Dimë (KALT) – Groove Resident Podcast 52

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Photo: Sophie Cerisier (Dimë)

„You can always rely on the residents. They know the club, the crowd, the sound system, and they are a pillar of the musical identity of a club, just as important as the architecture, the acoustics or the interior design,” Nick Höppner once said in Groove. Our monthly Resident Podcast aims to give the residents of clubs and collectives working locally and internationally the attention and respect they deserve.

When Dimë started his residency at Strasbourg’s KALT, he had no clue what to expect—and had actually never seen it from the inside or even photos of it. Arriving a mere quarter of an hour before it opened its doors in 2018, he had no choice but to jump in at the deep end. He never looked back in the following six years, but helped shape the identity of the club in the pittoresque French town close to the border of Germany.

KALT dedicates itself to more than just music, with an entire room made just to experience visual art, and the Paris-based Dimë is equally eclectic, switching back and forth and between the two floors of the club, seamlessly navigating through different genres. The same is true for his contribution to our Groove Resident Podcast, a virtual musical tour through the club—a 90-minute-long exercise in storytelling.

How did you originally get into electronic dance music and what led you to become a DJ?

Although my first steps in this field were very blurry. I remember that at 14 or 15 years old I had a certain fascination for nightlife and clubs via documentaries on secret parties in Paris, New York, or Ibiza. It was a mysterious world for me, between light and shadow, reserved for adults, to which I had no access at that age, other than listening online to the music that was played in these places. Thus during my adolescence, I began to consume this type of music with beats and rhythms, without a clue about their origin or their genre, but already perceiving its potential to convey emotions. In 2012, during several trips to Berlin, I discovered and fell in love with music from Detroit, which gave even more meaning to the club experience as I imagined it. My approach changed then, I had the desire to educate myself, to understand and explore this music—and the scene around. At that time, a lot of tracks were only released on vinyl, which led me to collect records. By accumulating them, I felt the natural need to put them together and create cohesive stories. Basically that’s still the same drive that keeps me playing today: the desire to build something with these new tracks that I collect. This approach was shared at the same time by around ten other friends, and the group dynamic pushed us to buy turntables and play at each other’s homes. Then we gradually evolved from our living rooms to clubs and parties around town. So it’s a natural and gradual path that led me to become a DJ: telling stories and conveying emotions in the free environment that nightlife and clubs can sometimes offer. Besides, being an introvert, playing deep music is also a good way for me to express my feelings.

You’ve been a resident at KALT since the club’s opening in 2018. How did that come about?

During this fun period of collective emulation where Strasbourg locals all played together, I hung out and sometimes played with DJs from the older generation that was kind of mentoring the younger one. Since we were sharing a common sonic aesthetic, an aligned vision, and passions, we became closer friends. Some of them—Roan and STU—were planning to open a new mysterious techno club with an art space in the future. When KALT was in the planning stages, they told me that I could play when the club would open because my style as a DJ would fit with the artistic direction. At the time, I was still collecting a lot of records and was already releasing podcasts frequently—some of which are still online. I was playing—and still do it—a wide stylstic spectrum between house and techno, and could adapt as the opening act for various artists of different genres. After regular appearances in the first few months of opening, it turned into a residency while the team—now a family—of residents took shape. The opportunity to be involved from the club’s inception has been rewarding, allowing me to witness its growth and evolution.

How do you remember your first set at the club?

I actually played the very first set of the opening night, exactly six years ago. I was already living in Paris during the construction work, so I saw the club only 15 minutes before the start of my set because the secret—and the surprise—was kept until the last minute without me even being able to see a photo of the finished venue. I had no particular expectations except being excited to discover a new place run by a team that I respect. At the end, I was so impressed, even daunted, by the massive main room and the beautiful booth that I had to play a ten-minute-long ambient track to process what I was witnessing as a complete spectator of the moment. There was a lot of anticipation around the disclosure of a new project in Strasbourg, so the club was packed as soon as it opened, which I wasn’t expecting either. During opening sets, I used to do long build-ups with sometimes more than 30 minutes of ambient, but the vibe was already there, so I had to switch to something dancefloor-oriented and different from my initial selection, which had been slower and softer. My style has evolved since then, but the core foundations of my current selection style were already there. From that night on, the architecture, the light and the sound of the place had a significant impact on my selection for the next gigs of the residency. And this venue that I can now call home has become a source of inspiration that shapes my musical identity.

KALT is not only dedicated to music, but also visual arts—besides the two dancefloors, there is an additional art space. How do these two things tie in with each other at KALT?

The additional art space serves as a platform for artists to showcase their work. It creates a multi-dimensional environment into which the audience can immerse itself. Visual art installations may include projections, light displays, sculptures, or paintings. They aren’t mere ornements, but integral components enhancing the experience and the overall atmosphere, adding another layer to stimulate the senses. Great attention is also being paid to flyers and the artwork, which gives a visual indication of what to expect in terms of the musical identity of the club.

