Jean du Voyage: The street-sampling beatmaker who took Manipal by surprise
A French turntablist and beatmaker who loves infusing India’s vibrant traditional music to his electronic soundscape, Jean du Voyage’s tryst with music started almost two decades ago. He has been carrying his discs and vinyls in clubs around the world since 1998 and his exploration of sound lead him to India, exactly a year ago. His first trip across the country gave him a glimpse of Indian culture and he immediately fell in love with it.
Travelling and exploring other cultures have always been important for the Frenchman with an innate passion for music. His second trip to India sees him play in eight cities across the country in a whirlwind tour stretched out across a month.As part of his tour, he was in Manipal for a live performance organised by Alliance Française de Manipal and the Department of European Studies on November 5. The turntabilist’s electronic renditions of Bollywood classics like Silsila Ye Chaahat Ka, along with his own compositions had the audience at the Amphitheatre in Manipal leaping to their feet to jive by the end of the show.
The Manipal Journal caught up with the journeyman beatmaker for an interview exploring his passionate interest in music and his influences over the years.
You surprised the audience with a selection of Bollywood songs. What kind of research went into preparing the tracks? How did you know if the Indian audience would like the Hindi tracks?
I didn’t (laughs).I have played a few of these tracks back home in France before, and they had liked it there, but I wasn’t so sure if Indians themselves would like my choice. I did my research and then, went with it, and I’m happy I did.
In terms of the other research, well, I’ve been turning tables since I was 14. I played a lot of my original compositions, along with remixing the old Bollywood tunes. I played some of the instruments, and then used my turntable to give them an electro feel to them.
I’ve briefly been to India before, in Varanasi and other places. So I was walking on the streets in Varanasi and passed by a temple, and I liked the sounds so much that I got out my recorder and I’ve actually used that sound in one of my tracks. I would like to do that more, use samples from the streets.
How has India treated you so far?
I love this country; it feels like home. It is funny because I haven’t stayed here much. I was here maybe for a month last year. I know nothing about the country, but I still love the instruments, the musicians, and the people who have really bright smiles and a lot of energy.
What do you do when you are not travelling around the world?
I’m playing my music in France (pauses). That’s my job. I would like to start travelling more though, because originally, travel was my main influence. That is how I came up with the name, Jean Du Voyage. When people listen to my music, they say that it is something different because they can hear a lot of different influences like African, Indian, Arabian music, not commercial and mainstream sounds. Now, because of my Indian influences, I’m here in India. Maybe someday I might travel to Africa because of African music. It is all so much like a dream. Originally I was young, just playing some music in my room, and now I’m playing my music in India. It is so crazy!
I played more in India than I play in France. In India I’m playing 8 times in 8 different cities, and in France I play 3 times in the same city, which is funny. Life is funny. You need to have dreams, and maybe, someday, the dreams will come true.
Not a lot of people would consider making a career out of playing music. People, especially in India, sometimes say that you cannot survive on such a career. How do you deal with concerns like that?
I hate mainstream. I guess if you are looking for something different, and if you want to give differently, then it is possible. Most of the times there will not be the biggest crowd the first time, but it is good if you make people curious and want to make them know more about different things. Most people are looking for something different, especially the younger generation. People nowadays are listening to the same kind of music, so maybe that is why I’m trained to give something different.
Do you look for collaborations with other musicians when you are travelling?
Yes, sure. I sometimes meet musicians when travelling, we work together when I am travelling, then they come to France and we work there.
I am on a mission to look for a collaborator right now, but at the same time I have met a few musicians. The last track I mixed was with a Bengaluru producer that I met three days ago! I’m currently looking for some classical sounds, something like the sitar and other such melodious instruments and record with him or her for 20 days. I also take workshops too, I teach people how to scratch. I have currently conducted workshops in six cities so far.
The French musician is currently touring in India for five more weeks and will be playing in Delhi, Chennai, Pondicherry, Trivandrum, Chandigarh, Kolkata and has already played in Bengaluru and Manipal.
Edited by Prajwal Bhat