Two subjects are guaranteed to engage internationally renowned DJ Bob Sinclar in animated conversation. One, naturally enough, is music. The other is his passion for Ferrari. In an exclusive interview, we caught up with the Frenchman as he visited Maranello to collect his new 458 Spider.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Why must our children play in the streets? Broken hearts and faded dreams. Peace and love to everyone that you meet. Don’t you worry, it could be so sweet.’ These are the words that, thanks to Bob Sinclar, have helped to redefine a whole generation of clubbers as the “love generation”.
In the music business, probably since Elvis Presley’s time, one rule applies: “One for the
money, two for the show”. And it is the show that has enabled Sinclar, ever since he was a young
daydreamer, passionate about dance music, to become a star DJ, thanks to two simple moves:
making people dance all over the world and consecrating the figure of the DJ as an icon of
contemporary pop. His real name is Christophe Le Friant. He was born in Douarnenez, a small French town in the district of Finistère in Brittany, famous in the Middle Ages for being a major manufacturer and exporter of sailcloth. He became involved in music when he was still a teenager, collecting funk and soul records, and soon had a hit with Gym Tonic, sampling Jane Fonda’s voice from a fitness video. The pseudonym Bob Sinclar is an explicit reference to the character Bob Saint-Clar who was played by Jean-Paul Belmondo in the 1973 film Le Magnifique, directed by Philippe de Broca. When I met him, visiting Maranello to collect his splendid new Ferrari 458 Spider, we started by talking about his music, beginning with the fact that, whereas in the US Barack Obama asked Aretha Franklin to sing at his inauguration ceremony, in France Nicolas Sarkozy wanted a show by Sinclar in Place de la Concorde. ‘I’d also very much like to play for Obama one day,’ he joked. ‘When the President’s office calls you, you’re an artist and you can only agree to play in front of those thousands of people. I did it for the public, to take my music to them, to all those people.’ After touching on acid jazz, Gilles Peterson’s Talkin’ Loud label and names such as Salomé de Bahia, Dimitri From Paris, Kid Loco and Daft Punk, we talked about his origins. ‘When I began to produce music, in 1991, I created the beat with an Atari for my record label Yellow Productions in a tiny room below my mother’s house, in the centre of Paris. Then the first parties arrived. The first time I played I was 21 years old: it was a party I’d organised myself.’ And what was the first car he drove? ‘It was a Mini Cooper.’ Mr Love Generation is about to move to the US, almost certainly to California, as he explained: ‘I have various projects and work offers from the US, and for me it’s time to move there for a while. I feel there’s a growing demand for my music in the States. In general, dance music is reaching every radio and every club in America and I will be over there for the next few months. With my 458 Spider, obviously.’
I asked him why he chose the 458 Spider. ‘It’s a question of feeling. I saw it and fell in love with it.
Because of the design; it’s like a work of art, and then because driving it sends me wild. It’s so
beautiful that you can’t drive it every day. It’s a jewel; it’s a toy that allows me to enter my fantasy
world.’ If it were one of your songs, which one would it be? ‘Sound of Freedom.’ Checking with a quick glance that his precious new jewel, which is finished in Silverstone Grey, is still there waiting for him, he continued: ‘I’ve never considered myself to be an expert on cars; that is, I’ve always had dreams, but I’m still very far away from being able to call myself a “collector”, even if obviously I’d like to become one. ‘This is my third Ferrari; I adore them all. They are the toys that I always wanted when I was small and now that I can have them with me, after so many years of work, I’m excited every time I get behind the wheel.
‘Getting into a Ferrari is something erotic; I find it very similar to my music. In my records I always
try to create a sound that excites people, creating a physical relationship between the listener and
the disc, between the dance floor and the DJ. For me a Ferrari is like that; its sound is a true
symphony; it’s pure vibe.’ Before Sinclar raced off on the Fiorano track to drive the first kilometres in his Ferrari, he tried to explain his love for the sound of La Rossa: ‘It’s a little like what has happened to my music, and to dance music in general from the 1990s to today. An incredible acceleration; the image of power and, at the same time, the subtlety of a generational evolution the like of which has never been seen before. For me the sound of a Ferrari is like that; it’s my music today, which is house but allows me to play what I want. ‘It’s the image of the DJ as an artist, both because of the music he produces and because of the various forms of branding he is able to create around him. My Ferraris and my music have this in common: cool work, cool attitude, cool image.’ Sinclar is famous in Italy not only as a musician and DJ, but also as a regular endorser of major brands, and now even as an actor (he played himself in the recent holiday comedy movie directed by Christian De Sica, Natale a Cortina). However, his music is the trademark that has brought him such worldwide recognition: regularly number one in the international charts, he has brought new life to hits from the past such as A far l’amore comincia tu, a popular song from 1976 by Raffaella Carrà, or offered his own take on such classic material as Lambada by Kaoma or Bob Dylan’s Mr Tambourine Man. He has worked with a number of international personalities, including The Sugarhill Gang, Martin Solveig, Shaggy, Sean Paul, Sophie Ellis- Bextor and Pitbull, to name but a few. He adores Italy and also certain kinds of Italian
music: ‘Undoubtedly the greats: Lucio Dalla [Lucio] Battisti, [Toto] Cutugno, and then the
classics. I also collect lots of Italian discs, such as Alexander Robotnick, and I must admit that I also
have a lot of fun listening to all those Italian groups from the past, such as Ricchi e Poveri; whenever you have a 1980s party people always go crazy, because it’s so kitsch.’
Asked about the country’s contemporary scene, he was equally enthusiastic. ‘The dance scene here is excellent; there are a load of DJs: Alex Gaudino, [Claudio] Coccoluto, Ralf, Crookers, Benny Benassi and many other friends.’ Before heading to the track, we talked about the
Top 30 Richest DJs in the World list, currently doing the rounds on the internet, which has his
“colleague” Tiësto in first place. Sinclar showed his elegant modesty when discussing the matter:
‘I have never tended to brag about my wealth or my fame. I continue to have direct contact with the people and I’ve never been interested in showing off these aspects.’
He is totally immersed in the charm of the Prancing Horse: ‘I’ve had many cars in my life,
but the beauty of getting into a Ferrari is incomparable.’ He climbed into his 458 Spider, the
first and only with a mid-mounted V8 engine, and began his drive. A musician who has made his sound a renowned brand, both at the level of personal evolution and at that of performance and refinement, is literally bewitched by his new acquisition: ‘The design is fantastic; I’m inside a legend, coming into contact with the seven gears, with the controls on the steering column, enjoying the sound of the acceleration, the speed at which that sound is transformed into speed, and then can you see it? This is pure Saint Tropez style.’
After saying goodbye to the staff at Maranello, a place he described as a ‘wonderland for someone like me: somewhere that houses a true icon’, he approached me and said: ‘Oh, you know another thing that Ferrari and my music have in common? That it’s the beginning, the middle and the end that are the real secret of the show.’ And with that Bob Sinclar disappeared, but not before giving a video-birthday greeting to a fan, repeating the expression Plus de bisous! Several times. Kisses, French-style obviously: after all,
Christophe’s first stage name was not Bob Sinclar, but Chris the French Kiss.
From issue 20, yearbook 2012