Jack de Marseille: “Sometimes I just jumped out of the booth”

Jack de Marseille and Marceline 2023
After a few brief encounters with Jack de Marseille, in September 2020 it was time for his debut story. "I had never played with vinyl at that time."

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After a few brief encounters with Jacques Garotta a.k.a. dance legend Jack de Marseille, in September 2020 it was time for his debut story. So, this episode in the series MY FIRST GIG: French DJ/producer Jack de Marseille: "I had never played with vinyl at that time."

“How did I get into music? It certainly wasn’t through the year and a half of piano lessons I had. No, it all started when I was about eleven and my mother decided to clean out the garage. Suddenly, there were all these cassettes from ’76/’77 and a few vinyl records. Among them, I found a cassette with cosmic-disco-like music, think Jean-Michel Jarre. The band’s name was Space Art. I could endlessly enjoy those atmospheric synthesizer sounds, it was like a song that never ended. Like a good trip in your mind.” (laughs) “At home, we only had that one cassette recorder and no turntable, so initially, I couldn’t do much with the vinyl records.”

Jack de marseille 1995 - Jack de Marseille: "Sometimes I just jumped out of the booth"

Tennis instructor

“I played tennis until I was 24 and gave tennis lessons at the tennis school in Cap d’Agde, a city near Montpellier. I played only in the summers. In the winters, I went out partying. When I won my first tennis tournament, I could choose between two prizes: a vacation to Tunisia or a boombox. I immediately chose the latter. At that, I often listened to a French radio program called Prélude. They talked about mixtapes, and I wanted to make them myself. So I started cutting and pasting music that I recorded from the radio. No, I didn’t make them to sell to friends or anything, they were just for myself.”


“I started going out in ’87/’88 in Cap d’Agde. Mostly in the gay scene because this was the only scene where more electronic music was played. I danced a lot. Besides that, the DJ had a great attraction on me. Often, I stood watching him play and thought, ‘Wow, this guy can really spin!’ I saw his passion and wanted that too. From then on, I started reading a lot about raves. I didn’t do anything else because I had to fulfill my military service in ’89. Ultimately, this is where my path in music began.”

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“During my service, I met a guy, Renato, who had a residency at a small bar called Elle & Lui in Cap d’Agde. We became friends, and when I finished my military service in 1990, I decided to visit him at the club. Upon arrival, the owner of Elle & Lui told me that Renato was sick and in the hospital. He immediately asked me if I wanted to take over Renato’s DJ nights. Keep in mind, I had never played with vinyl at that time. Renato thought I should just give it a try. He said, ‘If you mix in tempo, the clap just needs to match the clap and the boom with the boom, and so on.’ By then, I had bought a few vinyl records myself, and with the money from the residency, I bought more every week.”

Making ends meet

“I wasn’t nervous at all for that first gig. I had been dancing in that venue for years, and I loved the music. Because it wasn’t my hometown but the location of my seasonal work, I didn’t know many people well. My parents are tolerant people but were not present either. They respected my choices, as long as I earned a living. The absence of friends or family didn’t matter. It was an enormously open-minded scene, mainly consisting of an extravagant audience of gays, transsexuals, and transvestites, mostly in their thirties and forties. You could hardly go anywhere else for house music at that time. I think there were about two hundred people on the dance floor that night, but that number quickly grew over the course of that summer as an increasing number of people were looking for house music. This was also due to the fact that on Saturday nights, more and more programs with electronic music started airing on French radio. I still remember a few tracks I played, such as Back to Life by Soul II Soul and the Jungle Brothers with I’ll House You.”

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Recording everything

“During the gig, I was mainly busy energizing the crowd. Sometimes I just jumped out of the booth and had a great time dancing with the people. This was also the period in which I learned something new every day. I played every night from 10 P.M. to midnight for about two hundred people for four months. Renato had given me a golden tip: ‘Record everything you do, you can learn from it. Study it!’ So I taught myself to spin step by step. I don’t believe I made any major mistakes back then. I did indeed record all those performances and just last week, I listened to those tapes again. Besides, I had already learned then: ‘If you make a mistake, just ‘cut’.'” (laughs)

Underground raves

“Not much later, I met a guy in Marseille whose girlfriend organized underground raves in Paris. I became friends with him, and through them, I played at numerous raves in Paris. Later, in 1992, we organized the first real rave in Marseille together. This concept was later implemented throughout the south of France, and I played at each one of those events. I was one of the few who could play in tempo. From 1996 onwards, I also started producing and had my first gigs abroad.”

