June 6, 2024

Written by Shauna Devlin.

Algerian artist Idriss D reflect on his sonic heritage, running a record label, and the ever-changing nature of electronic music.

Record store owner, label head, booking agent, DJ – there aren’t many parts of the music industry that Algerian-born artist Idriss D hasn’t sunk his teeth into. Born from a musically inclined family, his grandfather (notable Algerian musician Zerouala El Aarbi), uncles, and later, his friends in the 90s Algiers club scene – shaped IDRISS’ diverse music taste into what it is today.

Now a prominent figure in the Italian club scene, IDRISS has performed at renowned venues such as Echoes, Cocoricò, Red Zone, Angels of Love, and Mafia Club. He remains a resident DJ at Cocoricò Riccione. He hosts a weekly party at Macarena club in Barcelona through his label Memento which has signed some of the biggest names in the industry with artists such as Carl Craig, Luciano, Ten Walls, and The Analogue Cops gracing the label’s discography. Additionally, he has frequented clubs across Europe including Tresor and Watergate in Berlin, Club 4 and El Row in Barcelona, Rex in Paris, Nordstern in Basel, Amnesia Milano, and Privilege Ibiza.

DJ exploits aside, he is also the founder of dbArtists which partners and represents labels and artists like Minus, Clonk, Freak N Chic, Cadenza, and Luciano. Despite carving a name out for himself within the Italian music scene, however, IDRISS has always stayed true to his North African roots. His music is a well-balanced and appealing blend of Arabic and Western tropes, but his most recent project tips the scales even further.

Bled el fen is a 2-disk LP, and the first release on IDRISS’ new imprint, Nedjma Records. The label was created with the intent of promoting up-and-coming artists from the generally underrepresented Arabic world. The album pushes traditional Arabic rhythmical elements and instrumentation to the forefront, making it a refreshing and interesting release against the more contemporary European sounds.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today! How has 2024 treated you so far?

Thank you for talking to me about this project, it’s been a special one for me. 2024 so far has been a great year. I can’t believe we are already into June. Summer is getting busier, and the album release to kick-start the year has been important to me. The feedback and support has been amazing and a constant motivator for me.

I wanted to know about your feelings on the current music scene. How has it changed since you started your career in the 90s club scene? Has there been any notifiable trends or changes that you have noticed since then?

The music scene is constantly changing, it’s [change] the one consistant thing in life. Trends become more and more, but this doesn’t bother me at all. I always want to challenge myself with my work and stand out from the crowd. It’s how you create individuality and longevity in a market with a ton of competition. Cycles can bring good music and new artists which is also important, but the key thing is to always maintain the quality.

How has your heritage influenced your sound?

I grew up in a family of musicians and singers. I always remember my uncle Lamine keeping up the tempo with his leg whenever a song came on. This was a huge influence, and my uncles educated me a lot when it came to music and how I discovered genres and artists. My direction has always been less traditional, however. I was exposed to a lot more electronic music, which I started to mix funkier up to this point. Now I want to incorporate sounds and artists from my beloved home of Algeria – It’s important to go back to your roots.

Les Yeux Orange · PREMIERE : Idriss D & Gasba Electrique – Hey Galbi

Can you tell us more about the work that you have done with dbArtists? What made you start the agency?

I created DB artists for a one simple reason – I didn’t want to wait for an agency to book me. I wanted to build up my team, structure and way of working. At the time, I was an unknown DJ with no money, but I had big dreams and many ideas. Signing new and unknown talented acts was somthing that was important to me and what we have wanted to do since day one. 

We began to educate ourselves in the social media world and we used this to promote material until we got the attention of some clubs and other talent, gradually building up the roster over the years. As soon as I started earning income, I followed the advice of a friend of mine Luca Piccolo – he owned another big agency. He told me I needed to invest in a team I truste to avoid stress, so thats what I did, and here we are. I have had many proposals from big management companies to sign EDM and the more commercial stars, but this will never happen at DB!

Your record label Memento has hit an incredible milestone of 18 years. How are things going with Memento? Do you have any exciting release plans in the pipeline for us this year?

Memento started the same year as DB, with the same goal – freedom to release music from the artist I like and always on vinyl. Memento is an electronic platform, and I can release jungle music with big vocals to more experimental stuff. If I like stuff then I sign it. It’s a label for DJs, and we don’t tend to stick to one genre. We like to be varied. As for our projects, we have many showcases to come and have held a weekly residency on Mondays at Macarena Club in Barcelona for many years. Release-wise, we have some new ones coming from Germano Ventura and Cromic in 2024.

Running a record label for a 18 years is a huge achievement. Following on from the greatness of Memento, what are the proudest moments of your career so far?

I just want to think that Memento is respected in the world of music. I have always thought big since the first day, and of course, Italy was the first and largest market for us, with lots of support. However, you can tell we sell more vinyl in Asia, the US and the UK, as well as a few places like Germany and France, where they still really value vinyl. I am proud of Memento, and I think you can feel that when I talk about it. I started as an Algerian who moved to Italy without knowing anybody. Seeing where I am now makes me proud. The journey has been long, but overcoming the difficult moments of the vinyl crisis and all the music trends has given me the determination to keep signing new talent, and allowing everyone to have their music released to a wider audience.

Who has been the most influential person in your career so far, and why?

Carl Craig and the Detroit scene influenced my sets and still do today. Why? Because C2 doesn’t do tracks, he does proper songs and music. The Detroit scene is the past, present, and future for me.

Music aside, could you tell us more about what you enjoy doing in your free time?

Gym, friends, my mum, family and wife. The important things in life, as well as good food.

What can we look forward to next from you?

For now, I’m touring and promoting my album, then I have summer gigs from June 1 till the middle of September. So I have a little break and then go, go, go!

However, I will tell you some news… I am honoured to be remixing a big UK pop star and a well-known electronic duo this year. I won’t release any other music until 2025 now, and these new projects will be my only studio work. Stay tuned for more news on this soon.


Purchase IDRISS D – Bled El Fen here