[INTERVIEW] Zimmer: Mastering “Summertime House” Without Being Mainstream
Close your eyes and think about your ideal summer afternoon. If you’re reading this, chances are it involves music and sunshine. I envision a perfect cerulean ocean lapping at my feet, a salty breeze to cool my sun-warmed skin, finished off with a cold glass of Veuve in my hand–because, well, champagne. The perfect soundtrack is necessary to finish it all off, and for that look no further than french house maestro Baptiste Zimmer‘s new EP, appropriately entitled Coming of Age. Zimmer’s mature sound is ethereal and sophisticated, skirting the mainstream tropical house that overtakes most of the daytime scene and instead drawing from nu-disco and classic French influences. Most of all, it’s perfect for weekend-friendly, summer vibes on your nearest rooftop.
The first track off Coming of Age is “Escape,” which features gorgeous vocals by Emilie Adams. Just because Zimmer’s music is light and airy doesn’t mean it lacks depth; the track evokes both a feeling of powerless infatuation with someone and a weariness of hiding that behind a facade, both emotions that nearly everyone can relate to. “Escape” keeps the lyrics from becoming gloomy with breezy disco grooves that will have your worries floating away in no time. We sat down with Zimmer before his set at Splash House in Palm Springs to talk about the new EP and everything in between.
How have you transitioned from the French scene to being very much into the American scene?
I have always used this French-American thing that I have and I think it helped me a lot in the start. I was also an exchange student in Guadeljara, Mexico when I was first beginning to DJ, so I actually got to play in the States a lot. From the start I had very good connections with U.S. DJs; I’m good friends with Moon Boots and Goldroom, for example, so they have played a role in my music reaching the American crowds. I guess I have really been into the American scene from the start, which a lot of people don’t assume. I usually play in the States every 2 or 3 months. The last time I played in San Diego it was at El Dorado (side note: El D is absolutely my favorite hidden gem in this city.)
How could you sum up your music in one sentence?
It’s house music that is dreamy, colorful, and modern in a way.
How is a day set different than a night set?
I make daytime music for the most part, so Splash House and day parties are perfect for me. I do a mixtape series every two months and it’s definitely daytime music, so this is what I’m used to doing.
Have you gotten the chance to see anyone here?
I saw my friend RAC play last night and also some of Gigamesh, which were both really great sets. I was pretty jetlagged though, so I had to go back and get some sleep after that.
Who are your biggest influences as far as music goes?
That’s a tough question because I listen to such a variety of music. I think one influence of mine that is rather untraditional is the whole nu-disco movement, people like Aeroplane–that’s what got me into making music in 2009 and 2010. Right now is a great time to be a producer making this type of music, it’s getting very popular. It’s not the same music as Thomas Jack or Kygo, though; there’s a definite line between commerical music and what I do. That’s one thing I never want to do–get commercial. I want to make good, positive music that isn’t commercial.
There’s a distinctive French house movement going on right now. How has that influenced you?
I do think that being French really influenced me a lot. There is a distinctive French house music, but there is a nice middle ground that French producers have managed to find between commercially accessible and underground music. If you look at guys like Daft Punk, Justice, Etienne de Crecy–producers from all of these eras have managed to do something that appeals to the masses yet has still remained unique. That certain touch is very French, and that’s what I’m trying to do. I want to find that middle ground and keep the legacy going. I want someone who isn’t familiar with me or hasn’t listened to house music to be like, “I like this, I feel good listening to this.”
What do you have coming up?
I have the new single “Escape” coming out, then the full EP out in a couple of weeks.
I really liked “Escape.”
That’s what I was trying to do, create a track that was a little groovy and yet emotionally connective to people.
In my opinion, he passed with flying colors! Snap Zimmer’s new EP on July 10th, out via Roche Music.