Below is an exclusive interview with Dimitri from Paris whose "In the House of Love" compilation has been released a couple of weeks ago.
Question: Who is Dimitri from Paris? Describe what you do and exactly why you are Famous.
Answer. I became a DJ as way to share the music I was into. As a teen, 25 years ago in France, I didn't have any friend who would understand nor like the same music I was in, let alone the concept of editing or mixing which was a hobby to me. I figured that if had a gig at a club or at a radio station, people could finally hear my stuff. After trying clubs, I felt it wasn't the right space to play my music as the owners used to decide what music the DJ should play.
I hence went to radio, and it's only after 8 years on a major station and a lot of remixing for French artists that I got back into clubs, but this time around 85/86 the DJ was finally starting to be recognised.
Those years making radio show taught me how to keep an audience interested over time, that was a very useful experience when transposed into a club environment. As my DJ career was growing, I noticed how much nerds me and my friends were, considering only the most obscure and deep side of dance music regardless of its impact on the crowd.
That's when I decided that I was going to try and play music I liked, but in a way that would entertain the whole club, not just my mates. My girlfriend at the time helped me in the sense that if she liked a record I was playing, chances were more non-specialist people would be into it.
I observed that generally women seemed to have a more sincere, instant approach to dance music, if they liked a song; they wouldn't try to find another reason to go dancing to it.
Men on the other hand appeared as needing to convince themselves whether it would be cool or not to dance to something, and that coolness would come from many elements outside of the musical quality of a given song.
When I made my first record, I kept this concept in mind, making it a point to be accessible without being plain cheesy or commercial. I imagined a good packaging would also help push forward unusual music, and since I had a strong taste for the 60s/70s style I pushed that in the forefront.
Today I still believe that everyone, anywhere can appreciate music that they're not necessarily familiar with as long as it's presented in a smooth way, which needs to involve things they can relate to, whether musical or not.
This is what makes the DFP style.
Question: Where do you call Home? Where did you grow up?
Answer. It’s all in the name
Question: What did you really want to be when you grew up?
Answer. As far as I can remember, I wanted to push buttons and turn knobs. First thing I could think of as kid was to be pilot, finally DJ'ing isn't too remote from that as I do turn knobs on my rotary mixer and try my best to take people on a trip
Question: What are your memories of the musical landscape that you grew up in? Were your family musical?
Answer. No musicians in the family, but my parents loved music. I grew up listening to a lot of my father's classical music, and my mother's more eclectic taste which involved free jazz, soundtracks and a bit of French chanson. I used to find most of it pretty terrible, but in retrospect I'm glad it gave me a good ear for all things harmonic, which I then added beats to them.
Question: What’s the first record you can remember dancing to, when and where?
Answer. I remember really digging that Blondie's "Rapture" super long percussion break at one my rare Disco outings.
Question: Where would we be able to see how you dance? Where do you hang out now?
Answer. thought it was pretty clear that DJs DON"T dance, you could catch a bit of shaking when I'm behind the booth on occasion though. As per hanging out, since I'm always out, I tend to really enjoy my stay home nights which are few and far between.
Question: Where did you play your first gigs, and where did you really learn your craft? The bars, the areas, the crowds?
Answer. My very first gig, I got at 20 after placing an add in a trade magazine. I was pretty surprised I got not only one but two calls to fill in for a resident DJ. That first call was for a super tiny gay club in the St Germain area in Paris where most clubs used to be in the 60s/70s. At the time I had to play with the club's own records, stop for a cross dressing show where Drag Queens would lip sync over Disco Diva songs believing they were Diana or Donna. After the show there was this "rug dance" thing were dancers would form a circle around a small carpet, a person would step inside , pick up the rug and present it to someone they'd fancy they would then both knee on the carpet and kiss ! Not much room for anything too underground musically, but it would really teach one how to program music to entertain a crowd!
Question: Who was responsible for helping to create your style - who are your influences?
Answer. My musical influences include late 60s to mid 70s soundtracks, Lalo Schiffrin, all things Burt Bacharach and Isaac Hayes, the Gamble & Huff/Vince Montana Jr Philadelphia sound, the New York late 70's Disco scene, the firs rap records and the breaks they used, British 80's electro pop, early House music, the 90's DEF mix/MAW remix era, Japan's 90's house scene. My style is a mix all those things which I blend in different proportions.
Question: Where in the world is your favourite place to be?
Answer. Tokyo Japan, it seems they read my mind over there and come up with everything a music, toy and technology nerd like me doesn't need but has to have.
Question: What jobs did you do before you became involved in music?
Answer. My first job was as an office clerk, it lasted 6 months, that was the only non music job
Question: Please describe your passions in life outside of music, what you really love to do, what you like to eat, what films you like, your interest in fashion, they way that you stay healthy and anything that you collect.