How would you describe the audience at KALT?

In a few words, I would say warm, passionate, loyal, and sexy. The club attracts electronic music enthusiasts from different generations. Due to the geographical location of Strasbourg, more and more people come from Germany, Switzerland, or Paris. The atmosphere is welcoming and inclusive, and the venue became a space of expression and freedom for many, with the desire to live the immersive experience that KALT offers. In addition to recent national and international recognition, the club also has a strong impact locally. Being only open on Saturday evenings, it has become a regular meeting place for many who have integrated the codes of the club and electronic dance music. The core of regulars has  expanded over the years, fostering a sense of a caring community, aware of the reference that the place has become. I have to say that I’m very proud to see this happening in France currently, especially in my hometown.

The club’s two dancefloors are dedicated to techno on the one hand and house as well as related subgenres. What does this mean to you as a resident, how do you approach playing in either room?

After a decade of DJing, I still have this internal conflict about whether at some point I should choose one side over the other for artistic reasons—should I split it into two aliases? I prefer to think that I’m lucky enough to be able to play both genres with equal pleasure and need at any given time. After playing a few techno sets in a row, I miss the house sets and vice versa. Each room offers a distinct atmosphere and energy. When playing in the techno room, I craft sets that build tension and intensity by layering multiples element, and driving the crowd with a guideline in my mind from start to end. In the main room, I always play before or after the headliners of the night, so I have a bit more pressure and take it very seriously. In the second room, with its more intimate vibe, it’s more about having an intuitive connection with the dancefloor because it comes and goes quickly, and is sometimes a curiosity or a breath away from the crowd of the main room. So I focus on oscillating moods and colours to create variations, blending uplifting rhythms and floating grooves, switching between euphoria and nostalgia. In this room, I can also be more adventurous, play more records, and let the music play. Above all, though sometimes I play strictly techno or house sets, most of the time the music I play blurs the lines between the two genres, making the distinction between the two floors a bit nuanced.

Would you say that there is a difference between how you approach your sets at KALT as opposed to one-offs sets in other clubs such as Paris’ Carbone, where you regularly played until its closure in late 2023?

Definitely. At KALT, as a resident, I have a stronger bond with the venue and its crowd, I am familiar with the club’s atmosphere, the booth, the soundsystem, and its sweet spot frequencies. I would say knowing the place makes me feel more relaxed and free to take risks and express myself creatively. I conceive my role as resident as the one that introduces the musical identity of the club both for the crowd and for the headliners I play with to leave them in the best conditions before performing. This forces me to remain humble, not to take the spotlight, to hold back on the energy level, sometimes to the point of creating a certain frustration in the audience. I see the residency as an opportunity to innovate with each set, so I try to never play the same tracks twice–although these days I allow myself to play  a few personal classics again once in a while. As I said, the regulars come every weekend and the city is full of other talented local DJs. So I feel grateful and lucky for my precious position as a resident, and it’s a form of respect for them to challenge myself by providing something different every time. On the other hand, one-off sets at other clubs require a more adaptable approach. I might not have the same level of familiarity with the venue or its audience, so I need to be more responsive to the overall vibe of the night and would play in a more secure way. I’m really sensitive to the visual aspect of music and the environment. For me the venue is very important, and the music I play has to adapt to it. I couldn’t play a track with lots of reverb like at KALT in a small club with a low ceiling. Overall, no matter the specific context of each gig, I always stay faithful to my style and my tastes, playing deep and atmospheric music, trying to be captivating and stimulating.

When it comes to recording mixes, you said that you like to construct each one “like a puzzle,” inspired by your love for mix CDs in series such as fabriclive or the Berghain/Panorama Bar mixes. What does your preparation look like when you prepare for these mixes?

