Paris native Laurent Garnier, who celebrated his 53rd birthday last Friday, was an early convert to dance music – at the age of five, his babysitter was the managing director of CBS Records, while by 12 years old, he had his own set of decks.
“My parents were taking me to clubs and the music was thumping, the lights, everything was marvellous,” Garnier told Mixmag’s Tony Marcus in October 1994, on the occasion of the launch of his A Shot In The Dark album, as well as a Mixmag Live CD. “It was really beautiful to watch someone with the power to make people dance.”
Having moved to the UK in the mid-80s, first as a waiter and then as a jobbing DJ, in 1987, Garnier picked up his first professional DJ gig, in Manchester’s The Haçienda, at a pivotal time in the club’s history.
“I was playing disco, hi-NRG, Village People, Taylor Dayne, go-go, cha-cha,” he explained. “it was very open.”
But then came house.
“It blew my mind. I was dancing in the Haçienda and Mike Pickering played Mantronix, Joyce Sims and then he stopped and played Farley Jackmaster Funk’s ‘Love Can’t Turn Around’.
“You know when you can get punched by someone and it hits you heavy? Well I was on the dancefloor and I felt this massive punch. I went straight over to the DJ box, I just knocked on the door saying, ‘Tell me what the fuck is this. What kind of stuff is this.’ I never heard anything like it before.”
House music, he recalled, was “the future of disco music and disco wasn’t there anymore. House was talking to everybody, to gays, straight, blacks and whites. So it was a good thing.”
Garnier would soon return to France, establishing a career as a techno pioneer with club nights like Wake Up at the Rex in Paris, as well as setting high water marks with tracks like Acid Eiffel and Crispy Bacon; the latter of which was actually released on this day (4 February) in 1997.
But those formative years on the floor (or in the DJ box) in the Haçienda left a lasting impression on the up and coming producer.
“I just made music I believed in and music I’d liked for years,” he explained. “I just wanted to see if I could do it myself. All the other records I’d made before had been with somebody in the studio helping me or collaborating. Now I can say that nobody helped me, nobody mixed anything for me.”
Happy belated birthday, Laurent!
[Article snippets taken from Mixmag, October 1994, interview with Tony Marcus. Photo by Mark McNulty]