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In Dubstep's Fair City...
Though it tends to be overlooked in favour of indie and rock, there’s a thriving underground urban scene in this little nation of ours. As he releases his debut EP, French native DJ iZem talks about merging Irish elements with dubstep and reggae to create a unique and exciting sound.
Maeve Heslin, 28 Oct 2011
Two years ago, Jérémie Moussiad Kerouanton – aka DJ iZem – arrived in Dublin, with the intention of staying just a couple of months. Now, the Paris-born DJ is heavily involved in what he describes as “an exciting bass/dub/reggae scene” in the city.
“I came here initially to visit friends”, iZem explains, “but then I got involved in music, started organising events, DJing, meeting people – having fun! There’s an exciting scene in Dublin, and some really great producers. I’ve definitely been influenced musically by people I’ve met here.”
Born in Paris to a Moroccan father and a Breton mother, 31-year-old iZem is well-travelled, to say the least! Having lived in France, Brazil and Spain before arriving on the Emerald Isle, his musical style merges a diverse range of influences – dubstep, African rhythms, Brazilian cumbia and hip hop. Has urban music always been a big influence on him?
“I was into hip hop when I was a teenager”, iZem recalls. “It was quite big in France – that was my musical education. I started DJing around that time, but really defined my style about three or four years ago. I’m drawn to anything that has that kind of groovy sound – soul, funk, reggae, Brazilian.”
Let’s call a spade a spade though – ‘Irish’ and ‘urban’ aren’t usually two words that go hand in hand. What does iZem make of the Irish music scene generally?
“Well, the main scene here is indie rock”, he notes. “I do have an interest in indie – there are some really interesting bands and artists, but it’s not my main musical background. There’s some great underground producers here, usually more on the electronic/dubstep side of urban music, you just don’t hear much about them! (Dublin producer) T-Woc, for example is really interesting – he’s done a remix of my track ‘Quiver’ which is on the EP.”
Another act iZem has been working closely with here is Irish/Malaysian duo Madu. A fusion of reggae with Irish elements (Hothouse Flower Liam Ó Maonlaí appears on their debut From The Elder’s Yard), the band’s laidback, soulful sound is an example of how exciting musical diversity can be. Would iZem like to incorporate an Irish flavour into his own style?