The mysterious Richard Grey is a colourful character.
Look on the internet for information about Richard Grey, a Frenchman, who lives in Ibiza, Spain and produces for US label Subliminal Records, and you may feel you are searching for some kind of international man of mystery.
There are entries for an English knight from the 15th century with the same name. There are pictures, there are extensive discographies detailing over 100 bumping big room releases, using over 30 pseudonyms, spanning thirteen years of prolific activity, including ten years’ worth of work for the massive Subliminal, But there is almost information about the man himself.
Richard Grey, born Richard Christian Rene Jacquin, grew up in Cannes, a small, sparkling, sunny town on the French Riviera with a big reputation as a Summer destination for the rich and fabulous, famous for it’s film festival and well known in the music biz for the annual Midem event, a coming together of label bosses and artists from all over the world.
The twelve year old Richard, already hooked on the club music he was hearing on late night radio, would sneak in to the Midem trade show through one of the back doors of the conference centre, and blag vinyl promos from the unsuspecting label bosses.
“I remember Kevin from Nervous Records to be amazed to see a little boy like me asking for promos, I remember him especially as he was the coolest guy over there to share promos to a person who will not promote his brand. Every year I was there to get those gold records, and the funny thing is that when I entered the business years later, the people recognised me from the old days and were like - You still here? Yes and now I’m doing records under the name Richard Grey and here is my promo... hehehe!”
His first clubbing experience was, appropriately, a rave on a beach in Cannes in 1993. And the tune of the night - I Like To Move it by Reel 2 Real, a project put together by his mentor-to-be Erick Morillo.
Three years later, after practising DJing and working on his production skills using the cutting edge technology of the time - an Atari computer and an Akai sampler - Richard had his first record released.
De Trini by Elacosa on Basic Trax was a start. But it was another two years before the first tune using the Richard Grey Name appeared. He made a tune called The Beginning on the Air French Label, but the beginning was also nearly the end for Mr Grey.
Thanks to his early influences he had developed an American sounding style of production that was just not hitting with the French labels and he was close to jacking it all in and getting a proper job. Then came the fairy tale break that turned it all around.
“I created a quite American disco sound and received always the same answer - you sound American but you are in France. it started to get critical for me money wise (and) one day I decided to make a last record in the studio and to send it to Subliminal which was in my opinion at that time the world’s best dance label. To be honest I never expected feedback from them on my record and I was already looking for regular jobs. Three weeks later I received a message from Subliminal.
At first moment I thought this was a joke, but who could do that kind of joke ? I hadn’t toldanybody about that. So I phoned Subliminal and Erick took the line. He asked me if the record was still free. The answer was of course - yes.
Bam, I was back in the music business. I delivered them a lot of stuff that I produced with my Akai sampler and my Atari only, no mixer, no nada. With my first cheque from the advance I took a flight to New York city to see them.”
Richard moved to New York and continued the fruitful relationship with Morillo and the label, developing his ‘American’ sound, influenced by heroes, Danny Tenaglia, Todd Terry, Deep Dish and David Morales. And his sound suddenly made sense to critics, labels and DJs in France after fellow countrymen Daft Punk had made his birth place the coolest nation on the planet for dance music. When he returned to France and moved to Paris he was in a strong enough position to start his own label (G High) and pull in high profile remix work.
After that, a move to Ibiza, the Summer party capital, and several years at the top of his game extending that impressive discography seemed quite natural.
Now, of course, a Richard Grey production almost comes with a solid gold club hit guarantee. There is really nobody he havent remixed or produced with Shakira, Erick Morillo, Armand Van Helden, Junior Jack, Harry Romero, Jose Nunez, Antoine Clamaran, Robbie Rivera, Yves Larock and many more. He reckons ten releases a year is the optimum. Then there are remixes, and DJ commitments all over the world.
So with all that producing and DJing and partying to do, how does he keep himself inspired?
“I live in ibiza, what better place to get inspired? In summer you go to Pacha and boom, idea coming in. In winter you walk into the wood and boom, idea coming.I feel very, very inspired at the moment. The best music from me is coming up in the very near future”
And with all that mad activity, how does he keep himself sane?
“I’m a shy guy who used to party a lot, or even too much back in my teenage days. I was a real zombie in my young days but this is past. Now I try to live low profile and healthy, enjoy my moments in nature and my bio food.”
Add to that a son, called little Richard of course, and you have a recipe for success in life as well as work. But according to Richard, the future is bright, not just for him but for the dance music business too.
“Dance music will become the new mainstream, the new pop. Thanks to David Guetta ! And yes even more underground records will be played in radio and tv on peak time hours, I’m sure of that. And there are still so many new big markets which are quite new in dance music - India, China, parts of South America, that’s half the world.”
So in the next few years we can expect world beating tunes, and, of course, plenty more parties. He’s so excited he almost can’t contain himself.“The beat, the drum... The underground. Yeah, music man. Music coming from my soul. I will die in a club playing for my 100th birthday. Haha!”