Photography JAKE HODGKINSON
Interview KEITH S. WASHINGTON
Jerry Bouthier is one of the founders of the London-based label Continental Records, and along with his partner, Andrea Gorgerino,produce remixes for artists ranging from Two Door Cinema Club to Jupiter and Ladyhawke. Jerry has also been the producer of several mix compilations for the music-savvy fashion brand Kitsuné, having producing his first Kitsuné compilation “BoomBox” from the underground legendary London club Boombox in 2007. His ties with the fashion industry are influential and he is sought-after as a music producer of runway tracks for fashion shows each season. 4SEE magazine has managed to temporarily ground the globe-trotting Producer and DJ during one of his most recent stints from South Africa to have an in depth Q&A on Jerry’s take on fashion and music and his repertoire as music director for various brands from Peter Jensen to Vivienne Westwood’.
Where was your first DJ gig?
God knows. I kinda fell into it without realizing. I was lucky to turn my passion into some kind of job. There was always a lot of records around at home as my dad’s a big music fan. I soon caught the bug and from 10 onwards I started collecting the vinyl I loved. Back then if you didn’t own the physical record, you couldn’t listen to it, let alone play it to other people. A solid, extensive record collection was a big thing and I started to play at friends and parties. When I go out I love to meet people and mingle but at the same time I’ve always felt that (if no one else’s was to take charge) it was my duty to provide interesting feel-good music – even if there’s no dancing involved. I’ve always been obsessed by finding the right track for the right moment. I guess it all snowballed from that.
Window or aisle seat?
Definitely aisle. When you travel a lot for work you must maximise your time in planes and sleep as much as you can. Essentially to be on point on arrival and offer the best performance.
How did Continental Records start?
It goes back years when my late brother Tom and I started to produce tracks in Paris in the early days of house and Balearic. I kept the name to honor his memory when I revived the imprint 2 or 3 years ago. Continental was (re)created in order to have an outlet to release the JBAG stuff, my music project with Andrea Gorgerino, but I soon then realized it’d be daft not to use it to help other artists/friends put out their recordings too. Without much strategy the label’s soon developed into a global roster of talented musicians. There’s Reflex from the south of France, Shindu from Belgium, Mannequine from Switzerland, Boys Get Hurt from Japan, Mjolnir and Cyclist from Indonesia and Canada respectively. It’s fascinating that we share such a strong musical bond despite our enormous regional differences. There may not be a Continental sound as such but there’s definitely a common spirit: honesty and musicality.
Your parents think you are…?
…A bit of a weirdo ha-ha! No, seriously I think, although both are quite artistic, It took them a long time to grasp the whole DJ thing. It was so new and different to start with and so far away from French culture. They let me do my thing and I moved to London at 18, which in itself was pretty cool. I’m the eldest of a big family split in two, I suppose I was just another kitty in the litter. But to be honest I wished they’d supported me a bit more spiritually and helped me organize myself and become a bit more business-minded (like some of my friends’ parents did successfully) ‘cuz for a long time I was just a zero, happy to be where the action was but with not a lot of faith in my abilities. So there’s hope for anyone after all [laughs]. What’s more, I’ve developed so many British habits over the years that they often relate to me as “the English one with funny habits!” Just another way for the French to put down their neighbors. You know what it’s like if you don’t do it the French way, then you must be doing it wrong!
How and when did you start working with KITSUNÉ?
“My collaboration started when I put together the BoomBox mix cd for Kitsuné a few years ago. That East London night was pretty wild and unique, definitely one of my life’s peaks… I had been hassling Gildas and his assistants for promos and exclusives since Kitsuné’s first comp ‘Love’, but it didn’t take us long to become music mates, respecting each other’s convictions and tastes. I guess we knew of each other from the early days of house in Paris when there wasn’t much more than a handful of party-faithfuls about, but we never hooked up then as I quickly defected to London.
