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by Don Crispy

Dimitri From Paris

Tight with Hef

Not too many DJs get to use the official Playboy imprimatur as part of their image, but that’s exactly what befell French house godfather Dimitri From Paris when Playboy’s Hugh Hefner invited him to mix 2000’s surprise hit album, A Night at the Playboy Mansion.

“It happened by chance,” explained Dimitri over coffee in a conference room at Toshiba EMI. “We got in touch with Playboy people at the Winter Music Conference and they asked us to do a party at the Playboy mansion, and there was a lot of talk—not serious—and then they came back to us and said we would like to do something with you. At the time they were trying to rejuvenate their readership, which was getting older and older and they saw in DJ culture something trendy that could benefit them.”

The album’s selection of tracks recalled the heyday of New York dance Meccas like the Paradise Garage, and was steeped in the pulsing rhythms of early house acts like Stetsasonic. It was well received not only among the house faithful but also among a wider audience drawn to it by the Playboy association.

“We had more success than I expected because the music is not exactly Top 40 chart material,” comments the rather debonair DJ. “But people liked it and introduced them to music that they may not have heard before. There is not so much support for the music I like anymore, and the more we can get people into it, the longer it will stay alive.”

The success of A Night at the Playboy Mansion raised Dimitri’s profile considerably, and also led to a follow up, After the Playboy Mansion, but in fact Dimitri was already a well-known name in house circles, and has visited Japan over 20 times in the last decade.

A familiar face at Loop, Yellow and Air, Dimitri has nothing but praise for Japan’s house scene, which, although it has been eclipsed by trance over the last few years, still manages, he says, to beat his hometown of Paris. “Tokyo has a lot for people who are into music—every week there’s something interesting to go to,” he enthuses.

“It’s quite different here from what we have in Paris, which is nothing. There is no scene. Most of this new wave of French people like Daft Punk got their success outside of France. But in the club scene, it’s poor. There are few clubs and they don’t bother to pay for guest DJs, and if they do it’s a big commercial guy, whereas here you’ve also got people like me who may not bring as much as Junior Vasquez, but still bring out an audience. In France the most popular parties are the after-hours parties where everybody’s fucked up—if these people couldn’t get drugs they wouldn’t even go.”

So how was Hef? “I was really impressed,” says Dimitri. “He is a really nice guy—very simple—and seemed to enjoy the interest we had in him. I was really happy to be invited to his house...and I’ve always liked what he did with the magazine. Even when I was doing the album, he wanted to hear the songs, he wanted to see the artwork...I have a lot of respect for men of ideas, and he has been pushing his idea forever. Many have tried to copy it but none have managed to capture its spirit.”

Dimitri From Paris “Cruising Altitude” Release Japan Tour 2003@Liquid Room, 4/4, 11pm, ¥3,000 (adv), ¥3,500 (door). Tel: 3200-6831. www.liquidroom.net

credit: Liquid Room