Last month, Dimitri from Paris made a very rare appearance here in Seattle to deliver a masterful set at Re-bar to an appreciative crowd. On a rainy street corner outside of the club, moments before he manned the decks, the disco legend spent some time talking with us about some of his favorite DJs and all things disco. Dimitri from Paris has been on my short list of DJs to see live for a very, very long time, and it was a house and disco fanatic's dream come true. He was a good sport for putting up with the Seattle rain to make this interview happen. Here's what he had to say...
E: If I threw the ultimate cocktail party and could choose any DJ in the world to play music and set the mood, I'd have to say that you'd be the DJ I'd choose. Who would you choose to DJ at your ultimate house party?
Dimitri from Paris: Probably Danny Krivit. I really like Danny. We can talk about music for hours. He's probably the only guy I can talk music without boring him. So I'd say Danny, or maybe Francois. You know, I've been really influenced by the New York sound of the late 70s and early 80s--that's really my base in music--so those are the guys who pretty much made it or the guys who survived it, because you know, a lot of them are dead, so those are my go-to guys. It's the sound of New York, so it'd be a New York DJ, probably.
E: What is the essence of disco?
Dimitri from Paris: I think disco for me is the ultimate dance music. I mean, it's got everything I want to hear and everything I need to make people dance with. It's got the raw sound of the analog days and real people playing it, as opposed t o computers, and it's really made for dancing and for really no other purpose. There's no particular message in there. The message is silly or nonexistent. The message is not the point of it. The point of it is to make you dance. So it's just the ultimate dance music for me. Everything that is dance music today evolves from it, whether it's the 4/4 or the hi-hat or whatever, even if it's replicated and run through thousands of plug-ins and filters or whatnot, it's still a 4/4 with a hi-hat. And that's disco. And you've got all those things that it’s got on its back, but still, there's like...always a before and after disco. Before disco, it was more laid back and stuff. And dance music was never the same after it. For me, it's the womb of dance music.
E: If you could get into a time machine and go back to any show, club night, or recording session in history, what would it be?
Dimitri from Paris: Well I would probably go to Sigma Sound in Philly, because this is the ultimate disco sound for me. I mean, they pretty much invented it and other people refined it. That's where I would like to be. I'd like to sit down at Sigma Sound and listen to MFSB play “Love is the Message”. That's how it used to be! I would like to go to the Paradise Garage because I really missed it by like a few weeks. The first time I went to New York and I wanted to go it had just closed like a few weeks before. I never got to experience it. You know, you've got all these accounts of it and stuff, but you know your own account will never be the same as what people say. So I guess I would like to hear what it was all about.
E: Over the years, meeting old school disco producers and DJs, have you ever been star struck?
Dimitri from Paris: Yeah, well... I met people that I was not impressed with, humanly, but in many cases the work of people is not necessarily a reflection of what they are as human beings. I met a lot of producers or artists who I totally love their music but I'm like, oh...they're not such great human beings in the end. But the one person that was actually the opposite of that--I knew his music, but I was not his biggest fan, but the moment I met him I became his biggest fan--is Tom Moulton. I think he's an incredible person in the sense that after all these years doing it, he still has the same passion and the same 100% involvement in everything he does and he's close to 70 now. He still rips it out. He still sounds like he used to. I cannot believe how this guy, on his own with his computer, manages to sound the same as he did in the studio with like the best engineers and the best musicians with him, now on his own in front of a Macintosh this guy can make it sound the same way. So I'm totally in love with what he's doing and how humble he is and how ingenious he is having done so much for dance music and disco in particular. So that would be the one person that I'm totally grateful that I've met, 100%, it's unbelievable. I've learned alot from meeting him as well.
E: After "Get Down with the Philly Sound", what's next for Dimitri from Paris?
Dimitri from Paris: What's next after Philly Sound? I did 6 remixes of Chic Organization songs, basically the stuff that Chic produced, like “I Want Your Love”, Sister Sledge...my memory is getting really bad! Oh, “Thinking of You" and “Lost in Music”…Norma Jean, there's also that French singer Sheila...she had that band B. Devotion, Chic produced her album, so I did a mix of that as well. It's basically part of a box set that's unfortunately only available in France. Blame it on the major companies not being interested! Basically the head of Warner Brothers France was a genuine fan of Chic and he decided to do it, so far it's only available through mail order or things like that.
E: So fan's can track it down if they need to?
Dimitri from Paris: Oh yeah! I'm sure if you look hard enough in a couple of clicks you'll get to it. So this is my latest thing that just came out, and after that I'll go back to maybe more contemporary stuff, like there's a compilation again with the Playboy brand that I'm doing with Defected, so this is going to be the next release. I always like to alternate the more discoey stuff the more contemporary. So it's probably going to be more into the so-called Nu-disco sound, which I think is coming of age now.
E: That's something we're covering a lot these days.
Dimitri from Paris: Yeah, a lot of good stuff! It used to be, like, too mental and heady but now it gets a little more, well, I like stuff that's happy. So I find enough stuff that I like to do start to make a compilation of it.
E: Our blog is based in Seattle and Chicago, so we have to ask the tough question--what's the better venue?
Dimitri from Paris: I haven't really been both places enough to say Ok, this venue is better than the other. Honestly, it's impossible because I've never played the same place twice in Chicago and I don't even remember which venues I played in Seattle like 10 years ago, so it's hard to say! But I really, really had one of my best nights in Chicago when a lot of the crew from Peabody Records came out, I think it was at Zentra? And it was the first time I've played to an audience that were black people from back in the day and it totally changed the game. It really made me think that, OK, I'm doing this for a reason--these guys are enjoying it for real. On a totally different level. On a super genuine, sincere, like...we dig the music, that's it. There's no hype, there's no "you're from paris", you're this, you're that. You play good music, you're good...you play shit music, get out! And that was, for me, so real. I'm like, finally, some people enjoy the music and not the concept of who's playing it. So, uh...I haven't gotten that many times in my life and that was one of the few times that did happen, and yeah, sorry...Chicago won!
Big thanks to Dimitri from Paris for taking the time to talk to us!
I'd also like to thank Karl Kamakahi for helping to make this happen and Melenie for the tip.
Update: Seattle's own Karl K was kind enough to send along a recording of the opening set he did for the Dimitri from Paris show--it was a great house set that I thoroughly enjoyed at the show. Check it out here.
Sister Sledge - Thinking Of You (Dimitri From Paris Remix) (Snippet) by dfp
Sheila & B Devotion - Your Love Is Good (Dimitri From Paris Remix) SNIPPET by dfp