Exclusive interview: Paris Hilton – Making people happy
Ever since she launched her Foam & Diamonds residency in Ibiza in 2013, everyone in Ibiza has had an opinion about Paris Hilton. Love her or not, there’s no denying her love for the island is authentic, her enthusiasm for music is genuine and her desire to have a good time is infectious. It’s practically impossible not to feel happy when you arrive at Amnesia on a Saturday night, surrounded by fluorescent glow-sticks, blown-up portraits of her dog Peter Pan on the walls, pink carpets, chandeliers, and bubbles blasting out of a giant foam cannon onto the dancefloor!
Sure, the serious techno-fest that is Carola’s Music On it is not, but this is a girl who has created a persona and knows exactly what her fans want. Making people happy makes Paris happy. You can see it in her eyes, and in the way she reacts to the crowd from her DJ booth (from where we can officially report, yes she does mix for herself) and when you meet her, she exudes a warmth that many other overly media trained celebrities lack.
What may surprise people however, is that this is also a girl who knows her music, technically, and figuratively. When asked her favourite artists she is quick to reel off Carola, Nicole Moudaber, Hawtin and Adriatique and when speaking about her own music and DJ sets, software and equipment like Native Instruments, Traktor and Ableton roll off her tongue like designer labels would have in the past.
Having been trolled by ‘haters’ since day one of her DJ career, it’s never been easy for Paris to be taken seriously in the music world – a fact she blames herself for. “You know, it is hard,” she says. “But in the beginning, that was my fault. About five years ago, I was asked to perform my new single at a festival in Brazil to 30,000 people. J.Lo was performing, I was supposed to be closing the show and then the producer I was working with didn’t get me the finished song on time. Literally two days before the show, the promoters wouldn’t let me cancel and they said I had to do something else, like DJ. So I had two days of training, flew to Brazil and did the show…” She shrugs sheepishly – it was clearly an experience she learned from.
She may not have been the most technically perfect artist at the festival – hence the trolling – however Paris was exhilarated by the overall experience. This was a girl who was used to being on television, on red carpets, at photo shoots or at parties, but being up in front of such a huge crowd was a new inspiration for her. “Being up there in front of all those people was such an incredible feeling,” she says. “When I got home, I hired two of the best teachers in the business, and I trained and studied, for eight hours every single day. I can understand why people didn’t ‘get it’, but it all happened by chance. It was supposed to be one performance, I ended up loving it, and so I learned it. I think I’ve proven myself now and I’ve come really far. I’m producing my own music, making my own remixes, I’m loving Traktor, I’m working on Ableton, and now I’m learning to use Stems on Native Instruments. I love it, it’s a lot of fun.”
In her third year as a resident DJ at Amnesia (“It’s always been my favourite club in Ibiza.”), Paris says she never plays the same set twice. “I tailor everything to the crowd, and my sets are really energetic. I find a lot of amazing hits, like old songs you wouldn’t expect to hear and I’ll do remixes of those and add them in when I see what the crowd is like.” While you may expect the booth to be packed with Hollywood A-listers, in fact, it’s quite the opposite – Dubfire, Richie Hawtin, Adriatique and Skrillex have all popped in to the party. Does that make her nervous? “I love to surprise people and prove people wrong,” she says with a mischievous glint in her eye. “So many people have misconceptions about me, that when they come behind the booth they can be like, ‘Oh my God, you’re playing live!’ Yeah, I am!”
Music is clearly a huge passion in her life – one that started with playing violin and piano as a little girl – and no matter where she is in the world, Paris likes to immerse herself in it. “I’m always researching, at every festival or club I go to, I’m shazaming or talking to my friends who are DJs, or at home I’m always on Beatport Pro finding certain remixes or new artists.” It’s not all electronic – she admits her guilty pleasures are old Michael Jackson and Madonna tunes at home.
Home, in summer 2015, is Ibiza, where she resides full-time with her new boyfriend (or her “love” as she prefers to call him), Swiss businessman Thomas Gross. “I first came here about 15 years ago,” the loved-up heiress says of her Ibiza history. “I just totally fell in love with the island, I thought it was the most incredible place in the world. I’d always loved going to St Tropez, but Ibiza just blew everything else away. I came back every year, and now I live here with my boyfriend.”
In previous years, it was all about jetting in and out on private jets, playing in different countries every night but this year sees Paris experience a more authentic Ibiza lifestyle. “I was always doing a lot of travelling, but now I am with my boyfriend, and he has a house here, we mostly stay in, or go out on the boat. He knows a lot of the locals and we go to places they tell us about – I am experiencing a whole new Ibiza, it’s so different to what I am used to, but I love it.”
She also spends a lot of her time on the island working – yes, really. “With technology, I can do my job from anywhere in the world, it’s amazing. During the day I’m handling my business – I have 17 product lines, so I might be promoting one of my stores or a new product. Then at night, it’s like my alter ego comes out – I practice my DJing and work on my music for hours. My boyfriend has a club set up in the house, with lasers and smoke machines, and the sickest system ever.” She’s also been spotted – looking super low-key in black jeans, tank top, trainers and a baseball cap – doing her musical homework at places like Music On and DC10.
As opposed to her hometown of New York, or Hollywood where she has previously spent a lot of time, Paris finds the laid-back ‘live and let live’ attitude of Ibiza locals refreshing. “There’s so much good energy here. People know I go out, and I like to have a good time but I never get bothered. It’s not like Hollywood where TMZ are everywhere you go. In Ibiza, people respect people. Everyone just wants everyone else to have a good time too, and experience this magical party island. Sure, people ask for pictures with me, but why not? It’s nice to make someone smile and give them a memory, if that’s what they want. I could never be mean to anyone.”
Foam & Diamonds with Paris Hilton continues at Amnesia until September 12, 2015.