Podcast 563: John Dimas - XLR8R
Club-ready groove full of edits and exclusives.

John Dimas found his way into DJing through clubbing. Inspired by the Chicago, acid house, UK garage, and breakbeat he was hearing in his hometown of Thessaloniki, Greece, he bought his first records and taught himself to mix using two belt-driven decks and a homemade mixer that formed part of a high school project. He played his first gig two years later, in 2001, in a tiny bar where he remained as a resident for over four years before moving to Decadance, a larger venue that regularly booked artists from abroad. Dimas was quickly snapped up by a major Greek booking agency and also Red Bull, who signed him a resident DJ for their nationwide party series.

Dimas’ international bookings picked up quickly. Having carved himself a reputation with some lower-profile support slots across Europe, he’s now established himself as a highly respected DJ in minimal house circles, acknowledged for the diversity in his selections and deep knowledge of music; scattered within all Dimas sets are various obscure cuts that even the most avid music fans are yet to discover. “I like peaks and troughs, and giving lots of different dynamics to keep things interesting,” he says. “I don’t like to be predictable with the records I play and love surprising the crowd.” Recent years have seen him perform at Ibiza’s DC10 and Amnesia, New York’s Resolute, Paris’ Rex, Bucharest’s Guesthouse (alongside Ricardo Villalobos and Raresh) and all across Berlin, including Club der Visionaere and Watergate. It was a 2011 booking at this latter venue that inspired a 2012 move to the German capital. 

Important, too, is Dimas’ production work. He began experimenting with production in 2007 and has maintained a steady output since his 2010 debut, pushing a playful minimal-house sound with intricate drum patterns and wonky basslines. Of all his releases, it’s 2016’s Raum...Musik debut, Multiverse, and 2017’s Telexistence via Raresh’s Metereze ‎that stand out. In joining the likes of Dubtil, Melodie, and Barac, Dimas became the first non-Romanian to appear on the label. He's also known for editing tracks, often using the alias "JD SiKret," and he incorporates many of these into his sets.   

Elsewhere, Dimas also heads up Elephant Moon, a vinyl-only record label through which he aims to search out and support new talent. The label does not accept demos; rather, Dimas himself hunts for artists, “so there is always a high quality maintained,” he says. Among others, he has supported acts such as Lee Burton, Lopaski, Zendid, and Plantae. The label celebrated its 11th release with Dimas’ album debut, One Against Time. “I had to the opportunity to express myself completely and draw from all my influences over the years,” he says. 

Dimas' XLR8R podcast is made exclusively of John Dimas edits and unreleased cuts, several of which were made specifically for this mix. "I really worked hard to make this podcast cohesive which meant there were certain edits that I needed to create to connect them with the other edits I had already chosen to include," Dimas explains. It's as groovy as you'd expect from him too; while so many sets within the realms of minimal house and techno can feel like a random assortment of club tracks, this one ties together nicely without sacrificing any effectiveness. 

John Dimas also delivered an exclusive and previously unreleased track on the fourth edition of XLR8Rplusa monthly subscription service that allows XLR8R to continue to support independent music and journalism. Every month, we release a package for our subscribers, which includes three exclusive tracks from three different artists, a dedicated artwork and PDF zine, ad-free browsing of XLR8R.com, and other goodies along the way (sample packs, discounts, content etc.). As of today, edition four has a little over a week left before it's gone, and along with it Dimas' track and those from Hunter/Game and Cosmin TRG. The fourth and current edition of XLR8Rplus is here, with subscription details here.

What have you been up to recently? 

Big changes over the last few months, starting with changing my booking agency, building a new studio, finally bought my nr1 machine from my wishlist, working on new music as always, and played some nice gigs this summer.

How do you reflect on your debut album, looking back? 

I feel very proud as it was one hundred percent a reflection of me creatively from the cover artwork I created through to the 14 tracks that were finally chosen to press onto a triple vinyl. It was a very tough decision to choose as I had many more tracks I could have included and actually planned to release another version of the album digitally with some of these but unfortunately this has had to be put on hold for the moment. And I'm very humbled with the response it has gotten overall; and when I found out certain people I highly respect in the industry had bought it, that made me even more inspired to continue on this path, and trust myself completely and continue to make music that comes from an honest place and not be influenced by whatever else is going on in the industry at any given time. 

Talk to me about the recording of this mix. When and where was it recorded? 

It was recorded at my house with some friends around to give it a nice atmosphere after I came back from Ibiza after playing my first gig at Amnesia and was feeling inspired to record it.

You’ve included only original tracks and unreleased edits. Did you do some edits specifically for this podcast? 

Yes, I did, I really worked hard to make this podcast cohesive which meant there were certain edits that I needed to create to connect them with the other edits I had already chosen to include.

Once you had the edits, how did you determine the tracklisting? 

This podcast is a representation of the what I would play in the club at the moment; while it's nice to do a podcast to express your wide musical knowledge as more of a listening experience, I wanted this opportunity to show what people can expect if they see me live at a gig.

Speaking generally, do you include lots of unreleased edits/tracks in your sets?

Well, over the years I have made more than 1000 edits, so, of course, I have plenty to include in my sets, and I also include tracks of my own which is a great way for me to test them in clubs around the world before I decide to release them or not.

How do you go about making an edit of a track? 

I find a record I love but I think can be improved to fit my own style of DJing by either adding or removing certain elements, and in some cases keeping the original but re-arranging the track so it's better for me to play in my sets. I make edits on the plane, at the airport, in the car on the way to the hotel, basically, wherever I can have my laptop with me; instead of just watching movies I love to do edits!

Away from your edits, how do you dig for records? Do you have a specific process/routine? 

I never stop digging for records; it doesn’t matter where in the world I am, the first thing I do when I wake up is open my laptop and go on Discogs. I love to check the record shops in the cities I go to play in, and I'm always checking local vinyl sales, markets etc., even sometimes private collections. I buy records even when there is only a loop I like, and then I'll rip & re-edit it. 

Finding great records over the last few years has become a lot easier with the help of certain apps and the all the information everybody has access to online, resulting in the availability to anyone who searches a little bit to buy, even if their price is high or overinflated because some well-respected DJ has played it and someone has shared a video somewhere online. So then, in the end, these records either become super expensive to buy or there are no copies available, which means more searching is necessary in actual record shops not only online which makes the search even more difficult. 

When I do get lucky and find one of these gems, I then usually re-edit it to have my own version and then to make it even more exclusive I press it on a dubplate so I'm the only one to have a copy and I DON’T share that one haha!

What’s next on the horizon? 

More gigs, more studio time, more music making, more partying, and finalizing a couple of new EPs for next year on Half Baked and another friend’s label for now.

Due to temporary issues regarding the GDPR, EU readers can download the podcast here.

Tracklisting 

01. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

02. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

03. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

04. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

05. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

06. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

07. JD "Unreleased"

08. JD "Unreleased"

09. JD "Lost & Found"

10. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

11. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit" 

12. JD "Unreleased"

13. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

14. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

15. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"

16. Unknown "JD SiKret Edit"