Jacques Renault: Magic hour

Despite his Gallic-sounding name, Jacques Renault is a New Yorker through and through. He’s been making moves on the NYC club scene for around ten years now, after relocating from his hometown Washington, DC. You can regularly find him at the city’s buzziest parties, including the Let’s Play House series, which takes over warehouses, boats and other out-of-the-box dancing spaces.

While he’s a well-practised DJ, the guy’s just as industrious in the studio, whether on his own or as part of his musical alliances. Remixes have been the Jacques Renault calling card, for one simple reason: he’s very good at them. Ahead of his fourth Australian tour, we got him on the phone to talk shop. “I’m actually taking over a friend’s studio while they’re on tour in the summer,” he told us. “My goal is just to get in there basically and work every day that I’m in town, cranking out some new tunes.” Here’s what else came up in conversation.

First up, how often are you picked up by promoters who think you’re French?

It happens all the time. People are like, “What do I call you?” It’s either the Twin Peaks reference or the French thing. I do understand French – my father was French – but over the years you lose it, just being surrounded by Americans.

A lot of the artists I interview express a kind of ambivalence about remixing, in that it can be good fun, but it’s a distraction from your own productions. Do you find that?

It’s always been a bit of a battle, ‘cause a friend will ask you to do a remix or an edit, and it’s fun, but at the same time, it can go in many directions. A lot of my ‘hits’ were remixes that I’m very proud of, but I’m also lucky enough to do edits or original tunes that were equally good. But nothing really takes away from anything. We want to be a part of things, and build up releases, and travel, and meet new people. Everything goes hand-in-hand.

Well, here in Australia, your Poolside and Midnight Magic remixes were everywhere.

I love hearing that, it’s great. I’ll say, “This is great, it’s going to be a hit”, but you can’t often see how popular things are. With Poolside and Beam Me Up, I just felt they needed a little touch to make a DJ play it – or for me to play it!

I saw recently you played a party with Questlove from The Roots. How was that?

The Roots were playing a show in Miami, and I think I’d heard his DJ sets in passing. He was cool, he was all over the place. It was cool to have a mixed crowd: some there for him and some for me.

So tell me what’s coming up for the Let’s Play House label.

We’re doing a lot this summer with the events and releases. The next release is a Toby Tobias, and it’s got remixes from Tokyo Black Star and Marcos Cabral who is my partner for Runaway and On The Prowl. We’ve got a party coming up with all of those guys, and we’ve got another what release coming up, which is exciting.

Is there a philosophy that guides the Let’s Play House parties?

Yeah, the way Nick and I started was that we really wanted to contribute. Being able to travel and experience different places around the world, I wished there was a cool party I could bring people to play at. So we had the idea of a moving party, whether a warehouse, a karaoke bar or hotel. We’re always trying to mix it up. Unfortunately we end up doing it a little too often. We want the music to be good all the time, whether it’s a guest from Australia or New York.

So, how are things feeling in New York at the moment?

It’s getting hot out. With the daytime and afternoon parties, a lot more people are going to be coming out. We’re trying a bunch of new venues. Other people are doing good things and there’s a lot of collaboration. There are people who wouldn’t think about coming to Brooklyn for a dance party, or vice versa.

Running a label doesn’t seem like an easy gig these days…

Yeah, I tell ya, it’s a lot of work. I wouldn’t be able to do it if it weren’t for Marco with On The Prowl, or Nick and James with Let’s Play House. We all have different schedules, and trying to coordinate can be really tough. But I really enjoy it. But I like curating and releasing new music.

I remember reading in an interview last year that you were really feeling older records at the time. How are your sets at the moment? Is it a real mix of old and new?

Absolutely a mix. The best shopping I think is just going through my own records. I still shop at New York’s record shops all the time and find great stuff – obviously online as well.

So how many Australian tours does this make it?

Four. I really enjoy it. It’s a long trip, but over the years, it has just got better and better. I’m going to Perth for the first time. I love all the characters. It’s great too because a lot of the friends I’ve made in Australia have come over to New York, and that’s another great thing. It’s a global music scene. It really is.

Friday 1 June – Sydney @ Vivid LIVE

Sunday 3 June – Perth @ The Bakery

Friday 8 June – Melbourne @ The Mercat Basement

Saturday 9 June – Adelaide @ Sugar

Sunday 10 June – Brisbane @ Bowler Bar