DJ DEEP with DINO & TERRY, DEE JAY NAV and JASON PALMA Saturday (March 9) at Una Mas (422 Adelaide West). $10. Rating: NNNNN
Paris nightlife is dead. So says Cyril Etienne (aka DJ Deep), and he should know.
He was a key figure in the mid-90s Parisian house explosion that gave rise to producers like St. Germain, Daft Punk, Bob Sinclair, Dimitri from Paris and Laurent Garnier.
"There's a bunch of very good producers and a few clubs," a jet-lagged Etienne says from Dino and Terry's studio, "but it's not a real scene where people go out for the music and follow special nights. Not for house at least."
Etienne began spinning 10 years ago beside Garnier, and ended up hosting radio shows on Radio FG and later Radio Nova. He also hosted monthly parties at the famed Rex Club in Paris, bringing in top American house and techno DJs like Derrick May, Joe Claussell, Li'l Louis and Kerri Chandler.
His Respect To DJ Deep mixed CD introduced his French take on soulful, rootsy New York house to the greater dance-music world. These days he prefers to play outside Paris, and is trying to develop his producing skills.
"I did release a few records, and some of them are OK, but I think I need to mature more and learn more about sound."
Etienne is a traditionalist in many ways, and his reverence for the music reflects that. While many French producers were happy to create an accessible, easy-listening version of the American house they loved, Etienne is adament about retaining the passion and character, and bristles at the mention of lounge house.
"I've been listening recently to old Chicago house and Detroit techno stuff that I used to play all the time, and rediscovering records that I knew but hadn't listened to in four or five years. There was so much vibe and soul on those tracks -- sometimes the production was very rough, but the vibe is unique. Today, when I go to the store, all the productions are so polished."
In spite of his fetishization of the roots of dance music, Etienne does recognize that those purist tendencies have also led to a creative stagnation in some aspects of the deep house scene.
"As a DJ, you can get locked into a routine where you go to the store and buy the new records from the producers you like and end up playing new stuff, but it sounds like all the records you already have.
"I don't want to this music to become all clean and all loungy. I hate when people call what I play lounge music -- I play club music for people to dance to. I like music with character, whether it be Caribbean or hardcore. I love music with personality."