UNE PLUIE D’HOMMAGES. La mort de DJ Mehdi a suscité une vague d’émotion dans le monde entier. Retour sur les différentes personnalités qui se sont exprimées :
“Salam frère. Condoléances de la part de toutes la famille de Strasbourg.”
“Repose en paix Mehdi”
“Allah Rahmu à mon frère Dj Mehdi ! Que Dieu te fasse miséricorde. Mes pensées à toute ta famille”
Triste nouvelle RIP DJ MEhdi
“Retour au kiff parce que je suis un original Mc sur une mission”
AP DU 113
I ♥ mehdi…paix a son âme
“Sad News. Waking up and learning that long time friend et hip hop pioneer has passed away. RIP DJ Mehdi.”
CASSIUS (Grand Palais, Paris)
“Au revoir à celui qui m’a fait découvrir que j’étais mezzo soprane, qui m’a encourage à être chanteuse avant tout. Peu importe le genre.”
“Son du réveil : My time & My days – DJ Mehdi & moi”
15 sept: elle porte un tee-shirt de DJ Mehdi à l’antenne.
“Lucky Boy forever. I am somebody forever. We will miss you forever.”
“WE all miss you. And that’s the truth.”
Romain COSTA GAVRAS
« On t’aime Mehdi”’
DAN, SAGES PO
“On t’oubliera jamais Mehdi”
“Damned. RIP DJ Mehdi.”
“EN deuil… Un ami de longue date est parti. On pense à sa famille et à ses proches. Repose en paix Mehdi.”
« Merci de lui redonne ce qu’il lui mérite mm si today cela n’as + trop de valeur m moi ca me touche merci a vous de vous en souvenir. »
Mehdi, my friend. You will be so missed. Doing this DJng thing, you get to meet and know a lot of people, but there are always a small few you would count as friends – the good guys – those you are always so pleased to see on a shared bill or event. Mehdi was one of those. A true gentleman, and such a great guy. I am devastated right now. So things will be quiet for a while…
Matthieu KASSOVITZ (sur son Facebook)
« DJ MEHDI est mort. Il était notre petit frère à tous, avec l’intelligence de refuser la pensée unique du hip hop français bloqué a l’époque dans les « beef », il a réinventé le genre avec un talent qui dépasse nos frontières musicale et géographique, reconnu dans le monde entier. C’est une perte humaine et artistique qui va laisser un vide immense. Je suis triste comme si j’avais perdu un des miens. Mes pensées vont à ses proches. Repose en paix petit frère.. »
“DJ Mehdi repose en paix”
“Ya juste 20 ans, juillet 91, j’ai connu Mehdi, il avait 14 ansà cette époque. Se séparer de lui, c’est dur.
“Le ghetto pleure. Petit Dj Mehdi est parti.”
“Je vais passer une nuit blanche en pensant à DJ Mehdi. Réponds Dieu. Peux-tu nous aider? Au miracle.”
“Insomnie de tristesse. On pense au frérot.”
« Tu sais Mehdi je connais depuis 18 ans Au delà de l’artiste c’est mon petit frère avec une humilité comme j’ai rarement vu.
J’étais avec lui il y a quelques moi encore et Zox en Corse.
JE suis choqué. EJ viens de l’apprendre. Il y a encore quelques mois on était ensemble. »
“J’arrive pas à fermer l’oeil. Aujourd’hui, c’es t un jour pas comme les autres. Dj Mehdi number one.”
“si j ai eu autant de succés avec mon groupe 113(3 millions de disques deux victoires de la musique ) c est en partie grace a dj mehdi donc un bel hommage dans l album africa forever inchallah
“J’ai perdu un frère., un bout de mon enfance. DJ Mehdi que la terre lui soit légère. Je lui dois beaucoup., un prince nous a quitté. C’était le meilleur.”
“J’ai du mal à femrer l’oeil. Je pense à mon frèrot DJ Mehdi.”
“MON FRERO DJ MEHDI ME MANQUE INCHALLAH LE PARADIS POUR LUI ,CETTE NOUVELLE MA MIS UNE GRANDE CLAQUE ET JE COMPRENDS L IMPORTANCE DE LA PRIERE QUE DIEU PARDONNE NOS PÉCHÉS ET NOUS GUIDE DANS LE DROIT CHEMIN”
“j arrive pas a fermer l oeil aujourdhui c est un jour pas comme les autres DJ MEHDI forever NUMBER ONE”
“si tu veux savoir qui t aime vraiment ? tes proches le sauront pour toi le jour ou tu quittera ce monde ……que dieu nous prete longue vie et qu ils nous guide dans la bonne voie ,grosse pensée a tous vos disparus courage
“Eh gros, sur le bitume on a le moral à zéro”
“J’ai eu la chance de rencontrer des grands messieurs. Je voulais dédier ce sujet à un grand monsieur. Mehdi”
“Love is forever. The light is shining from the sky in our hearts.”
A track : “Rest in peace my friend. This nightmare of a week is finally over. Beautiful ceremony. Lucky Boy forever.”
LE 14 sept :
“Exceptionnellement il n’y aura pas de Daily Mouloud ce soir.”
“Prendre les moments qui vont mieux, car grandir c’est collectionner les adieux.”
“RIP Poto. Triste nouvelle”
“RIP to DJ mehdi !!! We had such a big blast in France with Pedro, Sebastian, Biggest, Nick Javas, . So sad. We won’t forget you.”
« Tu es venu au monde tout le monde était content et tu pleurais Vis de telle sorte que lorsque tu mourras tous pleureront et tu seras heureux »
« Paix à ton âme mon Frere Mehdi Que dieu nous pardonne nos pêchés Amine »
“Une lumière de ma jeunesse s’est éteinte.”
“Hommage à l’homme à l’ami frère de Coeur genie avant-gardiste précurseur dj mehdi ! Beatmaker de mon premier Maxi : Appelle moi Rohff”
“Dj Mehdi que Dieu te preserve frero Alla y rahmou “
“Dj Mehdi forever. DJ mehdi est un classique. Comment t’oublier fréro. Allah y Rahmou”
“Lasna, Mamad, Mehdi, paix à leurs âmes”
“Lesson from our friend DJ Mehdi : Love is shining for ever”
« Young deaths, accidental deaths are always the worst. The graffiti above is by artist Fafi, wife of DJ Mehdi, who passed away on Tuesday when, during a party for a friend, the roof of his Paris home collapsed. (…)
So the rap song offers a detailed reply to the raï one, and this black and brown intergenerational conversation is happening in France. It’s a rare and vibrant moment of a call-and-response conversational topic stretching across musical scenes.
And it put Mehdi on my radar. We never met but I’d always wanted to ask him about the transition from making beats for major players in the French rap scene to getting international traction as an electro DJ. It’s a fascinating move, probably a great way to think about changes in the French music scene over the past decade or so, too.
“Tonton du Bled” stayed in my crate for years. I actually became known for playing this track to Francophone audiences. An afterhours party on a Paris boat ended with the Moroccan manager giving me his copy of the 113 record it came on. The LP that was later destroyed when a drunk driver slammed into the tour van of Kid606 and myself outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, smashing the rear windows and sending my record bag onto the highway. But in that crash we were blessed: apart from a little whiplash and my best 80 records completely destroyed, nobody was hurt. We walked out of a totaled tour van alive. It was a hit-and-run. Who knows what that driver has done since.
J-P SECK À ARMEN
“Je nous revois encore pour le concert de Rakim et Mop. C’était vraiment une personne en or.”
“Triste nouvelle que le décès de DJ Mehdi. Que la terre lui soit légère »
Parmi les artistes que tu as rencontrés et que tu as samplés pendant ta carrière, lesquels garderont une importance particulière à tes yeux ?
« J’’aurais adoré rencontrer James Brown. J’ai bien croisé George Clinton une fois dans une file d’attente au Fuji Rock Festival mais je ne pense pas qu’il s’en souvienne… Il y a aussi Jean-Jacques Perrey. Un artiste français fantastique, pionnier du synthétiseur, dont ma femme a été le manageur. Il est même venu en Californie pour jouer la marche nuptiale lors de notre mariage ! Il a joué avec plein d’artistes dont Edith Piaf avant de se mettre au synthé à la fin des années 60. Il utilisait un Moog à cette époque. Le groupe Gang Starr a d’ailleurs samplé une de ses boucles sur Just To Get A Rep. Et puis dans les artistes français il y a aussi Dj Mehdi. On m’a annoncé sa mort juste avant d’arriver à Paris. On avait eu l’occasion de dîner ensemble quelques fois car il avait assuré l’ouverture de plusieurs de mes concerts en France, comme en 2002 à l’Elysée Montmartre. Sa disparition est une triste nouvelle. (les Inrocks, oct 2011) »
“DJ Mehdi changed my life”
Kid Bravas me racontait il y a quelques jours que Mehdi était excite à l’idée de partir en tournée avec Riton.
Un jour Fabe me dit qu’il est passé chez CutKiller
“Des mecs qui font des bons instrus dans le rap, il y en a plein dans le rap fr mais des vrais producteurs, au sens réalisateurs, j’en vois pas d’autres.”
“Il a un sens du detail dans les sons et surtout dans les prises de voix. Ce qui est plus rare”
“Au moment du remix de Qu’est-ce qui fait marcher les sages, Zoxea était en admiration devant Mehdi qui n’avait que 17 ans”
Son : ”Tout se ressemble” (où c’est?)
“C’est drole comment les gens les plus talentueux sont souvent les plus humbles”
“En 20 ans de terrain, DJ Mehdi est le seul à s’être cassé le cul à faire le taf et à appeler tous les mecs de terrain.”
“Honnêtement en 95 ya eu un tas d’indés mais Mehdi est le seul producteur à mettre son égo de côté et à appeler toutes les radios.”
“Là, j’ai eu le déclic. “On est down” et surtout “Mauvais garcons” que j’aurais passé toutes les semaines si ils avaient sorti la version vynile de Rai
“En France comme vrai producteur on a eu Mehdi et … puis c’est tout”
“Ca devrait être en 1995. LE telephone sonne. “Allo t’es bien Slurg qui fait une emission sur Radio Pomme.”
“Je m’appelle Mehdi. Je viens de monter une structure Ilmekslow et on va sortir un disque avec Différent Teep”
“On enregistre chez Sagespo et on cherche des magasins et des radios dans toute la France pour diffuser.”
“Je connaissais Manu Key par la cassette de Cut Killer et Mehdi scratchait dessus donc je savais à peu près à qui je parlais.”
“Mais je ne savais pas qu’il produisait aussi”
“De là on discute et il me dit qu’il a son groupe à côté et qu’en fait il est surtout le DJ d’Ideal J”
« Une pensée pour Mehdi. Un des plus gros producteurs français. Tellement de classiques : de Jackpotes 2000 à un nuage de fumée. Que Dieu te garde. ».
“I’m in shock. I saw Mehdi a couple of days ago at bestival . I was anxious. We had a great discussion. He knew how to motivate me. I miss him”
“Also It was the first time I saw carte blanche live with the dancers and stuff. Such great energy, Mehdi an Riton dancing, having fun.”
“From what I know, he’s not injured. He didn’t fall.” ?????
“I wasn’t as close to Mehdi as my friends Surkin, Feadz, Brodi, the kourtrajme and edrec”
“An to his actual family as well of course. He was so positive, he will forever remain an inspiration, a motivation for me, for us all.”
“Tous ces gens d’horizons variés dont certains ont pu avoir des différents dans le passé réunis pour dire au revoir à Mehdi, c’était très fort.”
How can I imagine life without Mehdi? It’s a question I never thought I would have to ask myself. Mehdi was without a doubt like a brother to me, a friend well beyond our music ties, a kindred spirit and someone who played an irreplaceable and constant role in my life. In the days since his passing I’ve been reflecting a lot on our friendship and felt the need to write down my thoughts. Here goes.
Mehdi and I knew of each other well before this, but the first time we actually met was New Year’s Eve 2006-2007. This was a pivotal time in my career: it’s exactly when Nick Catchdubs and I decided to found Fool’s Gold. My brother was the matchmaker. In fact Dave first met Mehdi in 2000 when they were both hip hop producers and both worked on an album for the French rapper Rocé. They reconnected in 2005 when my brother sang on his track “I Am Somebody”, and in 2006 Dave went to spend a year in Paris for his studies. “You have to see Mehdi DJ”, he would always tell me. As New Year’s approached, a promoter friend in Montreal asked Dave to recommend a DJ. Mehdi was a natural suggestion, and with that, the encounter was set.
As soon as I met Mehdi, a bond was quickly forged. It felt like I finally met my DJ partner. Here was a guy who got his start in hip hop and rose to be very respected at a young age. Let’s not forget that Mehdi was producing some of the biggest records in French rap in the late 90’s, bringing home awards while I was winning DMC championships. By the mid-2000’s as the Ed Banger stable was taking shape, his DJ sets evolved towards house and techno, with a clear understanding of the origins of the genres that were in fact very close to hip hop, and as always with impeccable taste. Unbeknownst to each other, I was making a similar transition back in America. That was basically the context in which we met. I had been touring with Kanye for 2 years already, and Mehdi was a huge Kanye fan. I was making demos with Kid Sister and was finishing up my Dirty South Dance project, in many ways a blueprint for Fool’s Gold. He was completing his album Lucky Boy for Ed Banger, the rising powerhouse with acts like Justice and Uffie driving the enormous hype. I have vivid memories of us connecting at my apartment in Montreal, listening to and trading music for hours. He told me about his wife Fabienne (the esteemed artist Fafi) and their son Neil. I asked him for beats for Kid Sis. Before his New Year’s gig we had dinner at my parents’ house where he charmed everyone with his well-mannered wit. And just like that, Mehdi was part of the family.
Our DJ scene was exploding and it became increasingly easy to connect all around the world. I saw Mehdi again when I played Paris in the Spring. Then came Coachella, and we all went back to LA the day after the festival. I clearly remember linking up with Mehdi and his crew and playing them two brand new remixes: one for a rock band called Scanners and another one for Bumblebeez. You could say these were my first two uptempo remixes. Mehdi loved them, asked me to play them again; he was fixated. He gave very specific feedback and was more attentive than anyone. I told him I was using the name Trizzy for these remixes; he thought it was a bad idea (he was right). From that point on, we started sending each other our demos and giving constructive feedback with an open dialogue that is very hard to come by in this business. By the summer, he introduced me to his friend Kavinsky whom I wanted to release on Fool’s Gold. We discussed having him and Kavinsky come over to America in the Fall for the first Fool’s Gold tour. Mehdi and I decided we would DJ as a tag-team at these shows. I still have the email he wrote to my agent at the time, to confirm:
Subject: DJ MEHDI&A-TRAK DYNAMIC DUO SPECTACULAR REVUE
Nice to meet you Allison, I am DJ Mehdi, African cousin to your two favourite brothers in the techno business.
I am happy to confirm all those gigs, and very excited to write Rock n’ Roll History with Alain.
(And so on…)
Indeed as I got to know Mehdi, there was more than just a common taste in music that brought us together. There was a sense of humor, a love for writing, a thirst for knowledge, not to mention a passion for Seinfeld that we shared as well! The tour took place in October (including on select dates a freshly signed and virtually unknown Kid Cudi) and was an overwhelming success for the label. I will always be grateful to him for helping us kick-start our operation in America. Shortly after, Mehdi and I embarked on a European DJ run which we dubbed the Walkie-Talkie Tour. Playing in Europe with him was a great learning experience because those audiences are so much more educated when it comes to dance music. Mehdi helped me get a sense of what was tasteful and what was played out. In America you could play pretty much anything at the time and people would jump, but in London for instance you couldn’t go to Fabric and play five Daft Punk records. Mehdi was mindful of these sensibilities and I’m thankful I didn’t have to go through that crash-course by myself. He used to tease me for using Serato and lugging around all these cables and boxes while he showed up with a simple CD wallet. But at the same time he encouraged me to keep turntablism as an integral part of my sets. He clearly saw what was different about me as a DJ.
