by Matt Auckland Sunday 27 March 2011 22:36
With the latest instalment of the legendary Playboy mix series forthcoming on Defected Records, Toni Tambourine catches up with disco royalty Dimitri from Paris and Bob Sinclar to talk about music, playboy, and Hef's legendary mansion.
They have been associated together for 15 years and are Paris's best known DJ elite. One is a true to life Knight the other is a heart breaker. They take their inspiration from The Persuaders, a 70's action adventure featuring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore. Both Dimitri and Bob go on adventures around the world flying the disco flag. They are unquestionably the Jedi masters of Disco. They spend their time digging out forgotten disco gems, the records that exhibit the origins of house. Here they talk about their newest collaborative project, an adventure to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles and an album to reflect their adventure. Read on to find out why DJs have become inspirational icons for the young generation, why Hugh Hefner's taste is super swanky and about their secret collection of Playboy magazines.
Can you introduce yourselves? And tell me a little bit about your characters?
I am Bob Sinclar and obviously between us the greatest and sexiest and... I'm gorgeous.
I am Dimitri from Paris, I am the nitpicker of the bunch. I like to spend hours on details and refine things. We figured it may be so impossible to do things together that I decided it would be an interesting challenge to do so. And because I’ve known this guy for a long time, he put out my first album about 15 years ago. I felt we should go back to basics and revisit the playboy theme that we both did separately and try to go with it together.
Tell me about the playboy album
Dimitri: I did the first playboy DJ mix; there were no playboy records before the 70's. It really came as a chance meeting it was something that happened unexpectedly. It really was an excuse to do a party at the playboy mansion. That's how the whole album came about. We met some of the playboy people and they said you should come over to the playboy mansion and play a set.
They said "Maybe you should promote the launch of your new album". We said "We don’t have an album, what if we make one?" So we made an album that was in 1999, it was the first; "The Night at the Playboy Mansion." There was a second a few years ago and a few years after I did my third.
Bob: It was amazing, I like to revisit the entire catalogue from the 70's just take the right pieces and put in a loop and just make my own mix during one hour with my view of the disco side. It's a period of which I never lived in, you hear about Studio 54 and all the experiences with that, to me disco is a period of 4 years of music that's all I know. From '76 to '80 during this period, sex was unbelievable they were taking drugs or alcohol and everything was very free and peaceful, this is the view we have now on this period. Then AIDS arrived and things became strange on the club scene. But when I think about this club scene I think of something amazing so I love to leave that period to the compilation I am doing.
What was the Idea behind using 'knights' instead of night?
Dimitri: The idea was that there has been the "Night At The Playboy Mansion" series, and as a DJ you feel like your some kind of champion of the music, in our case we like disco music. I particularly championed that sound through several compilations and I felt that this was my mission to carry across the disco flag and make a lot of people discover what those songs were about. I tried to dig a bit more underground and dig out stuff that's been forgotten.
Incidentally I have been knighted by the French government, which is some form of distinction they give to people that distinguish themselves in the art field. So it's called 'knights of the arts' and letters so it's good for musicians, singers or writers. That gave me the idea that before I was knighted I was champion of music and so was Bob, as a DJ we travelled with our music and shared this with the people. We usually have a music of choice we like and put across in our sets. I felt that the whole knights with a 'K' had some sense and it would have been fun to put that together within the playboy mansion graphic and historical universe. It was a little play on words that had a bit of relevance
Can you guys tell me about the playboy lifestyle? Can draw parallels between the playboy lifestyles and your lifestyles?
Bob: DJs became icons for the young generation and a lot of DJs will leave with a lot of girls constantly every night. I'm definitely totally addicted to the image of the playmate but I'm just a man.
Dimitri: Bob collects playboys; he's got a huge collection of vintage playboy magazines.
Bob: I prefer the ones from '74 until '86 because it was more colourful, floral and the pictures and covers were more exciting. It is different now the playmates are like cyborg's because everything is retouched the boobs are bigger and everything is accentuated. It's not any more about just a woman as before it was more natural and sexy I think.
