Dujat is a producer and sound designer currently residing in Manchester, UK. A French national raised in China, Dujat’s inborn wanderlust sees him capturing field recordings in the most alien of locations, combining these into some fascinating and unique, beat-driven electronic music. We caught up with Guillaume Dujat himself as part of our Introducing series.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the story behind Dujat and how would you describe your sound?
Dujat is an electronic beat-driven project, and although I don’t think I have found my ‘sound’ yet, I’m not really looking for it either. I enjoy listening to a lot of different music, and don’t see why I can’t make music of different genres or ‘sounds’ under one alias. I don’t think you have to ground yourself to one place. It’s a bit like my life in a way, being French but growing up in Beijing. Despite spending most of my life there, I will never be a local. When I go back to France or Manchester, I’m not a local either, but I very much enjoy the different cultures and participating within them; I would not choose one over the other to call home, so I don’t with my music either. Otherwise I make electroacoustic and sound-art pieces (recently wrote a piece for the People’s History Museum in Manchester), very much within the idea of a film through sound, but that’s a different project.
You have a very diverse cultural background – have the different places you’ve lived influenced how you think about and approach your music?
In Beijing I spent time playing traditional Chinese drums as well as joining samba & djembe groups. A lot of the melodic instruments I had access to like the Guzheng & Miltone were in pentatonic scales, and for those I was a lot more focused on rhythm since ‘wrong’ notes did not really matter. Other instruments like the Yangqin are mallet based and the sound changes greatly depending on how you hit it. Chinese notation has strong emphasis on how each note is played and I think this was a big factor in listening to the sounds that come out instead of just playing the notes. Living in different cultures, I’ve noticed that they each have a distinct world of sounds, very much akin when you recognise a familiar smell. This is something I try to bring into my music.
You recently released an EP, ‘Dither’ on Manchester based label, The City is Ours Records. Could you tell us something about the inspiration for the EP?
Each song started with a set of recordings, for example ‘Ming’ is almost entirely made from recordings when I went back to China for a month last September. The name of the song comes from the vocal recording which was done in an underground chamber of the Ming tombs. Another song, ‘Balcony Bell’, is somewhat self-explanatory – the main metallic bell throughout being the fence of my balcony being hit with vibraphone mallets. Each song started with a different recorded sound, and then the tempo and song is derived from the original recording. I named the EP ‘Dither’ because it is a bit indecisive on a specific style, and I think that reflects to where I am now in my music and how I approach each song.
You cite people like Nicolas Jaar and Amon Tobin as influences and your music has a very cinematic and textured feel to it. Are there any specific influences you’ve drawn from each composer and how do you integrate them into your unique vibe?
Amon Tobin has an ability to turn any sound into a cohesive musical instrument, especially in his ‘Foley Room’ album. This has brought me to try and listen to sounds around me as instruments and pick out their tonal qualities. Nicolas Jaar has a more visual approach, leaving field recordings run longer to set the scene of sorts. I’ve done something similar for my background noises, where instead of vinyl crackle / white noise or some equivalent, I will use field recordings to set a scene for the song to reside in. With the cinematic aspect, I think it’s important to have a story you can follow, although the meaning or what the story is arbitrary, just that the song goes from one place to another, something I feel both these artists do very well. Another album that has influenced me a lot is Culprate’s ‘Deliverance’, which I highly recommend.
Tell us a bit more about your field recordings and use of organic samples. Do you plan locations and content, or are these more chance encounters?
I bring a small field recording bag most places with me, with a couple specialised microphones (Contact & Hydrophones). If I am looking for a specific sound, I will go out to find it. But most of the time, I’ll record a sound and store it in my collection to be called upon when needed. Even though sometimes it’s nice to have a very clean and dry studio sound, I find that field recordings have so much more depth in every minute detail within the scene. The location aspect to the sounds are important to me personally, when listening or working on something, it brings you back to the place itself, directly influencing the music in this respect.
What do the next few months have in store for Dujat – any upcoming gigs or releases you can tell us about?
I am currently trying to build new live set from scratch with new songs, so no upcoming gigs just yet. I have a split EP with co label artist Jecht Rye in the works for tracks we have been playing live over the last year. And another with Broughalo currently seeking a home to be released (more 140 – dub oriented). And a couple remixes here and there. I will also be my starting my PhD this year doing research in adapting field recordings to surround sound & sonic compositions. Keep an eye out for the MANTIS festival in Manchester for some 54 channel diffusion electroacoustic experiments!
Photo by Jody Hartley Photography.