R.I.P DJ Mehdi
(Written in September for Clash Magazine)
On September 13th, as I’d barely been given time to reflect on Bestival and the swan song of British festival season, I heard the crushing news that the talented DJ Mehdi had died.
Mehdi passed away following a tragic fall through a collapsed mezzanine, whilst celebrating the birthday of his good friend and musical partner, Riton (Henry Smithson). The news broke across Twitter earlier that morning, following a tweet from his close friend DJ Cut Killer, “repose en paix fréro” (Rest in peace, brother).
Understandably, public displays of emotion began to flood across the social networking website, with Fake Blood, Annie Mac, Gesaffelstein, Skream and many others posting their shocked tributes; Smithson adding days later: “Just want everyone to know that we were all laughing our asses off 1/2 second before the accident”.
At only thirty-four-years-old, it was an especially untimely death. Only days earlier, I’d watched him DJ with Riton at Bestival as part of their Carte Blanche project, electrifying as ever, with a warming stage presence and excitable grin that won crowds quicker than any 4/4 beat ever could. It was this amiable nature that served Mehdi well throughout his career. It brought about the firm friendships that formed the influential collective, Club 75, and notably his solidarity with Pedro Winter (Busy P) in the late-Nineties. Together, they ran innovative Parisian club nights that set the bar for modern dance promoters, and established the kind of warm family aura that has made Ed Banger Records the guardians of the French electronic music scene.
Mehdi is survived by his wife Fabienne Fafi and their son Neil. And if we could recommend one way to honour his memory, it would be to download the ‘Tunisian Summer Mix’ from his Cool Cats blog, uploaded days before his death. It’s a sun-drenched summer mixtape, dedicated to his beloved Tunisia, and mixed live in Paris Social Club. The cuts are technically perfect. The song choices are wonderfully varied. It’s an ecstatic, magnificent mélange of house and hip-hop. It’s happy. And it’s everything DJ Mehdi should be remembered for.