|Below is an exclusive interview with Bob Sinclar, the famous Parisian DJ and producer who can look back at a huge production and remix catalogue, of which a selection of 20 memorable tracks and remixes just have been released through the House Masters series on ITH Records.|
"I don't know where my love of black music came from," says Bob Sinclar, hanging out in the Paris studio where he's been putting the finishing touches to his new album "Soundz of Freedom" ("It's half new and half remixed by guys around at the moment, like Axwell") "We didn't have black culture. We didn't have Motown or any of those sounds so we had to educate ourselves." He actually reckons that French DJs and producers were successful all of a sudden - out of nowhere - because they didn't have those roots and were happy to borrow from everywhere, whether it was house, hip hop or an old Jane Fonda work-out video.
He's speaking from the position of being not only a Parisian, born and bred, but one of THE big name DJs in a global sense, even though his name isn't Bob. Or Sinclar (that name is nicked from a character in the cult film "Le Magnifique"). He's actually called Christophe Le Friant, or, sometimes, Chris the French Kiss.
"At 16 I discovered hip hop and it was a revelation," he goes on, his hair long and glossy, looking tan and buff, probably in preparation for a summer back and forth to Ibiza. "Stuff like Afrika Bambaata. I went to see a live show and saw Cash Money scratching and I was like, 'Wow! Amazing!'" Not that Christophe was the most likely candidate for a legendary life behind the decks. At the time he was a wannabe tennis champion, taking lessons and coaching younger players and was, he admits, "shy and introverted and maybe a little too close to my mother." In short, a bit of a geek. Until a night at a club called Le Bataclan, which he sneaked out to see, literally changed his life around.
"It was a live show of hip hop culture arriving in Paris," he says now, the happy sunny music of Bob Sinclar as far removed from the hard-core Public Enemy-style hip hop he first got to know as it's possible to imagine. "And I think being shy led me to becoming a DJ," he says, his French accent actually very cute. "I started in my bedroom as a kid. My mother bought me my first decks but I wasn't allowed to play after 10 at night."
Ask him how his mum feels now he is in the super league of world DJs and he grins. "My mum is really proud," he says. "I get awards in France and Belgium so she is more than proud. It's a bit of a late night for her to come to concerts to see me but she sees me on TV but she doesn't really understand how a DJ can be that famous all round the world because of course I'm a producer. I make records and I also play records."
His first production under the name Bob Sinclar was the global hit "Gym tonic" in 1997, with Daft Punk's Thomas Bangalter, even if Jane Fonda did try and bring legal action because he'd used those samples from her exercise videos. It didn't matter. The samples were removed, the name changed and the track became a UK number one smash. One of those "sound of the summer" singles that follow people around on their holidays.
Ask how he rates DJing as against producing or maybe even performing and it's immediately clear where his heart is. "In a club I am a bit frustrated," he admits, even though, as anyone who's seen him play will tell you, he always seems to be having the best of possible times. "I would like to sing," he says, grinning. "I would like to bring more for the crowd. Sometimes I bring a singer and it's really good." Not that the crowd ever seems to object to what one of the biggest DJs in the world is playing. But it's not always been like that. Thinking back to his first outing behind the decks, he says that in retrospect it seemed a bit disappointing.
"When you play for yourself in your room it's not the same," he laughs. "I wanted to play my stuff, to play very sharp and show off a lot of technique and scratch but the people didn't care." Philosophical about the lack of enthusiasm for his debut set, Christophe decided to meet his future fans half-way. "So I learnt how to play for the people, not to educate them. I don't think that's the primary goal of a DJ. It's to play for the people but at the same time to bring them into your music."
The club he was playing at in the early days has since been renamed Le Queen and is the most famous gay club in France but then it was just a quite nice place on the Champs Elyssees with a pretty slow Tuesday night. He put an end to that. Flyering Paris shops and introducing France to the whole concept of Acid Jazz, Christophe single-handedly made Tuesday into a big clubbing night, all at the age of just 20.
"1987 was a big moment for me," he says looking back to those early days when he was just getting to grips with hip hop and Acid Jazz and, of course, house. "And then 1993 was big because that was the start of Yellow Productions. I started with local artists like Dimitri from Paris, Yellow Bang Bang… I produced all of that. It all came from my label. I was playing in a few clubs so I had some money on the side to invest in it. It was difficult but we made it. We started to explore a few different sounds coming from the UK and in '97 I turned the tempo up with Bob Sinclar and it was the start of something big."
His biggest year so far was probably 2005, when he had top ten hits with "Love Generation" and "World Hold On" and finally fulfilled his other dream of buying himself a Ferrari. Mind you, 2006 wasn't so bad either with him performing a massive Christmas/New Years gig in Sydney and doing a video for "Love Generation" with 25,000 people singing the chorus. Oh, and he released no fewer than four albums. It was a busy year but then Christophe is a workaholic anyway, so it's all worked out.
So, now he has his summer smash album - "Soundz of Freedom" - in the bag, what does the future hold for Christophe? "Jamaica is my future," he says, "as is my next album, and he talks about his interest I how hip hop and ragga are getting closer to each other with characters like Sean Paul on the scene. "I would like to show people that know me for 'Love Generation' that I have done a lot of other stuff," he goes on. "People give me a lot but I will work more and more and more to bring more to the crowd." And you can't say fairer than that.Courtesy of Defected Records