Hugo Douster watched two entire seasons of Lost in just a few days, became obsessed with John Locke and started feeling “really weird,” so he decided to write some new beats as a form of cognitive behavioral therapy. “The music I was making after that sounded really…different,” he says. Just as the Argentina-based French producer/DJ dived deeper into Locke’s imaginary mindspiral, magic struck like a bolt from heaven. “I saw this picture of Jesus riding a raptor from a book on creationism,” says Douster. “I started to imagine people living with dinosaurs and making music. It’s kind of a universal thing, the dinosaurs. Every child loves them.” So begat Triassic Genesis, Douster’s mini-exegesis and an EP of boinging tectonic dance tracks texturized with tubular bells, burping synths and one well-placed Busy Signal sample.
Unlike the seven days it took god to create the humans and their domestic dino-pets, Douster’s origins as a producer/DJ were not so cut and dry. He grew up in club-culture-hungry Lyon, France, learning to scratch on turntables in his bedroom, but had no clear idea there was such an occupation as “professional DJ” until he moved to Buenos Aires for engineering school in 2006, where his world cracked open on digital cumbia and other tropical sounds he heard in the city’s storied Zizek Club. “That really was the coolest place to go, cause they played a lot of new, different music. I made a little mix and sent it to them, and they told me, ‘Yeah, just come and play something.’” His Zizek residency led to a spot on the label, and he unleashed a slew of remixes and originals inspired by the new sounds he was soaking up, filtered through his own imaginative patchworking. “I basically use the classic reggaeton rhythm, speed it up, put on some rap samples, borrow from cumbia, kuduro, baile funk, Dutch house, and mix them together and see if it works.”
It works—Douster is a master at bizarre, cartoony tropical, and he’s basically never met a song he didn’t fuck with. He transformed Missy Elliott’s “The Rain” into a percolating, understated cumbia; chopped Tony Matterhorn’s “Dutty Wine” into a monster-synth house track; and when he recently married his Argentinian girlfriend, he made a gwada remix of La Bande Basile’s “La Chenille qui Redemarre,” the French equivalent to America’s wedding staple “Electric Slide.” His next album, he says, is based on medieval times: trumpets, horses, big castles and Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Douster is a weird conduit for global digital sound—a funny French kid with a skill for syncopation—but as he points out, in prehistoric times the habitable world was one giant landmass. “After the Triassic, all the continents were like, united,” he says. “You didn’t have Africa, Asia, America—that was just one big thing.” It must have been a lot easier to ride the Bluntosaurus to Camelot in those days.
Stream: Douster, Triassic EP