Like all guests in this series, addiction, obsession, fascination and irrational adoration are symptoms that Sacha Mambo has been unable to quell, from a youth spent resisting the compact disc ascendancy to rediscovering lesser-visited parts of his own collection. Telling us about a life spent collecting records, this constant thirst for discover is hard to ignore and has led him to become one of France’s eminent collector-DJs in the less conventional areas of dance floor sounds. After moving from Paris to Lyon in 2010 he linked up with Guillaume des Bois to create Macadam Mambo. Now six years old the label has been a big contributing factor in Lyon’s recent resurgence, nurturing and inspiring local talent while also bringing external eyes and ears on a city that had previously suffered from its proximity to Paris.
The mix that accompanies was recorded live in Lyon at a Nuits Sonores afterparty. Usually we don’t accept live mixes in this series, but this three hour, unplanned set – so tightly curated around punk, industrial and wave sounds – was really something to marvel at. He’s even tracklisted the whole thing without being prompted, which you can browse after a series of photos around his home and office.
Hey Sacha, how’s your 2018 been going so far?
Contrasted as usual. Life brings me a lot of good things – love, friendship and happiness – but also sad moments and questionings. On the music side, I’m working a lot on the label (Macadam Mambo), preparing the next records, finding music, working on graphics, promoting, sending merch or records. It’s just a bit more difficult to keep a good rhythm of release with the delays at press plant now. On the DJ side, I still love and enjoy playing, but I see things in a more realistic way with the audience. I’m a bit more mature, I question myself a lot on how to keep the level up and stay relevant, which is not easy nowadays.
DJs and producers often mention their musical education came through their family’s record collection. Was this the case for you? Can you pick out any pivotal records from your upbringing that informed your musical journey?
I would love to say the same as it would have brought me to some other levels earlier, but I made my education alone. Until I was 15 years old I was listening a lot to radio, exchanging tapes or CDs with friends at school, and discovering new types of music with skateboarding videos. After that I started to frequent record stores assiduously, developing my personal tastes and building my collection. Of course, like a lot of people from my generation, I found some records in my parent’s in the basement with the vinyl equipment and a nice hi-fi system, which was obsolete at that time as CDs were taking over. In the records there were some classics like Pink Floyd, Rolling Stone and The Beatles, a lot of Elton John (the first concert I saw when I was six), some Brazilian singers like Sergio Mendes or Jorge Ben, some French like France Gall or Gainsbourg but nothing special for a rebel teenager. I wanted to listen something else. I was listening a lot of hip-hop, a bit of Punk and a bit of electronic music. To name a few that those albums had a big impact on me in my youth: Bérurier Noir – Concerto Pour Détraqué, Sonic Youth – Dirty, Massive Attack – Blue Lines, Method Man – Tical, Smif-N-Wessun – Da Shinin’ and Idéal J – O’riginal MCs.
People buy records for a multitude of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?
I’ve always been fascinated to watch a vinyl spinning when super music is coming from it. I’m hypnotised. That’s the reason I fell into collecting wax. Not properly as a collector, but because for me vinyl is the best support for music. All musician and producers want to release on vinyl. There is something physical and organic in it, something magic. There is something with the object, with sleeve, artwork, it becomes a compact story.
I have the same feeling cassettes and CDs, but not with digital. Maybe because it wasn’t existing when I started to collect music 25 years ago or more probably because I’m too old school. It never became my cup of tea, I find it a bit impersonal, but I understand people who use this way to listen or to DJ. Records are expensive, specially now, it’s more convenient to download, and almost everything is accessible. People are connected with music in different ways, it’s a question of choices, and all choices are respectable, it’s just not my thing.
I continue to dig because I love to discover and have new music. I prefer listen to it on vinyl or cassette, and when I deejay I prefer to spin records. Almost everyday I find at least one thing that I didn’t know, and I would like to have to listen at home or to play. It can be on the web or in a shop, at the radio or in a movie, or something some friend made me listen to. Thank god I don’t buy everything!
Where do you store your records and how do you file them?
All my records are at home for the moment, a part in my living room, another part in my office, and a few more that I’m selling in a cupboard. They are classified, I know exactly (almost) where to find what. They are divided by gender/ type of music then by label and country, but it’s moving. When there is no more space in a shelf I must find solutions and I change of method… I have the habit to keep the new and what I’m using to deejay at the moment next to my turntables, until the day I decide to sort everything because it’s a big mess. Two days later you can be sure the mess is back. I’m constantly digging in my old stuff to rediscover records I forget and refresh my selection.
What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?
