DJ Cam – Biography
Laurent Daumail, better known to French music fans as DJ Cam, was born in 1973. The future DJ Cam's first contact with the world of music was not headphones and turntables but the piano, which he began learning at the tender age of 8. However, Laurent/Cam would soon leave the world of classical piano music behind and develop an interest in jazz, his father, a restaurant-owner and major jazz fan, instilling a passion for syncopation and bebop in his young son. Despite his great love of music, Laurent never dreamt of pursuing a career in the French music world, orienting himself instead towards a degree in business studies.
Laurent began to devote an increasing amount of time and energy to music in his teens, buying himself an electronic drum kit and a bass guitar. But when he discovered the magical world of hip hop and the technological delights of sampling, Laurent would sell his musical instruments and buy himself a pair of turntables instead. In the early days of his career the aspiring young DJ would spend hours listening to hip hop, mixing the records of his role models Erik B & Rakim with the cutting-edge samples of Public Enemy, a group he listened to non-stop. At the age of 16, the young entrepreneur would start organising his own evenings in local bars and clubs, getting the dancefloor grooving a mix of his hip hop samples and funk imports.
Having established a solid reputation on the French club scene, DJ Cam went on to launch a recording career, setting up his own label, Street Jazz, in 1993. His first release on the label was an innovative hip hop/jazz EP entitled "Dieu reconnaîtra les siens". But the EP proved altogether too avant-garde for French music fans in the early 90's and DJ Cam 's style was dismissed as being too underground.
Undeterred by the commercial failure of his first EP, DJ Cam continued his work in the studio, going on to record a debut album entitled "Underground Vibes". This first album, which DJ Cam produced entirely under his own steam, was released on his new label, Inflammable Records, in March 1995. The album went on to prove relatively successful, selling over 15,000 copies worldwide - which was something of a feat for a debut album produced on a small independent label !
"Underground Vibes" also proved a major hit with the critics, DJ Cam's expert jazz sampling winning him a great deal of respect - even if French music critics remained rather confused as to how to label his original sound. In fact DJ Cam's smooth jazz/hip hop fusion was very similar to trip hop, a style which was about to be pioneered in Britain by a number of cutting-edge groups such as Massive Attack and Portishead. Perhaps the best description of DJ Cam's innovative instrumental fusion on "Underground Vibes" would be 'Abstract hip hop'.
While music critics continued to puzzle over the correct term for DJ Cam's style, the French DJ was busy establishing an excellent reputation for himself on the international music scene. DJ Cam's avant-garde vibes went on to prove a veritable hit on the Japanese dance scene and the French DJ was soon greatly in demand in the studio. Indeed Lady Miss Kier, the trend-setting muse/lead singer of the American group Deee Lite, contacted DJ Cam personally to seek his collaboration on her solo album.
The man who draws emotion from machines
Ironically, while DJ Cam rocketed to stardom on the international music scene, he remained relatively unknown at home. This unhappy state of affairs would soon change, however, when DJ Cam performed at the 'Transmusicales de Rennes' in December 1995. His brilliant performance at this eclectic music festival would not only impress the audience gathered at Rennes - it would also provide excellent raw material for DJ Cam's first live album, "Underground Vibes Act", released in the spring of 1996. DJ Cam's avant-garde vibes did not go unnoticed by dance music critics. Indeed the latter showered his album with rave reviews, dubbing the French DJ "The Man Who Draws Emotion From Machines".
Towards the end of 1996 DJ Cam returned to the recording studio to begin work on a new album entitled "Substances". Released on the French DJ's own label in November 1996 (and distributed internationally by Sony), "Substances" experimented with a slight change of musical direction from DJ Cam's previous albums. The tracks on "Substances" were infused with a more melancholy feel than usual, featuring a variety of slick cool-jazz samples from the likes of Alice Coltrane (the wife of the famous American jazz saxophonist John Coltrane). Cam fused his smooth easy-listening jazz samples with the usual hip hop rhythms, but this time round the emphasis was definitely on mellow - music fans only have to take a listen to the soft, velvet vocals of the Indian singer Kakoli Sengupta on the track "Meera" to get a feel of DJ Cam's new style.
But Cam's pioneering spirit meant that he was never content to stick with one style for very long and, as soon as he had put the finishing touch to "Substances", the French DJ was out and about experimenting with new sounds. Travelling between Paris, New York and Tokyo, Cam kept up to date with all the latest developments on the international dance scene. This made him a particularly attractive prospect to French variété artists such as Carole Laure and Jean-Louis Murat who were looking to add a more modern touch to their albums. DJ Cam, a self-declared fan of French variété star Alain Souchon, was more than willing to venture into this new musical territory and play the role of consultant producer. Cam's brilliant dance remixes of Laure and Murat's songs have worked the same kind of magic for these artists as producer Todd Terry did for the English group Everything But The Girl.
