Dimitri from Paris is one of the most respected producers, remixers, and DJs in house music. He began DJing in the 1980s French underground scene when he was 17 years old, eventually moved to pirate radio, then fashion shows, and finally caught the world’s attention in 1996 with Sacrebleu, an electro-bohemian masterpiece that liberally sampled 1950s and 60s cult classic movies. These days he’s better known for his special brand of disco house: Joyful, soulful, accessible, and incredibly sexy. His celebrated Playboy Mansion series led to releases on Defected and BBE, and he’s done remix/remaster work with a slew of famous names.
As prolific as he is, we rarely see major interviews from the man, and even more rarely see him tour stateside past New York. So we were elated when this interview hit our radar. In a conversation with UK events site skiddle.com, Dimitri discussed his beginnings in pirate radio, fashion, disco v. deep house, and why it’s important to have an identity. You can read the entire interview here, but keep scrolling below for some of the highlights:
Dimitri from Paris, one of the best dressed DJs in the biz, is known for his work with elite fashion houses like Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, yet he finds the fashion industry boring and shops at H&M just like the rest of us:
Well, I don’t follow the fashion industry, I’m more interested in style. The fashion industry just wants you to buy whatever they come up with, and they get inspired by things they see around them or that specific stylists have in their head. I’d rather be my own stylist than follow somebody else’s trend. It’s just whatever goes, I’m no fashionista.
I like things that are quite vintage, from the fifties or sixties, and sometimes the trend is on my side and then sometimes it’s not. Depending on what I can find I’ll go to H&M or to a vintage market.
On his time working in French pirate radio:
My first broadcasts were from an attic, so it was pretty cramped and not very professional, but it started everywhere like that, police raids and so on. They would take the transmitter until eventually they just decided to let us do it anyway.
He admires Bruno Mars:
But you’ve also got records like Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. He’s given everything an eighties boogie twist that he’s really the best at.
On why it’s important for a DJ to have an identity, and the hard work he puts into it:
[T]he standard DJ with the T-shirt and the headphones looking miserable thing, if I had to do a photo of me like that, then I’d rather not do the photo. But it takes time and a bid of budget to sometimes get the studio, and sort the lighting, so I had to wait until a certain point to afford to do that.
I think a lot of DJs are realising it’s fun to have an identity. And we’ve moved from white label culture to superstar DJs, which is too much of an extreme. But my music, as you say, it’s very playful, it’s disco infused and it has a certain genre, but I’m not trying to be super underground or edgy.
On the differences between disco and deep house:
It’s the fact that [disco] evolves a lot. I was just characterising deep house as being minimalist, you know? You’ve got a few loops going on. And the way those tracks work is the repetition is met with the slightest change that’s like a bomb. So it works on a different type of energy, bringing in all these elements and getting trippy. With disco, it’s the complete opposite!
There’s always something happening. You’ve got pianos, you’ve got chord changes, you’ve got saxophones, you’ve got all these people singing. But it’s something that’s very organic, even if you can make it with machines now, but it’s also very rich.
Check out his Boiler Room set at the Paris W Hotel: