If you’ve ever lived in New York, worked in fashion, or hung out with A-listers, the chances are that you’ve exchanged air kisses with Mel DeBarge. Not because he’s a designer, or a model, but because he’s the DJ of choice for some of the world’s elite fashion houses. Having built a massive reputation for spinning soundtracks at shows including Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and Calvin Klein, the society darling’s favourite mixer is going global.
In between his schedule of private celebrity events and fashion shows Mel is coming to Dubai to play a set at VIP Room on September 3. Ahead of his gig, we sat down with the international party starter to talk music, style and skinny jeans.
You’re a regular fixture at fashion shows, working with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein. How do you think music and fashion work together?
Music and fashion always influence one another. You can see how every artists’ style helps showcase their taste and sound. Both are a form of expression. And many trends start with musicians or styles of music. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t be wearing black skinny jeans if I didn’t see Run DMC do it first.
Your name has become intertwined with DJing and fashion. How would you describe your personal style, across clothes and music?
I consider my style to be minimal and very personal. I try to take this approach to my deejay sets too. I’m a huge fan of playing parts of songs that people want to hear instead of playing a whole record. This gives me the opportunity to create a story. As I grow more as an artist I’m understanding that often less is more. So when it comes to fashion, I tend to stick to items that fit me best, pieces that I can use over time. I try to stay away from trends since they tend to die.
You’ve played at some seriously big celebrity parties. Give us the gossip. What was the most surreal experience?
There’s been so many over the years. I can’t say I have gossip per se. But I can tell you that celebrities are just like us, more so than you think. So yes, I’ve seen superstars in super private events prefer a pint of Haagendazs Vanilla Ice Cream over a posh gourmet French dessert. I would probably do the same!
Which song defines where your love of music stemmed from?
This is a very difficult question for me since there are so many songs that defined my love for the art form. A lot of the ’70 to ’80s soul, pop and funk stuff really grabbed me and until this day is my favorite time and genre of music. I can say and argue that ‘Baby Be Mine’ by Michael Jackson is one of the best songs ever made.
Since I feel like pop-R&B is making a big come back with songs by Bruno Mars and The Weeknd I would say ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ is a real feel good track for that!
I think we are in a good time and transition in music. A lot of the new stuff is so organic and reminiscing of classic stuff that it’s more of a rebirth than a future sound. Just sounds so refreshing because it’s coming from a new generation and integrating new technology gives it a contemporary stance.
Mel DeBarge at VIP Room Dubai