Why are you called Dimitri from Paris and not just Dimitri?
I used to call myself Dimitri in the early days of my career because I thought that there mustn’t be that many Dimitri's in the dance music industry. I started quite a while ago about 20 years ago. I had a radio show and started doing a lot of remixes and everything was remixed by Dimitri.
I had this first international artist to remix in the early 90's which was from the lead singer of a band and started to have her first solo album, her name was Bjork. I really loved the Sugar Cubes of which she was the singer and I did this mix and handed it over to a couple of guest dj's that went through Paris and that I had interviewed on my show namely like Frankie Knuckles and David Morales. 6 months later I get a call from a Japanese guy living in New York saying ‘err.. can you get me a copy of that mix that you did’. I said how did you know about this? ‘Well because David and Frankie are hammering it and are playing it about three times a night - every time that they play’. I was like ‘oh wow’ that was great recognition for me and I was really happy that my name Dimitri would spread around. A few months later Luis Vega comes and I interview him on my show and I figured that he might like the record so I offered it to him and he goes - Where did you get that? How come that you have it and I don't have it? Well... because I did that. He said No you didn't that was Dimitri from Dee Lite that did that. I was like WHAT! No I did it, check the credits. It said released in France by Dimitri. He said - AH DAMN, he claiming that he did it. So I was really mad because I was getting my own bit of recognition out of France and this guy was stealing my name. So from then on I decided to differentiate myself from him, since then from 93/94 I decided to become Dimitri from Paris.
You are not originally from Paris though are you?
I don't exactly come from France, but I am from Paris. My parents are Greek. They moved to Paris when I was three years old. I have been raised in France and Paris and I have always been living in Paris. I am indeed from Paris.
You're known as the Dapper Frenchman. Where does your interest in fashion lie?
It seems that people call me the dapper Frenchman, but I didn't really know about it!(laughs). I haven't got a very strong link with fashion although I did do soundtracks for quite a few catwalk shows in the mid 90's. I had a friend who was really involved and he didn't know how to mix, so he hired me. I was like more or less his mixing hands and he would do all the selection for the music so I got to soundtrack a lot of really hyped up designers like Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent.
How would you best describe your sound?
People always ask me to describe my sound and I find it quite difficult because I don't know myself exactly. How do I put a single word on it? I like to mix it up and I like to be a bit indescribable so that people don't know what to expect and its always good to surprise them. I like music that is glamorous and emotional, that has a lot of harmonies. A beat is just not enough. I find that a lot of dance music is turning into being just a drum beat and possibly a bass line and not much else. I find that quite difficult for me to be touched by it because you can make my body shake but it almost like a mechanical reaction. It doesn't make me feel any good really. So I try to stay away from that and present to people a music that has a strong element of soul and emotion.
I guess you have incorporated a lot of emotions in your albums to date. Can you highlight the albums that you have done?
I have done two albums, two artist albums where the music was originally written by me and produced by me. The first one came out about seven years ago and it was called 'Sacrebleu. It was out on Yellow productions, the label of Chris aka - Bob Sinclar. The second one has been released in Japan and is going to be released soon in the rest of the world. It is called 'Cruising Attitude' which is pretty much the follow up to 'Sacrebleu'. Instead of using a lot of samples like the first one, its all acoustic and features vocals by people like Omar or Victor Davis. Its kind of a more laid back thing, its definitely not a dance music album. In-between these things I did a lot of compilations namely like the Playboy Mansion series 'A Night at the Playboy Mansion' and 'After the Playboy Mansion' which was like the volume II. Also a couple of disco compilations like 'Disco forever' which features a lot of obscure and rare disco cuts that I really liked and 'My Salsoul' which is my selection of my favourite salsa recordings. That is pretty much my discography in terms of albums.
<You are about to release the In The House Album for
Defected. What do you want to achieve with this cd?
I was really pleased that Simon Dunmore asked me to do a compilation for defected because first of all I had a lot of respect for the label, even though I don't play everything probably just a few things out of defected I though that he was very consistent in the releases and that he was signing and having because it’s always been quality weather it has been not my thing or my thing there has always been a pretty high standard trying to make accessible music for people and at the same time not putting out stuff that was stupid. I respected that and it also had a lot of my friends signed in like Bob Sinclar or DJ Gregory and they seemed to be happy with having their records out with them so for me doing a compilation for Defected would give me the opportunity to showcase what I was doing as a DJ in a club.
The opening tracks on your album are Lil Lewis - 'New Dance Beat' and Crystal Waters acapella with Montefiori Cocktail. What was so special about those tracks that you chose them for the openers?
Choosing the two opening tracks for each CD was something I gave a lot of thought I think it is pretty important that you set the pace and the mood from the very first track. Then you can go onwards. I wanted one cd to be more into the classic and deep house vibe and the other one to be more uplifting more vocal. The cd that starts with Lil Lewis I wanted that track specifically because of what it said and what it meant in the lyrics I mean it starts like 'people used to laugh at me but I saw the future’ and goes on 'company recession' and 'copy machines spitting songs after songs' and I though that it was
amazing that Lil Lewis 12 years ago because the song is twelve years old just was saying that because it is exactly what is happening to house music in the past months in the past year.
