Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been a working musician?
We are Jafar & Maxime Cescau, aka London-based DJ/Producer duo Poussez. We’ve been working in the music industry for 20 years and also run the Artizan Music record label.
What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?
Well, we studied other subjects as well as Sound Engineering (Maxime has a degree in Media and Communication, Jafar a diploma in Art & Design from Central Saint Martins). Maxime was actually based in the States until 2003. He studied at Ex’pression Centre for New Media in Emeryville, California near San Francisco whilst Jafar was at Alchemea Studios & The University of North London, both in London. Maxime highly recommends Ex’pression, as it’s a fully accredited school and he was able to get a Bachelor of Applied Science there. We both grew up on Cubase before moving towards Logic and nowadays Ableton Live which we’re real massive fans of.
What hardware are you using?
Digidesign Control 24 and 192 Audio Interface, 2 x vintage Tube mic pre-amps, Mackie HR824 speakers, Maschine, Waldorf Q, Focusrite Midnight compressor, Focusrite Pre-amps ‘red’, M-Audio controllers, and Traktor S4 and Kontrol X1 for DJ Mixes.
What software are you using?
Pro Tools HD, Ableton Live 8, heavy use of NI Komplete, more plug-ins than we have space to fit in here. We tend to use a lot of the NI plugins when writing music, as they are a real power house, very varied and you get every kind of synthesis in there. We just love the way they’re designed and their GUI. We also use the SPL Suite for processing, some of the Arturia Synths (namely Jupiter-8 V and the MiniMoog V), and the Waves plugins which we’ve both been using for years. The Waves are just an amazing suite of really high quality effects and dynamics processors. We absolutely love them and couldn’t live without then. I think Ableton Live is probably our most essential piece of software and is our centerpiece. It’s fantastic and so user-friendly.
What would be your dream setup?
Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?
We feed off the vibe of the day, off each other, off each other’s moods. We like to check our label artists and other musicians; not just Dance Music but right across the board. We sometimes try to recreate a vibe we heard in the clubs that weekend or simply use an existing track that we both really dig as a starting point or idea. It always ends up sounding completely different in the end but generally that’s the idea. We’d highly recommend when you are starting out to spend some time trying to recreate other people’s arrangements and effects. It really is a good way of getting a better understanding of structure and flow.
We tend to also start with drums. Kick, Snare and then we get into creating a hook. From there more drums as they then have something to feed off. Then we build from there. Generally in a loop and when we’re about to vomit from boredom, we take a break and head back when we’re ready to arrange.
Where do you shop for and discover music?
We mainly find new music via friends, blogs, podcasts, playing out in clubs and hearing other djs, but we play both vinyl and digital, so still check out a fair bit in the record shops and some digi stores – although places like Beatport takes a while as there’s so much on there. WhatPeoplePlay is really good, like that. SoundCloud obviously.
Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?
Really into Jamie Jones, Danny Daze and Nicolas Jaar at the moment. All three are really killing it. Love Dusty Kid, he’s great. Labels like Fear of Flying, Nic Fanciulli’s Saved, 8Bit and Murmur. Oh and we just signed to Aki Bergen’s Neurotraxx Deluxe so we’d have to say that too 😉
What’s brewing in your studio?
So our latest release on the slower nu-disco tip, Discuits, has been really well received (the vinyl also features a remix by Detroit’s Kris Wadsworth).
We think the interesting thing about this track is that whilst we’ve done a fair bit of nu-disco / slower stuff, this has been the track that’s really made people notice. We used snippets of an old Motown accapella to drench it in some soul, but what we love with doing this sort of stuff is blending the soul and funk of the disco era with more modern electronic influences from the european deep house (things like the floaty arpeggiation, the gnarly square bass juxtaposed against the more traditional nu-disco beats and rhodes flourishes). We also break the track down half way through and add some real drama with the detroit strings, the track then flips off on another tangent. Drama is so important in music as we all know.
We’ve also just finished remixing U.S house legends Mateo and Matos. We were extremely humbled to be asked by them to remix their latest. This was actually because they loved Discuits, so there we go. Thanks guys! :).
It’s a superb original track entitled Hypnotized and M&M have had so many remixes done (our personal fave is probably Anton Zap). We’re featured in the latest package, remix EP 3.
Eddie Matos really wanted us to go in the direction of Discuits for this, so we kept the drums loose and ‘live sounding’. We used our trademark synth flourishes and a really deep pad to back the groove. We love the work of producers like Spirit Catcher, Crazy P, and, of course, Metro Area, so wanted to ape some of their stylings but very much make it Poussez.
We’re proud of it, M&M love it, and we hope you’ll like it too. The acid bass just ties it in so nicely about half way through. Playing it out for the first time tonight!
Any production tips & tricks you’d like to share?
That’s tough. Everyone has their own style. There isn’t a right or wrong way of doing things, only what sounds good to you the producer. Best piece of advice we can give, is to keep experimenting, stay hungry, keep learning from other producers, listen and analyse other people’s music and enjoy those happy accidents that make you unique. Hopefully in the process others will empathize and appreciate what you are trying to say.
Also, don’t give any credence to negativity. Some people will player-hate your shit just out of spite. What we’ve noted over the years is the opinions that really matter are your own and your peers’. So get the opinion of someone you really respect, they will be totally honest with you. If they like it then you know you’re doing something right and that’s all that you need. Good luck!