Filed under: Interview
Packing out clubs wherever he goes Australia’s biggest export Anthony Pappa came back to Tokyo for what was another night of quality progressive house. DMC champion at the age of 15 Anthony established himself in the early days of the dance music scene at the now legendary Renaissance nights in the UK playing alongside the likes of Sasha, John Digweed and Dave Seaman. Releasing Albums on the Renaissance label as well as Global Underground and Platipus Records Anthony is now firmly established on the international circuit playing at events worldwide to an army of fans, nowhere more dedicated than here in Tokyo.
It has just been announced that Anthony will release his next Mix CD “Balance 006”, the latest in a popular compilation series released by EQ, a label from Anthony’s hometown, Melbourne.
Interview by Jim Champion
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : So this is your second time to play at Air?
Anthony Pappa : At club Air yeah, I think I’ve played in Tokyo 7 or 8 times before. I’ve played at Womb, too.
HRFQ : How do you compare Air and Womb?
Anthony : They’re different because of the size of the venues, Wombs a lot bigger, I enjoy both you know. I really enjoy playing at Womb, I’ve probably played more times at Womb than I have here. This is a bit smaller, a bit more intimate, a bit closer to the crowd you know. At Womb the DJ booths a bit further up so it’s hard. You do connect with the people but it’s harder to make the connection because you’re further away.
HRFQ . How about the sound system?
Anthony : Here it’s fantastic and at Womb it’s fantastic as well. Yeah every club I’ve been to in Japan, sound, lights anything electronic, perfect.
HRFQ : So there is a difference between Japan and Europe in sound systems?
Anthony : Certain clubs in Europe are amazing and on the same level as Japan. Every club in Japan is good whereas not every club in Europe is good. The good ones are good but the other ones are average. Here most clubs are all good, you know what I mean. Built for sound.
HRFQ : I was reading somewhere today, a previous article and it said that you think Australia and England have a similar scene.
HRFQ : I was reading somewhere today, a previous article and it said that you think Australia and England have a similar scene.
Anthony : Absolutely, the Australians follow the UK club scene. I’m not sure if the Japanese follow the UK club scene, I think they’ve got their own scene in their own respect. They have a lot of UK international DJ’s, but they all seem to be after the same thing you know a good night, good music, progressive house, progressive techno.
HRFQ : Talking about Asia, countries like Singapore and KL….
Anthony : I love Singapore! I love Zouk! That’s one of my favorite clubs in Asia. Even in KL it’s amazing. I’ve played in Hong Kong, I’ve played in Taipei, Beijing, Osaka. I’ve played in most Asian cities and I think Asia’s got a great scene.
HRFQ : About the Asian audience, is there any difference between audiences in different countries?
Anthony : Singapore is probably different because their so strict over there on their drug laws, it’s more of a drinking crowd but it’s a very good atmosphere. You know it’s not different in a bad way, it’s a good different. People that go out go out for the same reasons, they differ slightly but nothing too off the wall you know.
HRFQ : Just to go back a bit, you won the DMC championship at 16?
Anthony : Yeah I think I was 15. Yeah it was 15 years ago.
HRFQ : I think that was a kind of Hip Hop style. How did you go from Hip Hop to a more housey style?
Anthony : I did that style because it’s best suited to do scratching and stuff. Because I was always playing house, I was never a Hip Hop DJ. I played Hip Hop as well as house. When I entered that competition it was best to play Hip Hop to do what I wanted to do, it works better with those sort of records. You don’t go and do a scratching set with house. When you battle it’s the Hip Hop style you know, so that’s what I did.
HRFQ : I think you already made a name for yourself in Australia,haven’t you?
Anthony : Yeah well I started DJing in clubs. I won the competition when I was 15, I started playing in clubs straight after that, 16. I was under age playing in clubs. I shouldn’t have been there. My Dad would drop me off and I would play and when I’d finished he’d pick me up,c.. serious. They were over 18 venues you know and I was a kid playing. So I started playing the clubs early you know and by 21 I’d definitely done a lot.
