Filed under: Interview
From the airwaves of France and dancefloors of New York to suave cocktail sipping nights at the Playboy mansion, Dimitri from Paris’ blend of upbeat disco, soul, funk, Jazz and hip-hop has defined him as one of the most identifiable players in house music today. And with a fresh mix album recently released on the Defected label and an army of devoted fans in Japan Higher-Frequency took time out to chat with the original Parisian pioneer of rare grooves.
Interview by Ollie Beeston
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Welcome back to Tokyo, you’re about to play to an audience that is quite familiar with your work – how does it feel to be here?
Dimitri From Paris : It feels good to be back in Tokyo, like you said the crowd here is pretty familiar with my stuff so it’s always good to play to people who are following your stuff, you can always try something new with them as opposed to with people who have no idea about your stuff so it’s one of those places where I can be as ‘edgy’ as I can.
HRFQ : What’s your general impression of the Japanese house music and club scene?
Dimitri : Yeah I think that people generally come to clubs with music in mind as opposed to the rest of the western world where people tend to view clubs more from a social aspect. I think people don’t come to clubs so much here for socialising, like they’ll go to Karaoke bars and other places but from what I’ve experienced here the clubs are more about the music and with me being all about the music that’s something I certainly appreciate.
HRFQ : Your latest release is an addition to the popular “In The House” compilation series on the “Defected” label, how do you feel that this latest mix fits in with the series? Does it represent any further evolution in the Dimitri sound?
Dimitri : Well there was no particular ‘sound’ in the series apart from that of the DJ who was doing the mix so I think that each DJ the series has his own style and that’s what’s good about it basically there’s no direction for any DJ to ‘fit’ into. Defected is really just a medium for us Djs to express ourselves and each DJ that participates is unique and therefore has his own style, my mix represents my sound and I’m really happy with it.
HRFQ : What’s the global reaction to the release been like?
Dimitri : It’s been very good, Japan alone sold like ten thousand copies and worldwide there’s been about 80,000 sold which is quite a lot so far it’s been pretty good.
HRFQ : So are there any tracks on the compilation that you’re particularly happy with?
Dimitri : Well I was happy to mix in the old with the new which is something I’m kind of known for but I was really happy to get hold of Lil Louis’ ‘New Dance Beat’. Lil Louis is very particular in that he’s very discriminating with who he gives his tracks to but he did this as a personal favour to me and said ‘Well y’know I don’t usually do this but since you’re part of the family…’
HRFQ : With that in mind your latest studio album carries somewhat of a laidback, easy listening feel, how will your set tonight at AIR, Tokyo compare, contrast that?
Dimitri : Well as I said my DJ side is best represented in compilations like the Defected release and the “A Night at the Playboy Mansion’ series which is really music to make people dance to. I always believe that the DJ is here to make the people dance and when I do music like my own album there’s no particular need to make people dance, it’s fairly open, anything can go so I think that the music that I like to write is more laid back, more relaxed and more geared towards the home environment and a home listening situation. So, it’s like two different sides so opposed to the music you can hear on my albums I’ll probably be playing something closer to what you’d hear on my compilations.
HRFQ : Alongside acts like Daft Punk, Cassius and Air how do you feel that your music fits into the current French music scene?
Dimitri : Well there again we all have our own different sounds, the Daft Punk sound is much harder than mine and is more geared toward electronic sounds while my sound is more organic, more acoustic. The Air sound is definitely more chilled out so I’d say that we all have our own little niche and I’m happy that we don’t all sound alike because that certainly makes us more interesting as artists for the people – they can’t enjoy us three separately unless they have something different.
HRFQ : How do you feel about the recent electro revival that’s sweeping the house scene, has that influenced you?
Dimitri : Well that’s quite funny because I’m like 40 years old and I started Djing about 25 years ago so basically it’s the first time to see that something is trendy again but I’ve heard it all before so it doesn’t really have the same appeal to me but the audiences nowadays were mostly too young to be able to see the whole thing with adult eyes. When ‘New Wave’ came out I was about twenty or so I took it as fresh – today it’s not as fresh anymore. I guess I’m getting older but I can understand the way people look at it as a genre but to me it just doesn’t really shake me as much as it did back then.
HRFQ : One of your most famous remixes was “Talkin’ all that Jazz” by Stetsasonic which I understand was remixed completely live, why the decision to completely bypass the computer?
Dimitri : Well because I always liked music that sounded live an acoustic and if I started using the computer it was because I couldn’t do better than that and I didn’t have to budget to hire musicians but every time I had a budget I used to think about what it would be like to bypass the computer. I think that the computer should simply be a tool and not a complete means to create music as I don’t like music that sounds one hundred precent electronic. For that reason every time I can I get hold of live musicians and use them to get the feel I’m after, that’s why quite often when I DJ a lot of music that I like to mix in is music that is recorded live. This is the sound that I like and I really feel like there’s more warmth in there than a lot of the work done on the computer or generally electronically.
HRFQ : So what’s the plan for the coming year?
Dimitri : Well there’ll be another compilation that I’m putting together with Joey Negro who’s kind of known for the disco influence in his mixes as well of a lot of rare grooves and stuff so well hopefully pull some of that out and after that I’m going to bring out the follow-up to the Defected compilation.
HRFQ : Are there any Japanese artists you feel are worth keeping an eye on?
Dimitri : Well yeah I mean Flower Records have a lot of different artists coming out who I’ve been listening to and people like Mondo Grosso are always doing something exciting so I generally keep an eye on them, there are a few, even a Japanese release on my compilation but I’m always listening for more!
HRFQ : Do you have any advice for any budding Djs?
Dimitri : Well I basically only did what I wanted to do and I really think that’s what people should do really, if they have a passion they should nurture it as much as they can and they’ll always run into something interesting, no matter what it is. You’re never going to be unique while sounding like some overly familiar sound so always try to be different.
End of the interview
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