Time has told that Norman Doray and myself were always destined to deal with each other on the move. Where our first interview, some six months ago, took place as he prepared to leave his hotel in LA to return from a sizeable spate of American shows, the time inbetween has certainly treated the Parisian big room master considerably well. Now well accustomed to the hustle and bustle of the states and it’s glowing appetite for House music, his ongoing plight to bring melodic sanctuary to a genre he has served dutifully since his explosion on the French underground remains evident in the sheer size of everything he touches. Speaking to me just minutes before leaving for the airport for his largest American endeavour to date, there is a subtle tone of boyish excitement behind the energetic Frenchman on the other end of the line. For the cliché may go an American werewolf in Paris, but this time Europe has created the monster to which America must now answer.
Solidified into the realms of globetrotting House maverick with a residency at Las Vegas hotspot Surrender, Doray has not missed the humility that comes with the very concept of DJs sharing the stages where Tom Jones, Siegfried and Roy and Tom Jones alike made their names. ‘I have friends who aren’t even into House music hear that I am playing the same stage as Celine Dion did all those years ago in the heart of the Vegas nightlife they can’t believe it. She was a huge star, but I am just a DJ.’
Without the pretention of a Vegas House Mafia, Europe has been a key import into the cities vivacious façade of bright lights and typically indulgent ventures. But amid its notable cultural traits, there was a gaping gap to which Doray believes House music has filled perfectly. ‘Outside of the shows, Vegas had become a dumping ground for urban acts. This gave the place a very aggressive image. House music speaks to young people across the globe in a way that is unintimidating and of course, now very accessible. It was time for something new and exciting.’
In an almost overnight movement, America became Dance music’s all-year-round Mecca. From it’s increasingly prominent festival etiquette to the glitz and glamour of its high-octane club scene. Far opposite then, to the image held by Doray as he approached his inauguration into the scene some years ago. As a equally masterful insight into the genres development as its overseas onslaught, Doray’s earlier fears have certainly been disproven, but never forgotten. ‘Until recently all you really associated the states with was Trance and Dub Step and only four years ago the general belief was that House music wasn’t working in America. The clubs where usually quiet and attendance to them seemed to be on the grounds of fashion more than anything.’
While the general consensus remains that stateside acceptance comes at the price of a celebrity endorsement or soul crushing urban crossover, Doray’s consistently sturdy output of Big Room bangers remains testament to his ongoing plight to make honest House music in the face of universal demand. Quality may have been overtaken by quantity across the board, but such exploits as ‘Leo’ for Spinnin Records and a solid European flavoured collaboration alongside French peer Arno Cost and Mixmash maestro Laidback Luke echo the unaltered passion towards which Doray’s agenda is still set.
‘Now that all avenues of music think that they can slap a vocal line on a House track and make it successful, artists need to be tuned in to the quality of what they are putting out,’ he explains, sniggering with me as we both acknowledge the severe increase in cheesy Urban crossovers. ‘A good instrumental with a rapper or singer stuck over the top isn’t necessarily a quality track. There needs to be that element of quality control for us to really benefit from this universal exposure.’
‘Nowadays the music industry is like the movie industry: three or four big players end up dictating the trends,’ he explained. ‘Nobody wants to miss an explosion, whatever the context, so naturally when one changes, everyone does. That is how it works in every industry I can think of. It sucks when people divert from certain characteristics but at the same time it hasn’t stopped good music breaking through during this exciting explosion within the genre.’
But doom and gloom aside, Doray cannot believe that the American resurgence has been overtly detrimental to the industry. Poised in a position where universal limelight and increasing enthusiasm are coming with little sign of impeding upon musical quality, the dream of breaking American that Doray and so many of his peers aspired to cannot be played down at the hands of a few rogue marks on the bandwagon.
He explained: ‘These are doors that few of us ever dreamed of opening and I am excited to see it unfolding with so much enthusiasm. I hear what people say about the commercialism and exposure for those that don’t deserve it, but the fact is that nothing is perfect. We all have an opportunity to make it on our own merits and so the key thing is to do that while we can.’
But reigning from a city of unlimited artistic hallmarks, the news that Doray has bigger plans and ambitions within his creative career are far from surprising. As he continues to master the big room beat alongside such key imprints as Size Records and Spinnin Records, a childhood dream of fuelling the big screen with his studio movements may have seemed impossible just several years ago, but as America has shown the Parisian producer, nothing is impossible. ‘I am not one to talk shit about Dance music, but it is slowly becoming music for pure entertainment rather than appreciation. Film soundtracks are widely renowned and celebrated for their artistic content and to an extent they become truly timeless. I love House music and would never truly turn my back on it, but this is an avenue I aspire to become involved in.’
When his French peers Daft Punk pioneered the industry with a stunning sweep into the realms of universally accessible Electro music, few could comprehend it could get much bigger for Dance music. With his feet firmly placed in America’s ongoing House exploits and further international exploits already on the cards, Doray remains an organic embodiment of the people serving their time in this industry for all the right reasons.