HRFQ : When you went to England was that a big gamble?
Anthony : I didn’t go there with anything lined up or with something to walk into. I went there because it felt like it was the next step for me. It was hard. From being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a big pond. The competition in England is really big. I had to start my career again even though I knew what I was doing nobody knew me so it was back to the drawing board.
HRFQ : The Australian scene is big now by itself. If you’d have stayed do you think you would have still come to the top?
Anthony : I was at the top when I left and I still go back a couple of times a year. I’m going back in June actually. My next album is released in Australia in about four week time. It’s a double mix CD called Balance, and released through EQ from Melbourne which is my hometown. It’s a big release for this CD and a big tour. Australia’s got a great scene. If I’d stayed there I would have kept doing what I did. Maybe doing my own parties or maybe diverging a little bit.
HRFQ : You ever think about moving back there?
Anthony : I will one day. I’m settled in England, very happy there, I have my girlfriend and stuff, I love it. Australia for me is a nicer country and when I don’t want to play records one day when I’m older I’d like to live in Australia. So one day I’ll go back there eventually.
HRFQ : How do you think the Renaissance scene has changed from the early days?
Anthony : They were pioneers in the early days with their sound and also with their image. They were the first real company to make a compilation CD. The first renaissance CD was ground breaking at the time. Now they are still at the cutting edge but now other people are doing it as well and they are just another name that do well in the business that are out there competing with Global Underground and Ministry. Renaissance back then for me, it was ahead of it’s time, it was doing something different and it was something to aspire too. The image was nice, the outlook was nice, the sound was nice, everything about it was spot on and they still portray that image today. I think I’m still keeping that up you know.
HRFQ : How did you first get involved with Renaissance?
Anthony : I’d have to say through Dave Seaman because when he came to Australia and did his tours I would be the DJ who would travel with him and we became friends through this. Then when I moved to England I got a job at Stress records which was Dave’s record label at the time and he put me in touch with Renaissance and they started giving me a few gigs as a warm up DJ which was fantastic and that got my foot in the door and that’s how my relationship with Renaissance started.
HRFQ : You mentioned before about the new Balance compilation CD. Can you tell us about the track listings on that?
Anthony : Well on CD 1 it’s a complete break beat CD. The break beat scene in Australia is massive and I love break beats and I wanted to do something that was different from anything I’d done before and I thought well I’m going to go for a breaks CD. It’s kind of like a Northern Exposure style break beat CD, chilled, funky, but it’s not too heavy. It’s almost an after hours break beat CD but it’s not a chill out CD if that makes sense.@The second one starts off quite housey and it gets a bit techier, a couple of progressive style tracks, it’s got a more house techy vibe to it the second one. So the second ones different but they compliment each other and as a package I think it works well.
HRFQ : Any new Pappa and Gilby tracks to come?
Anthony : Yeah we’ve got two new tracks, one is called Autojiya, it’s not that new, I did it about six months ago but it’s being released now. The other one we’ve done is called Miracle which isn’t released yet but it’s due to come out so we’ve got a couple of tracks yeah. I need to do more production, I’ve been traveling and touring, it makes it hard.
HRFQ : Sure, it seems like you travel a lot, a real globe trotter. Do you always carry your laptop with you?@And what software do you use?
Anthony : Yeah, doing stuff all the time you know, and I like to use Logic with Mac.
HRFQ : Do you have any other software recommendations?
Anthony : At the moment the latest thing I’m using is Ableton it’s wicked.
HRFQ : The sound of progressive house has come back to a more uplifting and melodic sound…
Anthony : I think all music in general not just progressive house. I think it needs to make people feel good. It needs to give people something else. It got so dark and twisted it almost went up it’s own ass and became boring. It went that way but then hit a brick wall you know but I think it’s gone full circle now. I don’t just platy progressive house I like to play house tech house, techno, break beat. It’s more about good music put together well and presented well that makes it work in a set you know.
