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Laurent Garnier’s DJ Travel Tales (interview)



“I have played at a gig in Detroit where a guy got shot dead outside the party. After that we all had to lie on the floor for 10 minutes waiting for the police to come while a gang was outside shooting bullets thru the windows.”

“Once I drove from Paris to Plymouth for a gig. It took me 13 or 14 hours to get there by car. And when I finally arrived at the gig, the promoter said to me ‘you are 10 minutes late . . . fuck off!’ Then he had the security guy throw me out. That was 18 years ago. I’ve never ever been back to fucking Plymouth since . . .”

This week, Skrufff are launching a new series of DJ travel stories focusing on the highs and lows every international DJ experiences. Notoriously French definitive dance legend Laurent Garnier kicks off proceedings . . . .

(For more on Laurent; click here: )

The Best

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): What's the most opulent travel trip you've experienced?

Laurent Garnier: “Nothing incredibly big, I’m afraid, I’ve never even been in First Class. I guess the most flash one I’ve experienced was when we- i.e. myself plus the band, traveled to Ibiza few years ago in a private jet.”

Skrufff: What’s been the best hotel?

Laurent Garnier: “For me the best hotels are definitely not the super big luxurious ones. I like the smaller hotels with a bit of character and super friendly staff.”

Skrufff: What do you need to make a trip perfect?

Laurent Garnier: “for holidays, to travel with people you love being with, a glass of champagne and a comfortable seat on the plane. For gigs, I need plenty of movies to watch and work to do.”

Skrufff: What do you always travel with?

Laurent Garnier: “My computer, tons of music, headphones and small speakers.”

Skrufff: What are your top three travel tips?

Laurent Garnier: “Relax, be patient and avoid low cost airlines.”

The Worst:

Skrufff: What's been your worst travel nightmare?

Laurent Garnier: “I’ve had more than a few having been traveling for 20 years but I guess the one that stands out the most was a flight I took from Paris to Figari (Corsica) about 10/12 years ago. There was so much wind and turbulence buffeting the plane that loads of passengers started screaming and crying.

Then when the plane was on its final approach to the airport, everybody fell completely silent because everyone believed we were going to crash. It was so frightening. Once the plane landed- safely- they actualy closed the airport for the rest of the day. Since that day I have always hated flying, even though I continue to do it every single weekend.”

Skrufff: What's the worst hotel you've stayed in?

Laurent Garnier: “As with nightmare trips I’ve stayed in more than a few nightmare hotels. From super dirty/grotty hotels in eastern Europe when we went straight after the war in Serbia to some super dodgy ones in the deep south in the United States. Once I was chased by the owner with a riffle. Don't worry, I  have a list of bad hotels.”

Skrufff: What's the worst experience you've had at customs/ Immigration?

Laurent Garnier: “The big winners for rudeness are still United States customs and Immigration, they definitely win the gold medal. The better your visa will be on your passport, the more they will screw with your head.”

The Russian customs can also be real 'dodgy dudes'. Every time we take our band equipment, they hold us for hours because we refuse to pass them money under the table. They win the silver medal. And I would say that the Brazilian embassy in Paris wins the Bronze medal for being so unfriendly, difficult and rude when you try to get a visa to go and play in Brazil. It’s been like that for years, believe it, it’s not a one-off experience. It’s particularly strange because Brazil is so great and Brazilians are such lovely people.”

Skrufff: Have you had any bad encounters after clearing customs, with dodgy taxi driver or not being picked up?

Laurent Garnier: “No I haven't really had big problems, unlike the famous DJ I know of who was kidnapped in Russia by a different club organiser from the one they were supposed to work for, then forced to play in the kidnapper’s club before they were dropped back at the airport after the gig.”

Skrufff: What do you avoid on DJ trips?

Laurent Garnier: “I am very careful who I go and work for nowadays, I have had some really bad experienceds with dodgy promoters. If I receive a booking request from someone I don’t know, we always ask our DJ friends and agents if the guy is cool or not. A lot of bad promoters have being blacklisted now  and most agents have access to that list.”

I also always make sure that the reservation is really booked at the hotel I am supposed to stay at. We book our own flights these days too so I always know that I can come back easily (in the past I had bad experiences with return flights not being booked for my way home). I don't travel with too much things, I keep as light and "normal" as I can. I now also work through an agent for all my gigs: that way things are easier and safer.”

Skrufff: What do you have about travelling?

Laurent Garnier: “Everything, I hate it. It's the only aspect of my DJ life I don’t like. So I always work when I’m travelling, it makes the whole process go faster.”

Skrufff: What's been the most frightening experience you've had on your DJ trips; ever been robbed/ followed/ threatened?

Laurent Garnier: “I have being left alone in the streets of New York without any money, luggage, hotel or a plane ticket to get home by a real fuckwit of a promoter.

I have played at a gig in Detroit where a guy was shot dead outside the party. After that we all had to lie on the floor for 10 minutes waiting for the police to come whiles a gang was outside shouting bullets thru the windows.

I’ve had a few bad ones in the US where the police came and raided the parties with CS gas, guns and very heavy-duty behaviour.

There was a crazy one in Mexico where the police stopped me DJing pointing a gun at me, then the whole crowd went completely nuts and try to crush the five armed coppers against the wall. The cops ran away and never came back. I really thought that someone was gonna get shot was mad .”

“I have had to deal with proper mafia promoters, some bastards that told me to fuck off and threw me out of the club without any money after playing all night at gigs (that happened few times in France).”

“Once in Austria, while I was sleeping after a gig Scan X, who I’d worked with that night, was staying in the room next door.He brought the promoter and kept him locked in his room for a couple of hours until the guy finally decided to pay us. There was a massive argument and fighting going on in the next room while I was asleep. Those guys were super heavy motherfuckers but Scan X still got them to finally pay us . . .

So the answer is YESSS , I have been robbed, followed and threatened and much more besides.”

Skrufff: Last not least, please let us know the best websites to plug for you, plus details of upcoming releases,

Laurent Garnier: “For everything go to where you can listen to PBB my 24/7 online radio:  you can listen to all my weekly radio shows called IT IS WHAT IT IS:  you can see all the coming dates for all future gigs.

And you can also buy my new live DVD (only 2000 copies available) of the concert we did at the Salle Pleyel in Paris last year. This is a very VERY special one (perhaps my best concert ever). You can only buy this DVD on my website.

Otherwise, I am currently touring with the LBS project (half live/ half DJ)
We are in the studio (with the LBS crew) recording for a new album. Due next year. And for facebook, questions and stuff go to Facebook, Laurent Garnier (official page). I am the only person looking after that page.”


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