French dj & producer Don Rimini, early adopter of the service, discusses not following the rules, Madonna’s haircut and the art of mixing below:
How have you changed as an artist since your first single “Time to Panic”, as far as your musical identity and inspiration?
Wow. Long story…I never really asked myself this question to be honest. Every EP I put out has been very important to me. When I think of it now, each of them was a true representation of my desires and musical evolution.
When I started producing, the main thing was to bring something different to the game. It was a time when I wasn’t really feeling the techno music that had been going on for the last 10 years, I’m talking about the millions of super linear 4/4 techno and house tracks, all following the “rules”, all based on the same structure, the same presets. I wasn’t really into the minimal vibe either which, although sometimes well-produced, felt pretty boring and bland. What I wanted was to go for something with more of a pop structure, with a very efficient sound. And little by little all my different influences crept out…Hiphop for the vocals, pop, and even rock as far as structure and the energy. I’ve always been immersed in these scenes, techno and house of course, but definitely hiphop as well. So I felt more like myself using all the influences.
My EP “Absolutely Rad”, for example, has an obvious hiphop influence. The idea behind “Kick N’ Run” was to come at you with something radical, raw, spontaneous, very in your face. WIth “Nlarge your Parties”, on the other hand, I wanted to go back to the basics. Keep the same energy while developping something more melodic and harmonic. I don’t think it’d make any sense to do the same thing every time. On this latest release I really found my inspiration in the Chicago sound, ghetto-house, at least as far as posture and vibe. I’m having a blast with this type of sound. I was kinda tired of the over-saturated bang your head stuff. I needed to bring sexy back, while still keeping the energy thing on lock. I’m hoping my touch is still felt, still has its unique sound.
I definitely don’t wanna be stuck with one particular style. I just do the music I wanna hear at the time I’m making it. You know, kinda like Madonna and her haircuts, hahahahaha.
A lot has changed since you started doing music, where do you see the industry go from here, especially when it comes to new technologies, and how does it affect your career?
The world is in shambles my friend…hahahaha.
All the rules of the music business have changed in the last few years. At the same time, I kinda naively don’t care about it. What I like is to make music and share it with the most people I can. I do the best I can, and I’m loving it. The passion is intact. So yeah, with these new rules, I earn way less money with record sales. But without the internet, I would probably be still making music for a bunch of friends in a little apartment…instead I’m traveling the world to play music in the clubs I dreamt of, working with artists I love…and get to live off it! Profit sources have just switched.
Internet has brought me a lot. Through Myspace at the beginning, but also through blogs (shout out to Discobelle and Fluokids for being the first ones to showcase my tracks), through Fairtilizer aka Official.fm which is an incredible tool for me, as well as Facebook, Twitter and so on. I’m a fucking geek! Also, I don’t use vinyls to spin anymore, I don’t spend hours digging in record stores, which I loved…Now the diggin’ takes place on the internet, blogs and all that.
You’re one of the first Official.fm users, how did you end up on our platform and how has it helped your career?
A while ago I decided to put a mix online every month, I was looking for a place to host those, but I couldn’t find any place to do it right. I opened a bunch of free accounts on various filesharing sites but it was always fucking up at some point. I spent countless hours re-uploading mixes…total hell. And one day Oliver from Mental Groove suggested Fairtilizer. It was the perfect tool! Everything I was looking for. As if it had been made expressly for me, haha. Streaming, download option, artwork, embeddable player. Just perfect! Good way to get rid of annoying pop ups and stupid links you get on filesharing sites too. I also got the chance to use Official.fm for a remix contest for my track “Hools”. It’s the ideal tool. A little later I discovered the “share your tracks” function, that’s real cool, and I use it a lot privately to send songs to friends or fellow artists, just with a password and a link, making sure it doesn’t leak outside of the circle of people I shared them with. Of course Official.fm also allows me to discover and sometimes download other artists’ tracks.
What new functions would you like to see on Official.fm?
Hmmm, probably being able to upload tracks in wav format. You see the thing is I use your tools to send work-in-progress, for my own tracks as well as remixes and collaborations…unfortunately I can only do so in mp3 format. But hey, that’s just a detail.
How does your studio look as far as gear?
It’s ridiculously small. I really have a space problem at home. My studio is probably 2m2, but somehow it’s probably where I spend most of my time. Weird…Reminder: think of moving soon.
