Diggers Directory: DJ Eliot

French-born DJ Eliot sparked our interests last year with her entry into the 12th Isle forecast series; a journey through percussive and dubby textures that illustrated her natural ability to capture specific moods and emotions. As much interested in the scenes and stories behind the music she plays, her Worldwide FM residency saw her explore some lesser known movements in music including 90s acid ambient and 80s percussive experimental. A graphic designer by day, she plays a huge part in the visual identity of London-based imprint and party Coastal Haze, having a hand in designing the posters, artwork and label releases, as well as playing their regular parties at Corsica Studios.

Alongside an interview about her relationship with records, she offers up a vinyl-only mix of contemplative sounds for a lonely winter night.

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?

My parents definitely have been a big part of my music education and taste. While my mum had an old alternative rock music record collection, my dad accumulated as many CDs as he could. I grew up mostly with my dad in a really remote part of east of France with no record or music shops. We started going together to the local discotheque – which means a ‘library’ for CDs – it was well stocked and we would take the CDs home and make copies of them on windows media player, until we discovered Soulseek and started accumulating hundreds and hundreds of CD-R. This doesn’t sound really cool now but at that time I liked the idea to have every music I wanted as fast as possible.

In terms of pivotal records, I don’t have any particular one to mention, my interest is and was more about specific music scenes, I was mostly interested in four specific scenes when growing up, indie rock, riot grrrl girl bands, UK big beat and, inevitably, french electro.

People buy records for a multiple of reasons. What first drew you to collecting records and what motivates you to continue digging after all these years?

My relationship to records is fairly new, I couldn’t afford to buy them and had a really small room for years as a student and when first moving to London. I started to DJ the past couple of years and I became more interested in the object itself, the feeling of playing a physical object is much nicer than playing digital music. Both formats can be limited at times but buying records allow you to find old gems that you wouldn’t always find on the internet, I think I find my happy place between collecting the two and having a particular purpose for each type of listening.

Where do you store your records and how do you file them?

I’m sharing a studio/music room in my house share where we keep music equipment, plants, books, and tapes. I don’t especially organise my music so I keep the new stuff closer to one side and organise them by genres/purposes that make sense to me.

What are your favourite spots to go digging and why?

I’m working on my laptop for the biggest part of the day while discovering new music online so I spend a fair amount of time on Discogs pages. As much as I like being surprised by something picked up in a shop, I often enjoy finding out more about labels, artists and scenes. I like doing a good music quest so I have a big collection of handwritten notes, youtube playlists, phone notes, Discogs lists, bookmarks etc.. so I can always remember what I like and want to buy.

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’m often shy when I go to a record shop and I assume that people working there aren’t always up for a chat. From my most recent experience, I really enjoy record shopping in Paris/France, I met a few really passionate and extravagant shop owners that are always keen to help or recommend stuff.

Is there a record (or records), that has continued to be illusive over the years?

I have a few that still give me goose bumps every time I listen to them, I’ve included a Sonic Youth track in this mix as it was one of the first bands I saw live that I really liked and still like now. Their music always brings me back to a place and a time of my life. For some reasons, not many songs can do this.

Do you prefer record shopping as a solitary process or with friends to nerd out with and search or strange sounds together? If the latter, who do you like to go digging with?

I prefer going alone although it could be a fun activity with friends. I like doing my own thing and I feel less pressured to spend more or less time in a shop.

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?

My digging process basically depends on my mood or what I’m looking for. I go through phases in music — sometimes I just want to pick up some cheesy bits so I would go to the bargain bins, and sometimes I just want to find some nice lush records and go to where the digging is taking me. I also like recommendations from shop owners although I try to not believe the hype and make my own mind up about one record or another.

How big a role does album artwork play in your digging?

I’m a full-time graphic designer so it’s probably the reason why I’d pick up something at first. Design for music intrigued me from a really young age where I’ll have my room covered with posters. There was literally no white space on the walls! Good design should serve good music, it should come in a package that makes sense.

Could you tell us a bit about the mix you’ve done for us?

Imagine a winter night on your own with both low and high moments. I spent quite a lot of time as a teenager listening to contemplative music and I just wanted to put something together that brings me back to that moment of my life.

Casting the net wider now, who are some of the record collectors you most admire and why?

I admire a few DJs coming from Salon des Amateurs; Jan Schulte and especially Vladimir Ivkovic that I’ve seen last year in London and blew my mind away. His own style of playing with slow but somewhat still trance and dance music was probably one of my favourite club experience as the tension lies somewhere else at a high BPM. I also really like some record collectors that made record labels bringing back some old stuff through reissues. There is a reissue mania at the moment that feels a bit excessive but I feel it’s a way for someone that discovered great new music to fully share it and bring it to life again.And are there any young collectors emerging who we should keep a close eye on?

A mix of bag of influences and sounds but all the homies from and who released on Coastal Haze, Upsammy, Mika Oki, Oko DJ, 12th Isle, Balhead (on Balamii), Zozo, the list is long!

Anything on the horizon you want to shout about?

I’ve been learning how to make music for a little while now and I’m finally starting to make something that sounds like I would like it to. It’s still a work in progress but I hope it will take the form of a release one day. In the more distant future, I always have the project to have my own record label and it’s still something I need to work on.

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