Filed under: Interview
“Clubs used to be social places. You’d go in, have a drink and meet people and there would be something of a conviviality that I believe has been a bit lost. The pleasure of just going out with friends and meeting people and talking and having drinks and enjoying the whole time seems a little bit far away right now. People seem to be going to clubs and not really knowing why they’re there, while the DJs just try to bang it out so that everybody screams.”
Passionate, outspoken and fiercely articulate, Dimitri From Paris admits he’s not happy with the over-commercialisation of clubland, and the lack of passion he perceive from club owners, promoters, punters and in particular, DJs.
“They don’t seem to have so much love for the music anymore,” he complains, “You hear all these DJs saying ‘I don’t really like what I’m playing but I have to play it because the people want that’ and this is something that scares me. I wanted to do something that I loved, for the people to love.”
The ‘something he’s referring to is his latest compilation for Defected ‘Dimitri From Paris: In The House Of Love’, a concept album he came up with as a follow up to his highly successfully In The House compilation.
“They originally wanted me to do a follow up to ‘In The House’ but I don’t like doing the same thing twice so I wanted a twist and came up with ‘In The House Of Love’ almost a year ago now,” says Dimitri. “It has a theme it’s also intended to allow me to include tracks that might be just a little too sweet to feature on a house compilation.”
Interview by Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)
Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff) : How long did you spend putting the new CD together ?
Dimitri From Paris : I started with the idea almost a year ago, coming up with an initial track-listing which I fine-tuned then submitted to the people at Defected to try and interest them in it. Eventually they understood what I wanted to do and that’s really when the real work started such as clearing tracks for use. The actual mixing and putting the tracks together took probably two weeks, not long.
Skrufff : Have you used loads of computer trickery ?
Dimitri From Paris : Not too much though my approach when I do a mix CD is to always use the tools that are available. I don’t see this compilation as being a showcase of my DJing talent; it’s about creating something that is really nice to hear. Everything is done on a computer for sure, but I’m doing it all myself and it actually takes a lot longer than just mixing it live, because that would take just an hour. I also did two specific remixes for the compilation, that aren’t going to be released anywhere else.
Skrufff : Where do you start when you’re planning the track-listing ?
Dimitri From Paris : I always start by putting everything down on paper; it has to look good on paper and to mean something. So I’m thinking about what I want to do and in this case the concept is love, so I start to write down all the tracks I feel are going to fit into that. I only do the sequencing after the tracks are cleared. This compilation was pretty difficult because a lot of tracks didn’t really fit together from a technical point of view, so it was hard work to get them to be segued and at the same time, keeping a nice flow. I think it’s extremely important to have a good program before having a good mix. Mixing is just a technical process to make the flow better and I don’t think it’s the key details, not on this comp anyway, The track listing and the value of each song individually is what’s important. I want every song to be strong.
Skrufff : Some of the tracks really take me back to clubbing in the early 90s and earlier…
Dimitri From Paris : That’s what I always do – try to pick up stuff from different eras and put them all together. The longevity of a compilation is extremely important to me, so I never think of it as ‘Let’s grab the last two years worth of hits and put them together’. None of the songs on this album were actually major hits. Maybe Grace Jones’ La Vie En Rose was, because at the time, dance music was being played on the radio but that’s about the only one. It’s not a collection of recent hits and club hits, it’s just a collection of strong songs. They are put together so they fit into a team. That’s how I see it. I don’t care if they are new or old.
Skrufff : Do you hear a lot of tracks at the moment that you think in ten years time you will be selecting them as classics in the same way ?
Dimitri From Paris : Not a lot, but even ten years ago you wouldn’t hear a lot of songs at one given moment that you could say ‘all of these songs are going to be classics’. It’s always been quite rare that a certain amount of songs every year do stay and become classics. That’s also why I can’t do compilations on the same theme too often, because I just don’t have enough songs. If I do a new house comp, I can’t do one more than every two years. I did ‘In The House’ which was more centered towards current house music, then I did this summer the Southport Weekender one which was another house compilation, but that was almost two years time between the two, and I don’t think I can do one before two years again. This ‘House Of Love’ compilation has only three new songs in there, from the past six months. It’s really difficult for me to find songs that I think are classics and are going to stand the test of time. Obviously there’s a lot that will and I’m not seeing them as such, but still it’s quite difficult to find a lot of music that has that longevity aspect to it.
Skrufff : There seems to be a new wave of producers emerging in France, such as Justice or Ivan Smagghe, who’s had amazing last couple of years, are you crossing paths with these people much ?
Dimitri From Paris : No, not really. I’m not actually too fond of that electro whatever you call it sound. I think it’s too trendy and it bores me. It’s got too much to do with fashion as opposed to music and that puts me off. It’s been embraced too quickly by the fashionistas. It’s liked by people that have no clue about music, I don’t think it’s based on music, just based on trends.
Skrufff : You don’t think there’s any genuine innovation in it ?
