Photo by Stephane Muntaner
Lionel Corsini or DJ Oil as he is known when he throws his headphones on is a French underground legend and he has a brand new and pretty damn good album out on the mighty BBE called ‘Phantom’...
As one third of The Troublemakers, he released ‘Doubts and Convictions’, a classic album of it’s kind (cinematic, soulful trip hop) on the essential Chicago label Guidance in 2000, followed by a more unhappy period on none other than the Blue Note label before deciding to step out of the game and travel in order to reconnect with and expand his music. ‘Phantom’ represents the ghosts in his laptop. Lost tracks found and reworked using Ableton Live with nearly everything played live (by himself). If you like your production analogue, gritty and warm and your music to take you to different times and places then you’ll feel this, it grows into you. Listen out for the track featuring rapper Josh (and singer Hope Malike) from Zimbabwean band Monkey Nuts: this is another awesome DJ Oil project with a full album also forthcoming soon from BBE...
He's a busy man but I caught up with him via email to discuss the album's incubation and birth..
JT - Can you tell me a little about how you made this album and how long did it take? Also about some of your collaborators on this album?
DJ OIL - This album has been recorded between 2011 and 2013 (he made over 100 tracks in this period) , it is only live versions, recorded in parties or in my studio directly without any retouches afterwards ... it is like a gallery of paintings with a lot of accidents that give to this album this spirit and this touch....I prefer keep all the mysteries about all the phantoms in the album ...
JT - The diversity of sounds on ‘Phantom’ is impressive. Deep, unsettling, 60s radical sampling ‘trip hop’ (Drop Out, Afrotress), angular indie disco (Seasons (On Stage)), Moodyman/Detroit style house (Le Rhythme De La Vie, Burn It (On Stage)). There feels to me that there is a thread that connects your sounds and that thread is Africa. France has always been the dominant European country for exposing the Western audience to so much African music that we listen to now. How has hearing this music affected you?
DJ OIL - I spent so much time in Africa working with more than 250 musicians in 35 countries, searching new sounds and making new music without any business plan for the work..only sharing and experiences on stage .. it was a real inspiration for me and the music I have composed ..
JT - There was a time in the 90s and early 2000s when French underground music seemed to be everywhere! La Funk Mob, Source Records, MC Solaar, Saien Supa Crew, Dimitri From Paris, The Troublemakers, Daft Punk, Air etc. It is not so obvious at the moment but who are the musicians in France that are making great sounds now?
DJ OIL - I dont find great source of inspiration in France in this period, I think the French scene is not very interesting at this time , just a few tracks but not a whole album ... I dont have any names in mind..
JT - You have mentioned before that your father was a collector of soul and R&B. I can hear a wide knowledge of black music in your music, especially on your Phantom album... Can you tell me more about what you were listening to at home and what you are listening to now?
DJ OIL - My essential inspiration is Afro-American music and movie soundtracks. I bought my first record at 6 years old and it was an Otis Redding compilation on Stax records. I am listening to jazz, hip hop and electronic music..I can listen to music from Leon Thomas to Flying Lotus, Underground Resistance to Gary Bartz. My father listened to Ray Charles, Perez Prado and James Brown for example, in my early years. I still have his collection.
JT - I recently interviewed Steve Cobby (Fila Brazillia, Solid Doctor) about whether living in a port city had any influence on his musical education. Your hometown of Marseille is one of the most famous (and notorious) ports in Europe and has huge traffic of different cultures flowing through. Was this important for you when you were growing up and does this affect your work now at all?
DJ OIL - I don’t think Marseilles inspired me for my music but the roughness of the poor city maybe and the urban living I have in the center of my town is very aggressive. Multiculturalism is very strong here and the people don’t mix between each other a lot . I caught the traffic of cultures when I spent 4 years in Africa and South America working my music there for my pleasure and growing my experience.
JT - And finally, how did your new ‘City Of Saints’ remix of Sonzeira (Gilles Peterson’s forthcoming ‘Brasil Bam Bam Bass’ album) happen? I absolutely love it!
DJ OIL - The remix is my idea after listening to the last project of Gilles Peterson and I worked 10 days on it .. It’s on Talking Loud now and it is a dream because I bought so many records on this label 20 years ago.
Merci Lionel and I hope we can get you in the UK very soon!!
Words by Justin Turford AKA Ex-Friendly
Check out Lionel’s musical ghosts on DJ Oil ‘Phantom’ CD/Double Vinyl / Digital (due 19th Jan)
Video documentary on DJ Oil: