Responsible for dozens of delicious club-suited tracks since 2010, John Dimas has been one of the hottest names for the last decade and he’s been able to keep himself standing out thanks to his rich and sharp tunes that have seen the light on respected labels such as Subb-an & Adam Shelton’s “One Records”, Julian Perez’s Father And Son Productions (nostalgic tear), and many others. His peculiar warm and deep touch – as well pursued on his label Elephant Moon – has gradually shifted into a more uptempo and raw sound, where splashes of electro often meet deadly 909 assaults. This led John to launch his second imprint SYNQ earlier last year, pushing forward in parallel his VOIGT.MAS project alongside the veteran Voigtmann. The understanding between the two is undeniable, and the pairs have recently released the clips of INTERNAL TRANSMISSION, to be released on July 10th on their newborn Intermission.records. Ahead of his Unum Festival appearance, we had the pleasure to catch up with John to speak about his journey so far and his future plans.
– When did you discover your passion for music and how did you get involved with it?
Music has always been a big part of my life. Believe it or not, I was actually a B Boy for a while back in the mid 90’s but after I went my first rave in 1997 I was totally hooked on electronic music. I started collecting records after that and by 2001 I had my first DJ residency.
– Who was your biggest inspiration when growing up and who do you aspire to now?
I’ve had many inspirations over the years from different styles of music but great basslines have always been the common theme.
– You were born in Albania and grew up in Greece. What impact did these countries have on you and your musical journey?
Ever since I was a kid I remember having family gatherings where my parents would be dancing in the house and singing traditional Albanian songs with my uncles.
At that time I grew up it was illegal to listen to anything else except the state-sponsored radio where there was only one channel but my brother used to buy pirated cassette tapes from illegal markets that were recording from radio stations abroad so I was introduced to 80’s music from artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, Pet Shop Boys and Queen. Eventually, when the dictatorship fell, we were able to get MTV broadcast there and I was introduced to all the best music from the ’90s. Then moving to Greece when I was a teenager exposed me to even more genres of music and really expanded my taste.
– Tell us about your productions and how your music style has changed through your career?
I have always been a computer nerd which is definitely an advantage in the electronic music scene. I started producing in 2008 on software and as more developed my skills over the years I started getting into hardware as well.
Right now the heart of my studio is the Cirklon sequencer which I use to control everything and I record most of my productions in a one jam multichannel format.
My music style has always evolved alongside my personal evolution and when I look back, I am still really happy with all the tracks I’ve released since I started. I love to experiment with different genres which is why I have a few different projects that exist alongside John Dimas.
– What do you try to communicate to your audience through your music?
I just really love to make people dance and always want to send positive energy with what I play and I always aim to tell a story with my sets.
– What is your favorite set time and duration?
Depends on the setting, but I love the morning hours as it’s the best for time travelling sets. I love to play long sets too, anything under 3 hours never feels like enough time to really tell my story.
– You are currently residing in Berlin, right? How did you find your way there and do you plan to move anywhere in the near future?
Yes, I love Berlin! Our special relationship began way back in 2011 when I was booked to play there for the first time. It was Watergate on a Wednesday night and I had absolutely no idea what I was in for! By the time I finished playing it was midday on Thursday and the club was still full so I realized Berlin was the place I needed to move to so I could feel free to express myself without compromising anything and it was the best decision I ever made. I don’t know what the future will bring, especially with so much uncertainty in the world at the moment, I’m just enjoying living in the present.
– What experience was your most memorable one as a DJ or as an attendee? Do you have a track that has a special place in your heart?
Oh, that’s such a tough one! There have been so many memorable experiences during all these years it’s impossible to choose. I can answer the second part though, it would have to be Aphex Twin – Alberto Balsam as it was the record we chose to have our first dance to when I got married.
What are your plans for the upcoming season?
Things are starting to look up regarding gigs after all of this crazy COVID time. I have quite a lot of gigs in the calendar already in the UK for the second half of the year as VOIGT.MAS (my new project w/ Voigtmann) and a tour of Mexico and the USA in the summer so fingers crossed that will all happen but of course it’s all dependent on how the pandemic situation is.
– You are playing at Unum Festival in June, does it have a special impact being involved in a music scene in your native country?
Yes of course. It makes me really happy after all these years to see the scene in my native country start growing. Also… my parents will also be coming to the festival and it will be the first time they have ever seen me play.
– What festival would you most like to play at in the future?
I will be grateful to play at any festivals that are happening after all this is finally over!
– Would you say a DJ’s career is a stressful journey, and how do you balance your night lifestyle and mental and physical wellbeing?
Yes, it definitely has its stressful moments amongst all the fun, and traveling is such a big part of that. I believe this year’s break gave all of us a different perspective on how to take care of our mental health and physical wellbeing better.
It was the year none of us ever wanted, but all of us actually really needed it in order to slow down and re-prioritize. I actually got sick in mid-2020 with a disease that I never would have noticed if I hadn’t stopped touring and for that, I’m very grateful as it could have turned out to be very serious if I hadn’t gotten treatment for it. This gave me a huge shock and wake-up call to improve my lifestyle choices and I started meditating and practicing yoga and mindfulness every day which has helped me re-balance.
– What was the biggest challenge for you during the pandemic?
It’s been a very interesting time to be experiencing. So many challenges to face but I think the scarcity and fear mindset COVID has created has been the most difficult. For example, the distancing you had to maintain even with friends has been such a mindf***k. To even have a question if it’s okay to hug a friend when you see them has created such a problem for me and I never thought I would even need to consider a thought like this with the people I care about. Strange times indeed.
– Do you have a favorite country/venue to play at?
The favorite venue I can definitely say is Hoppetosse and CDV because I have the chance to play long sets to a really passionate and loyal crowd.
My favorite country is the UK. though because of our mutual love of the low frequencies and FAT BASSLINES.
– What advice would you give to aspiring DJs?
Don’t stop doing what you do no matter what you feel or how you feel, especially when you can’t control what’s happening in your external environment.
Stay in your own lane and don’t compare yourself with anyone else, it’s the biggest trap and confidence killer. Just be you, stay present in the moment and enjoy the ride.
– What can we expect from you in the future?
We have our debut album as VOIGT.MAS coming out in July, a new release as John Dimas that has just dropped on Francesco Del Garda’s label Timeless as well as something coming soon on Resolute‘s label from NYC, an EP on my new label SYNQ, a few remixes also on their way plus an EP as my other alias Secret Universe on a new ambient/electronica label from Germany by Arno called Internet Is Over.
Words by Pilar Molinero & Francesco Quieti
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