Answer. The thing I do most outside the music, is cooking, I'm the cook in the family and I love it, I like mixing and matching flavours and spices from different countries, I always reassure myself by telling me I could be a cook if I one day turn deaf ! I'm also a bit of a collector I'm afraid! I do collect Disco 12", but also Japanese toy robots from the 70's. That means I spend a lot of my free time scouting the internet, or shopping for them on my trips. As in music I like movies that show some culture, are detailed but can still be enjoyable for people that don't have that particular knowledge. A lot of the 40s to 70s movies used to be like that. Today people like Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh have that quality in entertaining. I'm a big fan of Pixar movies too; Monsters Inc is a masterpiece of its kind. I don't particular follow trends, I choose and pick what I like from whoever, I don't care for brands neither, I believe in style not fashion.
Question: Where do you get your motivation, is there anything in particular that inspires you?
Answer. When I DJ I definitely get the inspiration from the crowd, and a crowd is ALWAYS different. Even if it's the 10th time in the same club, it's never going to be the same as before, so that always keeps me challenged When I do a remix, I'm trying to imagine the dancefloor's reaction, and when I occasionally write, my main goal is to create an atmosphere, a musical decor.
Question: Is Dimitri from Paris really romantic? Are the French culturally Romantic in General?
Answer. France has indeed a strong Romantic cultural background, but no need to be French to feel Romantic! I have been and can feel Romantic, but it's not always easy in the world we live today... It may be an old fashioned thing, but I believe we should all have our Romantic moments and nurture them as much as possible. Romance has really been away from the dancefloor for too long, I say it's time to bring it back!
Question: Tell me who or what is your true Love?
Answer. First and foremost, my family!
Question: There are many emotions in your albums: Explain why you choose Love as the inspiration to this new compilation.
Answer. Dancing used to be something to do as a couple. Today I it's like the feeling of love is more and more missing from the dance floors. It seems to be all about "hard", "dark", "progressive", "dirty" music nowadays, I see too many dancers hyped up, dancing in their own virtual box then it's the come down from that... Clubs are social places, and although the level of sound may make it difficult to exchange words, the music and what it can carry can bring a loving feeling to the people. When I DJ I love seeing smiles on people faces, I love to see them open up to the music, and see couples dancing. I've had some great moments when I could really feel the joy and the love in a club, and those will stay very dear to me. On this compilation I wanted to create that vibe of warm happiness thru the selection of songs, a program that you could also enjoy outside of a club environment.
Question: Where would Dimitri from Paris take his ideal date from start to finish?
Answer. I never did too crazy things, always tried to be myself. I'd invite her home and cook for her, so we'd have good food, then we'd go out for a nice walk and dessert
Question: How is this compilation different from your other mixes?
Answer. As often it's a mix of old and new things, probably this one sounds sweeter and smoother than before
Question: What new or exclusive tracks have you included in the track listing?
Answer. Quite a few things thrown in for the train spotters , apart from a few Disco edits, there's an exclusive remix of "Down to love town" by the Originals. This has been a mainstay in my sets since I re-edited it for my first Playboy comp. Also exclusive is a remix of Ron Hall feat Mark Evans "The way you love me", that has to be my favourite track of the past 10 years! It's been completely re-done in a Disco Soul style with strings and vibes from my hero Vince Montana Jr, the man behind every other Salsoul and MFSB record
Question: What type of people do you envisage will buy this compilation?
Answer. That's really not for me to say, it's not a plain house by numbers DJ mix for sure, I'd like to imagine anyone who likes a bit of soul should find it enjoyable
Question: What’s your cherished record? And what’s your secret shame record?
Answer. Change "The glow of love" it's my favourite song, plain and simple, and I'm really glad we could include it Currently Ospina feat Henderson "I want it" fits the second category, it's just a bit too sweet and cheesy, but although I don't like cheese, I’m afraid I have a very big sweet tooth!
Question: Whose careers do you admire, and what one song do you wish you had written?
Answer. I admire people like Ashford and Simpson, Tom Moulton, Patrick Adams, François K, Vince Montana Jr, those guys have pretty much wrote the book of dance music as we know it today As per the song I wish I'd wrote, I'm not even going there!
Question: What does the name Defected mean to you, and what is your history with the label?
Answer. I've known Simon Dunmore from a while back and he's always been in it for the music, which far from being the norm in the industry. My relationship with Defected is the one I have with Simon, we talk music, and when we've both convinced each other on the validity of a project we go ahead and make it happen.
Question: We were very rude about French music prior to French house – what’s your view on it?
Answer. Not rude, just realistic, bar a few 70's singer/songwriters there wasn't much worth mentioning until 10 years ago!
Question: Is there a stereotyped French view of UK music? And the British people?
Answer. Could be that the drugs and the late drinking started club culture and the DJ revolution, rather than the love for music!
Question: Can you outline your plans for 2006?
Answer. Trying to spend more time in the studio