Mehdi Favéris-Essadi, better known as the French electro artist and Ed Banger Collective member DJ Mehdi, passed away at 34, according to an announcement on Twitter by his friend DJ Cut Killer.
While best known for his work with Ed Banger, Mehdi was a student of hip-hop and house at his core. He learned how to mix at 13 and started studying production techniques shortly after that. As a teenager, he served as resident DJ for local rap groups Different Teep and Ideal J, as well as he collective Mafia K’1 Fry. His early production work with groups like 113—including their track “Tonton Du Bled”—established his approach, which melded the styles of hip-hop with elements of dance music. Within a few years, Mehdi was producing tracks for the legendary MC Solaar and had worked with Arabic jazz and pop artist Khalid.
In the early ’00s, Mehdi’s production interests shifted more toward dance music, which led to collaborations with French dance gods Cassius and Daft Punk. The successes led to him joining his friend and manager Pedro “Busy P” Winter’s newly founded Ed Banger label; Mehdi quickly became a pillar of the collective. The two shared a passion for creating a raucous dance floor that encouraged diversity and refused to cater to the genre limitations that are often found in house and techno circles.
His own music reflected that as well; his 2006 Lucky Boy EP mixed hip-hop, disco and house, without too much of the newly hip electronic grit that had become so popular among Ed Banger’s roster. The album’s disco-influenced “Signatune” became an instant anthem and was remixed by Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter, while the Chromeo collaboration “I Am Somebody” combined its funk groove with a pop aesthetic that garnered it regular play at indie-dance nights. In more recent years, Mehdi had teamed up with DJ Riton to form Carte Blanche, an act that aimed to bring back an old-school house vibe to party music.
Since the news spread this morning, the dance community has turned to Twitter to share thoughts and memories of their friend and peer. Some remember an act of kindness or his willingness to chat with fans; others remember his high-energy sets and sense of humor; still others recall how he loved to dance. The latter was apparent from his live sets, where he could always be seen having as much fun as his audience—a quality that’s become harder and harder to find.
Details regarding the cause of the his death are still vague, though several French news sites report that a mezzanine in the DJ’s home collapsed, killing Mehdi and leaving two others hospitalized.