There is a basement in Lyon where I had my best moments of digging, spending hours, peeing in a bottle, listening to 500 records in 4 hours, with a lot of interesting music in every genre, but it’s a bit rinsed now. A lot of people passed by there. Serge Boissat who was running the place and the shop alongside (Bouldingue) passed away at the beginning of August. We became friends over the years, and I don’t feel to go back now.
Otherwise I have the luck to travel for DJing, so my hosts often propose me to go to dig in some nice spots. This is the best to find unexpected music. I like also flea markets. You never know if you will find something, you can have some good surprises, and you have to negotiate the best prices with people who usually don’t have any idea or a clue of what they are selling. It’s fun. Discogs is very practical to go deeper in your researches.
Digging isn’t just about the records you find, but the people who help you find them. Who are some of the colourful characters you’ve met on your travels in record stores round the world? Any unsung heroes you’d like to shout out?
I’ve met a lot of friends on the road who brought me into nice spots and showed me beautiful music and with it’s a pleasure to dig with. I’m thinking of Shiny Boots in Moscow, Jérôme Qpchan in Tokyo, Takeshi Kouzuki in Kobe, Mori Ra in Osaka, Albion in Stockholm, Nixxon in Copenhagen, Helene Rickhard in Oslo and my Camp Cosmic friends who are always sharing their best records: Le Discoboulet, André Pahl, Spacelex, Johan Ressle, Geno and Tiney.
Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?
Not specially. There are some few holy grails that I wanted to have at one point, but I forget really quickly and I’m not the kind to break the piggy bank. I accept that some records are not for me, and now with the reissue mania almost everything become available sooner or later. It just depends how snobbish you are to buy it, and how it can kill your interest for a record when it’s not properly well done and everyone can have it.
Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search for strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?
I prefer to go alone. I can take the time I need to explore a shop or a flea market, but I also like to go with friends from time to time if we have the same schedule. Guillaume des Bois is the one I’ve been digging the most with. We are on the same line, just sometimes it can be a bit frustrating for one of us. Depends who’s lucky.
Walking into a record shop can be quite a daunting experience. Do you have a digging process that helps you hone in on what you’re after?
Usually I start by the box of new entries, there is more chance to find something interesting or obscure that another digger hasn’t find yet. Then I watch the walls, and after I go into the sections that interest me.
I rarely look into the dollar bin crates, except in the shops I know they can put some stuff into by mistake or that I have feeling there is something to find. Otherwise I think it’s a waste of time. Most of the record stores are using Discogs. If they have something good or rare and pricey they will put it in the shelves. I can be wrong of course, it depends how lucky you are. After I made my selection, I listen to everything and choose the better music for the better price.
How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?
It plays essential role. It’s the first door that make you want to listen or not a record. With the years and experience I’m more able to feel what kind of music is behind, reading the label, the names, what instruments they used if it’s written, drawings, colours, pictures. I’m always intrigued by the strange, weird and sometimes ugly sleeves. I guess it can be ‘special’ music, but better to listen.
Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?
This mix was recorded live in May (that’s why it’s a bit shitty on the sound sometimes or skipping). I was DJ for an Extra during Nuits Sonores in Lyon. It’s mostly 80’s stuff in between post-punk, industrial, new-wave, synth-pop or minimal wave music. My idea was to propose a “punkish” selection oscillating between more atmospheric moods and stronger aggressive vibes. I didn’t properly prepared it like I do for an usual podcast, with the goal to create a story. As I said it was a proper DJ set, but all the tracks are linked and there are emotions behind.
Any standouts in the mix you’d like to mention?
I don’t like to put tracks over the other, and I adore the whole selection, but I have some few favorites: Pachinko Fake – ‘Simple Mind’, Twice A Man – ‘Sorrow’ or Force De Frappe – ‘Ere Nucléaire’.
Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?
I quote some few above: Shiny Boots, Qpchan, Le Discoboulet and Geno. One for me who’s particularly impressive is Frank Maier from Vinyl-on-Demand, who has made accessible a lot of fantastic music from the 70s and 80s, which was only on rare tapes or small vinyl editions.
Are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?
There are a lot of new people emerging, young and not so young, I’m more thinking of DJs who play fantastic obscure music. It’s difficult to name them all but I would like to mention Ondula, Oscar Der Winzige, Ober Mannkind, Monday, Armin Schmelz, Low Bat, OKO DJ and Wizaeroid.
You resettled to Lyon in 2010 and have played a big part in developing the scene down there. Who’s doing exciting things in the city at the moment, you’d like to shout out?
