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 incorporates lots of edits into his sets. His 2018 XLR8R podcast consists only of these. On a release front, he’s 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. In an aesthetic that’s long been overly saturated, Dimas has found a voice all of his own.
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.
I caught up with John briefly whilst he is on his Australian tour and wondered is there anything he would love to see or do whilst here?
“It’s my 3rd time here now and I’m finally getting the chance to spend longer than a week so am looking forward to doing some touristy things such as seeing some real life koalas and kangaroos of course!”
As the owner of his own imprint Elephant Moon, that only releases on vinyl, I was curious his his view on, how important is it for an artist to work closely with a label to release an album, something almost not heard of anymore in the industry
“It is a hard decision to make considering the saturation of the vinyl industry at the moment, so many labels, so much music, so many artists but even knowing that I still wanted to release my album as I wanted to share with the world my wide range of musical styles and influences.”
The music industry at times can be quite brutal and some artists can doubt themselves at times. Is there any tips or advice you would like to share that has kept yourself motivated?
“The most important thing although it is very difficult to do, is not to compare yourself with other artists in the industry. The only way to stay sane and keep motivated is to do what you from the right place and for the right reason whatever they might be for you. No one else is you and you have to keep remembering that also.
Every artist has insecurities and doubts, it’s part of the process when you are creating something and sharing with others , some will love it some will judge you but that doesn’t matter as long as you are happy with what you have done it shouldn’t matter about the rest. It takes years of work & practice to reach a certain level with what you do , whatever is that either DJing & producing or even painting or creating something in general.”
With is debut album “One against time” on his own imprint Elephant Moon, it is always interesting to hear how an artist copes with the immense emotional and professional demands each day in the studio
“Balancing touring, working every day & having a personal life is very hard to manage. I forced myself to work daily on music for the last 6 years , every Monday after the gigs I was in the studio which resulted in having lot of material to release.
On my album, most of the 14 tracks are new, all but 2 were not made in the last 18 months and because of the amount of tracks I had it was very hard to choose which to release without compromising my club style music but also expressing myself 100% with other genres of music that still told a cohesive story”
Naturally every producer has a particular piece of studio gear or plugins they cannot do without
“Yes my Cirklon sequencer, my Eventide and my ears!”
Making a leap to another city can be daunting for some, others it is a right of passage, having left your homeland of Greece for Berlin many years ago, what precipitated the change of countries, do you find your homeland has matured its underground scene?
“After playing my 1st time in Berlin in 2011 on a Wednesday at Watergate was the moment I realised that my hometown could no longer provide me with anything more than what I already had, so I chose to change cities and was the best decision I made.
The underground scene in my home town has matured in a way but sadly in a smaller version of what we used to have 15 years ago, also the financial crisis in Greece affected the whole country in such a bad way, especially entertainment.”
As a label owner that only releases on vinyl, I am John has hear the old vinyl vs digital debate often, to the emerging DJs out there, what advice would you give to anyone starting out and not sure what format to play on?
“Vinyl of course , it’s not that I’m against digital or I’m a vinyl only DJ , but the beauty of playing 2 records and the magical moment when the frequencies blend together is not the same when u play two digital tracks. It happened in the past that I had to play only with USB’s, I was feeling very awkward because It was too easy for me , after I finished the 1st mix in my mind I already knew the 5th track that I would play next , whilst with the vinyl, you browse your crate and you have to be fast to mix as the track might finish and u don’t see the waveform like on the CD. So for me digital only is too easy but that’s only my opinion.”
We all draw inspiration from artists and John is no different
Just to name few artists, Jeff Mills , Aphex Twin , Boards of Canada , Ricardo Villalobos , ZIP , Derrick Carter , Chez Damier and there are plenty of new artists out there who inspire as well like Matthias and Riccardo.
With the relaunch of Decoded Sunday’s, I wanted to know if I asked John to do a ‘back to mine’ style mix, what tracks or songs have musically had an impact on his life that would definitely have to be included in his selection and why?
Schatrax – Schatrax ( was the 1st album I ever bought )
Boards of Canada & Aphex Twin (anything from either as they are both my biggest influence on my Ambient Project “Secret Universe”)
Iz & Diz – Pac (because they sampled PAC-MAN one of my favourite childhood video games.)
It’s always tough to get a hold of an artist whilst on tour, I wondered what the rest of 2018 has in-store for John
“I’m releasing a podcast on XLR8R which is only original tracks and re-edits of mine, a track on their new subscription platform featuring only exclusive tracks from different artists and I’m also working on an EP for Half Baked Records.”
You can catch John in Australia at:
Fri, 28 Sep 2018
Mantra Collective & KT Pres. Killing Time 10th Birthday with John Dimas (Greece)at Killing Time, Melbourne
Sat, 29 Sep 2018
John Dimas at The Grand Poobah, Hobart
Sunday 30th Sep 2018
Circus Launch Party w/ Charlotte De Witte – Brisbane
Tickets available from here