Dimitri: Personally I like the playboy style that Hugh Hefner started in the 50's, the bachelor pad style where everything is super swanky, everything is super designed and there's this huge attention paid to every little detail. It was the first time men were allowed to pay attention to details where as before it was a women's thing to wear jewellery, to wear a watch a necklace or dress properly. Why not us men? Why shouldn't we want to dress nice and have nice things for ourselves? I think the whole playboy thing liberated that within men, where it was OK for the masculine kind to like nice things and be proud of it. This is the bit of playboy that I like which is from the early days of the 50s until the 70s where it was more about lifestyle than just naked girls. Then it became more of a Vanity magazine, it was a great time where the photographers were really interesting and it was very creative, it was some sort of men's liberation.
I want to talk about the Playboy Mansion... What's the story?
Bob: I heard many stores of this cavern. The grotto where there are ten girls in a Jacuzzi of course I can't wait to go there.
Dimitri: When we discussed possibly doing stuff together Bob said; "Yeah as long as we can go there and play, I'm in".
Dimitri: People will see for themselves once we shoot, having been there what I particularly like is not just the Girls, the Girls are there, but it's the surroundings that are amazing it's like stepping back into time being in a James Bond movie with all the gadgets made in the 60s. Stupid things like the light switches, the phones built in the wall still with a dial. All those little details made me like that place, it's so well preserved the moment your there you're likened to all those movies I was watching like the James bond movies and the recent Austin powers movies. It's very much like living those movies for real, which is something that really struck me at the mansion. I really want to go back as those things tend to disappear, so while it's there I want to go back and show Bob. Most people just think of the girls, but there is much more to it than that.
Dimitri: One of the main ideas when we decided to collaborate on this project is that we each have our own personality, which is quite different. I think it is quite good that our material was taken separately and put together on this album, this has prevented us influencing each other too much, getting the best from us. Basically now Bob is doing his own thing and I'm doing mine. Funnily enough he's the one going disco and I'm the one going more contemporary. I like to do things were I do things different to what people expect for bob as well. It's not what people would expect from us, and it wasn't expected that we would get together and do something; the whole thing is about the unexpected. Personally I'll be more contemporary, building on what the disco legacy today, how it's been interpreted by the younger artists from the pop and dance field and how I can fit that within a sexy playboy environment.
Bob: On my side, when I think about disco, I'm still the same guy when I'm playing as a DJ I'm more dance floor orientated I love the classics: from Chic to Boney M. My mix will be a bit 'clubbier', but will also be to show the young generation how we sample records, how much we love the 70's sound and how we are inspired by this music.
What is it about disco that inspired you?
Dimitri: To me disco is the ultimate dance music, Bob and I are DJs and our goal in a club is to get people to dance and have fun. The way disco has changed and dance music is changing, I like to get back to its origins rather than using something which has been rehashed too much. I always go back to the original songs and get some reinterpretation of them. I am very close to the true disco feel because I feel that in dance music nothing better has been done. It's really the quintessential dance music sound and I stay true to it in different forms, but to me the original disco sound will be the best thing to get people to dance.
Bob: It was a very happy feeling listening to disco, nowadays when we play in a club the people love the energy and only energy. When using disco it's just something very happy you like to dance to. When you listen to a track there is nothing intellectual, it is not aggressive and that's what I like about disco you just come back to this vibe.
Dimitri: Disco is light and happy and doesn't pretend to be anything else. Like Bob just said today there is not much content outside of the raw energy of the song, disco had a vibe going on and kind of a happy feeling that I feel is a little bit lost now. This is something we try to reintroduce as much as we can in our sets.
Today were here in Paris doing a photo shoot for the album tell me about the images were creating and what theme is behind this?
Bob: We have a lot of things in common in terms of nostalgia. The photos we are taking today are based on characters played by Tony Curtis and Roger Moore in their 70's series 'The Persuaders', it was a pleasure to do and the photos are very authentic. It was something very close to us and we knew we needed to build something on that image. To have some fun and to imagine we could live in that period and live in the skin of those guys was great.
Dimitri: Bob's playing Tony Curtis and I'm Roger Moore, we'll never look as good as them but we'll try.
'Knights of the Playboy Mansion' is released April 4th and available from iTunes and all good music outlets.
Check out the album video trailer, 30 seconds of sheer debauchery and hedonism: