Due to some extenuating circumstances in my life I have been a mild hermit the last couple of months. Between a hectic schedule of sport, exercise, episodes of “Billy the exterminator” and constructing a life size replica of Noah’s arc out of stolen car antenna’s, I’m amazed I’ve had the time to conduct anything. I have fielded a number of questions and answers to numerous people over the last few weeks, mainly back at police officers regarding the disappearance of car aerials in my suburb.
However I threw some questions directly at a cultural enigma that seems to have existed in the Melbourne dance music scene. The first time you meet this man is like the first time you quad plugged MD caps and dropped two tabs of acid; mildly uplifting….. I first met Jules Plees at a Colour of Sound after party, after I bought him a scotch, he introduced himself as “Melbourne’s Tiesto” and bought me a fruit tingle. Considering he said he invented the moniker to pick up girls, and given him buying me a fruit tingle, I thought he had ulterior motives. Carbon dating comparisons to such fossils as DJ Kat or Johnny L have proven to only slightly pre date this musical mastermind. Having burst onto the Melbourne progressive trance/trance scene in the Interview and 5am crews. Jules Plees has seen it all, or maybe he hasn’t, who can tell. The one thing I know is that throwing away all of the stories, all of the hype starting out in the early 2000′s, Jules Plees is one of Melbourne’s most gifted DJ’s. His passion and knowledge are worn as a sleeve of pride. Very much a “DJ” and not a tune dropper, a clear and concise direction in both his sets and also his career has lead to the latest reinvention of the JP. Conducted on Facebook chat, over grueling weeks and numerous episodes of “Storage Wars Texas”, I got to know him better and maybe in the future there will be time for another fruit tingle.
But for now, sit back and enjoy as we get to know the man, the music and the muse that is, Jules Plees.
So you’re back in the saddle again after nearly 5 years in hiatus? What has prompted the revamp of the Jules Plees moniker?
I’d been out of it for a few years and at first it was Curtis Tennant’s idea to have a look at starting something up. At about the same time MyAeon was really taking off as a venue and I managed to wrangle us a monthly slot there. We did that for a year or so – and then I went solo for another year – running the Melbourne leg of the Sasha Le Monnier tour. I found that DJing on the night that you are running to be way too much stress (I like to prepare heavily for my sets) and so have taken a bit of a break from the promoting side of things just to focus on my music – which is finally showing a bit of fruition. Its a basic desire to bring something fresh to the scene that is familiar with my own JulesPLees twist, musically that is.
So way back when the war began How did you start and where did your early success take you?
I always had a thing for electronic music – loved the futuristic/alien sound of it all. After doing the underage party thing and turning 18 i quickly found the rave scene. I was lucky enough to see some of the pioneers like Christopher Lawrence, Jeff Mills, Joof, Nick Warren, Saha/Digweed, Carl Cox, etc at their peak. I think it was after (literally) passing at salt watching Carl Cox i decided that I wanted to do it. I bought a crappy pair of Citronics (does that brand even exist anymore?) and a pretty dodgy 2 channel mixer and taught myself. I ended up getting in with the 5am guys who were a crew just starting up a friday night thing at r00m680 and from there it just kinda became its own thing. I got to support (play in the same stage on the same night) as some of my heroes – Chris Lawrence, JooF, Nick Warren, Pete Tong, Tiesto and quite a few more. I got to do all the big brands of the time (Gatecrasher etc). There were some awesome gigs in there – but to be honest some of the best ones were the local nights. Nights like Obsession and Interview in its early days and even smashing out the muzzatech at viper room was great fun. I wasn’t technically amazing or flawless – it was just that from about 2001-2005ish there was a massive hole in the melbourne scene for that sort of superclub sound. There were only a handful of us playing the slinky/gatecrasher style. It was either very hard and pretty cheesy or very very deep. So when when there was a big dj in town who did do that in-between thing there were literally 4 or 5 of us that could fit the bill and not much else. And then I took my break and when i came back – things had changed – big-time.
What exactly had changed? was it that the popularity had died?
