For the past half decade, French label Macadam Mambo has been at the very heart of Lyon’s return to exceptional form, establishing as one of the city’s most essential pistons and matchless disco-house and edits purveyors on the European underground scene.
At the helm, the hirsute digger with a golden ear Sacha Mambo hasn’t spared his efforts. Accompanied by his fellow sidekick Guillaume Des Bois, Sacha has guided a generation of rising talents with a sense of generosity and artistic ethics that’s no short of awe-inspiring.
With Macadam Mambo’s 5 year anniversary approaching, we look back at the label’s history and further projects as Sacha digs deep into his well-furnished crates and back catalogue, brushing a compelling and groovy portrait of a label that’s always on the move.
Interview by Baptiste Girou
"Edits have been an interesting part in showing our skills in digging [...] but my goal is to develop and shed light on new musical projects from unknown groups and artists."
Hey Sacha, thanks for this being our guest. Your label Macadam Mambo has been one of the driving forces behind Lyon’s emergence as one of the new European crossroads for electronic music, and is now entering its 5th year of activity. How do you feel right now?
Pretty glad I must say, it’s a great, great reward to be considered like this.
Thanks for recording this very special birthday podcast for us. It’s a straight out groovy mix, bursting with all sorts of gems, from cosmic disco through no wave onto oddball electro. How did you select the tracks and what idea were you trying to convey?
I wanted to show the largest range of the music we have released in the past five years, with edits and new productions, and to show that all those genres are connected. Of course there is much more to discover in our catalogue.
Is it reflective of your approach of live DJing or is your home-recording process wholly different?
It’s closer to my live approach, since this mix is more dancefloor-oriented. Usually when I record a mix at home it’s more of a listening session, because I like to select tracks I haven’t listened much yet and before.
Right here right now, what stuff are you looking to release?
Can’t really say, it’s so large in terms of music types. All doors are open, but we want to go more into new music. Edits have been an interesting part in showing our skills in digging and finding the good songs to bring up to date, and we will continue to put out some records this way, but my goal is to develop and shed light on new musical projects from unknown groups and artists.
"We never made concessions on the music, we promoted only what we believed in, trying to not follow the trends, and now to have all this interest gives it all its sense."
You’re not alone to run MM, there’s also Guillaume Des Bois, your faithful companion in adventure. How did you guys first meet?
Guillaume and I met about 13 years ago in Paris, he was running the programme of a small club called Le Troisième Lieu. We had a good connection with music and became close very quickly.
What triggered you to start Macadam Mambo? What’s the big idea behind the label?
We started Macadam Mambo as a collective of DJs in late 2008 to organize parties in Paris, with the idea to have different styles of music gathered in the same night, which wasn’t the case at that time. But the true start was when we launched our first record 5 years ago, to highlight special music that we were thinking wasn’t so much represented, with a bit of humour, but quality first! It became more and more precise and easy with the years to affirm our particular tastes.
Looking at what you accomplished for the past five years, what’s your feeling? How do you judge the evolution of the label?
I couldn’t imagine that we would reach that stage when we started, so I’m really happy when I see what we’ve done, all the friendships built along the way and all the releases we’ve put out.
We’ve been working mostly with close friends and it’s great to see that a lot of them are starting to have more and more recognition and be able to play their music around. We never made concessions on the music, we promoted only what we believed in, trying to not follow the trends, and now to have all this interest gives it all its sense.
The question of the legitimity of edits is one that still divides, and Macadam Mambo has been a great contributor to this category. How do you personally envisage the art of edits? Is the purpose only technical or also memorial, in this that it helps cast a broader light on long-lost fantastic songs?
Absolutely, I can say we’ve been sort of pirates considering this, but the spirit for the edits was to make available some amazing obscure tracks that maybe very few people had heard before. Trying to give them a second life when we thought it was deserved, especially on the ones which needed to be re-arranged because of very bad parts or which were too short to be truly enjoyable.
On the technical side, my vision is just to sublimate the track as I would like to listen to it. Personally I don’t like extra beats, or additional production… When an original track is good I don’t see the point in transforming or releasing it. In this case I prefer the reissue. Some good labels are doing this work very well, even though I think the trend is a bit too much right now.
