Simon Dunmore is the king of house music, and he is bringing himself and his Defected clan to Doha’s shores on October 1. We caught up with him before his arrival.
Is this your first visit?
No, actually. I played on New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago. Whenever you visit places DJ-ing you never hang around too long so you barely touch the ground sometimes, but I enjoyed my visit last time very much.
Who were your inspirations when you got into mixing music and DJ-ing?
I started DJ-ing around 1984, listening to people like Bob Jones, Gilles Petersen and Norman Jay playing soul, jazz and groove sets. Then as the house scene kicked off around 1987, it was people such as Roger Sanchez and other house pioneers that influenced me.
What does house music mean to you?
It’s an extension of disco from the 70s and 80s. It’s all about people getting together and like-minded groups going out on a Saturday night, having a great time and enjoying themselves on the dancefloor. House has provided that for people for almost 30 years, and I don’t think that will change any time soon.
Where did the name “Defected” come from when you set up the record label?
I was working at Polygram Records, which was bought by Universal and during that merger I decided I was going to leave to start my own record label. I effectively defected from Universal, and that’s where the name comes from.
When you sign someone, what are you looking for?
Great music is the first thing, and then you have to decide whether you want to be involved with the artist and whether the calendar works for everyone.
And what makes a DJ particularly special?
One that looks at the crowd when playing to them, not just with their head down looking at a computer. And one that is adventurous and doesn’t play the same genre of music from start to finish, as I find that rather boring. Lots of DJs just focus on the tech-house genre now, not really bringing anything else into the equation.
What’s been the most influential single the record company has produced?
A difficult question to answer, but if I had to choose one, it would be “Finally” by Kings of Tomorrow, because the record is 15 years old and still gets played extensively in nightclubs around the world.
What’s your favourite nightclub to perform at?
There’s a club in Tokyo called “Air” that’s a very small, compact club that holds about 500 people with a booming sound system, disproportionate to the size of the venue – you can really work the crowd and sonically it sounds really clean. Pacha in Ibiza is an incredible venue. The Ministry of Sound is still amazing with the right crowd and people. That’s an important factor – it’s not only about the club, it’s the people there that can sometimes make the club what it is.
How do you maintain the drive and energy to continue DJ-ing?
It’s the best job in the world. Prior to being a DJ I collected music. It’s always been something that is very important to me. I’ve always been passionate about discovering new music since I can remember. And to still be able to do that keeps me focused and driven. I still have that desire to find music than enriches people’s lives – it certainly has mine – and to see the effect it has on people on the dancefloor.
And what do you hope the audience gets from the set at the Sheraton?
We have Shovell playing as well, who always adds to the experience. He’s an incredible percussion player. And he totally understands the dance music scene and his set really complements the night. We also have Rae performing. She’s not only a great DJ but can also sing while she’s playing. People are going to get a really rounded visual and musical experience of house music across the board.
Will house always have a future in the music industry?
I believe so, now more than ever. Kids are really into it and people have grown up listening to it. I think it’s important for them. Ten years ago people were growing up listening to guitar bands and rock music, and now I think the balance may have changed and people who have grown up listening to dance music in its various genres feel it is more important to them and have passed it on to their kids.
Why is that?
I believe it is a very social form of music. People go and meet friends and have fun and they do this to dance music. The Saturday night Disco music mentality has been prevalent in people’s lives now for decades.
Your future plans?
I have two hats in the music industry – I DJ and also run Defected Records. My future is probably running the label and giving advice to new kids. I see myself doing more of that in five years than the DJ-ing side.
Simon Dunmore, Shovell and Rae will be performing on October 1 at Indigo, Sheraton Doha (4485 4444). Go to www.facebook.com/IndigoDayLife for developments.