HRFQ : Can you name a couple of recent tunes that you have been playing?
Anthony : Yeah a track called All I want to do by Rhythm Unlimited on Silver planet, It’s massive. A track called Basement by Pig and Don on Submission. My favorite tracks off my new album, I’ve got a lot of exclusive tracks from my CD and I’ve been playing them a lot.
HRFQ : I think you must be getting a lot of demo CD’s?
Anthony : For my album in the space of about a month I received about 1300 songs maybe more. A good 100 CDR’s, actually at least 120 from everywhere. I chose what I thought were the best tracks for the CD but anything that was good but didn’t go on the album I play it you know.
HRFQ : Have you ever had any potentially good tracks from Japanese DJ’s?
Anthony : OMB, Hattori, Satoshi, Osamu M quite a few others as well. Every time I come here people give me a CD and if it’s good I play it.
HRFQ : Is it difficult (because you said your traveling so much) to find the time to go through these?
Anthony : That’s what I do when I’m at home you know during the week I spend a lot of time sorting my records out. You know people see a DJ turn up at a gig and think that’s fantastic, it’s just about those 3 hours but there’s preparation. I’ve been DJing for 17 years I don’t have to practice how to mix, it’s listening to music and taking it all in and figuring out what’s what and placing it and knowing how to place it so that’s for me the preparation you know.
HRFQ : So obviously you play in front of thousands of people, can you describe that feeling?
Anthony : Sometimes it’s nerve racking. As long as I’ve been djing I still sometimes feel nervous. Sometimes I just get up there and I don’t think about people, I do but I don’t let it bother me, I just play. Sometimes I get intimidated by the crowd, a big crowd you know. There’re a lot of people here, I have to play good tonight. And then I make myself nervous by asking myself stupid questions. But no I love it really. I never became a DJ to be popular I became a DJ because I love the music and I wanted to make a living out of itAand became popular doing it.
HRFQ : I don’t know if you can but can you name a favorite gig you’ve done?
Anthony : A big one in Buenos Aeries, really big.
HRFQ : What was it like?
Anthony : About 5000 people, really big club just going mental, to anything. The best thing about it is they like it really slow and funky, really nice and groovy. When you start your build up you know the climax is going to be amazing. You know a really responsive crowd. Hungary is another great place the people just love the music.
HRFQ : How about superstar DJ’s of the future, anyone you’ve got your eye on?
Anthony : Yeah, this might sound biased because he’s a buddy of mine, a guy called Phil K from Australia. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him he is so talented. I always thought he was amazing and now he’s going to become popular because he’s just recently done a CD with Dave Seaman and he’s starting to travel a lot more so people are going to start seeing him. Once they’ve seen him and seen what he can do I think he could become a superstar. Not a superstar in a Paul Oakenfold kind of way but a very well known DJ that’s going to be playing everywhere.
HRFQ : Ok to talk about the future now, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
Anthony : Up until June, July it’s going to be doing a lot of tours and promotion for the Balance CD. In the summer I’ll be in Europe a lot, Greece, Spain. Hopefully get some time to make another single and possibly do another compilation later in the year. I’m not sure I’ve got a lot of options at the moment but I don’t want to say because it’s too early.
HRFQ : Do you think you’ll get a chance to come back to Japan sometime this year?
Anthony : Yes absolutely. I love Japan, really, it’s an amazing place. I want to come back with my girlfriend next time and maybe spend a week or something. I love coming to Japan and I always try to come more than once a year.
HRFQ : Do you have any messages to your Japanese readers?
Anthony : I hope you can find Balance the new album. I can’t wait to come back to Japan and see everyone again and play and keep supporting the Asian scene because it’s strong. It’s stronger here maybe than in other parts of the world which is good because the scenes dipping now. A lot of places have peaked and are coming down a bit but Japans still strong, very strong.
End of the interview
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