As 2008 rolled around, we continued to do shows together. Most notably, we tag-teamed at Sonar festival in Barcelona which I remember as my favorite gig of that year. On the personal side, we decided to do a house swap in the Fall. I wanted to spend time in Paris, while he and Fabienne yearned to set up shop in New York. So for two months, we exchanged homes. I still have their kid’s baby spoons in my kitchen drawers to this day. (I never use my kitchen.)
I could go on detailing the various times we linked up but I think the point I’m trying to make is clear now: Mehdi was more than a DJ partner, he was family, he was my best friend.
Mehdi was an exceptional DJ. If you heard a song you didn’t know in his set, you could try to track it down and play it yourself but half the time it wouldn’t have the same effect. There’s something about his groove that actually enhanced the music he was playing. Anyone who’s ever seen Mehdi perform remembers the same things: his smile and his dancing. His energy on stage was so contagious, it was impossible not to be captivated by him. He was radiant. I always saw these character traits as an on-stage manifestation of his generosity: he gave you everything. He’s the only DJ who could stand on a table (or a speaker, or anything for that matter) and not look self-indulgent. It wasn’t “look at me”, it was “share this with me.” In fact, the only times I ever saw Mehdi get upset was when his set got interrupted by a technical failure; he was in the middle of taking you somewhere and needed full concentration. Mehdi was very much in control during his sets and his technique was always spot-on. He was sometimes hard on himself, too. DJing was his craft, his passion, and he invested himself fully into it.
Even if you never met him personally I’m sure you can guess what he was like off-stage. The most generous and kind man I know. Mehdi had a very strong team spirit (he often referred to “l’équipe” – the team, in French) and it was always important to spend time together. If we were booked at the same show in any given city, it was inconceivable to wait until the gig to link up. He called as soon as he got in town, and more often than not he would show up at my hotel room to post up with a set of travel speakers and his iPhone full of music. He rapped along to every Jay-Z song (or in recent years, Drake) while we caught up on whatever was going on in our lives, professional or not. The same thing happened after the gigs, although that time was more about storytelling. Mehdi loved to spin a narrative and was great at it. Long-winded, full of details but always enthralling. I have memories of time spent with him on literally every continent. How many times did I call him upon landing, always greeted by the same reply: “Viens, on est tous là, on t’attend.” (“Come join us, we’re all here, expecting you.”)
The same hospitality extended well beyond the realm of DJ gigs. He often invited me on vacations with his family and friends, and I went many times. Mehdi and Fabienne were my only friends who actually knew how to help me relax and stop working. Fafi would make me put my phone down. He loved to cook for a group. His calamari a la plancha in Biarritz was legendary. Whenever I showed up, whether it be on one of these trips or simply at his Paris apartment, the first thing he would say was: “T’es chez toi.” (“You’re at home here.”)
Mehdi was truly the glue to countless friendships. He brought people together and rejoiced in doing so. I can’t even count the number of people he introduced me to. Last week, as we were all mourning in Paris, my man Lucien said it best: “He created a family.” But he wasn’t just a social butterfly. What was beautiful was how Mehdi had a unique relationship with each person he met. He greeted them with his usual “Ça va? À l’aise?” but remembered everyone by name and made each of them feel like they knew him, even if it was just a casual acquaintance. Find me one person out there who didn’t like Mehdi. It’s impossible.
There’s a lot we can learn from that, which might in fact answer my initial question. What is life without Mehdi? There’s no such thing. Mehdi’s light lives on in all the wonderful friendships he created. I see certain faces and I see Mehdi. I close my eyes and I see Mehdi. I hear certain songs and I see Mehdi. And of course I hear his own music and I see Mehdi.
Although I already miss you more than words can express, I have enough memories to last me a lifetime.
