Like that cliché bull that has plagued the china shop for centuries, France’s latest rising House export is proving somewhat hard to ignore. Having already set the tone with a spat of exciting releases for CR2, Size Records and most recently historic House stronghold Strictly Rhythm, a forthcoming debut compilation; ‘Strictly Ibiza to Amsterdam’ for the latter has left all eyes glued to Parisian House protagonist turned boisterous big room bandit Norman Doray.
Following a relentless summer tour of America that epitomized the hype leading up his debut collection of solid bangers and Stricly classics, Dan Carter briefly disturbed the calm before another storm as he recovered from his LA hotel to get the scoop behind adding to the Strictly archives and to trace the producers most productive year to date.
Starting in Miami and ending in Los Angeles, few could have anticipated the positive vibes that would greet the well-groomed producer in his second larger than life outing to America. As Doray’s powerful yet distinctive sound has developed amongst the sea of international talent, the scale of his US following has magnified in the same sizeable vein as his music.
‘The shows were all amazing and some of the places we touched down on just blew my mind,’ admitted Doray. ‘America is going so fast. House music was not so big two years ago but this year it has become the norm. Everywhere you go now here you hear House music, whether it’s the shopping malls, bars or clubs. Being out here amongst that explosion is just incredible.’
Having joined the likes of David Guetta and Swedish House Mafia throughout the summer season in Ibiza, the raised profile of this once underground warrior has even shocked Doray himself. ‘The summer was huge for me this year. I managed 30 gigs in around 70 days, which was hard work but the amazing shows and incredibly enthusiastic crowds made it worth the work. ’
Doray, like most DJs, began his career as a teenager, promptly realizing that the realm of playing other peoples music just didn’t cut the mustard. ‘I didn’t want to be a resident DJ for the rest of my life and I realised that to take the next step up I had to begin producing. My motivation was always that one day people would be coming to shows just to hear my music.’
Drawing on his young lust for early Disco and Funk alongside French greats Cassius and Daft Punk, it was an undying passion for the big room beats that prevented the aspiring producer from playing copycat where thousands of other French artists had, much to their short shelf-life. ‘It was impossible to copy them because they were all so epic and original. I wanted to touch on the positive space they had created, but for the big room crowd, which at that stage wasn’t huge in France.’
Breaking out with vocal banger ‘Last Forever’ alongside Tristan Garner and Errol Reid for CR2, a significant singing with Size Records saw 2010’s ‘Tweet It’ alongside chart pleaser Tim Berg and his like minded studio partner Sebastian Drums was a sure indicator that Doray had not only boycotted the fatal reproduction of his French peers, but also taken his sound to a new and popular medium.
But two years in the making his debut signing to Strictly Rhythm, ‘Kalifornia’, emerged as a full-bodied epitome of Doray’s undeniable global appeal and relentless studio talents. Coinciding perfectly with his intense romp of the USA, the French producers latest offering was celebrated across the global airways, with heavy support coming from the likes of Pete Tong and Tiesto.
Doray explained: ‘This track was my attempt at trying something a little different. I struggle to find tracks with both Disco vibes and big dynamics, so a lot of work was put into getting the balance just right.
He added: ‘Given that it took two years to emerge, it is a real ego boost to know that the vision I had back in 2009 has proven popular this year.’
Such a finely tuned display of Doray’s current dynamism was the perfect warm-up for the talking point of the industry and more importantly, his career. Armed with the sterling arsenal of House bombs from the vaults of pure House history and a further collection of essential Big Room bombs at his mercy, the French producer was honored to don the energy of his explosive DJ sets to Strictly Rhythm’s untouchable series of compilations.
‘Getting the Strictly compilation was nothing short of a huge honor for me,’ admitted Doray. ‘Back in the day, these guys were the first label I heard about because of their huge history and incredible reputation for great House music.
‘When they asked me to do this record I was just thrilled to have caught the attention of such a great label. You are so busy touring and burying yourself in the studio that you never know who is really paying attention, so this was a real boost.’
With a split of 80:20 for stone cold classics and upfront bangers, Doray was thrilled with the positive pressure of making his debut for Strictly an offering that no one would forget in a hurry, splitting the compilation into day and night to encapsulate the diverse journey from savored anthems to tough and uplifting anthems. He explained: ‘Compiling for Strictly was a tough job, but I love because I am always looking for a challenge. I had to be really precise in making this compilation, as I wanted it to be an attractive first mix from me. Giving this anything less than 100 per cent just wasn’t an option.’
Riding the turbulent waves of modern Dance music eith little sign of a struggle, Doray has truly found himself at a turning point in his career. With so much already achieved in his comparatively short career, the French producer has been able to boycott the negative pressures and club circuit politics found not only amongst Dance music’s superstars, but those junior to Doray himself.
‘Music is all about trends and the fact is that House music is in the middle of everything right now, the guys at the top seem to be more accommodating than some of the newer artists, who come across as pretty egotistical,’ he explained.
But Norman, like the modest gentleman he is, has no interest in dropping names or stabbing backs. Discreet in his criticism, the shortcomings of others are of no value to the esteemed producer, who is far more concerned with maintaining the positive flames that have recently engulfed his career.
‘When it comes down to it, I am not in it for vanity or celebrity status,’ he explained. ‘I know a lot of people are but at the end of the day, I just want people to remember me for doing what I love and to continue sharing my music with the world.’
And given the phenomenal demand for his exciting blend of big room beats and floor filling musical finery, Doray would struggle to find the time to worry about such egotistical producers even if he tried.
With his appetite well and truly wet for the American crowds and the sexy European gatherers closer to home, the next two months will see our Strictly approved cohort juggle the realms of strict studio ritual and weekend romps of Europe’s hottest clubs. He explained: ‘Between now and November, it is all about getting into the studio and developing my sound’
‘I will only be playing in Europe until then because I don’t want to become distracted, but I will definitely be touching down in England and Italy in-between the studio work. Then, as of November, I will be hitting the US every couple of months as I loved what I saw this summer and I am desperate to get deeper into the scene Stateside.’
With the first of many explosive compilations to committed to a true landmark in global House music, who knows where we will find the leading architect of all-out big room boisterousness one year from now. Wherever he is, it seems safe to expect nothing short of strictly the best!