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Interview
An Interview with DJ Paulo
New York, New York
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
March 10, 2010
 
www.djpaulo.com   www.saintatlarge.com Bookmark and Share
The man who put "Tribal" in Lady Gagaís "Bad Romance," the song of the year, DJ Paulo recently got the call from the Saint-at-Large to play Black Party XXXI, the annual pagan paean to everything debauched and decadent that takes place during the weekend of the vernal equinox at Roseland Ballroom in New York Fucking City. Given that Paulo (also known as "Lord of the Drums") has played Black Party twice before, this yearís version of the Saint-at-Largeís Rites make this Pauloís Triple Crown, as it were.

Fresh from his sensational gigs in Rio for Carnaval and Sydney Mardi Gras, Paulo, co-founder of Pure Music Productions, took a break from the studio whereís heís been mixing tracks for Black Party to tell us about what heís got in store for his devoted tribal tribe on the night of March 20th, 2010.

MRNY: Congrats on your upcoming Black Party. This is your third time playing, right? When were the other years?

PAULO: Off the top of my head, I donít remember. I think it was 2002 and 2004.

MRNY: That sounds about right. You know, Paulo, the buzz on the street is that this year the Saint-at-Large got it perfectly right in choosing you, and Hector Fonseca, and Ana Paula.

PAULO: Thatís good to know that people are digging the line-up.

MRNY: Yeah, it definitely increases the anticipation. Black Party is one of those events where people seem to be feel personally engaged in the selection of the deejays. What is it about Black Party that attracts such dedicated music people?

PAULO: I think people just want to make sure they have a good time and that the music is appropriate for the party. You donít want to put just anyone in charge of that party musically.

MRNY: Had you ever been to the Black Party before playing it? What do you remember about your first Black Party?

PAULO: Yes, I went to Black Party in the late 90ís, a couple of times. I was impressed at the size of the room.

MRNY: The largest ballroom in New York.

PAULO: Now that Iíve spun that room five times, it doesnít seem as big anymore. [laughing]

MRNY: Yeah, as Norma Desmond says, "I am big; itís the pictures that got small."

PAULO: [laughing] Or kind of like going back to your elementary school and how much smaller everything seems.

MRNY: Exactly. And speaking of the past- Black Party has musical traditions that stretch back nearly thirty years. And weíre talking tracks such as "O Fortuna" from Carl Orffís cantata, Carmina Burana, and Erasureís "Blue Savannah, and Abbaís "The Visitors," and about a dozen other songs that a certain contingent yearns to hear every year.

PAULO: Yes, I believe you have to approach this party differently; it has a history.

MRNY: That first year that you played Black Party, how did you reconcile the Black Party musical traditions with your own set list?

PAULO: I just did a lot of research. I have been going to clubs since the 80ís, before AIDS, when clubbing was so different, when music was the main reason people went out. A lot has changed since then.

MRNY: You know, thereís a documentary "Gay Sex in the Seventies," which addresses that point: how music was the driving force behind so much of the sexual energy. Whereíd you get your nightclubbing chops?

PAULO: I was going to clubs in D.C. when I was in high school: Tracks, Lost & Found, Badlands, you name it.

MRNY: D.C. has always had a strong night vibe-somewhat greater than its size.

PAULO: When I moved to Paris for five years, I used to go out all the time. Thatís where I started deejaying. Then [I lived] in London for a couple of years [where] Heaven was the hot spot. Then I moved back to the States in 1991 and I did the circuit thing a bit. Iíve always been immersed in the club life, but initially more as an observer than a participant.

MRNY: It seems like weíre kind of saying that our history is written in our music. So what does that mean for a Black Party deejay?

PAULO: A deejay just canít just go in and play his current set for Black Party. One has to diligently weave some old stuff into a much more current sound. And I donít mean play the original track either-because music has evolved.

MRNY: Building on the old to create the new.

PAULO: One has to remix, re-edit, and rearrange music so that it sounds current, [which Iíll] do with a few Black Party Saint classics-but both Steve Pevner and I agreed that it was time to bring the party to a new era while finding a way to give a nostalgic drop here and there.

MRNY: Which is really a question of retaining the best of the past while moving Black Party into the future-sounds good. Does that mean weíll be witnessing the emergence of a new sound from you?

