At the beginning of your career you used your real name, then you opted to use an artistic name. Why did decide to switch to the alias of CJ Jeff?
I’ve actually used various aliases over the years, and was one half of the group Adaptor before I decided to concentrate on my solo productions. CJ Jeff was actually just a nickname that I had at school, so when I wanted to create more of an artistic persona that seemed like the obvious choice to use it.
What initially made you want a career in music?
While I was studying sociology at college I was also managing a well known Greek DJ, Leon Segka, so I was already involved in the industry. From there I started DJing warm up for him and others at some of the shows and before long it lead to gigs at Cavo Paradiso playing on the same bill as people like Carl Cox, Jeff Mills and Derrick May, It all happened so quickly and I picked things up pretty quickly, so I haven’t really looked back since then.
You currently live in Athens, what is the musical scene there like?
I guess if you wanted to describe the musical trend in Athens you could say that it has gone from house to techno and back again in recent years. There are some really cool clubs that have done a great job of championing new talent, while places like Dybbuk focus on residencies from better-known DJs, so that’s always packed with a great vibe. Then I’d say at least once a month you have a huge name like Richie Hawtin or Chris Liebing. Of course we’d be happy if there were twice as many clubs as there are now, but it’s a really passionate scene and one I’m very happy to be involved in.
You collaborated with many artists in your career, do you have special memories of anyone in particular?
I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with so many great artists, and have fond memories of pretty much all of them, chief among them when Dennis Ferrer gets the tequila out. Then when legendary names like John Digweed, and Sharam asked me to work with them it was a dream come true for me. I remember dancing as a clubber to their music, and I never thought these guys would be playing my music or want me on their label.
In the mean time you also set up the Rhytmetic, your label. Why did you take this choice? Which musical direction did you give to your label?
Rhythmetic is my baby. From the very first record it was something I loved and truly believed in. The first release was remixed by Maetrik who is one of my all time favourite producers, after which we got in Nick Curly, Jerome Sydenham, Phonique and more. I put everything into it: you’re unlikely to make much money from labels these days, so it’s all for the love. In terms of the music, it’s definitely aimed at the dancefloor, but maybe in a slighter trippier way than most house labels.
Do you prefer the recording studio or playing live? And how is your relationship with these different situations?
They’re both so different, even through these days an electronic artist almost always has to do both in order to be successful. I have to say that playing live, when you’ve got a vibe going and the crowd trust: there’s no other feeling like it. Production is a lonelier story, but I think can be just as rewarding, and often in a way that lasts for longer. DJing is about living in the moment, whereas in the studio you need to be inspired, and a little more considered.
You have your weekly residency, but have played in various other places as well. Do you have any particular favourite memories?
Dybbuk is every Thursday which is my residency in Athens: that’s been going 13 years now and still counting. It’s always packed and every night I see people I’ve never seen there before. That makes me very grateful to have the opportunity to play to so many people. places around the world like warung or d.edge in brazil, bpm on mexico, sisyphos berlin got some special place in my heart, always fill me with energy…some powerful memories and the motivation to keep up with the same passion my work.
How do you think your music has changed over the years?
I think it’s become more focused on the dancefloor, maybe due to my residency and needing records to play every week, and knowing what people respond to. It still has that deep, trippy feeling but has evolved from the classic deep house style I used to make.
What are your future plans?
I have some cool upcoming releases, including my single ‘Dealing with a Madman’ which just came out on Glasgow Underground, and will also be included on a new Bedrock mix compilation. I have an upcoming summer tour, label parties with fresh artists, and trying to find some time to read a book or two along the way… that’s the plan!
To end, which advices do you feel to give to those who want to approach the electronic music?
Don’t lose your direction: if you love what you doing people will love you.