That which can spark a certain emotion can come in various forms. Sometimes what causes the spark is a certain word, or sometimes it is a sound or a wave of sounds that breaks over our senses and opens us up to a feeling. Seb Dhajje is a master of the latter, especially in his mixes, building and mixing sounds upon each other, the sound of footsteps fading away as the pitter patter white noise of rain rises among a simple tapped out melody. Seb’s music and his mixes cover a vast array of feelings, from the loneliness of a dark and seemingly never ending night to the relief as the rays of sun break through the clouds, truly a reflection of life and our internal experiences.
Building his music around echoing the spectrum of human nature, Seb Dhajje has worked tirelessly to find and produce sounds through his Nomos label that are a showcase for his values and ideals about music. We got a chance to chat with Seb about his roots in music, who and what he finds influential in his life and music, and what we can expect from his productions and Nomos label in the upcoming year.
Check out Seb’s interview below and listen to the mix he created for FRISKY: CHILL Featured Artist
Hi Seb, I’d like to start out by asking you about your roots in music. What were your first memorable experiences with music? How did these influence your evolution in music?
My very first contact with music was when I heard my mother singing on traditional music (from Romania) when she was cooking in the kitchen, and also my grandmother in weddings.
My parents also enrolled me in music school, to learn classical and to take piano lessons. During many years I did lots of concerts, playing alone in front of 300 or 400 people. It was a great experience for me. I thanked my parents again for that.
My piano teacher was a film composer, and each weekend he shows us his new productions. I was impressed by the enthusiasm and the energy he gave in his music. I wanted to do the same, and after lessons I wrote some little songs for my parents.
But the story began in the late of 80’s when I had my first keyboard. It was good to play sounds other than piano. I started making music with that, just for fun, writing melodies instead of doing my schoolwork…
How did you first get into electronic music and what has your journey been within the genre since?
I remember it like it was yesterday. We were on holidays with my parents in south of France, in 1988. We were shopping when I heard “S’ Express – Theme from S’ Express”.
I began to dance in the shop, it was really different and original, this groove was magic!
When we came back home, I listened to the different radio stations to find the name of this track. Then I became in love with Technotronic, Snap, and more…
My first contact with the clubbing was in Barcelona, in 1990, when my parents sent me in Spain in summer camps. The sound and the lights impressed me a lot. I went to club during three weeks. Each night i was dancing and smiling!
I began to play as DJ in several clubs in Paris around 2000, in soulful house & disco party. I worked like artistic director in clubs also, and in parallel I was working on Ableton Live in my bedroom.
My life changed in 2009 when I did the contest remix of the Royksopp ‘Tricky Tricky”.
The remix was played by lots of great DJ’s. Thereafter I signed on several labels i was fan, and i had the chance to play alongside DJ’s like Nick Warren, King Unique, Jody Wisternoff, Above & Beyond, Robert Babicz and more.
You have a solid past in classical music and piano, and I’m wondering what role this has had in your production of electronic music? What influence does it have in your construction of tracks or the way you structure your DJ Sets?
I won’t lie, but after classical training, you can produce more easily and quickly.
But there’s also an inconvenience. When I produced my first tracks, my friends said there’s too many melodies. It’s like there was 4 or 5 tracks in one. My music was incomprehensible and too long. Therefore I listened to many many tracks, and went to clubs to learn “the ground realities”.
About the mixes, especially in the Nomos Sessions, I can add classical music between two electronica ones, it’s like an interlude, it gives more character and personality in the mix.
So many of your tracks and mixes span a range of moods and journeys. Do you approach making a track or a mix with a particular image in mind for the feeling or story you want to convey to the listener?
I always made a mix or a track to tell something. People inspire me a lot, and I try to express the good or the bad side of human nature.
Music is an incredible vehicle for expressing emotions and capturing our internal experience of life. I think the key is that music is a powerful vehicle for helping you become more aware and honest with yourself.
For example I decided to make my last mix (on Nomos Sessions) when I heard Greta Thunberg at the COP24 United Nations climate change summit. I was deeply touched by her speech, her maturity and her nerve.
A recurring theme you mention a lot is the line, “Life is not a succession of moments but a constant reality.” Listening to your mixes and thinking about this phrase, I get this sense of being very present, and less concerned with where the music was or is heading. Can you explain how this phrase and idea plays into your music more?
Like I said before, music is like a therapy. I’m trying every day, as much as I can, to remember lessons life gave me, the good ones and especially the bad ones. I try to build my own life around what I learned and my music is only a reflection of my personality.
There’s often a nostalgic and morality touch in my mixes or tracks, because day after day we have to try to not forget what the past teach us.
Now that you have been running your label Nomos Records for a while, can you talk about the impact running a label has had on other aspects of your music (DJ’ing and producing)? How do you find a balance?
To run Nomos records is really exciting. This label is the opportunity to discover and highlight artistic talent in the ambient & electronica world. A world still unknown in my opinion, which is full of talent and creativity. It’s more rewarding to bring to light new producers, especially if they become well-known, it’s like your children!
In your past interviews you’ve mentioned dream collaborations (Max Cooper, Ulrich Schnauss). Since then have you been able to make any of these dream collaborations happen? Also in regards to collaborations, what is that process like for you?
Unfortunately, no dream collaborations since my past interview. I met Max Cooper many times, and I’m always a big fan of Ulrich Schnauss but nothing for the moment.
Better late than never, so let’s see what the future say…
Collaborations are something interesting, exciting and uncontrolled. Sometimes, the magic happens between two artists, this is why a remix can be more beautiful than the original.
To make music is a chance, and it’s together we’ll progress.
What have been some recent inspirations and influences for you? Have you seen your style and music shift in the recent years as your life changes?
To be honest my inspirations or influences are music with emotions and a story, but I’m in love especially with deep house music and electronica today.
My fav things at the moment are to dance in a “All Day I Dream” or “Anjunadeep” party. It’s also great to dream in a Olafur Arnalds or Nils Frahm’ live show.
Last week I went to see Olafur Arnalds, it’s a must. This guy is incredible, he’s funny and sensitive at the same time. My wife and I are always in a dream since he’s amazing live.
Are there any new and exciting things happening in 2019 that you can share with us?
This year should mark my come-back in production, with new remixes and originals, more deep than music i made theses last years.
We’ll have also new talented artists coming on Nomos rec and of course Nomos Sessions with amazing mixes.
Can you tell us the idea behind this mix?
This mix illustrates the Nomos’ spirit. It speaks about our stories, people stories, our hope and fear, the good and the bad things we meet and see around us every days.
Hope people will enjoy this mix and have a look to the Nomos Sessions stories.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers and listeners?
Life is not a succession of moments but a constant reality 😉
Listen to Seb Dhajje’s CHILL Featured Artist mix now: