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MANU BOUBLI - PARIS, FRANCE

Father of four, DJ, founder of Comet and Mind Records, co-owner of Superfly record store—and he still has time for digging!

Manu Boubli – Paris, France

T

hanks for everyone who stuck around and wrote me regarding the future of Dust & Grooves.

Thanks for the patience, I have no real excuses for the long absence. yes it’s been almost four month since the last post, but all I can say is that these four months where full of personal events, some where good and some where bad, events that did not really allow me to have peace of mind to sit down and devote the time to this personal project. but these days are over!!!

I guarantee to all of you that some fine stuff is coming up! lots of diggers from around the world, some with big names and some anonymous. all with great records stashed in their little caves, under the bed, in the closet or in the kitchen.

stay tuned, and keep digging!

 

Private afro-centric jazz at cult label Nimbus! black & white cover, definitely my kind of record!

Q: What do you do for a living?

A: Many different things, but all related to music! After studying politics (while starting Djing), I run a club in Paris for almost 7 years (Cithea) where I used to work as a musical adviser as well as a resident DJ. I’ve been lucky enough to work with many musicians, DJ’s and live bands including Noel McGhie, Tony Allen, Bobby Few, Ghetto Blaster, Rainer Truby, Omar Sosa, Doctor L, Sugarman Three, … I then started producing while launching my first label, Comet Records, and produced a batch of Tony Allen’s (former Fela Kuti drummer) albums as well as some early afro related compilations (Racubah, Ouelele and Bilongo).

After splitting with Comet, I launched Mind Records with my mate Doctor L, on which we’re still releasing our own music, I started doing music for commercials, sound design for fashion shops or fashion shows, compilations and reissues for Sony-BMG, and mainly Djing in Paris and worldwide…

Since a few months, I launched, with my partners Paulo ‘Superfly’ Goncalves and Djouls ‘Parisdjs’ Lakshmanan the Paris based record shop Superfly Records, a physical store together with the on-line shop!

During all those years (and before!) I never stopped digging and mainly all of the various things I’ve done in the last 15 years are related to my record collection (more or less…).

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Q: What was your first album? How did you get it? At what age? Can you describe that feeling? Do you still have it?

A: As long as I remember, the first album I bought was ‘London Calling’ by The Clash, somewhere in 1979! I was 14, and I was listening to this record as much as I can, which means a lot when you’re a teenager! I just loved this record, then started to go out to live shows (I’ve seen The Clash live at famous Le Palace in Paris!) and get involved in music… Soon after, I sold my Comics collection to keep on buying records, and I never stopped till now…

One thing I remember about this Clash Lp is the song ‘Jimmy Jazz’… Surely something that turns me into jazz a few years later… my fav’ song of the album for sure, and I still love the song now (actually one of the regular classics I use for fashion shops!)…

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Q: What prompted you to start collecting? What age did you start? Was there a specific event in your life, an era, which signify your transition from music lover to a collector?

A: At first, like all of us I suppose, I was just buying records, not collecting! The full idea was to get what was hot, and at that time I switched from Punk to Ska (the UK’s The Specials, The Selector, …), which brings me to discover Jamaican music and more generally to realize that music from the past was as much as interesting as what was happening at the time… This is probably one of the fact that prompted me to start collecting!

Around the same period, I started playing some records in friend’s parties, you know, I was the guy who had some records… I soon realize that I can take advantage of this position, make some money out of it to keep buying records, being invited to mostly every party’s around, and, most of all, that a lot of girls were fascinated by the DJ!

Starting from this point, I started buying more and more records, and soon after I was collecting records!

Q: what was your Initial interest in music? Did you have any influence from your family? Or perhaps your best friend (or enemy)?

A: As a kid, I grew up in a family that was listening to Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young but also more obscure 70’s rock stuff such as Edison Electric Band, Heavy Cruiser or Dashiell Hedayat… Even though I started buying music from my generation (Talking Heads, Fun Boys Three, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, …) I soon got back to what’s for me the best period ever for music, 1965-1975…

I guess the influence of what I was listening too as a kid is very strong, and I guess it’ll be very strong on what my kids will listen to in the future…

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The best record that i have produced on my label Comet Records! Psyco On Da Bus, a project with Tony Allen (former Fela Kuti’s drummer!) produced by the mighty Doctor L!

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French porn groove rarity! Nice cover!

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Superb jazz funk produced in France! 7” only tracks!

Q: are you following any specific genre when you collect? Or perhaps fixed on a specific album cover artists? Or maybe pressing years? Or maybe it’s just the music, no matter what..

A: I do collect for a long time now, so I’ve obviously been through different codes while buying records, and those ones have evolved through the years… I was first buying only American pressings, then only records from the 1965-1975 decade, … I should say now that I’m buying everything that looks interesting and that I’ve never seen before…

Q: What’s your digging habit in these digital days? Do you go out to dig in basements and fleas, or are you an eBay expert? Has things changed for you since the web days?

A: The digital days did not change my diggin’ habits, as far as I’m concerned… You can still find treasures in flea markets and garage sales, the only difference is about competition, that’s get harder and harder! Through eBay, a lot of guys went professional, and selling records became their way of making a living!

Other than that, I love eBay as it’s the biggest record shop in the world, and that you can get there some stuff you didn’t even know they existed before seeing them on the Bay!

Q: In a world of endless musical sources, streaming music, MP3’s, Serato and other digital substances. Do you sometime stop and ask your self “what for???”

A: Never! I do have a pretty solid MP3 collection; I love my Ipod and spend a lot of time and energy on organizing iTunes. But it’s totally compatible with my record collection, it’s not vinyl against digital, exactly as it was not vinyl against CD… I’m happy to realize now, selling vinyl at the Shop, that kids are happy to buy on vinyl what they like on MP3, they like both, they want both…

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Killer jazz mass in Hebrew! Spiritual jazz at his best with the like of Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Jerome Richardson, … !

Q: How do you organize your collection?

A: I have 4 kids so we’re 6 in a nice but small Parisian flat! Records have to be organized otherwise it would be a total mess… So I have my own way of organizing them, some by labels, some by genre, some other by country of origin… Usually I’m able to find something quickly enough…

Q: Tell me a useful record storage / shelving tip!

A: I use independent record boxes, no shelves…

Q: What do you look for in a record?

A: Nothing particular, or, at the opposite, something that makes it unique… Each record has his own history, his own groove, and it’s a never ending learning experience… Been looking through records for the last 25 years and I don’t know nothing… That’s the main thing… Diggin’ records is learning…

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True rarity here! Capucine, obscure french prog jazz band that sounds a bit like Baroque Jazz Trio on Saravah! Hand made cover too!

Q: What’s your partners’ reaction to this obsession?

A: Diggin’ records makes me happy, so my wife is pretty cool with that! We’re often traveling, and I manage to go to Museums, do some shopping as well as diggin’ records…

Q: Name some golden grails from your collection history.

A: To name a few, I would say Ricardo Marrero ‘A Taste’ on TSG, which I found on a Paris record fair for 40 French francs (6 USD!), Sarah Webster Fabio ‘Jujus Alchemy Of The Blues’ on Folkways, which I traded with Gerald ‘Jazzman’ for ‘La Formule Du Baron’ more than 10 years ago, Cortex ‘Troupeau Bleu’ on Disques Espérance, French jazz funk fusion LP that I once owned 20 copies (!) or finally Elysian Spring self-titled LP on Despa, the most expensive record I bought on eBay (700 USD)!

Q: Do you have a record collecting philosophy or routine when you enter a store?

A: Usually I go straight to the jazz section… since a few years, I often visit first the World music section first, you might find some great African or west-indies record for cheap! Anyway, I usually clean-up the full shop if it appears to be interesting…

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Another rarity! Absolutely killer LP from start to finish, unfortunately with a very low recording! Afro spiritual jazz funk?

