French Evolution

‘Chase the Sun’ this summer with Wynn resident Norman Doray

The Statue of Liberty was a gift to America from France. Similarly, Norman Doray is France’s contribution to the American house-music scene—and the DJ/producer appears to embrace it. He strikes the familiar pose for his latest U.S. tour promo complete with Lady Liberty’s torch. Winning EDM fans over with his track “Chase the Sun,” the admittedly shy guy feels right at home in the DJ booth. Catch the Wynn resident next on July 11 at Surrender and July 13 at XS.

You once said in an interview that there were places in the U.S. where dance music was still undiscovered, specifically citing Las Vegas. A few years later, what do you think about the sound here now?

The first time I played in the U.S. was in Miami six years ago, and Vegas was not the destination where I was playing the most. Now it’s the place to be—along with New York and Miami. Every single big DJ is playing in Vegas.

Do you feel pressure in Las Vegas to have to play the more commercial stuff?

Yeah, I’ve been to a lot of places but when I play in Vegas, I have to play a bit more general, a bit more … not “commercial,” but something people know more. More than underground tracks because people come to the show to live the Vegas experience. They are not all into house music, but they just want to have fun. It is important to [speak] to everyone.

People repeatedly say Las Vegas is the new Ibiza. You’ve played both multiple times. How do the two cities really compare?

Everyone goes to Ibiza for clubbing since the 1960s and 1970s. So there’s a real spirit about that. Vegas is different—it’s all about entertainment and shows. [But] now in Vegas, you have XS, Surrender, Marquee and all these clubs are like international clubs. It’s like Ibiza with Pacha; you can compare Las Vegas to Ibiza with the clubs.

So venue-wise, Las Vegas and Ibiza have a lot in common. What about the music?

Nah, the music is quite different. People in Ibiza know they can hear tracks they never heard before. They just want to go there to discover the music.

You’ve admitted that you’re addicted to Twitter—you even have a track called “Tweet It.” Who do you follow, and how do social-networking sites help or hurt producers like you?

I’m following a lot of big DJs and producers. It’s so perfect for the fans, for the people who want to follow you because they know day-to-day where you are and what you do. It will make a big difference from now.

On Beatport, there are a bunch of “new releases” for “Chase the Sun,” which actually came out a few years ago. Are those just re-releases, or have you re-worked them a bit?

I know some of those tracks were from a few years ago, but you want to refresh it with a new style or a new beat. You just want to update for the new crowd. And for [“Chase the Sun”], I loved it so much that one day I came to the studio and said I just want to do it again with a new sound, with something different. Everyone was supporting it, like Swedish House Mafia. We put a track out on Beatport, and it was No. 2 for a few weeks. It was amazing; I did not expect that.

Do you often go back to re-work and re-release older tracks?

Sometimes, I’m playing tracks I really liked three, four years ago and I’m not so happy with them anymore. I’m like, “These songs aren’t that good, and the music [has] changed a little bit.” So, I’m simply trying to update them, or doing bootlegs, or do something like this. It is important that the people know the tracks you did before with a new sound as well.

What else are you working on in the studio right now that people should keep an ear out for?

I just finished the track called “Celsius” that I did with German producer Eddie Thoneick. We just finished and signed it on Size Records, which is part of the Swedish House Mafia. I’m really excited because we did the tracks months ago and everything went by fast. I sent the track to Steve [Angello], and he loved it so much that he said he wanted it for [his] label, so it’s going to be out next month. Actually, I am touring the U.S. now, and playing at every show to test it, and the reaction is amazing.

In the Essential mix you did live for Pete Tong’s BBC Radio 1 show, you dropped in The Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up.” What are some other favorites you like to sneak in here and there?

For me it’s all about my roots, why I’m doing this job now. It’s all the French [and] Dutch stuff, like Daft Punk. I’m always trying to play one or two Daft Punk because people know the tracks and they are classics.

Who are some lesser-known producers you incorporate into your sets right now to educate the crowd?

There’s a guy called Sebastien Drums, a French guy. I’m really supporting him, and he’s doing good stuff at the moment. There are also guys from Norway called Carl Louis & Martin Danielle. They’re really young guys, but they’re fucking talented! I’m always trying to play their songs between the other more commercials from my sets.

What’s been the best and worst thing technology has done for DJing?

The best thing is the digital thing, because now I’m traveling everywhere, every week, with only USB keys with all my music and it’s just amazing. But on the opposite, the fact that vinyl disappeared makes a big problem because now you have tons and tons of new producers and tons and tons of new tracks everyday on Beatport. And they are not always good. It’s a problem for young producers who are really talented and who really need a track on Beatport, but you have 1,000 other tracks the same day. And if you’re not known, no one is going to check you out. And when a label was signing an artist, it cost money to create a vinyl. They were more picky about the tracks and they only take the top one, and I think it was better for the music.

Do you still have your old vinyl somewhere?

Oh yeah, I’m keeping everything. I’m not an old guy, but I know that vinyl is the roots of what we do right now. I’m just keeping everything because I want to show that to my children one day.

What is your most cherished piece of vinyl?

Definitely, the Stardust track “Music Sounds Better With You” was one of my first vinyl and I will always try to keep it with me.

What will be the next sound American clubbers will latch on to? A few other DJs are thinking possibly tech house.

Tech house is coming in force. I can see that everywhere in Europe, and I can see that in the U.S., as well. My sound is more progressive house, melodic. I played at Encore Beach Club, and I played the early set. It was a really good atmosphere, the sun was shining, and I didn’t feel really I should play progressive or harder, so I said, “Why not play tech house?” So, I played tech house for two hours—and I never do that—but it was amazing.

If you weren’t a DJ or a producer, would you ever consider being a male model?

[Laughs] I like to think [so], but I’m not sure I’m ready to do that because maybe I’m a bit too shy. Why not one day? Some people have already asked me. Maybe I can do that for a brand that wants to do something with me as a DJ or producer. Maybe headphones.