Before the rise of the podcast, the first mixes I was listening to in order to explore a DJ’s universe came on CD. For technical reasons, the CD was limited to 70-80 minutes, and for me that’s just the right amount of time in which tell a story in the form of a home-listening mix—anything less would be too short and just a showcase of good tracks, anything more, especially north of two hours, would probably be too long and already a proper club experience. I don’t want to complain about the continuous access we have now to free online mixes, of which I still consume a lot, but this being so easily able to release something can sometimes result in a lack of concept behind an online mix. Mix CDs were often the only way for the artists to showcase their taste and curational skills. The artwork, the effort to license every track, and the fact that the physical format of the mix lasts forever pushed them to carefully select and reach a high standard. So this practice of compiling tracks became an influence on the way in which I conceive an online mix outside the club environment. Back when I had no turntables and tape to record a mix, I discovered the possibility to do a mix through Ableton through a former Ostgut resident. I learnt it and have been doing it like this because I think it is an appropriate means with which to build a home-listening mix. Recording this type of mix is a complete different exercise than playing in a club. There is no spontaneity, crowd energy, or social experiment to be inspired. It’s a more introspective approach and a lonely operation that allows flexibility to do it everywhere. Basically, I do not sit at home and record one or two takes like in the past, but the process between curating and editing the final version could sometimes take weeks. Ableton gives you full control over the mix and the clock. The mix is not frozen in the present of a live club experience. You can start with an draft, take your time and some distance, and then come back to add twists if your mood has changed. You can edit tracks, adjust EQs and switch combinations. It allows you to do flawless transitions as if the mix is organic. By having an overview of the narrative in the software, there’s a visual dimension to the mix design where the elements of the next tracks can be nested and subtracted like pieces of a puzzle. Not being a live performance in front of an audience, I don’t care about showing in an online mix that I can beatmatch or not, to prove my so-called legitimacy as a DJ. As I said, what matters here is selection and storytelling.

You’ve said that you were aiming at “soundtracking the venue to reflect its ‘concrete’ aesthetics and its architecture” with your contribution to our Groove Resident Podcast. How did you go about that?

I have always found it interesting to try and capture the essence of a place through online mixes. I sometimes see music as the soundtrack to a place, and I often associate tracks with certain clubs when I’m digging for music. “Does it match and make sense with the venue, could it sound good there?” As a resident for many years who spent countless hours inside the club, I’ve seen it from every angle, at all hours of the night, in all seasons, during highlights and quieter times. Drawing on these visual cues and memories from years gone by, I made a selection of tracks that tried to pay tribute not just to the main room but to all the spaces of the club and the different moments of a night. I wanted to emphasise the second floor, the entrance of the club, certain corridors, chill areas for resting dancers, also the people gathering around the club and the tension that reigns before the opening, the feeling of an empty place at closing time after it has been the scene of a few hours of plenty of different emotions and experiences. Online mixes are meant to be listened to at home, so I’ve tried as much as possible to avoid dance floor tracks, bangers and explosive moments, and instead wanted to focus on inviting the listener to imagine the atmosphere of the place when it’s closed but still alive in some way. It’s not precisely a club set, but rather a sonic palette of colours and moods—house, techno, trance, ambient, dub techno, breaks, prog—through which I wanted to present the sound of the club as I perceive it while providing samples of my own sonic signature as a resident. Other sounds could also reflect the club, but this is not my identity, and others do it much better than me. Though the process begins with a thorough exploration of my music collection, I tried to stay relevant with recent releases of producers and labels that reflect the artistic direction of KALT while incorporating older personal classics I played there and that remind me of the venue. For sure, the club and trends will change, new people and new sounds will emerge, but it was made at a given time based on six years of memories and inspiration.

Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?

Exciting gigs with inspiring artists are still to come this year, notably at KALT. I will also take over the curating of the club’s in-house label that has been on hold since the pandemic with digital compilations featuring tracks from close artists that have been invited to play at KALT theses past years. Without giving away too many of the details, I will also start my own series of intimate parties in Paris that will be more focused on my house side. Regarding production, I still continue to explore techniques and my sound signature to be able to release something sooner or later. Finally, I’m always keen to travel to places in the world I’ve never been before.

Stream: Dimë – Groove Resident Podcast 52

01. Sindh – Saptura
02. Fort Romeau – Spotlights (Soela’s Ambient Reprise)
03. Quiem – Submergence
04. Speedy J – Pepper
05. Space Safari – Extended Sun
06. Dee-Rex 2 – Gaia’s Revenge
07. Paramida – Omen (Frankfurt Mix)
08. React 2 Rhythm – I Know You Like It (Scenes From A Fractal Blotter Mix)
09. p.leone – Never Alone
10. Answer Code Request x Gerd Janson – B-Section
11. Soft Crash – Count To Zero
12. Cadency – Codigo de Acción
13. Voiski – Blue Flag
14. Private Press – Credit (Resochords Dub)
15. Jon Hester – Nonstop
17. Karenn – On Request
18. Kandging Ray – Polar
19. Altinbas – Parallel
20. Amotik – Chihattar (feat. Tina Ramamurthy)
21. Sansibar – We Rise
22. Chontane – Komar
23. Ryan James Ford – Dimples
24. Repulsive Force – Peace (Ipeo Remix)
25. Alpha Tracks – February (DINA Remix)
26. JakoJako – Eos
27. Roza Terenzi – Fine Gay
28. Barker – Wick and Wack
29. Regent – Aphid Riot (Broken Edit)
30. Distance Dancer – Brain Dance
31. Marco Bruno – I Wish I Could Believe
32. Aleksi Peräla – FI3AC227002

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