Parisian DJ Baptiste Zimmer is trying something different. After releasing his 2017 EP Ceremony, the young producer decided he wanted to do more than just stand behind the decks when he performed. So, during his current 11-date North American tour, Zimmer is incorporating as many live elements as possible into his shows.
The one-time intern designer for Traktor (Native Instruments) DJ software in Berlin, Zimmer is a huge fan of tech. But he also can’t escape the need to be more involved with his compositions when playing live.
It’s an ongoing process that will continue to evolve, but for now, the once-again Paris-based DJ (he spent his childhood living between California and France, and most of last year in New York) is content to just “see how it goes for now.”
We spoke with Zimmer from Chicago where he was trying to stay warm during a day off before heading to his West Coast dates.
PACIFIC: How’s it going?
ZIMMER: Pretty good. I’m still learning things about playing live. There have been seven shows so far. This tour is definitely about trying the idea and seeing how it connects. When you play live, everything changes. It’s a different format and it’s in different venues. Actually, San Diego is the only club I’m playing on this tour. It’s also earlier, someone plays before you, and you start in silence. So the energy is very different.
Are you playing with a band?
No. It’s just me. There are like 20 different tracks on my songs. So it’d be impossible to play everything. But the idea was more to find a way to play some of the main hooks and chords. I play keyboard, there’s some drum machine, there’s some synths, I’m mixing, and all the songs are tracked out so I can do anything with them. It keeps some of the freedoms of DJing, but I’m also playing stuff. I’ve also remixed most of the tracks that are out. I made special versions for the live show. It’s been very interesting.
Do you feel like you have the alchemy right so far? Or do you think you’ll adjust for more one way or the other?
Well, I started with too much, so we had to scale it down. I just wanted to do too much on stage. But as I get more comfortable, I think I want to add more. It’s a never-ending process. And there will always have to be compromise, like, if I add things, I have to bring them with me on the road. But I do think I want to add more.
Is there a visual component as well?
That’s the other big part of the live show. We have our own light installation that travels with us to every show. So visually, the impact of that on every song is super important. And when the visuals and the music go together, it’s magical.
When you’re making the music, are you seeing it on both of those levels? Or is the visual component something that is constructed afterwards?
I’m always seeing on both levels. And I have a vision for every track. When I making it, I’m thinking, "Ok, when I play this, I want it to be this way." It makes a ton of sense to me.
You just released a pair of new singles. What’s next?
There is new music coming. I don’t know exactly what that’s going to be yet, but there is new music coming.
When: 10 p.m. Nov. 17
Where: Bang Bang, 526 Market St., Gaslamp.