Anthony Pappa has, without a doubt, been Australia’s most prolific DJ export ever. Having started his career at the tender age of 13 it came as no surprise to anyone when he won the illustrious DMC mixing championships by the time he turned 15 and by the age of 21 Anthony was already tearing the roof off Melbourne’s most iconic nightclubs throughout the 90’s.
Having built a reputation for his impeccable programming skills in addition to being one of the pioneers of seamlessly mixing all of his records in key saw him gain the attention of the biggest names in the business.
Attaining the ultimate goal of International DJ success after meeting the legendary duo of Sasha & Digweed on their Australian tours in 1994, Anthony decided to move to the UK and the rest as they say is history. Fast forward to the year 2000 and he had managed to check off yet another DJ dream by gracing the cover of the coveted dance music bible, DJ MAG.
With residencies at Renaissance in the UK, Twilo in New York and Womb in Tokyo along with releases on compilations such as Global Underground & Platypus Records amongst a plethora of others Anthony’s innate wizardry behind the decks is unsurpassed.
So, let us get down to business and ask the legend described as “The DJs, DJ” what makes him tick.
Anthony Pappa Photo Credit: Jess Middleton
Full Name: Anthony Pappalardo
Nationality: Australian of Italian descent. Occupation: DJ / Producer Labels: Too many to mention (loads) Current Releases: New tracks in progress to be released soon. Musical mentors: Sasha, John Digweed, Dave Seaman
Hi there Anthony! How are you today?
So, how on earth does a 15yr old even know about records and turntablism? How did it all start for you - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I started listening to dance music in the mid eighties. I was 11 years old then and it was a dance show that I recorded each week off the radio. At that time the music I listened to was disco, hi energy and funk. This was a few years before house music was even invented. I heard the DJ on the radio mixing these tracks together so I saved up and washed cars every week to earn some cash to buy my first set of technics 1200’s. I bought them at the age of 13 and self taught myself how to mix as I had never seen a DJ mix live before.
You have a strong musically talented background as a drummer – so what influenced you to go into dance music and not another genre?
My love of the music I was listening to at the time was what influenced me to choose that path. It was always dance music for me.
What are you listening to right now?
Every day I listen to the music that I am sent from record labels. I get sent at least 2,000 tracks a month if not more so that takes up most of my listening time.
What was your first DJ set-up at home like and how has your set up changed over the years due to the advancement of technology? How have particular technologies changed your style of DJing?
My first home set up was 2 technics 1200’s turntables and a basic mixer. I later added a third turntable to my set up as I became more advanced as a DJ. My set up has changed as the technology has changed. My current home set up now is Pioneer DJM-V10 Mixer, 2 Pioneer Nexus CDJ’s, 2 Technics 1210’s Turntables.
As there is so much disposable music these days, (compared to the old school vinyl era) do you think it is even possible to build meaningful long-term relationships with a particular track or album?
It really depends on the track. Yes digital music is very disposable these days. If the track has a special meaning or you have a connection with a track that still sounds good, it will stand the test of time, and you will always find a way to use it or play it out.
So, after having met Sasha & Digweed here in Melbourne you soon decided to move to the UK… Tell us more about that experience? How did it feel knowing the two biggest progressive house DJs in the world picked you out from the rest? Surreal? Humbling?
It was very inspiring and encouraging for me to have two of my idols compliment me as a DJ. It was one of the main reasons that helped me make the decision to move to the UK. So I packed my bags and went for it (chasing the dream).
Tell us what it was like being a resident for Renaissance? Any cheeky stories about what really happens behind those decks? ;)
It was amazing being a resident DJ at one of the most influential nights in the world. Renaissance the club, label and brand was one of the key factors and contributors to the progressive house scene. Also touring the world with Renaissance was not only an amazing experience for me but also a lot of fun. One story that comes to mind, whilst l was DJing at a Renaissance night in Sydney, was when Geoff Oakes (Renaissance Head Honcho) and Dave Seaman were both sat at my feet under the decks having a chinwag during my set.
How does it feel knowing that you (along with Alan Bremner) produced arguably one of the most iconic trance classic anthems of all time with ‘Skydive” featuring Jan Johnston on vocals?
When we made Skydive we never knew at the time how big the record would become or the impact that it would have on the scene. It is nice to have made such an influential track.
I’ve been told you see yourself as a DJ first and Producer second. What is it about DJing that still makes it interesting for you?