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Lovely track at this LP, one of my all-time fav’, ‘Love Is Sweet Like Sugar Cane’

Q: I know that every “your favorite” question is a tough one, but try to remember. Can you name a few of your favorite album covers?

A: Without hesitation, if I had to choose one, I’ll go for Terry Callier ‘What Color Is Love’! Truly beautiful… After that I’ll name Sun Ra’s on Saturn, this is art, man!, all the Fela Kuti’s with Africa 70, and of course Blue Note’s covers, still an inspiration for mainly all designers out there!

Q: Did you have any covers that scared you as a child?

A: I do remember an album from my father collection, the first (1969) Deep Purple LP, that used to scare me! The artwork (a weird painting by Hyeronimous Bosch) was dark and very strange, and I was curious and worried at the same time when I looked at it!

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Q: Tell me a particularly sad record story!

 

A: A friend, very serious French record collector, finally find peace diving deep into religion. After a while he realized that his passion for records, the money he spent into buying records was against his religion. He finally decide to brake his full collection, each record one by one… Totally crazy, sad and true, cause believe me he could have given his community a lot of money selling his amazing collection instead of breaking it!

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My 1 euro Mulatu 7” in perfect condition!

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Picture sleeves afro 7”! Nice!

Q: Is there a specific musical instrument that attracts you when listening to music?

A: I do like various instruments, it comes and goes… I used to love organ, specially the Prestige related soul jazz era, I’ve been into jazz vibes a lot (Dave Pike, Johnny Lytle, Freddy McCoy, …), wah-wah guitar, soprano sax, Fender Rhodes of course, … Obviously, I’m also very into drum and bass too, they are the basis of the groove… But at the end, it’s all about music…

Q:Tell me about a dollar bin record you would never part with!

A: Any James Brown record!

Q: Tell me about a record that has healed heartbreaks! Name one that made them worse!

A: I’ll go for one record that can heal heartbreaks or make them worse! Check Darondo ‘Didn’t I’!

 

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Records are everywhere! Found this one in Thailand while i was DJing there! Solid deep soul funk by an american band staying there during Vietnam war!

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Q: what about digging buddies? Do you share or you go solo?

A: It comes and goes… Use to dig with a good friend that finally decided to quit from diggin’ vinyl (he’s now a big CD buyer!)… Those days, it’s more of a solo game… Too much competition, money is king, so going solo is the safest solution…

Q: Tell me about the most unlikely place/occasion where/when you found records?

A: On a very small town in Normandy where I spend some weekends since years, I found a great jazz collection at a bookshop! I knew this shop for years and there were never any records! That week-end, my wife asked me to go and buy some pizzas for the kids, was on my way and realize that the guy from the bookshop pull out a few records… Been through them and man, dope, stuff like Full Moon Ensemble, Wynder K Frog, some Arvanitas, Barney Wilen, … well, a very nice weekend, and the kids got cold pizzas…

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Highly desirable french only single with the ultimate jazz dancer ‘O’ Baby I Believe I’m Losing You’! Tough one!

Q: Out of your great collection, there must be a few records that you like going back to at any time. Name a few. What makes them so special for you?

A: For some reasons, the ones I’m going back to are classics… Even though I’m deeply into collecting rarities, I’m always amazed when I go back to classics… Miles Davis ‘Kind Of Blue’, John Coltrane ‘My Favorite Things’, Marvin Gaye ‘What’s Goin’ On’ or Van Morison ‘Moondance’, those LP’s are just essentials, beautiful, no weak tracks, … Finally, it’s also nice to think that great records made by great artists went so successful!


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The Irish soul man is one of my heroes! ‘Into The Mystic’ in ‘Moondance’ is the one but nearly all his early 70′s LP’s are truly masterpiece!

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Q: Who is the weirdest character in the world of digging?