♥ ∞ M.
I wrote this text on the plane back from Paris a couple of days ago. I first intended it to be a series of personal notes: an attempt to retrace the chronology of our friendship with Mehdi. Then I figured I’d share it. It’s long and perhaps too full of factoids. But that’s how Mehdi, ever the raconteur, like his stories: starting “ab ovo” (from the very beginning, the origins) and rife with trivia. So here it is, my own personal Mehdipedia entry…
HOW WE GOT TO KNOW MEHDI
I first met Mehdi over 11 years ago, in the summer of 2000. But to properly explain how this improbable encounter even took place, I must rewind to a year or so before. As some of you may know, in the mid to late 90s, way before Chromeo, I was a hip hop producer in my hometown of Montreal. Along with my little brother A-Trak (whom I’ll refer to as Alain in this text), I owned a small indie label called Audio Research, which was distributed by Fat Beats: arguably the greatest institution in independent hip hop culture (the Fat Beats flagship NY store closed a year ago, I hope you got a change to visit it). In 1999, Audio Research released its most successful 12”: “2004” by Obscure Disorder (a group composed of three of our high school friends rapping, Alain on scratches and myself on beats), featuring Ill Bill and Goretex of Non Phixion. You can listen to this track here:
One day, I got a call from our Fat Beats label rep (and worldwide crate-digging authority) Amir, saying something to the effect of: “My man from France wants some beats from you. He loves Obscure Disorder.” The gentleman in question goes by the name of Olivier Rosset. He owned the indie distributor Chronowax, the Fat Beats of France, so to speak. In our first conversation, he asked me if I had heard of DJ Mehdi. I had no idea who that was. He said that Mehdi was one of France’s foremost hip hop producers, that he loved “2004” and that they wanted to get beats from me for a project they were working on. (Keep in mind that I had never made beats for anyone outside of Montreal before, so I was thrilled.) I was going to spend a few months in the south of France that summer; we agreed to meet then.
MEETING IN PARIS
After graduating from college in 2000, I got a scholarship to study for the summer at a French Literature institute in the southern town of Avignon. Olivier invited me to come up to Paris for a weekend, crash at his place and get to know his group of friends. I’ll never forget getting off the metro at Place de la République and scrambling to find the Chronowax warehouse. When I finally got there and met Olivier in person, we clicked instantly. (Here’s a fun fact: as the office was getting ready to close for the weekend, a bunch of people were crowded around a turntable, listening to a test pressing. Olivier was like: “This is going to be huge.” I barely knew anything about house or electronic music at the time, but thought to myself: “Cool, a house beat with the ‘Rapper’s Delight’ bass line over it.” Years later, I realized that the test press was Alan Braxe’s “Running.”)
Olivier was anxious for me to meet Mehdi, whom he called his brother. We all went to dinner that night. Mehdi and I talked about sampling. I had used Arabic music on “2004” (a record I stole from Pee’s parents’ collection, incidentally) and so had he on 113’s hit “Tonton Du Bled”:
We talked about chopping drums. He was a hip hop nerd, just like myself. But he was way more accomplished: only one year older than me, and he had made beats for just about all of France’s major rappers. I clearly remember us debating who’s doper, Jadakiss or Styles P (Mehdi said Jada but I was like: “Nah man, the streets are feeling Styles.”) Later that night, Olivier proudly played me a bunch of DJ Mehdi productions, including a compilation entitled “Espion”, which they were releasing together. Here it is on Discogs: http://www.discogs.com/Various-Espion-Le-EP/master/105824 .
As the record spun, I read all of Memed’s articulate liner notes. I don’t know why some of those stuck with me to the point that I was able to quote them back to my brother two days ago! Yesterday, in Paris, I got a chance to look at that EP again, for the first time in years. What a trip, or should I say, what an honor – names on the track listing that I was barely familiar with at the time (Zdar, Boom Bass, Feadz) have since become our friends and colleagues. All thanks to Mehdi.
