Paris’ DJ Pepper on playing for Skepta and where to party this PFW

With Paris Fashion Week well underway, DJ Pepper fills us in on where to party, who you'll see and why hip hop is ruling the city.

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Hasaël Julane, known in the middle of the night as ‘Pepper’ is one of Paris’ rising stars. Over the last three years, he’s DJ’d some of Paris’ coolest parties, from underground cool-kid clubs to celebrity-studded bashes with Skepta and A$AP Rocky.

With Paris Fashion Week underway, we caught some time with Pepper to chat the state of Paris’ nightlife, how he became one of the cities most loved new DJs and the essential places to party once you’re done with the runways and presentations for the day.

Notion: Can you please introduce yourself?
Pepper: My name is Hasaël Julane, aka Pepper, born and raised in Paris, twenty-eight years old.

What’s your background?
I’ve always been surrounded by creative people and music lovers, directly or indirectly. Probably more than ten years ago, my group of best mates and I decided to create a collective to bring something different and new to the Parisian scene – it’s called ‘Grande Ville’ and it is made up of twenty artists, including myself, and various talented artists such as Jazzy Bazz, Lonely Band and Jimmy Whoo. It’s like a big family.

How did you initially venture into DJ-ing?
I’ve always been a night owl, I like going out at night. Earlier on, when I was going out, I was never satisfied with the music I could hear in clubs. I couldn’t hear the music I was into or at least, not the way I wanted to hear it – so everything started from there. Most of my friends were self-taught artists and musicians, they learnt how to make music by themselves, so why not me? I told myself I could do the same thing and this is how I ventured into DJing.

Where does your DJ name come from?
When we first started to play music in clubs, it was as part of a duo called ‘Salt and Pepper’. We just wanted to have fun – so ‘Salt’ for the white guy and ‘Pepper’ for me, the black one – it was as simple as that – it all started from this stupid joke.

Salt taught me the basics and we quickly started playing and being resident in a few cool places of the capital – the old Pompon and the Yard, for those who know. We had the chance to play for a wide audience going from the cool Parisian kids to Skepta, Michael Jordan, A$AP Rocky – one thing led to another, word-of-mouth began to take effect and we grew in popularity. We ran this duo for about a year until ‘Salt’ decided to focus on his brand (Poyzandpirlz) and I kept doing it on my own. Our set was always based on hip hop – going from afrobeats, trap, dancehall, 90’s rnb and its stayed the samefor me as a solo act. Its a mix of nostalgia, newness and music that makes you feel good and lose control. I never took it seriously, never expected anything from it and never thought that I could ever live from it.

How do you blanace playing the music you love and pleasing your audience?
It is a difficult exercise, that I guess many DJs in our community face – it’s difficult to play what you like and at the same time satisfy the audience you are playing for. Nowadays, people want to hear songs they know. This is where the passion begins and why being a DJ is also a job – when I am working in a club, it’s because I want it they want me to. It is a choice and a decision we made together with the club and we are both happy with – so from that point I think it’s easier for me to keep my identity and individuality and I reckon it’s also why they book me in the first place.

Can you tell us about your playlists and inspiration – how and where do you find new tracks?
Anywhere I go, in clubs, in the car, if I hear a song that I like, I will ask what is it or I will Shazam – Shazam is my best friend, really. Also, I’ve got the chance to have friends who are making music so if I like a song it’s easier for me to get it straight away instead of waiting for the song to be released. I don’t sleep very much at night. Since I started DJ-ing and I’ve noticed that my brain is much more active at night – I spend hours vegetating on the web, from one website to another, ending up on obscure/unknown SoundCloud accounts – so my sounds and inspiration are a mix between this geek side and what’s going on in real life with my friends who are making music.

If I want to meet you, where can I always find you – are you a resident somewhere?
I am resident in two places in Paris and they are both completely different – first place is  La Favela Chic – a club that is also a restaurant, they like to claim they have a Brazilian vibe, even though you can find all sort of music going from hip hop, rap, and rock.

The second one is L’Hôtel Bourbon – a new trendy place, super cosy. It is kind of fancy but in a cool/relaxed way – It is weird to explain but it is my favourite place in Paris. It feels like home to me.

Finally, with PFW underway – where are you gonna play and which are the clubs we should visit?
I don’t know yet If I am going to play for this Fashion Week, I usually play for ‘igalle during men’s Paris Fashion Week but here are a few cool places where afterparty/party are going to happen during Fashion Week.

Hotel Bourbon

This is the new place to be and the only one you wanna know when you’ll be in Paris during PFW. For those who know, Hotel bourbon has taken over the ex-mythical and famous Pompon place, to create this brand new cosy luxury lounge bar/ club. This will be the place where you gonna spend a very good time going from siping quality cocktails on red velvet sofa to turning up very hard until late at night – two options in one place. Selective vibes going from Hip Hop, R&B, disco and house.

Le Rouge

This is the oldest Pigalle club, looks like ‘Le Carmen’ inside but is much bigger – the atmosphere is very ‘Pigalle’ like with red neons everywhere. This is the club that doesn’t close, you can turn up until six am, if motivated. Only open on Fridays and Saturdays, this is an obligatory stopping-off place where cool Parisian people from different sectors would meet / would stop by at some point in the night.

Le Jeune

This is the place where you wanna go for something more low key before the party. An unusual but famous bar of the Parisian scene, this is the place where you could bump into me just as easily as you could bump into an NBA player during PFW.

Le Silencio

This is and will stay a place of prestige where something always has to happen during PFW. Very private and selective place, you will need to be on a guest-list or to know someone if you wanna make sure to get in.

Le Carmen

This was the last home of the composer Georges Bizet in the 19th century. It’s now a well-known selective club in the heart of Pigalle, you go there for the romantic and mysterious atmosphere as well as for its architecture which is representative of the neoclassical style. Le Carmen always hosts the PFW afterparty.

Le Palace

A massive and mythical club that used to be a theatre, where you go to listen to a variety of alternatives vibes going from house, funk, disco and others.

Le Salo

An old ‘Social Club’, it is a sort of massive shut down warehouse – very Berlin vibes – the music is usually more electronic and house focused but they do have special nights there. For instance, they are going to host a ‘purple night’ party on the 1st of March with guest DJs from Soulection.

Words Lea Federmann

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