Lyon's Finest Make U.K. Live Debut, Oakenfold Heads To Ibiza

Lyon's Finest Make U.K. Live Debut

May saw the live debut of French four-piece Le Peuple de L'Herbe at North London's famous Jazz Cafe. During the group's two-hour set (including a lengthy encore), its members fused hip-hop with deep house, ska, and drum & bass, mixing the genres with astounding confidence. The two-minute intros to the tracks gave little indication of the direction in which they would develop; lazy dub motifs invariably blossomed into disco beats, while hip-hop stabs degenerated into breakbeat monsters.

MC/trumpet player N'Zeng added the finishing touches with a witty selection of lyrical Franglais. As their front man he oozes a seasoned stage presence -- it impossible to tell whether his synchronized routines with DJ Stani (residing on the decks to the rear) are spontaneous or rigorously choreographed.

Le Peuple de L'Herbe formed in 1996 when founding members DJs Stani and Pee met while working in the same studios. Both accomplished turntablists, they established common ground musically and began organizing club nights in their home town of Lyon. "The music was a mix of old funk, early drum & bass, and Latino stuff," explains Pee. And that concept of mixing multifarious genres continues to be integral to their sets.

It was via their Lyon club nights that they encountered drummer Psychostick and trumpet player N'Zeng. "We started getting bored playing other people's instrumental records, we wanted to do our own stuff," says Pee. Armed with samplers they went into the studio and began to develop Le Peuple de L'Herbe.

The band formed its own SUPADOPE Records label to put out its debut EP in 1998. "Herbman Skank," backed by "PH Theme" (a jazz & bass scratch-fest featuring a rap in the Senegalese language of Wolof) won the support of influential Parisian station Radio Nova and, owing to the close proximity of Lyon to the Swiss border, Radio Couleur 3 in Switzerland, where the band is extremely popular. "Herbman Skank" had a very limited vinyl pressing, and was subsequently licensed for the station's "Nova Future Dub" compilation.

Now armed with Psychostick's drum kit, N'Zeng's lyrical skills and trumpet, and the two sets of turntables manned by Stani and Pee, Le Peuple began expanding its live repertoire. The growing number of performances generated a fanbase demanding a long player. In response, Le Purple complied a mini-CD album which included the single cuts plus material recorded for the soundtrack to Virginie Despentes' cult French film "Baise Moi." That set was released in France last summer on SUPADOPE.

In 2000 they struck up a licensing deal with Play It Again Sam (PIAS), which previously handled the group's vinyl distribution. The deal, originally just for France, was later modified to cover the rest of Europe. "We were doing a lot of touring in Switzerland and Germany, so we wanted to have the record out there," says Pee. PIAS will shortly reissue a re-hashed version of "Triple Zero" with extra tracks, now titled "000+" (Triple Zero Plus), July 9 in the U.K. It will be preceded June 11 by a limited edition four-track vinyl EP of the "P.H Theme."

A heady melange of genres, the album delivers a paradoxically cohesive introduction to the sound of Le Peuple de L'Herbe. "We try to avoid categorization because we feel the electronica trends -- drum & bass, trip hop, house, techno -- are all made the same way," insists Pee. "You are working with a sampler, decks, and a computer. As long as the music is good it's not important what you call it."

This summer, Le Peuple will return to the U.K. for further live performances and will tour Belgium, Holland, Spain, and Portugal. The group will also play the FrancoFolies, Montreal's July 26-27 free outdoor festival of French and world-beat music.

Oakenfold Launches Perfecto Nights in Ibiza

Internationally renowned DJ Paul Oakenfold will launch his Perfecto nights in Ibiza this year at one of the island's most famous venues, Pacha. The nights will start June 26 and run every Tuesday for 11 weeks through the remainder of the season.

Oakenfold will headline at the opening and closing events. Throughout the summer the lineup will include international talent like DJ Sneak, Timo Maas, Seb Fontaine, and Carl Cox.