DJ Urine is a man on a mission. What that mission is exactly, I am not sure. Not matter how you feel about experimental music, you will get sucked into DJ Urine\’s live performance. The man knows how to get audience participation as soon as he steps up on stage. That is a rare feat for anyone and consider yourself lucky if you get the chance to see him live. You will be surprised to see multiple Fisher Price turntables, huge stacks of vinyl (some of which have been cut up), and a mic being run through effects. DJ Urine is about to release a cassette split with Cat AIDs aka the best band in Beijing on Nasty Wizard Recordings. We asked him some questions to find out a bit more such as his grandmother is really proud of this cassette split.
What is your background? You mentioned that you used to be a jazz singer. How did you go from jazz to harsh/experimental noise?
Nope, not a jazz singer. I used to scream in hardcore bands. Actually only one, and one \”math\” jazz big band. After this, I tried to howl but never got good results because its not my spot. Singing is not for me. But I learned from this lot like at school. At least I have seen others playing so well and it amazed me. I started rehearsal at 9am which is really good. I still love this kind of focus. This amount of work and devotion is something I respect. I did go from jazz to harsh noise because it was already there from a while ago.. And the randomness just keep on growing. I found more space to reach some feelings in loud experiments. Even though I do not consider myself a harsh noise musician, but lets say, more of a crust turntablist.
Jazz can still move me, yes. If its attached to a meaning like Sun Ra did, but if the sound is clean as the intentions I remain totally jazz-proof… At the time when this music start to blossom, there was a lot of weight in the sound. We miss this now so much.
You are originally from France, Paris right?, then you moved to Den Haag, and now you are constantly touring the world. How do these places differ from one another in terms of music? How are they similar? Which places do you like going to the most?
Yes, I was born in a suburb of Paris. I stopped in Den Haag for 2 years. If I like a place and make good friends, I will start to miss them a lot and I will want come to back. It is as simple as this. Then I learn more about the culture and specificities of each city and country. I watch and listen to every sound of the language, taste everything. I absorb it and try to regurgitate it into my sound.
The country I like going to the most is something I could not really say. There are so many! But I have been to Indonesia so many times already, and there is something in there that calls me back all the time. It is like a spell. Also, I do like New Orleans a lot.
In your live set, you use Fisher Price turntables and a shit ton of records, some of which are cut up. It is quite different from most noise musicians set ups. How did you get into this type of equipment?
When I started, I used one old heavy technics, 2 tascam 4 tracks and a roland tape delay. That was quite heavy to carry all the time.
Then I got the opportunity to buy a couple Fisher Price turntables on the same time. The day I received them, I did a slight modification, and it was not enough. I decided to handcraft the records too. Everything started/came naturally on the same day. I do not have a record collection anymore, but mostly just customized vinyl. They all have a short but really happy life. The day I will have a permanent home, I will start to collect vinyl again.
Recently, you took part in the Noise For Nepal compilation which is amazing and features over 100 artists. How did you get involved in the project? Has the project been able to raise enough money to help out? Nepal was one of the countries that you were planning on touring. After these tragic earthquakes, do you still plan to go?
It came naturally. The day after the earthquake, we decided to do it with Zivon & Vishal from Nepal. Later we were joined by Shaze from Malaysia. We just wanted to try to found a common point between music and \”action\”, not watching and scowling like spectators. Like, how to react to this with what we could do. Which was meaningful for us. Music of course! So calling on artist in a really short amount of time for example. It was a real mess to setup. But then we get about 104 bands. We faced some troubles with downloading songs between Nepal and myself on tour. After 3 weeks, we have gotten little results compared to other fundraising campaigns. It is sad but I guess thats the way the world goes now. You will give more easily if you feel concerned about the subject. But still, we do not consider this a failure. Our goal was to raise enough money to rebuild a school, and we haven\’t put our faces down totally yet. The shows this July will help to bring money hand on hand up there to buy some clothes, medicine and toys. The rest of the time during this trip I guess there will be enough work to do. I am pretty exited of course.
Kawabata Makoto from Acid Mothers Temple and you have toured as a duo, right? How did you meet him? What was it like playing with him?
I met him a couple of times in different places in the past several years. It was through just talking to him after his show and until I opened for MC Trachiotomy for AMT in New Orleans. Then we decided to record and planned a tour after this in Japan. Makoto is the man. He basically has only one request and it is for you to kill on stage every night and do not wear earplugs if you play noise or loud music. It was a pleasure to tour with him. We will do it again this coming september.
I heard on one of your previous trips to Indonesia, you played with a gamelan group. How did that all come about? How did they receive noise being added to their traditional music? Are there any recordings of the collaboration?
I meet the peoples from Unisba (University Islam Bandung) and later the Sundawani during my first trip in Indonesia in 2009. It was a bit of luck and a lot of randomness, but i guess its all the magik of Bandung at night. Anything can happen! We started to play a couple of shows and did rehearsal before that. We watched videos of Sun Ra together and improvised a lot. I was convinced that I should play softer while they always asked me to play louder. Ah yes, I do have a recording of this collaboration. About 9 tracks, but I never got the chance to find an engineer and studio crazy enough to help me mix and edit this. One day. Let\’s cross fingers. We never know. I hope so. This is from far one of my favorite collaboration ever. Rully Shabara Herman (Senyawa/Zoo) is also singing on a couple of tracks.
As you probably know, Cat Aids is the best band in Beijing. How do you feel about being asked to do a split with such a legendary band?
Yes. My grandmother is finally proud of me! I heard a lot about them and could not be more excited. I hope we can both open together as a single band for David Bowie one day, soon.
What are your plans for the future? Tour endlessly? Settle down in a new place?
I would love to settle down in a new place, yes. Get a proper little home studio in a wood house, a couple of cats and all the things to go with it. Touring properly instead of non stop is something i should think about. We will see.