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Up n' Close with DJ Benoit

1 Aug

An interview with DJ Benoit C.

 

Here, we get up close and personal with one of Koh Phangan’s newest and hottest DJs….

Benoit Clerc, one of Koh Phangan’s local residents is fast becoming the talk of the island.

By day, he lives a quiet life, tucked away in an ultra-modern house in the jungle. When night falls, Benoit reveals himself in full force.
With his wicked dance moves undeniable charisma, Benoit dances ferocious circles around anyone willing to get close enough.

Benoit’s passion for music and dance has always been apparent and earlier this year he made his debut as a first time DJ at Guy’s Bar, Haad Tien, playing alongside some of the island’s top DJs. For the past 7 months, actor turned DJ, Benoit, has pleased crowds all across the island.

Combining his skills of performance with his love for music, Benoit’s unique and sexy style creates a fusion of colour and sound that is guaranteed to make anyone dance – especially the women! It seems this man can turn his hand to anything! So let’s find out more…

 

So Benoit, where did it all begin? What made you choose the entertainment business?
Well, I’ve always been a performer, even since childhood it has come natural to me. In school, I was always the one used in class demonstrations so I knew from a young age; my path would lead to entertainment. From 1990-1994 I studied dramatical art at a performing arts college in Paris and after I went traveling working for an organization, Club Med, where I was in charge of the entertainment. 

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When did you first become interested in music?
It was in Guadeloupe; in 1995 I discovered the electronic scene. When I moved back to Paris, my first idea was to organize underground trance parties. I made good connections with the right people, got to know the DJ’s and in 1997 I started to set up events. I set up underground raves in different locations; in warehouses and castle ruins. The parties were wild, with up to 2,000 people partying. It was during this time that I became an actor.
 

Wow, sounds awesome! Can you tell us about your acting career? Rumour has it you were in the erotic film industry…
Yes, I started acting in Paris. When you start out as an actor, you take whatever you can get and my activity of acting became more serious when I was asked to film a series of movies for French TV. These were erotic movies.
When I started out, the feedback was great; filming was high quality and tasteful so I committed to a series of 20 erotic movies. I didn’t expect results so fast – the movies became very popular incredibly quickly, raising my fame and status. They’re still being shown on French TV today!

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So you’re still a well recognized actor in France! Underground raves, celebrity status…sounds like the perfect lifestyle! What brought you to Thailand?
I felt I achieved all I could in Paris. I wanted to grow and try new things. Traveling gives inspiration so in 2009, I came back to Koh Phangan, where I’d been twice before. The fusion of my previous movies gave me royalties. It was not enough to survive in Paris, but enough for a good lifestyle in Thailand.

When I found the existence of Guy’s Bar and Eden Garden, I decided to stay. My first connection with the electronic scene here was with DJ David Chong. Also being French, we connected straight away.
Little by little over the last few years, I made myself known here. Having a passion for the dance floor, my weekend ritual became Guy’s Bar and Eden Garden, I befriended Peter G, started going all the parties and over time, I got to know the music scene inside out.
 

What made you turn your hand to DJ-ing?
DJ-ing was always an attraction to me, but I didn’t have the time to set focus on it. I have been involved in the party and electronic scene for 20 years. Always feeling a connection with music and the dance floor, I just needed the time and space to know what to do with myself. Although living in Koh Phangan, enjoying this lifestyle is great, I get all my satisfaction from performing – being in the lime light is natural for me.
Becoming close friends with DJs Peter G and David Chong, for the past four years I’ve been surrounded by music. I’ve been a performer all my life, so the natural progression was to fuse my performance skills with music and become a DJ. January this year, I finally made the commitment to myself and to music.

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dj, benoit clerc, tech house, party, phangan
And we’re so glad you did! But it can’t be easy…how did you get started?
DJ David Chong is one of my best friends here on the island. I often talked to him about DJ-ing, but when he saw how serious I was about learning, he gave me his time and showed me his technique. I took this and practiced non-stop, putting in grueling hours, day and night.

When I finally started to learn, it felt natural. The whole technical aspect; it seems complicated from the outside, but I digested it rapidly. It was meant for me.
DJ Fabrice Phb gave me my first gig at Mangoes in Ban Tai. This was the first time I played in front of a crowd.
Soon after, David recognized my hard work and proposed me to do a warm up set at Guy’s Bar, giving me the chance to play at my favourite venue. I knew I still had a lot to learn, but I was thankful for the opportunity. It was pretty nerve racking, but luckily I’m a dancer so I know what the crowd looks for.
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dj, benoit, tech house, party, phangan, nics urban

And now just 7 months on, you’re playing at several venues across the island. Feeling proud?
More than anything, I feel lucky!! I was given a lot of help and support from my DJ friends; David, Peter G and Fabrice.
It may seem like I got it all easy, but believe me, David can be testing! He is not only an amazing DJ, but a close friend, so he has been critical of my work from the beginning.
David continued to let me play the warm up sets at Guy’s Bar. The more I played, the more confident I became and I started to develop my own style. Before I knew it, I was made one of the resident DJs at Guy’s Bar and had gigs across the island. It’s all happened so fast!
 

Your sound is very unique; you have a sexy style. Where did you get your influence?
I play sexy tracks to play with the image from my past. It’s fun to work with a persona – this is what I’ve created; so why not let my sound reflect my personality?!
I’ve also been influenced by the DJs around me. Witnessing how they differ in style and technique has always been inspiring. This observation allowed me to develop my own style.
If it works, maybe I’ve just got good taste! I know what the crowd wants… especially women! This is maybe why I maneuver my sound towards women. When a woman is happy, everyone is happy!!

So you’re a true performer. An actor; turned dancer; turned DJ! What would you say is your principle behind DJ-ing?
My principle is always the music and the crowd. Watching your crowd is key when playing – these are the people you are aiming to please so play what they want and work with them.
I feel passionate about music and play with soul. This is the best way to really feel a connection to the people on the dance floor.  

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What is it that you love about DJ-ing?

I get the best results for what I give out when I DJ. I’ve been a hard partier for years and I know how it feels to get lost in the music. When I play my sound and the crowd goes wild, that is when I get everything back.
 

Can you tell us your favourite place to DJ on Koh Phangan?
Well, aside from Guy’s Bar and Eden Garden, I love to play at Nic’s in Haad Rin; the vibe is really cool. I am proud to say I am resident DJ here and play every Monday.
The Place is also a good spot as it’s nice to play right on the beach and I like Air Lounge.
 

Where on the island is next for you? At which other venues would you like to play?
It would be nice to DJ at Jungle Experience and Merkaba and I’d also like to play an electro set at the beginning of Half Moon. It would be super cool to hear my sound on a big sound system.

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What’s next for DJ Benoit C? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Producing.  I’m already starting to learn how to make music with Ableton Live. To put my creative input to making music is my dream.
I don’t look too far into the future, but I would love to share my sound with the world. First I’d like to begin in Asia – I’ve made contacts in Japan and China – an avenue I’m super excited to pursue…why not?!
 

Well we wish you the best of luck Benoit!
Thank you! It’s my pleasure!!

 

" target="_blank">Check out Benoit C’s sexy sound here ! 

Benoit C is resident DJ at Nic’s Place, Haad Rin. Come along every Monday - 8 til late.

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 By Nikki Powell

 

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