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Passion and drive

“Do I have any tips for people who are just starting to produce or spin? Absolutely, it starts with the realization that producing music doesn’t necessarily lead to fame. There are so many producers out there right now! What you’ll need as a DJ is passion and the drive to make people dance. You’re not playing for yourself, you’re playing for your audience. This seems to have been forgotten in today’s world.”


“I recently read an article by a German journalist who said that the (commercial) bubble had to burst” I think so too. It’s time for reflection, contemplation, and more intimacy with people. This is difficult to achieve with a stream. I’m experimenting with effects during the stream myself. Ultimately, our current existence forces us to be more creative than before. We need to return to the origins of love, peace & happiness while taking care of the earth.”

jack de marseille recent - Jack de Marseille: "Sometimes I just jumped out of the booth"

“One more thing about a personal milestone: next year marks my thirtieth year in the industry. Because of that, I created Behind The Box. This is a discussion platform on Facebook and a series of projects that will be unveiled.”

This interview with Jack de Marseille was originally published in September 2020 on
This Is Our House.

Who is Jack de Marseille?

Known as a pioneer of electronic music, he contributes a lot to the emergence of the French techno scene, at of the end of the 80s. Jack de Marseille did for techno in the South of France what Laurent Garnier did from Paris. The success of his sets led him to be elected best French DJ in 1998 by “Coda”, the first magazine exclusively devoted to electronic music and culture since 1996. The following year, “Trax Magazine” classified him number one.

In May and July 1992, Jack de Marseille co-organized the Atomix parties in Marseille. It was the first time a rave party was authorized. The buzz around these parties, where also Laurent Garnier played, was so big that Jack de Marseille was contacted to play at the Transmusicales de Rennes festival since December 1992. From that moment on, Jack De Marseille was asked to play at the most popular festivals of the world: Boréalis in Montpellier (France), Astropolis in Brest (France), Sonar in Barcelona (Spain), Dance Valley à Amsterdam, I Love Techno in Ghent (Belgium), Energy in Switzerland, Mayday in Mexico and Germany, Nature One and Time Warp in Germany, Sziget in Budapest, Creamfields festival in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Global Gathering in England, La Fiesta des Suds and Marsatac in Marseilles (France).

He also multiplied his residencies and was invited to the most prestigious clubs: The Rex and the Palace in Paris, Tresor and Berghain in Berlin, Space, Pivilège, Amnésia and Pacha from Ibiza, Rohstofflager and Weetamix in Switzerland, Fuse in Brussels, Café d’Anvers, Ministry of Sound and Heaven from London , The Arches in Glasgow , The Area in Montreal , Love E Club in San Paulo, Volar in Hong Kong, Roxy in Prague, OTV in Zagreb, club IT, Now and Wow and Club More in Holland, Matis in Bologna, Rachdingue, Sala del Cel, Florida 135, Loft and Ku in Spain.

In 1998 Jack de Marseille participated in the Techno Parade, organized in Paris according to its Berliner brother, the Love Parade, which gathered 1,5 million spectators. In 1999 the same federation organizes an event with Jack in the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France). All these events helped establish electronic music as an art form and got it recognition from authorities, media and artist organizations. Jack de Marseille played an active role in this also.

As a result of his numerous experiences, Jack de Marseille decided to compose his own music and made Submerge his first single in 1997. It was released on Ozone, the label from Oxia and Kiko. This new orientation in his career, was the inspiration for the creation of his own label Wicked Music in 2001. Jack wanted to make other artists benefit from his success by producing them. He signed amongst others EDP, David Carretta, Trisomie 21 and 2 Rare People. In 2002 Jack de Marseille released his first album “Free my music” on Wicked Music / Wagram of which more than 16.500 copies were sold.

The next years are extremely busy for Jack: he played in all corners of the world whilst still finding the time to produce numerous remixes for artists as prestigious as Audio Bullys, P.Diddy, Slow Train, The Advent, Anthony Rother and Trisomie 21.

To create the universe in which he would like to immerge us, Jack de Marseille has chosen to establish links with other artists so his music can transcend the pure acoustic level and can touch the spirits of his audience. It is definitely there that Jack de Marseille’s message lies: propose new directions in his musical productions, satisfy his public without forsaking their expectations to take them to other dimensions and make them dream.

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