x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Haute journey

The international house DJ Pierre Ravan has played at fashion shows from Galliano to Gaultier, and will spin in Dubai next weekend.

The DJ Pierre Ravan is working on his series KaRavan.
The DJ Pierre Ravan is working on his series KaRavan.

It's 16 years since I started to make music. Back in 1994, I created a style of music which you could call spiritual house, with a lot of spiritual elements. I started working with all the fashion designers at the same time. I met them because they were fans of the clubs that I was at, and one of the first people I met was Paco Rabanne. He and the other designers wanted me to provide two things: the music for the actual fashion show, and the music for the after party.

For the fashion shows, what we did was very unique at the time. For every collection we had an agreement that one month before they would release the collection I had to go and see that collection to get an idea of the style, because one season it would be dark and the next season would be happier, all depending on the mood. And of course they wanted the music to reflect the mood of that collection. That was pretty hard, actually, because most of these fashion designers are crazy people in a sense. For example, when I worked with Galliano, one show would be very chic and the next one would be very all over the place, and they're very sensitive people, so they really want the music to be right.

So, one month before the show I would go and see the collection, and then I would interpret it and somehow make my own music that still reflected that collection. And then, for the show itself, we did something that was revolutionary: rather than just having music playing or a CD recording, they made me a DJ booth and I had to DJ live. Back then, 10, 15 years ago, that was a big show - you had the runway, the people watching the fashion show and the DJ on top. It was like a live gig. Then the music had to be synchronised with the lights, with the fashion show, with the walking and everything, which in the beginning was a very stressful job - you can't mess around. When you're doing a party for people, it's not so sensitive, but here you have people like Catherine Deneuve sitting by the catwalk, watching.

Then, every time the fashion show finished, we would do a special party which was always in the best clubs. And then I started touring with the designers. They liked the whole idea that, whenever they had an event abroad, they would take me, and for almost 10 years I was just touring with Jean Paul Gaultier, Dolce & Gabbana, Paco Rabanne... More recently I have been involved in the whole company - for example, in the fragrance section, whenever they have anything new to do with a perfume, they ask me to do something. They send me the bottle, and I come up with something that suits it.

Nowadays, I'm working more on my KaRavan project. I started to want to do something that is more related to my life. I've always believed that life is a journey and I wanted to reflect that in my music. So I created this concept of KaRavan. The meaning was a spiritual journey through music. I've done three KaRavan albums, and last week I finished my fourth volume, called Unity, which will be released at the end of March.

I'll tell you something: music is something you have or you don't - no university can teach it; it's in your blood or it's not. When you connect your heart with the music then it flows. I also was a music lover from my childhood - I listened to jazz and every other kind of music, but the one type I could not stand was pop: the charts, the euro-cheesy - oh my goodness, it makes me bang my head on the wall. Because I loved music, even if I hate heavy metal, maybe you could play me one track of Metallica that would touch my heart and then that is the right music for me.

The fashion show is also a journey. When the models come and walk out, it is not just about the clothes - you take the people looking at the clothes on a journey, and that journey is in your hands. You have a soft road, then a high hill, then downhill, then a place where you can hardly walk, and that is the art of it. You and your music can reflect that feeling, because music is the most direct connection to the heart. And that's why I would use an ambient jungle boom, and white noise, then going to a piano beat, and then Nina Simone will come in. That was my job.

Pierre Ravan will play at the Perrier Chill Out Festival on March 13-14 at the Layali Beach Lounge, in Mina Al Salam Hotel, Dubai. Tickets available from Virgin Megastores.