Cheap House melt two worlds together on a jazzclub stage : the Strasbourg-rooted quartet plays techno and house, using improvisation as would a DJ or a producer performing a late-night set, feeling the audience’s energy, leading them through loops, breaks, drops… But without any sequence or computer, all live on analog instruments.
The story begins naturally during a party. One of these show put together by the label and collective Omezis, during which four musicians of the crew, Théo (bass), Matthieu (drums) Paul (saxophone) and Nils (synthesizers) take an interest in building bridges between jazz and other genres. That day of late 2018, it’s techno and house, and it’s a crush. Cheap House is born.
But be warned : it’s not about four jazzmen taking over existing pieces of electronic music. It’s not about a true fusion of genres either. Because here, jazz is a state of mind. A philosophy more than mere aesthetics, as they gladly put it. It’s one of improvisation, openness, sharing, one of celebration too. It’s a matter of generation : in their twenties, the four musicians have grown along the French touch movement of the likes of Daft Punk and Cassius or their heirs, Justice ; they met around jazz, that they learned at the conservatory. A school that gave them abilities, craftsmanship, but with Cheap House the stakes were to deconstruct that old cliché of a supposedly elitist genre, often associated with luxury and boredom. No : Jazz in 2021 can be far more diverse than that, inclusive, popular. It can come from an agitated basement where artists and party-wo-men cross path and merge, all that little crowd leaving after to dance in the neighboring club, as it can be seen in the londonian south where the UK jazz scene has flourished for the last decade (The Comet Is Coming, Yussef Kamaal…) fascinating the four Strabourgians.
It was only fair that the Cheap House experiment, named after the cheap yet magical sounds of electronic music pioneers, outreached the limits of a single night. Techno and House musics were already there, built in the culture of these four sound diggers, in their daily lives - and in their nights. It was only a matter of digging deeper, listening to hours and hours of music, going back to the roots, playing archeologist while keeping the focus towards the future. And they did, and they were thorough. After being nominated at the Inouis du Printemps de Bourges prize and integrated to the WART Booking agency roster (Arnaud Rebotini, Meute, Acid Arab…), they work with sound engineer Pierre Favrez from Cabaret Contemporain (an older band experimenting with an audacious acoustic techno) on a first EP released in april 2021. Then a few months later, producer Arnaud Rebotini, master of synths and living musical encyclopedia, helped them refine their methods and research. This meeting was set up by the Eurockéennes de Belfort Festival as a one-time thing, yet it has unfolded in an ongoing collaboration, as Arnaud joined a recording session for the second EP of Cheap House, scheduled for release in the first half of 2022. The influence of Underground Resistance, pioneers of Detroit’s techno, is stronger than ever. The link is obvious : the techno revolution carried out by Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, or later Carl Craig, anchored itself in the same shattered town that gave birth to Motown, and under the spell of afro american producers who were widely influenced by Jazz. Today these musicians are inspiring four instrument players who knock down chapels to mold them into clubs. It is a full circle story.
Arnaud Rebotini : “I’ve been interested in the meeting of Jazz and Electronic musics for a while now, questioning the essence of Jazz in our time. In a sense, this generation of musicians to which Cheap House belongs has outreached mine : they completely incorporated electronic music as a legitimate and sound artistic ground, and even more, as a sort of necessary step in order to be creative and let loose of grand masters of the past. They are post-techno.”.