t hear the name “electro-swing” before long. When we began to make the EP of C2C in 2012, a woman asked us during an interview: “do you have the impression to be part of the electro-swing movement?”. I had never heard about it. Later, I heard people saying that a mix of the Aristocats we made for the DMC in 2005, could be put in this genre. It’s true that Caravan Palace joins more this style. With C2C, it’s different, it’s hyper wide. On the same album, we have Down the Road, which is rather electro, Together, a great hip-hop, and then we have Happy which is more into this jazzy vein. It turns out that by mixing styles sometimes it’s transformed into a name, which was already decided.
What brought you to do this tour together?
DJ Greem: We met because we saw that we had bunch of references in common. And then that we had the same way of seeing music and to play this contrast of putting vintage musics in the modern sauce with drums and basses electronics. Something more modern but taking all this soul of vintage music.
Mighty Mezz: The plan wasn’t really to tour, but rather to have a good time together. Our two groups had brought us together by the music and so we thought that could be also a good idea to make some DJ sets. We have a lot of connections in various cities of the world. I am especially quite connected via the dance, the Lindy Hop.
Is that the first you collaborate?
DJ Greem: Yes. Actually, we thought it could be cool because we both do DJ sets solo. We have bunch of pieces that we like in common. Mighty is going to be more electro music-swing, thus sometimes he wants to play other musics. And I am similar I play more hip-hop but I also like jazzy mix, which I cannot necessarily play on trap parties. That was a big work of selection to manage to make an evolutive set with other styles, which we also like: French touch, some pieces a bit housy. But our main thread is clearly vintage music. I believe that we managed to find a good balance.
Mighty Mezz: The set also starts from all the vintage lines, because we cannot really say that a piece as Down the Road is electro-swing. But on the other hand it is very blues and stays super vintage at the modern sauce. There is this kind of pieces with other mixtures that the electro-swing, but they aren’t the most. This is why that was a little complicated to make long sets. In any case we took the best of the best.
Are you just touring Latin America?
Dj Greem: The starting point was that we thought that it would be cool to spend New Year’s Eave in Rio de Janeiro. Last year we had already come and we had begun to make connections. The organizers of the party Manie Dansante, in Rio, had invited Mighty to play. And this year they got on him again and we suggested making a set the two of us in this vein. Dates follow one another and the funny part it’s that we could have begun the tour in Paris, but for the first gig we ended up in São Paulo. Mighty’s buddies dancers, among whom Juan, member of Swing City BA, then settled this date in Buenos Aires, and told us: ” that would be really cool to make a gig with dance, a group and the two of you”. And it’s true that it’s a hyper logical party. I think that there will be other dates because the set is really cool. We made it super quickly and I think that it is going to evolve again. We have showed people that our set is not necessarily blocked into electro-swing, but that there is always this spirit of shocks of times.
How was your first gig in Trackers, in São Paulo?
Mighty Mezz: It was really cool. It was a good underground party in the center of São Paulo. The people were on fire.
DJ Greem: It was not a big club as here Niceto, but over there they make rather specialized gigs. The guys bring DJs specialized in musical styles, thus it’s good. It’s an alternative scene and they are open to listen new things. We are not necessarily going to play a big EDM to make them dance. Actually, it’s the perfect public for us. Thus we played almost two hours and a half. It was the New Year, it was the party so we had a great time. We also transpired a lot!
What are your main references in this tour?
Mighty Mezz: The set is going in so many directions! But we based it on vintage music. It has to be present in any track.
Dj Greem: Yes. It has to have necessarily a brass riff o jazzy voices, old samples reworked in a way. For example, Louis Armstrong rework as trap style. This kind of blend is really cool. On the one hand you have the power of modern music but also the soul side of vintage music. There are some DJs like: Manie Gang, Opiuo. We also chose an old Bob Sinclar’ track with some swing in it. You must see the playlist to get what are our references. Actually, the track must make us feel like it’s really happening something! We don’t limit ourselves to one style. And we like to get the original track when a DJ used just a looped brass riff, to maybe pick up more material to complete the sequence. We won’t let the track just play without doing anything. If we have to, we’ll manipulate sounds, play with the pads or the turntables. It’s more alive!
You’re used to combine digital and organic music in live, Mighty with Caravan Palace and Greem with Hocus Pocus. What does this blend brings?
Dj Greem: With Hocus Pocus we always had a link with musicians. We started without them, thus it was only a DJ and two MCs. And then we started pretty early, among 2000, 2001, with musicians, until we were 9 at stage with a horn section. It was the coolest group we’ve had. Later, with C2C, we started with 4 DJs and when we had to do shows in bigger stages we thought that it would be great to get a 2.0 version. So we worked again with the Hocus Pocus horn section, plus percussionists guests, MCs, kora and balafon musicians. We really tried to make a show where there is exactly what we talk about with Mighty: something with both organic and electronic music.
Mighty Mezz: With Caravan Palace we look for texture, to make tracks that transpired, that we hardly can find today with numeric. Well, you can, but it’s complicated. Yes, what interest us is to find the sounds textures.
And what about the blend of vintage dances and electro-swing. What do think Mighty ?
Mighty Mezz: In the 30’ and 40’s, from the moment you were playing Swing, you necessarily had people dancing. It has had a crazy energy. What we thought, with Caravan Palace, is that it would be a shame to miss this experience, since we are trying to mix this music with electronic music. So, with the singer we both decided to take this direction, and make happenings like C2C did with the percussionists or the kora. And Lindy Hop was an opportunity to put something well put on in our shows.
What do you think about the current electro-swing scene?
Mighty Mezz: Personally, I have the impression that it’s not bringing something new. I notice it because I have to mix tracks, and sometimes the alchemy is hard to have to make it sound good. Greem, you had a hard time trying to make an electro-swing part.
DJ Greem: Yeah. I have a fresher look, more novice of electro-swing than Mighty, because he through it for a long time now. Actually, I’ve been surprised, sometimes, by the poverty of ways to interpret sounds, because it’s still hackneyed. We had a really hard time to find really good tracks. Now, they are things super classy in Swing and Jazz, with which we can do really interesting things. I started digging because, with my partner Pfel (C2C), we wanted to do an electro-swing set. So Mighty told me to check several sites. From 100 tracks selected we kept only 5 of them. I hope it will keep evolving. It would be necessary to bring something more « pissed of » and less cuty.
Mighty Mezz: They are not bringing something new like others music styles. Novelties that would tempt you to produce, that boosts you. In electro-swing, I think, there are not enough people making production. But for example, there are guys like Manie Gang that are truly promising.
Mighty Mezz on facebook | soundcloud
DJ Greem on facebook | soundcloud
Swing City’ on website | facebook
Swingin’Party on facebook
Manie Dansante on website | facebook | soundcloud
ALC on website | facebook
I Hate Flash on website | facebook
electro-swing.com on facebook | soundcloud