How did the Highbury Eden hat project for KITSUNÉ project come about?
I’ve always been into all kinds of hats: caps, visors, bobs, army gear, you name it. But when I became music director for Vivienne Westwood (I did about 50 shows for her various labels) it was a bit of a dream come true as I’m a big fan of the punk/new romantic-pirate scenes she was heavily involved in. She gave me one of her legendary Buffalo hats – introduced to the pop world in 1983 in the Malcolm Maclaren video ‘Buffalo Gals’ – and I started wearing it. At first I wasn’t convinced that hat was gonna work for me, but it felt funny, kinda punky in its own way and I soon fully embraced it, which helped me create a kinda rockin’ Mickey Mouse character, a kind of stage character I could drop once offstage so I could take it all with a pinch of salt. I ended up with a dozen of them in all colors and pretty much wore one at every single of my gigs for 5 or 6 years. It became a bit of a signature although I was by no means the first or the only one wearing them. A few London friends have some and wear them, they’re quite popular with the ever-so fashion-conscious Japanese too. That was until Pharrell Williams started to wear a Buffalo hat in the video of ‘Happy’ (the most downloaded track ever in the UK) and that look was killed almost overnight for me. From then on I couldn’t go anywhere without people giving me grief. So I took the bull by the horn and asked old BoomBox buddies Bernstock & Spiers to work on an original design with me which I could claim paternity for. When Kitsuné boss Gildas heard about the collab, he suggested they produce a very limited quantity to be sold in the Kitsuné stores. Perfect timing with my new mix CD ‘Kitsuné Trip Mode’ that just came out in September. The hat I designed is called the Highbury Eden since I’ve just moved to Highbury and it uses the shape made famous by ’30s British Prime Minister Anthony Eden. We’ve reworked it to create that over–sized feel which is so much fun with the Buffalo hats.
I’m not a huge fan of sunglasses to tell you the truth. Too many idiots walking around as if they were film stars. Certainly would never wear a pair in a club or when there’s no sunshine. Now, although coming from a Mediterranean family, I’ve become a proper Brit and can’t stand staying in the sun more than 5 minutes in which case sunglasses become more essential. I find with sunglasses, less is more. I either wear Ray Ban’s Aviator or Wayfarer. The more discreet the better, a bit like cars.
Favorite 3 albums in high school?
“Low Life” by New Order
“Cupid & Psyche 85” by Scritti Politti
“From Memphis to Langley Park” by Prefab Sprout
Singapore’s is one of the biggest, most advanced and practical airports I’ve ever been through! But I have a soft spot for Narita in Tokyo. Narita Airport has tiny rooms you can rent cheaply for as short as 30 minutes so you can wash and sleep for a bit. And it’s the most used gateway to Tokyo, possibly the most exciting city in the world. I could go live in Tokyo tomorrow if I had the chance. Such a fabulous culture, mixing tradition and futurism with style and enormous subtlety, precision and kindness: mind-blowing.
Any interest to produce more fashion show runway tracks with other designers?
I’ve been so busy running my label Continental as well as writing and producing with JBAG that I’ve done less fashion shows lately compared to a few years ago when I was working for Vivienne Westwood and could produce up to 8 soundtracks during London Fashion Week. I’ve got long–running relationships with Peter Jensen (10 years!), Korea’s Songzio, London’s latest enfants terribles Sibling, and over the years I’ve developed fruitful collaborations with the likes of Matthew Williamson, Roksanda Ilincic, Kokon To Zai, Michael van der Ham, Jonathan Saunders, Osman, B Store, Garza Lobos in Buenos Aires and many others, it comes and go all the time. What I’m really happy with is that all these experiences have led me to heavily reconsider my comfort zone and stretch my boundaries as a dj, it certainly enabled me to explore combinations and concepts further, take more risks, and think outside the box, which is often the goal in fashion. I’d love to work with the big brands such as Prada, Channel etc, take them into the 21st century.