A child from the ’80s
Born in 1976, Julien Jabre is, in terms of music, a child of the 1980s. Young Jabre loved Michael Jackson and Bob Marley—but also the traditional Lebanese music that he immerses himself on trips to the homeland. At 13, he discovered hip-hop, thank to a cousin who offered him De La Soul’s classic first album, « 3 Feet High and Rising ». Jabre would sometimes rock the mic with a friend, but it was mainly the beats and the dances that transfixed him at the time. At the dawn of the ’90s, it was not entirely surprising that he fell in love with house music and its transcendent rhythms. He soon built up his electro imagination by listening to DJ Deep on FG, a Parisian radio station that he would soon join. It was there that he met DJ Gregory, who stepped up to the plate and lent him his first synthesizer.
After having earned his stripes DJing on radio FG, he made his debut as a composer in 1996 with « Faithfull » (Virgin), a track developed with DJ Gregory under the pseudonym Fantom. The features followed one after another, from Soha, a transatlantic collaboration with Gregory, to “The Deep,” with the famous DJ Deep, full of “African” vibes, a marathon track spanning the length of fifteen club songs. At the same time, he released his first solo records, such as the deep house EP Delivrance (Basic Recordings).
Julien Jabre and the French touch
In the early 2000s, Julien Jabre moved away from dancefloors and DJing to devote himself to producing. Between Paris and New York, he continues to release titles through Soha, such as the sensual « Love » (Basic), and explore the Arab harmonies from his childhood on « Les Enfants du Bled » with the Africanism project. His quest for artistic freedom took a new step in 2003, when he created his own label, Elias, on which he experimented with Cape Verdean music (“Paixao”), and where he wrote « War », a techno classic that became one of the techno pioneer Derrick May’s favorite tracks. Then came « Swimming Places » a milestone in the history of the French touch and club culture. That same year, the British label Defected released House Masters, an essential collection that brings together the work of Julien Jabre and Dj Gregory. In the midst of a creative effervescence, he found time to go back to the sources of his inspiration. Thanks to Myspace, he tracked down Phyliss McKoy Joubert, leader of the American gospel choir The Joubert Singers and author of « Stand On The Word », a cult favorite and mysterious title long wrongly associated with Larry Levan’s name. In 2008, he recorded an entire album with her, which, although it was only released in its final form in 2015, ushered in a new phase in the producer’s career.
A taste for adventure
During the following decade, Julien Jabre moved away from club music to explore other spaces. He supervised other artists’ projects, from production to mixing. He then became an orchestra conductor for artists such as the Venezuelan fusion funk group Los Amigos Invisibles, which he helped to take to the GRAMMY Awards as a sound engineer. During this period, he also worked with heavyweights of the world electro scene, such as Martin Solveig (with whom he wrote and produced « I Don’t Give A » for Madonna and Nicki Minaj) or with Black Coffee (« Thando »). At the same time, he made a name for himself as a film music composer, first alongside Michael Tordjman, a long-time collaborator (on the thriller « Aux yeux de tous » by Cédric Jimenez), and then on the comedy « Rattrapage » by Tristan Séguéla. Nourished by his experiences, Julien Jabre returned in 2019 to his own productions with « Samana » and « Far at Sea » (Elias), two solar meditations where exotic scrolls and vocal arabesques are intertwined. And if these two tracks, which resonated throughout with a journey marked by a taste for adventure, surprise fans from earlier years, it is because the producer has decided to film far, far away from his port of departure. Julien has recently composed and produced Virgil Abloh’s beautiful song « Delicate Limbs » featuring Serpentwithfeet followed by his own release « Lost Again » on which he sings for the first time without artifice.
Biography by Quentin Gidrol, translated to english by Valentine Faure Williams