STAYING IN TOUCH
So what was this project that Olivier wanted me involved with? Well, Chronowax had just signed a young French rapper by the name of Rocé. Both he and and Mehdi were affiliated with the crew Mafia K’1Fry. Eventually, Olivier offered me a sort of executive producer role on Rocé’s debut album. They came to Montreal in the summer of 2001 and I oversaw the mix, producing a track on the record as well. Mehdi had done two. Here’s the video for the first single, directed by none other than Romain-Gavras, who wasn’t even 20 at the time:
By then, I was starting to stray away from producing hip hop. Without really knowing what kind of music we were going to make, Pee and I signed a deal with the Montreal-based electronic music label Turbo. I played some of our early demos for Olivier during that Rocé trip and he didn’t quite get them (probably because they weren’t quite good.) But as always, we kept in touch. In the summer of 2002, Pee and I finally had a band name and a handful of songs. Turbo was getting ready to release our first single. I sent Olivier more demos, including “Needy Girl.” He called me back and told me how much he loved that track, then passed the phone over to Mehdi who said it was cool that I producing other stuff than hip hop, as he was doing the same. In 2002, he released his major label solo album, “(The Story of) Espion.”
Olivier was sending me press clips where Mehdi charted our songs without us even having an album out. And sure enough, as Chronowax worked out a merger with the now defunct mini-major V2, Olivier offered us a record deal for Europe. I couldn’t believe it when, just a couple of months ago at Le Bain, Mehdi played the Juan McLean remix of “Me & My Man,” which was on our first single through that label! (Olivier also released a compilation of original songs sampled by Dr Dre, for which Mehdi wrote the liner notes. I really encourage you to read them if you can. He has such a sincere and knowledgeable eloquence, a truly unique prose later exemplified by his Cool Cats blog posts.) Around the release of our first album, we were taking a lot of trips to France, where Mehdi introduced Pee and me to a whole network of early supporters of our music, including his best friend and close collaborator Pedro Winter, who is now like family to us.
I AM SOMEBODY
Right around that time, Pedro formed Ed Banger records. When Mehdi would swing by NY, we’d grab a bite, have a drink or go record shopping. In the summer of 2005, he came with his girlfriend Fabienne, who was pregnant with their son. I recall that afternoon as being particularly happy and carefree, with Memed showing me his recently completed Lucky Boy tattoo. That was going to be the title of his upcoming album for Ed Banger. That same summer, he asked me if we would remix the first single. Instead, we wrote a song to it and recorded the vocals in a Los Angeles motel room during the fall of 2005. It became the main version of the track, although it took a while to figure out a definitive edit; hence the “Montreal” and “Paris” versions on the single. Meanwhile, Pee and I were working on our own sophomore LP.
With almost half of the album done, I moved to Paris for a year in the fall of 2006 on a French Literature scholarship. A few days after my arrival, Memed asked me to make a cameo in the “I Am Somebody” video. (I knew he was a fan of leather Members Only jackets, so I wore one to the shoot and he got the nod, or “dédicace,” right away.) Here’s the clip, directed by So-Me; both he and the aforementioned Romain have now become two of the most acclaimed directors of our generation:
Mehdi also asked us to perform at the “Lucky Boy” release party and here’s footage from that night:
That’s when I saw him DJ for the first time. Behind the decks, the friend whom I had thus far only known as a producer absolutely blew my mind. Not only with the impeccable tastefulness and precision of his mixes, but also with his posture and aura. His inimitable dance, his concentrated and contagious smile. Surely many of you are familiar with what I can barely find the words to describe here. In the following months, Mehdi invited me to do a few tag team DJ sets with him and each time, as I was watching him go, all I could think of was: “I can’t wait until Alain sees this.” (Ten days ago, at the Fool’s Gold Labor Day party in New York, as I stood onstage while Mehdi did an impromptu set, I thought the exact same thing: “Alain stop socializing and get over here so you can see him killing it!”)