Thanks for mentioning it. I saw a few talents and a micro-scene emerging in Lyon in the past years and now Lyon has a good reputation that we must be proud of. In the people who are moving the city I would like to name: The Pilotwings, J-zbel, Eiger Drums Propaganda, Lucas from LYL Radio, Abschaum, Misère Records, Saulk from Mélodies Souterraines, Simon Gi, Raymonde, Chez Emile Records (Léo, Gaétan & Guillaume), Groovedge, VFR & Léo, Caissard DJ, Sentiments, The Prince Stoner, Sofa Records, Grrrnd Zero, Félicité, Notte Brigante, Tryphème and some more I forget.
Are you still involved with Le Sucre? If so, how have you found being so involved with a club in shaping its development right from the start?
I’ve been involved at the really beginning for the two first years when Le Sucre opened. They offered me a residency and some extra parties, and time to time I was warming up for celebrities. I tried to bring the program to some more interesting underground DJs or producers, but I was a bit in advance and it was difficult to reach the expectations of a 800 capacity. There is a lot of investment behind it, which imposes some choices, to open line ups on more popular acts or to apply a strong security policy. I tried my best and gave a lot of energy, but at the end it was to difficult for me to do such compromises and keep my integrity. I’ve always been a free mind spirit who doesn’t react good when I feel restrictions.
Any exciting plans afoot with Macadam Mambo in the coming months?
We have the new Danzas Electricas Vol. II compilation coming beginning of October, on which I present new productions from talented artists friends: Ekstern, Konsistent, Houschyar, Service, Wosto, Sauerstofff, Heninspace, Eva Geist and from myself. For the end of the year an EP of As Longitude (Eva Geist & Ondula) with three very interesting tracks. There will also be a 7″ from Panoptique, and for next year I have some good projects in mind.
Finally what’s coming up on your horizon that’s getting you excited?
I will appear on the first release of BAR Records, the label of the club BAR in Rotterdam. It’s a split with Fader from Borneo on which I have two tracks. It will come out the 7th of September, with a release party organised at BAR the same day. The 6th birthday of Outlaws in Leeds (29th Sep) with Guillaume will probably be something. I will also perform in Sofia at Doma Art Foundation in October. I just joined the Manie Dansante agency for my bookings, so it should bring some good dynamic. But what is coming on Macadam Mambo is always the most exciting for me!
Decoder – Sex & The Married Frog – What’s So Funny About
Nexda – Untitled – VOD
The Last Man In Europe – Total Concession [Situation Tw] Siglo XX – Guild And Desire [Antler] Way Of The West – The Friend [Mercury] Indoor Life – Ha Bi Bi [Relativity] The Pachinko Fake – Simple Mind (Part 5) [Strange Ways] Anne Clark – True Love Tales [Ink] Konsistent – Steel Island [Macadam Mambo] Arbeid Adelt – Disco Death [PIAS] TodoTodo – Trafico Trafico [Domestica] Krisma – La Spesa (George Kamm Edit) [Macadam Mambo] Executive Slacks – I’m Coming [Fundamental] Kein Mensch – Kein Mensch [Tonträger 58 Hagen] Polyphonic Size – Le Rabatteur Des Sectes [Virgin] Heiner Goebbels / Alfred Harth – Berlin, Q-Damm 12.4.81 [Riskant] Non Band – Solar [TAL] Gang Bang – Inte Mitt Liv (Sacha Mambo Edit) [Macadam Mambo] M.A.D. – Craving [Criminal Damage] Twice A Man – Sorrow [Xenophone International] ??? – ???
Monsieur Crâne – Le Temps (Extended) [Simple Music Experience / Macadam Mambo] The Mekons – This Sporting Life [Pure Freude] Force De frappe – Ere Nucléaire [Black Sun / FONO] John Foxx – 030 [Metal Beat] Xeno – Garçon Express [Starnight] Fingerprintz – Wet Job [Virgin International] B.E.F. – Groove Thang [Virgin] Keith Levene – Taang! Ting (Version I) [Emergo] The Woodentops – Why (Extended Mix) [Rough Trade] Artefact – Sex Computer [Dorian] Mag & The Suspects – Erection [Virgin] Bollock Brothers – Faith Healer [Charly] DJ Bert & Eagle – I Am Your Master [STROOM] Tuxedomoon – Boxman (Mr. Niles) [Attitude] Tommi Stumpff – Helden (NPNK Edit) [Macadam Mambo] Fad Gadget – For Whom The Bells Toll [Mute] 関戸夫婦 « 細菌 (Mori Ra Edit) [Macadam Mambo] Blurt – The Ruminant Plinth [Red Flame]