Globetrotting DJ takes time out to talk music, fashion and Dubai
As a globetrotting DJ who’s spun for some of the biggest fashion brands in the world, and a teetotal yoga guru known for pioneering a hippy brand of ‘spiritual house’, Pierre Ravan is not an easy man to pigeonhole. Since first gigging here in the late ’90s, the Iranian-born DJ has divided his time between Dubai and international residencies in clubs in Spain, the Czech Republic and more. Now he’s spending more time in the emirate as the new weekly ‘sunset’ resident at Meydan Beach Club. Coinciding with the release of his seventh annual KaRavan double mix album, L.O.V.E., we decided it was high time to clarify some myths about the 41-year-old DJ.
He claims to be one of Dubai’s first house DJs: he played monthly at the old Atlantis club in 1998 (no connection to the hotel), which later became Amnesia. ‘Back then we didn’t have clubs, just Rock Bottom [in Bur Dubai]. We did something, we handed house music to Dubai.’ He’s been a proponent of ‘spiritual house’ since the mid-’90s, when he began recording Sufi drummers in Indian and sampling them. ‘When I say “spiritual”, people think it’s religious, but nature can be very spiritual. It’s music from the heart. In the beginning when the house music community started, it was all about love – I’ve been playing 19 years and I come from those days. It’s not a judgement against the new generations of DJs, but what they play is too plastic for me.’
Every week Pierre will premiere a new track at Meydan Beach Club – alongside a live opera singer. ‘I’m doing exactly what I do with KaRavan – it’s a whole journey. Every sunset will be different, and this will be the sunset spot.’
He’s down as one of the world’s first fashion DJs, having worked for Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli and Jean Paul Gaultier. ‘Dolce & Gabbana weren’t famous when I met them – they wanted to be famous. It was in the early years of putting DJs in the catwalk shows. They had to show me collections five months early so I could set the music.’
He worked with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan months before he passed away, in 1997, sampling the Pakistani qawwali singers’s vocals on 2003 hit ‘Divine Energy’. ‘When I saw Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ I was mesmerised by this one track – I wept. I contacted Peter Gabriel and he said it was Ali Khan, who sent me three and a half minutes of vocals.’
He gets plenty of column inches in Dubai: The Story of the World’s Fastest City, in which writer (and former neighbour) Jim Krane says Ravan’s jet-setting, holistic lifestyle is the ‘epitome’ of Dubai. ‘I feel love for Dubai. I hate people who complain [about Dubai] – as a healthy, spiritual guy, my goal is to make sure everywhere I go I tell people the city is a great place to go.’
Interview: Rob Garratt. Pierre Ravan plays at Meydan Beach Club from 4pm-7pm every Friday and Saturday. KaRavan: L.O.V.E. will be launched at Amika on Saturday Friday 29, 9pm-3am, free entry. www.pierreravan.com.