While I was still in Paris, friends from Montreal asked me to suggest someone to book for their New Year’s Eve party. I immediately recommended Mehdi. I remember picking him up in the freezing cold and taking him to my brother’s house. The second they started talking, it was as if I no longer was in the room. Before my eyes, one of the most beautiful friendships I have ever witnessed was born. That night, along with Pee and some other friends, Memed came over to my parents’ house for New Year’s Eve dinner. He stole the show, and not only because of the pink sweater he was wearing! During our animated family discussions, he jokingly refuted every single point I was trying to make, charming everyone with his customary poise. My parents were smiling. “Finally, someone comes along and challenges that know-it-all, smart aleck son of ours,” they probably thought. Together, we ushered in the year that Mehdi wanted to get tattooed on his arm: 2007.
When I came back to Paris, the city was buzzing. Ed Banger had become the most important record label in music. Justice were getting ready to unleash their debut album, and Pee and I also had to complete ours. I would update Mehdi regularly and get his feedback throughout the entire process. One night, he came to my apartment to hear the last songs we had completed. I remember his exact words after “Bonafied” came on: “Ok c’est bon les gars, vous avez vraiment poussé, là vous êtes prêts” (“ok guys, you really gave it the extra push, now you’re good to go”). His favorite track on the LP was “Waiting 4 U.” He asked to remix it early on and I’m not sure it was ever really finished by the time it was released. I like it because it showcases his distinctive drum programming:
AROUND THE WORLD
From 2007 on, we all became full-time touring musicians. We saw Mehdi more than ever, but that’s when things become a blur: there are too many memories to recount. Every few hours during the last couple of days, another dinner, another joint gig, another chance meeting has come to my mind. Another muddy European festival, another Winter Music Conference in Miami. I can’t keep track. I remember all of us together at Coachella 2008, one of the biggest moments in our careers. I remember Memed DJing before us when we opened for Justice at Madison Square Garden (he knocked over one of our guitars and broke it – probably while doing his signature dance – though I’m not sure he ever admitted it). I remember him DJing at our biggest headline show that year: Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. He had worked “No Favors” by Temper into his set: a completely random rarity from a mix CD of ours. He was like: “That’s my joint, I love that song you guys put on there.” Pee and I were baffled: “How do you even remember this?!” But that was Mehdi, always paying scrupulous attention to details, making you feel special in the most unexpected ways.
This was also the period where Alain and Mehdi’s friendship blossomed. They went on tour together, played countless back to back DJ sets, even traded apartments for a couple of months. Memed was no longer just my homie: he was another older brother for my younger brother. Alain would go on vacation with him and his family. They took such amazing care of him, and never missed an opportunity to tell him to put his phone down (anyone familiar with my brother knows that he can’t). Some of my Mom’s favorite pictures of Alain in recent years are from his vacations with Mehdi and Fafi, some of the only moments when he’s enjoyed actual downtime. There is no possible way to express how grateful we are for this.
Through Mehdi, we became part of a social circle (“l’équipe,” as he called it) which now includes some of our dearest friends. Trips to Paris without a dinner at his place were an anomaly. Pee and I used to refer to him and Alain as the honorary members of our band. Our Billy Prestons. Naturally, when it came time to mix down our third album in Paris, Mehdi was the first one we invited to the studio. He loved “Don’t Turn The Lights On” and we asked him to remix it with Carte Blanche, his latest project with Riton. Here it is, our last musical collaboration:
LUCKY BOY FOREVER
As you can see, DJ Mehdi was a fundamental part of my musical apprenticeship. For Pee and me, he was more than a kindred spirit and a close friend: he was someone we admired. Someone who would come up in our daily conversations. Someone we never thought it would be possible to live without.
Memed, we’re going to miss your smile and unabashed embraces. We’re going to miss your greeting us with a “T’es beau” (along with a comment on my heeled boots, your latest joke). We’re going to miss your cooking and your long-winded stories. Your thoughtful messages, your expressive notes. You, the social glue, the nucleus of the crew, the most loved person we have ever met.
Such a talented musician, such a generous friend, such a beautiful man.
Mehdi, you’ll always be the Lucky Boy, but we’re the fortunate ones to have known you.
Dave One – September 15, 2011.