INTERVIEW with MAGGY SMISS, DJ AT ZPLAGE, CANNES
CANNES: I met Maggy at the perfect blue hour at ZPlage, where she spins her records during the summer months from July till the 1st of September at the ZPlage, the private beach club of the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez. Her style is unusual for a DJ, rather classic with an edge but very French with her Repetto patent leather men’s shoes. She tells me that working here at the ZPlage de Cannes is a dream job come true.
Tell me, how did you start out as a DJ?
I always worked in clubs when I studied in Paris. I loved the vibe, the atmosphere, just everything about it. I started as a cloakroom girl and worked at the bar, but I always dreamed about standing up there, making good music and bringing good vibes to the people having fun. Well, and one night a friend of mine who was a DJ that night showed me how he did it. I looked, tried my first records and just enjoyed it so much. Then I bought my first vinyl collection, not too many, that was eight years ago, and more CDs and just tried to get bookings at clubs and soirées.
What was your next step?
I decided to go to the Ecole UCPA in Lyon where I took a major in animation musicale, it is a kind of school for DJs. You learn everything about being a DJ, like talking through the microphone, understanding the psychology between people on the dance floor, music history and culture and how to build up an atmosphere in a club.
And then, how did you come to the ZPlage?
My first booking was at the Martinez for a soirée during the ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market). I seemed to be successful and I got more bookings for soirées during fairs, which you have a lot in Cannes.
Then one day the GM of the Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez called me and asked me if I wanted to do the summer month at the ZPlage in Cannes. I would live and eat at the Martinez (big smile) and even make good money. I could not believe it and was too excited, it was a dream come true.
What do you do when the season is over?
I go back to Lyon where I work now at the NINKASI, a club that is a venue for concerts and also a brewery. I love beer and I started to transform this space a little bit. We started with little bar evenings where we had just 9 people on the dance floor; now we have over 800 people during the weekend having a good time.
Who inspires you?
My idol is Michael Jackson, the way he speaks trough the micro, the way he dances and dresses; that is my style, I love it. My groove is a mix of funk and hip hop. I am more funky, girly; I also love Nile Rodgers from the Chic. That’s my kind of music.
What makes the ZPlage a special place?
It is the mix of people we have here. It is just a great melting pot. I have to see how the atmosphere is and which nationality is the most present, then I make my music. For example, if we have lots of Arabs, I do some oriental tunes, and the Americans just love funk and soul. The Cannoise are the most difficult to please. They always seem to have their own vision of good dance music. Well, they are used to good entertainment since a very long time; just think of all the festivals we have in Cannes.