While advancing the cause of French chanson at home, Cam continued his work on the international dance scene. Indeed, the trend-setting French DJ was soon greatly in demand - after collaborating with DJ Krush on his solo album (released on the Japanese label Mo'wax), Cam went straight on to remix the work of the English group Tek 9. In 1997 the French DJ would produce an excellent compilation album (in the DJ Kicks series) featuring innovative remixes of dance tracks by a host of international stars including The Mighty Pop, Tek 9 and Daphreephunkateerz.
In April 1997 DJ Cam turned his attention to his own career once again, recording a new album entitled "The Beat Assassinated". This creative and excitingly innovative album featured a galaxy of Anglo-Saxon guest artists from groups such as Silver Bullet, Channel Live and Otis as well as the Toulouse-born rapper Dadou from KDD (DJ Cam could hardly be accused of being narrow-minded in his choices!) "The Beat Assassinated" also allowed DJ Cam to get back into the hip hop groove which he discovered at the age of 17.
Renowned for being one of the more experimental figures in the French electro world, DJ Cam constantly plays around with music, never letting his sound get bogged down in any one particular style. On his new album, "Loa Project", Cam seeks inspiration in voodoo culture, drawing on the cult's trance-like music and hypnotic beats. Released in 2000, "Loa Project" (loa means "the spirits of voodoo"), finds Cam venturing into the world of the supernatural. But the first single release from the album has a reassuringly terrestrial title, "Juliet". In fact, the song is a tribute to Cam's fiancée, which he himself describes as a "declaration of love". Catching music fans' unawares - as is his wont! - DJ Cam proves there is even a place for love and emotion in the cold machine-dominated world of electro.
Having gotten rid of his ‘DJ’ title, Cam came back in the spotlight with a new album, "Soulshine", released in 2002. Differing radically from his former work, "Soushine" only contained unplugged tracks, and as little sampling as possible. On the contrary, more attention than usual was paid to the production and the arrangements. Drawing his inspiration from soul music, the artist invited such prevailing African-American soul artists as Guru or Cameo to take part in the album. The Indonesian singer Anggun did the vocals on the first of the singles entitled "Summer in Paris".
DJ Cam is renowned for his exploration of different musical sources and in 2001 he paid homage to the late great jazz masters, reworking the Miles Davis classic "In a Silent Way" on "Panthalassa", a tribute album masterminded by Bill Laswell.
Cam's open approach soon led to him working on a new jazz/electro fusion project. In 2003 this project resulted in the excellent album "A Fillet of Soul", recorded with two leading musicians from the French jazz scene, Alexandre Tassel and Guillaume Naturel. The 11-track CD featured contributions from many top names from the jazz and electro world such as Laurent de Wilde, Flavio Boltro, Maxime Blesin, Franck Avitabile and Minino Garay.
Throughout his career while working on his own solo albums Cam continued his remix work, reinventing new mixes of tracks by leading soul and hip-hop stars. His hit remixes include everything from Nas ("Made You Look"), Cypress Hill ("Highlife"), Macy Gray ("Do Something"), Malia ("Let It Happen") and Michael Jackson ("Rock My World"). In January 2004 Cam assembled the various remixes he had done between 1998 and 2003, releasing them (exclusively) on a vinyl album which soon became a sought-after record on the DJ circuit.
Master of abstract hip hop
On his last album, "Liquid Hip Hop", released in February 2004, Cam returned to his instrumental hip-hop roots. Rapper Jay Dee stepped in to remix "Love Junkee" (which had previously featured on "Soulshine"), but apart from this track "Liquid Hip Hop" was a celebration of instrumental work which confirmed DJ Cam as THE top French representative of the "abstract hip hop" movement.
Later that year, Cam stepped behind the decks to mix at an event organised by the legendary Blue Note label. He appeared at the Elysée Montmartre in Paris, on 7 April, sharing the stage with the likes of La Funk Mob, Jazzanova and Bugs in the Attic. Cam also contributed a remix to the album "Blue Note Revisited," reworking the Donald Byrd classic "The Emperor." The remix featured French jazz star Eric Truffaz on trumpet.
2006 is going to be a major year for DJ Cam. The release of “[revisted]”, full-length album including remixes from Thievery Corporation, Kid Loco, Bob Sinclar, among others, is scheduled for January 31st 2006. This release is combined with the launch of Dj Cam’s entire music catalog (100 songs) on iTunes Music Stores Worldwide, as well as select US live appearances and cross-branded lifestyle exposure