DJing for me was always my first love and what I enjoy the most. It was years later that I started producing in the studio. I have the passion for DJing and that is my true calling. The music is what makes it interesting. Being able to mix and layer tracks together and entertain a crowd through doing what I love is the best.
How would you describe your approach to building a set? Do you have any defining characteristics that make you who you are as a DJ?
I would like to think that over the years of playing I have created my own style and sound. I’ve always balanced my sets with pleasing the crowd but also educating them at the same time. My approach to my sets really depends on what time of the night I’m playing. It also depends on how the DJ before me sets the mood for the night. Generally I start deeper and build my set according to the night. Its nice to create a journey so you start at one point and take it somewhere different by the end of the set. Only playing one sound or style for the entire set is boring in my opinion.
As a father, how do you balance your music with other obligations – family etc? Do you have a fixed schedule for the day or do you just go with the flow? Let life and creatively blend together as such?
I work hard at what I do. I listen to my email promos every day to keep on top of the amount that I am sent. When Louise is at work and Ruby is at school, I am in work mode getting everything done so that I can be free to enjoy my time with them when they are home. The exception to this is being away for gigs, traveling to and from gigs or being on tour for weeks at a time.
What’s your favourite club to play at in the world and why?
My favourite club to play is Stereo in Montreal, Canada. This club has in my opinion the best sound system in the world.
Best DJ of all time & why?
Sasha because he has been my biggest influence over the years and because he is the best at what he does.
What artists do you listen to when you are relaxing at home making dinner for example?
By the end of the day after listening to hundreds of tracks for work I’m usually done listening to music by that point and its family time so no music whilst cooking dinner for me.
What is the best advice you’ve been given in how to survive in this industry & why?
Believe in what you do. Don’t copy other DJ’s. Have you own style and sound. Try to be original and never give up on your dreams. Work hard if you really want it. You only get out what you put in. That is a mixture of advice I’ve been given and what I recommend for others to do.
With more and more musicians creating than ever before and more and more of these creations being released, what does that mean for you as an artist in terms of originality? What are some of the areas where you currently see the greatest potential for originality and who are some of the artists and communities that you find inspiring in this regard?
With the amount of music that is released these days and a lot of it sounding the same, I am always trying to find those extra special tracks that stand out.
I bin so much music everyday that I feel doesn’t make the cut for me to play. I mean, you play around 20 tracks or so in a 2 hour set. So any average or ok sounding tracks are just not good enough when there are so many to choose from.
I would love for producers to make less tracks by focusing on making quality over quantity. I am on the look out for releases that are a bit different and special and that stand out from the rest.
Once all the C19 is over, where do you think the Club/Festival scene will be? What do you think its future will look like? Where are you hanging to play when this is all over?
This is a hard question to answer as we really don’t know how the world will be once this is all over. One thing is for sure it will never be the same again. We will just have to wait and see how it all plays out.
Festivals in 2021 that I am confirmed to play at are Extrema in Belgium. I will also be playing at clubs in the UK, Scotland, Ireland, Serbia, Hungary, Ibiza, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, USA and New Zealand.
Are you able to share any of your secret wizard like tricks you seem to do with ease behind those decks with us? Or are there no tricks…. Just lots of practice?
No tricks. Just years of hard work and learning your craft. Experience and knowledge. You can’t beat that.
Do you think fame has changed you?
I’m not famous. I would like to think I am the same person as I have always been.
If you think about the 90’s what’s the first thing you think of?
A club night in Melbourne called ‘Savage’. My first ever DJ residency.
Away from music, how do you relax? Any hobbies?
Family time and catching up with good friends.
Ok, so to end our interview today Anthony, it just wouldn’t be me to finish off without asking a few silly questions which you may or may not choose to answer….
So here’s goes:
· What would be your last meal on earth?
Nonna’s gnocchi with Bolognese sauce.
· Describe your dancing style? Bad
· What song did you wish you wrote?
· Your house is burning down (don’t worry… your family is safe) & you have 2 minutes to grab ONE record….. What is it?
Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
· Tell us THREE things most people wouldn’t know about you?
I’m actually a girl, My real name is Antoinette and I play the flute. LOL…….
So, that concludes our Q&A questions with the wonderfully humble Anthony Pappa.
In the meantime, to follow what Anthony has going on during lockdown, including DJ streams, mixes, and up&coming releases make sure to follow him on his socials below:
Our Next Interview will be taking place on August 7th 2020 @ 7:30PM (Melbourne Time)