PAULO: This year, Iíll be playing very differently than my last two gigs at Roseland. My job is to create a very sexual vibe and I intend to do that.

MRNY: As if thatís ever been a problem with you. Youíre pretty much noted for being the aural personification of sex.

PAULO: [laughing] People know that, musically, Iím very versatile.

MRNY: Weíre not touching that.

PAULO: [laughing] I can spin a Work Party, which has an edgier sound, or an Alegria, with its bouncier feel-good sound, or a very sexual leather event, or I can do an early club event. It just requires doing some homework.

MRNY: So, this year, youíve got the center spot in the three-act production, which is traditionally when the floor at Roseland is most packed. What are you thinking?

PAULO: Iím working with Saint-At-Large to musically work on their theme "revolutionary cell block tango." If I had to describe my sound for that night in two words: sexual and masculine. Weíre not going for cha-cha or cunty on this one.

MRNY: Sexual and masculine. Weíre calling John Bartlett right now.

PAULO: I want to create such a sexual vibe that the whole dance floor turns into a huge orgy-like the last episode of "True Blood." [laughing]

MRNY: Texting Chi-chi La Rue, as we speak. So what track is gonna get this orgy started?

PAULO: I really dig this bootleg I did of Latourís mix of "People are Still Having Sex". Itís very appropriate.

MRNY: Given your intentions, it sounds perfect. Your latest podcast is called "Tribal Romance," which is obviously a kind of Paulo/Lady Gaga marriage-if Nurse will pardon us for saying so...

PAULO: Itís no secret that I like Lady Gaga and even though I will not be able to play her "vocal" tracks during Black Party, you can be assured that youíll hear her voice talking one way or another somewhere during my set.

MRNY: Excellent-because letís face it, Gaga and her theatrical skills embody at least some aspect of the Black Party. The backstory treatment for this yearís Black Party runs to twelve pages-of incredible detail. What did you think when you read it?

PAULO: In a way, itís almost as if I am creating a soundtrack for a movie, which in this case is the backdrop of the Black Party. Youíll have to see it to believe it.

MRNY: Thatís what people always used to say after seeing the original Saint, which was, previously, Fillmore East. For the past nineteen years, Roseland has done a pretty good job of standing in for the original Saint. As someone whoís played Roseland five times, what do you think it is about Roseland that makes it special?

PAULO: It has the ideal club layout: two levels, [with the advantage of] being able to look down from the second level. This compounded with its enormous size-

MRNY: And then when you mix in the extraordinary production values employed by the Saint-at-Large to transport Black Party celebrants to a completely unique time and place-

PAULO: I have always been impressed by the lights they bring for this event. For me, itís more about the music and how the music works with the lights than [it is about] the dťcor. Itís the sexual vibe that one has to create, with the synergy of the lights and the music, alongside the "theme" of the party.

MRNY: On your website, you give thanks to those fans who "get" the music. What do you mean by that? Would you say that your music requires some education?

PAULO: Absolutely. I have never been one to play too commercial. Iíve always strived to find the right balance between entertaining my crowd and educating them with new sounds, whether it be tribal, progressive, tech, or whatever. The tremendous support I have gotten lately has been overwhelming and I am truly always thankful for the support of my fans and those who "get what I do." It keeps me motivated to bring more and to work harder.

MRNY: We know Paulo fans who would follow your lead into oncoming traffic-and these are often music heads who are truly immersed in the music world-and theyíre very particular about who they listen to-and youíre their man. What aspect of your music drives these people?

PAULO: I think [that] musically, after some time, one matures with their musical style. It keeps changing and evolving. I, myself, try to see where music goes, whoís doing what. Itís important to have an open mind to new musical genres.

MRNY: Weíre not even in the spring of 2010, and already this year, youíve played Carnival in Rio, and Sydney Mardi Gras, and now Black Party. Is 2010 your "monster fame" year?

PAULO: A lot of people are saying this is my year [and] Iím grateful for that. I have several other big things coming up: Gay Days Arabian Nights, and also Iíll be returning to Alegria this year for a really special event to be announced soon.

MRNY: You know, Paulo, we remember first meeting you at Billboard Live some ten years ago, thanks to Nurse, and itís been really wonderful to witness your growth as an artist during this past decade. Hereís to you-and to this yearís Black Party revolution!

PAULO: Thank you!
 
 
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