Dimitri From Paris : I’m sure Ivan does good things generally, because I know him and he’s been there for a while, but a lot of these electro producers were probably were into garage house two years ago and tomorrow they’ll be doing something else. I feel that lots of these people don’t have true taste in what they do, they just do it because it’s all happening now.
Skrufff : How much do you think the vibe on the dance floor is affected by outside events, such the state of the world or people being anxious about the economy ?
Dimitri From Paris : It’s difficult to say, though certainly one reason you might go to a club is to escape from those things, so you’d imagine the more stressful the outside situation is, the more you’d let it go. I think every person has his or her own personal way of trying to escape, whether it’s personal or general. I haven’t really seen a difference in the way the crowds were behaving linked to big events. After September 11th I still played a lot in Europe, obviously not so much in the US, but when I started playing back in the US, it didn’t seem to be that the crowd were generally affected.
Skrufff : 2A certain part of house music culture came up in the late eighties which was very much tied in with ecstasy, whereas now in England there seems to be a cocaine culture more common in clubs, how much do you think that that’s been a factor in changing the mood ?
Dimitri From Paris : Actually, I have no idea because I never took drugs and I’m really not into them at all, so I just see the people and I like people to be more mellow than speeded up. So if you say there’s more of a cocaine culture that’s probably why I feel other people are feeling stressed and they want to listen to a lot of hard music. That’s something I don’t play and I can’t play, but I still manage to get my way around with my style of music. I don’t really know, I can’t really tell you about people that I don’t fully understand.
Skrufff : There’s a quote from your last Skrufff interview I wanted to throw at you from 2003- “Hugh Hefner was the last gentleman I’ve met”, hav e you met Hugh since then ?
Dimitri From Paris : I haven’t, no.
Skrufff : Have you met any other gentlemen ?
Dimitri From Paris : Probably, but not that I remember. He’s a great figure of the century, so I haven’t met great figures like that that happen to be gentlemen. The thing was that I wasn’t expecting him to be, so the surprise was bigger. I was expecting someone louder, like a flashy American type tycoon. He wasn’t that at all.
Skrufff : There’s a survey saying that English people regard French people as rude and arrogant and vice versa, who would you say was ruder ?
Dimitri From Paris : I don’t find the English particularly rude and the French are not rude either though they can be arrogant for sure and particularly arrogant towards foreigners. I think what foreign people perceive as arrogance from the French is that the French don’t make friends easily. If you meet a French person, he’ll be very cautious and inquisitive before he gives you some friendship, but once you get that friendship, you get it for real. I think a lot of French people are put off not necessarily by the English, but more by the American way of making friends really easily, they get sort of fooled and get disappointed, so I think that makes French people more cautious. I hear a lot of my English friends say ‘you French guys always keep to yourselves’ and that can certainly be true. We do keep to ourselves till we open up, but when we open up, we open up sincerely. My perception of the English is not that they’re rude or arrogant, though I will say they drink a lot generally, which I know is a cliché.
Skrufff : Last year a false story emerged on the internet saying that you were locked up in a Thai jail on drugs charges, do you know where they came from ?
Dimitri From Paris : No. Actually I was in Thailand last November and again in December, so obviously they let me go. It’s weird how that story came up. I had a booking to play there made by an agent I’m no longer working with, but there was some miscommunication and a mishap and the agent didn’t cancel the gig so I think somebody connected with that, wanted revenge or something. I’ve no idea who but I guess somebody felt hurt by me not turning up so posted that story on a forum where it took off. But it was quite funny, especially for the fact that I was accused of drug smuggling.
Skrufff : Because you’ve never taken drugs, is that right ?
Dimitri From Paris : No. I think they could have found another reason. Obviously the guy that did that didn’t know me very well.
Skrufff : What’s stopped you from experimenting ?
Dimitri From Paris : I did experiment briefly when I was twenty, I tried smoking and I didn’t like it and I tried cocaine and I didn’t like that either. What I didn’t like was that it gave you a filter between reality and what you were doing and you weren’t the master of yourself anymore. I didn’t like not being in control and when I play if people are on drugs too much there is a filter between me and them and a filter that I don’t particularly understand or know how big the filter is to get to them. This is something that I find annoying, that there is this thing in between. Between reality and you. Something that is blurry. That’s the problem I have with drugs, that you can’t enjoy things fully without having something that makes them look different, because in reality they are not different, they are the way they are, so why not try to enjoy them the way they are or just not like them and enjoy something else. Something that really made me laugh once was Ali G saying ‘Ecstasy is terrible – it makes you like house music’: there was some truth in that.
Skrufff : What would you say are the key tips for a new DJ starting out today ?
Dimitri From Paris : A key tip is do it if you genuinely like music. If you are DJing for the glory or anything that’s not music related, you might succeed for a while but it’s unlikely to last long. If you look at the established DJs who been doing it for twenty, thirty or forty years, they all started because they loved music not because they wanted the bling bling. Stick to the music you like and stick to your guns (your own beliefs). Don’t try to please the boss or the other people, please yourself first because that’s the only way you’ll develop your own sound and you’ll make yourself different from the others.
End of the interview
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