'Every night is a different story'.
In a small bar in the coastal city of Porto in northwest Portugal called Praxe Cafe, DJ Steve Paris kickstarted his career spinning a mash of Afro deep soulful house that would rapidly develop into his signature style and take him half way across the globe. Born in Paris, the city that inspired his drive for music since he was 16, DJ Steve's mixes made him a hit across bars and clubs in Portugal and France as he played alongside DJs like Jamie Lewis, Claude Monnet, Boddhi Satva, and DJ Yass, to name a few.
In 2012, Steve moved to Qatar to take on "a soulful club project", the WAHM Lounge at W Doha Hotel & Residencies as the resident DJ, and also set upon firing up his portfolio in the Middle East, performing in beach parties at St Regis in Doha, Maya Lounge at Le Royal Meridien in Dubai and on Fashion TV's event in Doha, among other major events.
And now, Steve returns to the newly revamped WAHM Lounge to pump Doha's nights with more groove and colour. Community caught up with the DJ for a chat.
As a DJ, what makes performing at some of the top clubs in Qatar special?
Qatar's Afro deep and soulful house music scene is currently growing rather fast. I have had the pleasure to perform in some of the best lounges and clubs in Doha. I have seen the electronic music scene being increasingly appreciated but it's still relatively new. I still find Doha's nightlife options to be somewhat limited and there being more demand for quality electronic music. That's because sometimes you get tired of mainstream/commercial music, which, I feel, represents 90 per cent of Doha's nightlife scene. However, there are good DJs and events already doing the rounds in Doha.
Musical diversity is what Doha needs and I hope that in the coming years there is more visibility for the same. I have just returned as a resident DJ at the stunning, renovated WAHM Lounge, which is a very special place for me, and undoubtedly one of the key venues in Doha for Deep, Afro and soulful house music scene.
How did performing across Portugal in your earlier years shape your musical style?
Since my early years in Paris, deep Afro and soulful music was crafted in me and when I came to Portugal 20 years ago, this style had only just begun. At that time, I had to travel to Paris every month just to have access to Vinyl records -- the online music stores, of course, didn't exist! Further on, with my residencies in several bars and clubs and with the positivity of the "hungry" crowd, it provided that reach and access to new sounds from France. Soon enough and at a rapid pace, Portugal brought amazing producers and DJs that gave me the opportunity to redefine my style. In any case, I cannot deny that my several trips to Paris helped my growth as a DJ in Portugal.
Tell us how exploring niche sounds such as Afro deep soulful house help you craft your own style?
I have always been driven by deep soulful and afro sounds, the mixture of different sounds going from jazz to funky/disco passing to soul music; it's a fusion of my earlier musical education. Back then, artistes like Little Louie Vega, Kenny dope (Masters at Work) and French projects like "Africanism" fusion-ing electronic music with African musicians, definitely influenced me and helped me create my own style.
How has collaborating with various producers and artistes helped improve your work or perhaps helped you discover new dimensions to your music?
I had a chance to share the DJ booth with internationally renowned producers and DJs. Spending time with them at their studios and sharing the experience, gave me the knowledge to be who I am as a DJ and there's no doubt about that. By having experienced it all this time made me move on to my own music production. In fact, DJ Bruno Rochart and I, in collaboration with some musicians, are on a production project to be launched next year.
What is the best part about performing regularly? Also, how do you keep yourself driven to maintain your energy levels day in, day out?
I always say that while performing I am telling a "story". Every night is a different "story" depending on the crowd. The visual communication is very important in intimate lounges such as WAHM, and I love it! It just helps you create a "special" connection with the crowd. On some nights, watching the expression of satisfaction on their faces ends my night with a smile as well. The crowd at WAHM knows just what to expect when they step in and I am glad that WAHM has been the benchmark for quality music in Doha.
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