On the other hand the Crystal waters thing is actually the start of the cd 2. It is the re-edit remix that I did a while ago, about 2 years ago. It’s taking the instrumental version done by the Italians Montefiori Cocktail, which is a kind of loungy bossa nova type of version of the song Gypsy Woman. Initially it is an instrumental and the acapella of the original Crystal Waters recording and I blend them together to make them one mix. I have been playing this for a while and everyone is asking me when is this going to be released? So I asked Simon Dunmore (Defected A & R) and he said yeah we are going to try it shouldn't be a problem.
Did you manage to get all the tracks that you wanted on the CD?
When you do a compilation it’s always difficult to make a track listing because you can't always get what you want. A lot of the companies, you have to approach every company and ask them can I use this track, can I use that track and sometimes they say no because they don't want to be there. On this track it seemed that that everybody was really happy to participate and we got all of the tracks except for one because we couldn't find the people the original producers of that track so there was only one track that we couldn't use. It was pretty difficult to track down Lil Lewis because he basically, the track from the original label went back to him and we have to ask him personally and I had to used all my network connections to get his phone number and harass him over the phone to give us the track. Normally he says I wouldn't do that but if it's for you you are part of the family so I'll do it. So I was really proud that he considered me part of his own little family.
With regard to the CD, Where do you see it being played?
Well... when I do a mix cd as opposed to when I mix in a club I have a different idea in mind. When I'm in a club my main goal for them to is to make people dance and make them have a good time and you're here for them. You can educate them but you're not here to bore them. They haven’t paid the door price to go to school they have paid to have fun have. You have to keep that in mind and try to please them while giving something you feel is good to give. I would imagine that this CD would be listened to at home or in the car or in a shop. I have heard a lot of my cd's played in shops which is always pretty good when you go to a High St haute couture shop and you go hmm..not bad. I like the clothes so I'm glad that they play my cd. So i'm thinking more of a confined and intimate environment as opposed to this cd being played on a dance floor because it is not exactly what I would do. I wouldn't mix the same, if I have the same records I wouldn't mix them the same way if I had to play them at a club.
I know that you have been asked this question before, and its known and it be made known that you have never been to rave. Most dj's would be hooked in the early days by that kind of institution, that kind of party. What is it about raves that doesn't really suit you?
There is this information about me that i have never been to a rave, which is true so I can confirm that. I actually I went once. The main reason first of all is because I started djing before the raves, I started dj'ing about 20 years ago and the first raves only came about 15 years ago or something. The other reason is that the music that I like which is very musical has a lot of harmonies and not so much like beats and things that are energy based. I thought that the rave element was more about energy about getting out of your head.
There were a lot of drugs involved as well. I was never into that either. I was more about getting into the music and getting every possible high I could get out of that. So for me it never appealed to me to get really sweaty in a rave with a lot of people just getting out of my head. But I would enjoy to go to a
club and actually sit down and listen to music.
How do you feel that you fit into the musical mix in France? with people like Bob Sinclar, DJ Gregory, Thomas Bangalter and Falcon? Do you feel that your style is representative of the sound of France?
There has been a big wave of the French sound coming about a few years ago called the French house or the Touch sound a few years ago and I was part of that. I was French and I was a dj so people put me in the same bag and it was good in a way because it gave me a good opportunity for me to go out of my country and express my idea of the music and somehow people would try and reduce the French sound to the Daft Punk sound, that little disco filtered sound which I don't think that I fit into that. I think that only Daft Punk really and maybe a couple of others are championing that sound and their family is basically Falcon and Credamore. There’s Bob Sinclar which is much more disco than they are and me which I am more soulful and into the original disco so I think that the French sound is much more diverse than people were trying to say it was and even more now that the hype has gone down.
You've been in the business 20 years plus. Do you still get nervous before you DJ?
I have started Dj'ing more than 20 years ago probably like 25 years ago if I count like my first mixing sessions in my bedroom and I must say that I still get nervous quite often actuallywhen I have to play especially if it’s a place that I don't know. There is something that happens all the time, and even after 20 years you never ever know what you are going to get, never ever. Weather it is a place that you have played 10 times or its the eleventh time it’s going to be different. That is still part of the challenge part of the kick. I mean you do get nervous, there is someone else there is someone else playing before you or there isn't and there are so many elements of surprise that you cannot plan.
Do you have any advice for budding Dimitris out there?
I think that the key element is trying to get exposure and you have to try everything that you possibly can to get exposure weather you send your tapes to the radio, to the promoter you have to never stop sending stuff around until you eventually you get noticed. You can always try and make some music if you are into it that is always a good idea, if you have your name on the record that is the best business card that you can have. The last and very important thing is keep to what you believe in you like one style of music then keep to that style because the difference is that you are unique. So try to be edgy try to be different than most. Even if you are a fan of this dj or that dj try to play something that is different to what he does because there is no point hiring you instead of him. That’s pretty much it. You have to try whatever you can and never despair and possibly also try to get a proper job and do this on the side, so you don't have to count on this to live and eventually if it happens it will pick up. That’s what I did, I had a daytime job for years before I could stop and do my career as a dj. So if you don't have to Compromise to eat then this is the best possible solution.