John Dimas: Greek n’Chic
Over the last few years John Dimas has crept slowly into the limelight with a constant flow of good quality house music, built for the dancefloor though never too contrived or ‘try hard’. I’ve been really impressed with his recent output, in particular a six-track EP released through French label La Vie En Rose which contained one of my favourite tracks this year, Mind Games. It was only a matter of time before I interviewed him and here’s the result of our chat.
To begin with, tell me about your live show.
I started putting the live show together in February, and that was the first time I played [live]. It was the Dame Music showcase at Watergate – it was Bloody Mary’s idea, she said Dame doesn’t really have anyone who performs live and suggested I give it a go. Now I’m preparing for the second time but I’m adding some new tracks – it’s better to keep updating it and make sure it’s not the same as it was before – but it’s a pain in the a***!
Yeah people might start getting familiar.
There are a lot of producers who play the same live set every time, I don’t like that.
So how does it work when you play ‘live’?
I export every loop from my tracks, the basic elements; basslines etc… and then I play live, mixing all these elements together to make new tracks based on the original recordings – I’m making new music on the fly, not just playing a track in its original form. It’s like re-editing everything live.
Did it take a while to get used to playing in that kind of way?
Well, it all started because of DJing – when you DJ you have all the musical elements in your subconsciousness and you work out how things will fit together. I have basic music theory knowledge, I don’t play the organ or any instruments. It all comes from playing a lot as a DJ, a lot of years spent mixing.
So how long have you been making music now? How did you get into making music?
I started in 2007 and had my first release in 2008. I started making music because, well, I’m Greek and to play around Europe… you can’t become known to people outside of Greece just by playing music, you have to start making your own productions so people get to know who you are and you can start playing [outside of your home nation]. That was the main motivation for me to start making music.
Where are you from in Greece?
Thessaloniki. There was a big scene there few years ago but it just faded away… things are starting to happen again now though with new clubs opening. I hope it will start growing again. There are two bars and man DJs; new one, old ones… everyone wants to play at the moment, so it was their hobby – getting Traktor and downloading music, then just playing tunes from the Beatport charts or whatever! I don’t judge but this is the truth.
So was Berlin the catalyst behind your career progression?
Since I moved here lot of things have changed. I met people I wanted to meet before I came here, I’ve been getting very good inspiration for my music too, since Berlin is considered the heart of the electronic music scene.
Who were your inspirations when you first got started?
In the beginning I was into all the Detroit pioneers, Jeff Mills, Derrick May, and the Chicago house guys like Chez Damier, Ron Trent, Derrick Carter… then I progressed into French house around 2000, 2001. It was always a mix of Detroit, Chicago house and French house, I started collecting records – we had some good vinyl shops, but to get the good shit you had to pay a lot. For example, I had a friend who would get a lot of promos because he was best friends with the guy who owned the record shop, they would take him to the secret guest room where only a few had access. But records in Greece were more expensive so, from around 2007, I started to buy from Decks online – I stopped buying records in Greece because it was so difficult, as I’ve just explained.
When did you make the decision to move to Berlin?
I came over here last year for two months, to see how things work here. I went back to Greece for a while to deal with my national service, you have to go, you MUST go. So I did the army thing and then moved back here in September.
The move seems to have paid off.
Yeah it’s good, I’m surrounded by lots of really good people. I hang out with a few artists Burnski, Subb-an, Javier Carballo (who is my flat mate), it’s a small circle of friends, but everybody travels and has their own studio. When we have spare time we all go out together.
The EP you did for Subb-an’s One Records label is really good. Let It Go is a bomb track.
Yes, I really like that track, it was a funny time when I made it with my friend George, who provides the vocals on the track. Also there are four locked grooves on the vinyl, it’s good to have these tools on vinyls. I used to buy a lot of techno vinyl that had locked grooves, so I had the idea to do it now – I hope everyone will buy it because it’s a really good tool for DJing.
Also, I have to say that your Living Lies EP on La Vie En Rose is one of my favourites this year.
Thank you. I spent three months during the summer, avoiding the beach to finish six or seven tracks – in the beginning it was seven tracks but then we just released six. I’m really happy with the results.
Cool, yeah I hear at least one track from that release almost every time I go out.
When Ash (Subb-an) played in Panorama Bar, Shonky played after him and before them, a friend of mine played – during that eight hour session I heard 14 tracks of mine! Crazy man, I was like, ‘Oh no!’.
Your sound works for so many people because it’s not trendy, but it does exactly the job it’s suppose to do – make people dance…
Club music. It’s like nothing particularly special but it always work on the dancefloor, that’s how I see it.
It’s like the music has been made purely to manipulate people, very contrived. Music can be a lot more subtle and still have a big effect on the dancefloor.
Once I played back-to-back with someone in a gig – halfway through the set, he said, ‘Now I’m going to play a hit’ and I was surprised, thinking, ‘Why does he have to tell me he’s playing a hit?!’. My opinion is that you can make people dance with no hits, man!
What are you working on at the moment?
After the One Records release I took some time out for the summer. I’ve been spending time on my DJ sets, looking for records, digging. I have some tracks that I want to send to some big labels I like, and I have a few remixes coming… working on a second for La Vie En Rose, Dame Music, and there is another EP on One records coming early next year.
Yeah I was talking about this with Subb-an recently, he was talking about how his career has progressed and how he’s maintained control and avoided saturating the market with his music, which is easily done.
Exactly when you have a lot of music coming out maybe people get bored of your music… if you release every month or something. This is how I see it.
Do you have much of a plan about where you want to go with your music?
I was close to starting a label. But, at the moment, it’s too much so I’m just focused on making music. Maybe next year I’ll do an album, I’m not sure. I just want to release on good labels and play music, make music for the next few years.
Do you get to go home to Greece much?
I was there in April just to see my family. And I played at a nice outdoor party my mate George (Jose) is putting on.
What do your family think about what you’re doing?
They love it. They were afraid in the beginning because you have to invest a lot of money in buying records, if you don’t get that money back instantly, they think, ‘What are you doing?’ I studied Multimedia; web design, graphic design and so on but my focus and finances were really aimed at music, it took them a while to understand but they love it now. This is a big big scene and there’s a lot of competition and that’s what they were really afraid of. But I made it through okay in the end.
Keep up to date with all the latest John Dimas release and gig news via his Facebook page here.John Dimas
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