In the future when we will release new edits records, we will try to get all the authorisations from the original artists when possible, as we did on the new compilation ‘Danzas Electricas‘.
"This one went a bit under the radar, but the music is just so timeless that there will probably be a day when people will rediscover it…"
If you had to pick just three records that best encompass the vibe, character and history of Macadam Mambo, what would they be and why?
It’s very difficult to answer but let’s say:
Albion – Pyramids (MME5005 – 2015) because of Albion first, I love this guy. Secondly the record contains one of the anthems from the label, ‘Pyramids‘. Try to play this one at a party you will understand what I’m talking about. The other tracks are just as awesome.
Andrea Noce & David Kristian – Be In Sync (MMLP202 – 2015), this one went a bit under the radar, but the music is just so timeless that there will probably be a day when people will rediscover it… It was a new direction for the label in a more spacey direction, in the vein of Innovative Communication, I’m really proud of this one.
The Blech – Wosto Ajustements (MME30003 – 2017), one of the craziest and weirdest record we have released which fits perfectly with the Macadam Mambo spirit.
I know you’re always avid for new sounds and digging up unheard treasures. What’s the latest find that left you truly gobsmacked?
Haha, I’m always curious for new music I don’t know or I haven’t heard yet, and my chance (or my loss) is that there is an ocean of music to discover if you open yourself to it. The latest find which smashed me is by Аквариум but I don’t remember the name of the LP, it’s a Russian band of folkloric, psychedelic, progressive rock – quite crazy and smooth but a bit cheesy in some ways, not for everyone I guess…
"L'important dans la vie c'est de continuer de danser!"
What’s the last record store you visited and what did you cop there?
I was at Emmaüs yesterday, it’s not a record shop but a charity structure where they sell all sort of stuff, there are plenty of them everywhere in France… They have some records but don’t expect miracles, although sometimes you can pick something cool. There I found an obscure 7’’ of a school project from Lyon made in 1990, called ‘House Dance Music‘. It’s quite funny, bad and good at the same time, totally amateur but interesting.
What have you lined up this summer? Any celebratory nights and events?
Yes, we have our 5 year anniversary party at Griessmuhele in Berlin on 19th August with Traxx, Eva Geist, Guillaume and myself for the night and some other friends will be joining us for the afterparty. It’s a 24h party! But before that there will be a few events, Southern Soul Festival in Montenegro, Camp Cosmic in Leipzig and 2 new residencies starting this summer, one in Lyon and another in Marseilles. Plus a few gigs as always.
What can we wish you for the next five years?
To continue on the same line, to find more great music to release, to organize more and more parties with our friends and label members,
to continue to share our love of music and to bring joy to people with it because “L’important dans la vie c’est de continuer de danser !”
1. Albion – The Mirror Forest [MME1001]
2. Raphael Top Secret – Love & Compute [MME505]
3. Guillaume Des Bois – Le Fuego De L’Usted [MME808]
4. Mori Ra & Asn – Just Another Story [MME3003]
5. Joe’s Bakery Band – Turkish Delight [MMX202]
6. Traxx – Decay Dubb-It Tape [MME909]
7. Eva Geist – Dniheb [MMX909]
8. Konsnix – 70A-1 (Sacha’s Mix) [MMX808]
9. George Kamm – Durst & Hunger [MME6006]
10. Albion – Seara [MME5005]
11. 関戸夫婦 – 細菌 (Mori Ra Ajustement) [MMLP404]
12. Rutes – Tick Tack (Ajustement) [MME8008]
13. Kozmonaut – The Mann (Dunkeltier Ajustement) [MME4004]
14. Jin Cromanyon – PZ (Personal Zombies) [MMS101]
15. Mituo Shiomi – Pierce [MMX303]
16. The Pilotwings – Une Nuit Au Boxboys [MMLP303]
17. Guillaume Des Bois – Mambo Nassau [MME10001]
18. Sacha Mambo & Keeto – Sending My Love [MME2002]
19. Macadam Mambo DJs – Candlelight (To Albion) [MMLP101]