That was a part of it – its a young mans game and extremely competitive. But the entire scene itself had shifted. I love lots of different music from iraqi ambient trip hop through to orchestral 18th century bach. But for better or worse I have chosen progressive & trance in its forms as the style i play. And when I attempted to resurface – progressive was in the midst of its tech house phase. i don’t mind the sound for a boogie but it just isn’t my style as a DJ. As far as pure progressive went it was pretty much dead and buried. With the trance side of things two things had happened. On the more mainstream side the Armada explosion had gone into full effect and it has become a very homogenized style that does not allow for any type of experimentation. I find no hypnotism or euphoria in the sound – but hey the kids love it. The other branch of trance – the more fun branch was the psy side. I do enjoy psy (well its hardly psy to a purist – its just fast and proper trancey) and have toyed around with it – and to this day will crank it out in a tougher set – its just that the middle ground that had vanished. I think it is only now I have managed to be able to properly extract what i want from the psy side of the music.
But on the whole I had no idea what the hell to play and basically my sets ended up sounding like a pretty dodgy mish mash on a bad night or a fun but forgettable boogie on a good one. But now – for all the lament people make about the state of EDM (damn i hate that term) and the Guetta’s and Paris Hilton’s of this world – dance music is actually pretty good in a lot of ways in my opinion. There seem to be a whole bunch of producers, promoters and dj’s who grew up and have seen the same things i have. Its only now that this fresh generation seems to be getting its act into gear in a big way.
Id love to hear you mix bach with Iraqi trip hop. So where are the cannons of war pointing these days? And who gave you the moniker of “Melbourne’s Tiesto?”, what acts are getting you hard?
At the moment for a full rounded package – Joof is the man. Its funny saying this as he has been around for like forever – but his production, label (stable) and general sound is really getting towards being something special like Digweed had with bedrock at its peak. On the proggier side of things – Moshic, Quivver, Hernan, Zaiz, Kassey Voorn, Guy J, Echomen, Ian O’donovan etc do it for me. on the trancier side the Joof & Mistique stuff, Mindwave, Liquid Soul, Phaxe, Lish, Insert Name etc. But there are many many artists that seem to pop up here and there with these random bombs and this is where i find a lot of my stuff. its more fun that way.
I don’t know about having any major aspirations – 1 or 2 gigs a month at some awesome parties would probably fulfill me at this point. I’ve toyed with the idea of running a night again and maybe one day – production wise i fiddle around here and there but it takes time. At the moment all I’m looking is to give Melbourne a solid option when it comes to a guy who can play serious progressive and/or trance (the real type of it).
The “Melbourne Tiesto” thing developed a long way back and it was probably a line i used to use on girls. for a while there (many moons ago) i would use his sound to base my sets on. The thing is a lot of us would do a similar thing at the time – and there was another guy who sound-wise was probably a lot better than me at being Melbourne’s T-god. I just looked more dutch.
Let’ be honest you’re a bit of a loose unit and I imagine you have witnessed some impressive sights whilst out and about. Whats the most bizarre thing you’ve seen happening behind the decks and then, out in the crowd?
More surreal than weird was the time i was sitting in the booth with Tiesto. I walked into the booth and his manager said “whatever you do – do not talk to him while he is playing. After my 15th Heineken i asked him to autograph Traffik… he looked at me smiled – signed it (his real name) Tijs Vervewest…and threw my pen into the crowd (well more at them than into them)…at that point i thought i had gone too far, but afterwards he wanted to stick around and see me play… management dragged him away.
So Melbourne’s Tiesto got the attention of the real Tiesto? Score!!!!!!
Finally where are we going to be seeing you out ands about the next month or so?
Prognosis @ Loop on the 18th – Peak-time Progressive house set
Roomember @ Room 680 – Classics Progressive trance set
JooF Editions @ Brown Alley – Modern Trance set
In finishing, any words to, or for the masses?
I guess in parting I would like to give some shout outs and thank you’s but in all honestly there are so many I’m sure I would miss someone and then feel terrible about it. In this ‘scene’ I have met so many great people. People that have helped me out in certain situations for no other reason than that is how they are. I have also shared some pretty fun (and sometimes not so fun) experiences with so many promoters/djs/producers and punters – not just in clubs but in life and have made some friendships that I believe will last for many years to come. Along with the tunes it is the people that are a primary motivator in this. I know sometimes I may come across as aloof or arrogant – but that is just my way. We are all part of the same thing here – sometimes its more me being awkward than anything . Its also frustrating that I don’t get so see a lot of these people as much as I’d like. I can be quite crap at tending to valued relationships. But to all you people that I knew back in the old days and the guys that have been around in what could be the slowest burning comeback in history – or if you are one of those ones that just keep on keeping on – I say – keep your minds free and your ass will continue to follow.