Exclusive Interview: Paolo Rocco

Paolo Rocco is a man whose music we’ve been playing a hell of a lot since he broke onto the scene and we’ve actually reviewed a couple of his EPs here on Deep House London.. so as you can probably tell, we’re big fans. The Canadian artist was recently asked to mix Get Physical’s Ibiza 2014 compilation and he really went for it with the new mix, which is over two hours long and full of fantastic house cuts, dark, techhy, minimal in places and oh so groovy. We’ve had the mix on repeat for the last month or so and finally got to chat with Paolo about the whole thing earlier this week. Here’s what he had to say for himself…

Hey Paolo! How’s it going dude? You seem to be having quite a busy 2014, what have been up to so far this summer?
I’m great! So far I’ve mixed a disc for the Defected WMC comp, mixed and compiled the Get Physical in Ibiza comp, released with One Records (Gates Of Sand), released with La Vie En Rose (I Know You Wanna Say It), played my residency at StereoBar/Stereo After-hours here in Montreal and throwing a couple of RAW Moments events, besides that I’ve been touring here and there…

Release-wise, you’ve been keeping it steady too; you must be pleased with how it’s all working out?
I have nothing to complain about. I’m just thankful I have outlets that are allowing me to put out music so that others can hear it.

We must say every release you’ve had so far has really impressed us, ‘Your Moment’ in particular. Can you tell us a bit about how the track came about and the vocal etc…
Thanks a lot! Well that one came about while I was mixing the disc for Defected’s WMC comp. My mix didn’t really include any of my own material and I wanted to add something that made it a little more personal and exclusive, so that’s when I put together the track – relatively quickly I might add. It kind of just came together in one take.

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Your Get Physical compilation mix is superb, can you enlighten us about the process behind making it and what it was like to do something of that magnitude?
Well thanks again. I spent a lot of time selecting that tracklist actually, I wanted to do something different for Get Physical. I really wanted to show what I was about vibe-wise while showing my range at the same time, that’s why it ended up being pretty long for a compilation (just over 2 hours). I was super happy that we managed to get the licences for a lot of exclusive material from personal friends and artists that I’m a fan of. People like Mr.G, Martin Buttrich, Anthea, Livio & Roby, tINI, Terence Terry, Acid Mondays, Mr.KS, Jack Wickam, Rhadow, Kyle Hall, Alix Alvarez, Jay London, Pijynman, Physica and more… It was a great process and I’m super thankful that Get Physical trusted me with this project even though my touch might have been a little out of the ordinary. All in all it’s definitely one of the projects I’m the most proud of to date.

You started out predominantly as a DJ, how long did it take you to get to a point where you were comfortable with the music you were making?
To be completely honest, I’m still not completely comfortable with the music I make and I probably never will be. I second guess myself a lot as a producer as I come from a DJ background and it can be frustrating when you can’t make music that fits your own particular taste as a DJ. But as time goes on I’m slowly coming around to it, especially this year. The records are starting to sound more and more me, and I’m continuing to craft that sound. Tracks like “Gates Of Sand”, “Get Social (Dub Mix)” and the ones that will follow are tracks I’m actually playing out in my sets often enough as opposed to other records I have made in the past which I would play here and there, but ended up getting tired of them after a while. I guess the ideal goal for any producer is to make timeless music, a very hard goal to achieve but that’s what I’m striving for.

You’ve been heading to Europe a fair bit lately, anywhere that’s particularly impressed you?
I had a great trip to Ibiza this year, I passed by to catch Solomun and Claude VonStroke at Pacha on a Sunday, DC-10 on the Monday where I saw a bunch of friends – the roster and music was out of this world.. I played a sold out show for Defected on the Tuesday and pretty much partied for a week straight. But when it comes to traveling I love to do it, I love playing in a city that’s not my home. Just the experience of meeting new people and going on a journey with them is one I seek to relive it time and time again. Home will always be home but being away also makes you appreciate where you come from so it works harmoniously with each other.

How does it compare with Canada/North America? What are the main differences between Europe and your continent, in your opinion?
Well I think there are some North American cities that are making a comeback in terms of being at the forefront of electronic music. Cities like New York and Brooklyn are on fire right now with some really cool parties going on. In general though, I feel like Europeans are ahead of the game when it comes to releasing underground music. Most of the labels I’m a fan of right now are all European, also cities like Paris, Berlin, London.. From my experience, the crowds in Europe are more educated when it comes to the music. They know the records, the words, the vibe, the artists.. There’s also a lot more countries and diversity so it’s only normal you’re going to get more scenes with more clubs and a bigger fan base.

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How is everything in Montreal right now?
I think Montreal is at the beginning of something very interesting. After-Hours and underground music is getting more popular every day. People here finally got tired of models and bottles clubs and are searching for something different. That’s what we’re trying to do with StereoBar on Saturday nights. Be that different option; that night where it’s about all of us and not anyone trying to be somebody better than someone else. We are a community, a family and support group.

Where are the main spots to go to for house and techno?
For Montreal I would say StereoBar/Stereo After-Hours and although it sounds like a conflict of interest because I’m resident there, I can assure you it is not. They have the best sound system I’ve ever played on and it’s the one club that is actually a club. By that I mean they don’t push bar sales, or tables, or anything like that. They push the dance-floor experience, and for everyone to be on it without their cell phones.

Any young Montreal artists we should be aware of?
Jay London, Pijynman, Physica, Lesie S… Probably all names nobody has ever heard of but these are friends of mine who were all in music at some point in time and a little while ago we rounded everyone up together and decided to start some new projects. Their music will be coming out within the next year and then it’s up to the world to be their judge, I’m a fan of these guys and it goes beyond music for me, It’s also about character. I’m starting a little agency / lifestyle blog project myself called “Bauhaus Collective” and these guys are going to be the characters who will kick it off, we have already started throwing parties here called “RAW Moments” and so far, we’ve had 4 off the hook events credited to these guys pushing and working hard. It’s great to have that kind of support in your hometown so whenever you’re down or need help, there’s always someone there to pick you up.

Obviously you’ve been to London a few times now, where have you played and what’s been your experience so far?
I’ve actually only been to London once! It was for a set at Ministry Of Sound. Unfortunately I didn’t have too much time to hang out so hopefully I can make it back over again sooner rather than later because I had the time of my life when I was down!

In your opinion, what’s the true definition of deep house?
Very hard to put into words… I would tell someone to listen to “Mr. Fingers – Can You Feel It?” Whatever you feel when you listen to that record, that’s what deep house is.

Can you list a few tracks, new or old, that really epitomise the deeper side of house music?
Wow, there’s so many…I guess I’ll start with something newer. Here’s one I’ve been opening my sets with often enough.

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When I think Deep one of the first names I think of is Delano Smith. He really knows how to take a groove and work it into a journey and vibe.

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This next classic needs no explanation or introduction. I mean the word Deep is literally in the title.

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Another classic that I loved the minute I first heard it.

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Kerri Chandler was one of my biggest inspirations when I first started getting into House music and this is a classic that will always be in my record bag.

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