I have been digital-friendly since the beginning, everything goes through my computer. It’s much easier, much easier to travel with too. No problems with taking care of instruments, making sure they sound right, synchronizing between different gear…and technology now allows us to get a perfect result without needing analog. As far as workflow, my favorite software is still Cubase without any doubt. From there I use a lot of VST synths and plug-in fx…from composing the track to pre-mastering, everything goes through the computer. Other than that, there’s always a friend to lend me his studio for recording vocals and such. We even recorded the violins for “Riminology” in my friend’s living room with a mobile studio…and it was amazing!
Advice for aspiring djs?
The only one would be to find your own identity. Then work, work, and work again on “the art of mixing”, efficiency, the flow, the rhythm, and making sure everything is tight as far as blending songs together and so on. Make sure you incorporate soul and finesse. Technique is important but the track selection is still the essential element. Most of all, don’t copy other artists, for sure.
How do you do to stay afloat in this tormented economic climate?
I sell my body! Hahaha…then I party to forget…nah, you know, I’m quite a positive person. I try to make the best music possible, I try to be sincere with the music, and stay working hard. I think, probably naively again, that things will stay good as long I stick to my ethics. This should allow me to stay afloat. It’s unfortunately not the case for everybody…but that’s another story.
What’s up with you for the last quarter of 2010?
Lots and lots of things. For a starter, I will continue promote “Nlarge Your Parties”, the mini-album I just put out which I’m really proud of. We shot the video for “Whatever” this week, it should be out shortly and it’s a killer! We also just did a series of Don Rimini t-shirts. Other than that I’m working on 4 remixes which should be out in the coming months. There’s gonna be nice surprises! I’m also working on a compilation called “Curated by Don Rimini” out soon on Mental Groove. For this, I selected never-heard tracks from artists that are not well-known but that I feel are incredible. I’m really excited for this, the tracks are bangin’! I’m also thinkin of doing a “Nlarge Your Remixes” EP with the best remixes of tracks from my current EP. That should be out around January. And of course travel the world to dj, keep releasing mixes every month, and a bunch of surprises…believe me, the best is yet to come!!!
Vinyl is back, CD is dying? Truth or myth?
Hahaha, I’m very down with this rumor. But to be honest, I don’t really believe in it. True I’m a vinyl addict, I still have a very large collection at home, probably takes half of my apartment’s space! It’s truly my favorite format. But CD has been my best friend for a couple of years now. You know, I have over a hundred gigs a year, and it’s much easier to travel with CDs than a 30kg dj bag. And I’m not even talking about missing luggage at airports, fucking up your vinyls and such. Not to mention the possibilities you have with CD turntables…loops, infinite pitch, reverse and the list goes on. There’s so many pros about mixing with CDs. It’s untouchable. I’m not the nostalgic kind, times change, you gotta change with them and accept the evolution of technology. My vinyl collection will always be very precious to me though.
Where are we going?
Wherever we wanna go. Future is ours.
If you had to change your name?
No hesitation here: Ron Jeremy! But I think it’s already taken…
My favorite club is without any doubt Neidklub in Hamburg, I love it. It’s always amazing there. The crowd is really into it and knows their stuff, the space is not too big, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. All white, super clean, not a single spotlight, only leds on the walls, it feels like a spaceship. And the sound is incredible. Neidklub is totally magical.
As far as djs, I love what A-Trak is doing, but I gotta say I’m really into Alex Boys Noize’s sets. To me, he has been the best in the world for the last 4-5 years. A quite perfect selection and an amazing technique. Finesse and fury at the same time. He’s got a crazy feeling. 2 producers I always anticipate releases from are Fake Blood and Soulwax. Both of them master production science and the art of the dancefloor. It feels like they know their stuff 200% all the time. I have the utmost respect for their work. They’re really on top of the food chain.
When it comes to crowds, I gotta say Belgium is quite crazy. People there are connoisseurs and they get really into it. They love to have fun, and that’s the most important to me. Los Angeles is pretty incredible too, it’s always quite an experience to play there. They aren’t scared of anything, they’re wilding from beginning to end.
Right now I listen to stuff that are not too hard or “dutch”, cause that’s kinda all you hear nowadays. I’m into stuff like Duck Sauce, Carte Blanche, Tag Team Terror, DJ Keith, Titan…Djedjotronic is doing it right now too. Mikix the Cat, Manaré…I also love what labels like Sound Pellegrino are doing. They’re trying to bring something new and they’re successful with it. Congrats to them!
For clothes, one brand (among many others) I really like right now is Bleu de Paname. Denim mostly, simple and elegant. Much like in music, I tend to go back to the basics, like Comme des Garçons or Norse Project. Aaah and make sure you check out the new collection by 123klan who do all my artworks: http://bandit-1sm.com/. They’re geniuses!
Foodwise nothing beats a good thai meal…and champagne of course!