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GREATEST / Daquisiline Gomis

The co-founder of Afro-vegan Parisian hotspot Jah Jah talks sports as therapy, the necessity of music and nomadic lifestyles at Manifesto 2022.

INTERVIEWER: Cyrus Goberville INTRO: Brock Cardiner PHOTOGRAPHER: Thibaut Grevet LOCATION: Espace Niemeyer

A vegan canteen run by Daquisiline Gomis and Coralie Jouhier, Jah Jah by Le Tricycle has emerged as a staple of Paris’ 10th arrondissement, highlighting the healthy and democratic cuisine of Afro-Caribbean cultures. Yet unlike most restaurants, Jah Jah is more than just food, encompassing a growing roster of extracurricular interests, from an inclusive and accessible hiking club to Jah Jah Sound System, a music initiative designed to integrate melodies and grooves into the everyday lives of Parisians.

At Manifesto, a four-day festival presented by GOAT and Kaleidoscope Magazine at Espace Niemeyer during Paris Fashion Week SS23, Jah Jah opened a pop-up cafe and DJ’d throughout the event. Following the debut of Jah Jah Sound System, Daquisiline sits down with Cyrus Goberville, Head of Cultural Programs at the Pinault Collection’s Bourse du Commerce museum, to talk sports as therapy, the necessity of music and nomadic lifestyles.

Can you introduce yourself and tell me what you do?

My name is Daquisiline Gomis and I am the co-founder of the restaurant Jah Jah, which I opened with my partner Coralie Jouhier five years ago. We started with Le Tricycle, a cargo bike, seven years ago, selling hot dogs at festivals, catering for events etc. 

Besides that, we have a hiking club called Jahiking, where we prepare monthly hikes all over France. The goal is to do Kilimanjaro one day. We also organize live sets with a new sound system we designed called Jah Jah Sound System, which we are presenting at Manifesto. Kyu Steed, Juls, Shaun Sky, Cesta, Benjiflow, J2K and myself are DJing over the course of the festival.

How did you get into music?

With Jah Jah, we are looking for bliss. For us, the balance of life resides in three points: music, sports and good food.

Does the restaurant have a strong emotional component for you?

It’s a family business. I set it up with Coralie. I’ve been with her for almost 15 years, and I am 32 years old. We grew up together. We did this project together from A to Z. The vision was simple: the nomadic lifestyle. 

We wanted to move with a bike and present our hot dogs all over the world. So we started catering and, little by little, it took off and people liked it very much. At some point, people started asking us when we would have a permanent venue. It all happened very quickly.

Is love the basis of this professional project?

Love, passion and dreams.

Do you dream as a couple?

We both dream and now we know what each of us brings. Well, we always knew it more or less, but now we have a balance and we simply complement each other. It's a real joy to work with her.

How do you manage to combine the different practices you mentioned within the same place? Is music an important part of the restaurant? 

It is, but the sound system was made to welcome people outside. The purpose of the sound system is that you don't have to pay a ticket or go to a nightclub to listen to music. We want it to be accessible to everyone. That is what was missing here [in Paris]. We have traveled a lot and, in some countries, music is everywhere, and you can feel that it plays on people's moods and attitudes. It’s an essential approach to life that must be brought to Paris. 

What are the places you have traveled to where you’ve experienced something that made you think, “This is what I want to do with my life?”

Each trip has brought us a lot. Jamaica gave us a lot about Rastafarian culture and philosophy. They even “showed us the way,” so to speak. Our trip to Senegal also enriched us a lot. The fact that people there didn't have much but were able to give and had smiles on their faces really moved me. 

In the West, you think that it is the possession of goods that makes you happy, and when you go to Senegal, you see that it’s not the case. With almost nothing, you can be happy.

How would you explain the sports part of Jah Jah?

Sport is like therapy. In this city you are surrounded by cement and concrete. Getting out of the city helps you reconnect with yourself. The best way to connect with yourself is to connect directly with nature. This is what gives you that feeling of belonging to a world bigger than yourself.

In this post-COVID period, when I feel a lot of activity around me, I struggle a bit. I sometimes feel devoured by the city, exhausted by everything around me.

We were born into this world and have accepted this way of life as normal. The lockdown helped us understand why this reality is so overwhelming. It helped people understand that life is not about running in all directions to nowhere, but rather about seeking love, reconnecting with yourself and vibrating again. There is a fullness when you watch a sunset or wake up in nature. There are no words for that.

It is actually a political process, what you're saying, on a micro scale. Regaining control of oneself through gustatory pleasure, through the pleasure of the ear, through physical pleasure…

I know what you mean. For me, music is the food of the soul.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I am really into jungle at the moment. Otherwise, a lot of dub and a bit of rap. The whole South African movement of Amapiano. We really need that “boom” in our lives—that giant noise, that energy, that wake-up call, that slap in the face.