 

A: Once again, too many weird people in this business to name one… We’re all sick in a way, some more than others… There’s this guy who organize the 45 section of a Parisian record shop nearly every day of his life since the last 10 years… but for me, the weirdest thing is that it’s a man’s world… Hopefully we’ll have soon a girl interview in Dust & Grooves…

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Even though it’s not as good as it’s been, Boulinier is still one of the best diggin’ spot in Paris! New records every day, unqualified staff and super low prices… but a lot of competition with a few diggers almost slipping in front of the shop!

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Q: in your most euphoric dreams, how do you imagine your perfect digger’s life? A life partner that cleans your shelves every week…continue…

 

 

A: I’ll be tempted to think that a perfect digger life is a life where passion never gets to an end… At the end, this is what it’s all about… When I wake up at 6 in the morning to go to Flea Market, I’m happy and exited! This is a perfect digger life…

 

 

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Just a few words to thank those who choose to share their knowledge with the others through reissues, compilations, books, blogs, mix, … This is a community, sharing is the key… To newcomers, do not forget that it’s all about music… the main difference between a 500 US$ record and a 5 US$ record is most of the time the rarity, not the quality…

 

Please visit our shop, www.superflyrecords.com, you should be able to get some nice stuff! Check www.myspace.com/raremoods for some original contemporary music, and catch me on a gig if you’re in Paris or somewhere around the globe…


16 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Glad to see you back too man! Everyday I'd click on your site and saw the same name.
    Victor Kiswell. LoL.
    Anyway,I totally feel you with the updating your blug stuff.I myself am a painter who has a blog, but that it is rarely updated.
    Keep it going mate.Love vinyls.

  2. respect to the man Manu Boubli! He was truly groundbreaking with his early Comet comps (Racubah, etc) each of which still has killer virtually undiscovered tracks. Not surprised to see his attitude is as refined and respectful as his musical selections. I second what he said about getting some record-collecting ladies in here, they DO exist! Good work, keep it going Eilon!

  3. Anonymous

    sweet! glad to see the blog is back in action, i have been checking almost daily for updates over the last few months! quality read!

    thanx!

  4. Manu Boubli is one ill dude! That afro jazz "ode to hendrix" looked too fresh! This photo blog is one of the coolest cratediggin blogs I've stumbled on. Thanks a lot and keep up the incredible work!

  5. victor kiswell

    a very serious one !

    manu was truly one of first persons to give birth to that "afro focus" we have these last years. his 3 afro comps opened a new road.

  6. Canon 7D

    It's about time you update your blog. For a minute I thought maybe you have given up. Glad to see your back. Nice interview by the way!

  7. 0_o

    glad to have this blog back, you can add me to the list of people to have been checking a few times a week to find the same page for what seemed like a long time!
    great post. thanks again

  8. Anonymous

    Yeah big ups to you for continuing the 'quest', also check regularly to learn and be inspired, keep it going brother. Also, as you say it is a community, have you thought of inviting people from around the globe to contribute in a format that would suit your blog? You could edit!

  9. Anonymous

    Amazing collection… !!!!

    Any Idea what kind of record storage system he is using… Looks like the best way to file and find one's records… ?

  10. Anonymous

    For some reasons, the ones I’m going back to are classics… Even though I’m deeply into collecting rarities, I’m always amazed when I go back to classics… Miles Davis ‘Kind Of Blue’, John Coltrane ‘My Favorite Things’, Marvin Gaye ‘What’s Goin’ On’ or Van Morison ‘Moondance’, those LP’s are just essentials, beautiful, no weak tracks, … Finally, it’s also nice to think that great records made by great artists went so successful!

    Love those records as well, great quote in regards to quality vs. rarity which so many diggers get caught up in.

    Great interview and photos. Keep it coming. I've spent the past few nights reading the blog and it's been really inspiring to read about all these people who have been doing the same thing as I for the past 15-20 years.

    Simon B
    Montreal

  11. hockman

    I just hit Manu’s Superfly store in Paris and did serious damage to my credit card. He has some great stuff there especially the Afro stuff along with lots of jazz, soul, etc. His staff was also very helpful.

    Fantastic blog by the way. Sometimes makes me feel that I am sane compared to some of the other collectors out there…;o)

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