Monday, 10 November 2008
He's one of the biggest DJ's in the industry, and we aren't referring to his height, although at 6'6 he could probably take that accolade too. House veteran Tall Paul tells us about the early days and his brilliant new album, Globetrotting Volume 1: Lima - Peru.
You started DJing in 1987. How different was it starting out in the early days?
When I started out in '87 I thought id missed the boat 'cos you had all these other DJ's playing like Grooverider and Carl Cox, you know, people who I was going out to see.
I was just pretty much making up tapes and going out to the clubs that I wanted to be involved in, but it was like a closed shop. Eventually I got a few breaks, then some records and it sort of went on from there, but I wouldn't like to be doing that now, going through the right sort of process of trying to get the exposure.
The markets pretty flooded; I don't think anyone thought the industry would explode like it did. At the time, we knew it was extremely good fun and everyone was loving it. You would sort of do the 9 to 5, Monday to Friday and then Friday night, the weekend had arrived and it just went crazy!
You made your name as resident on pirate radio station, Touchdown. Tell us about those Touchdown days.
Touchdown was around the same time as the Trade scene. It was just a group of friends who weren't hearing what we wanted on the radio. The big underground house scene was going on so a couple of mates who lived in tower blocks were willing to put certain equipment in their bedroom, unknowing to their parents. It was great fun, planting equipment up the top of tower blocks in the middle of the night. It was just very lads-own and a great laugh.
Besides making your name at Touchdown, you also got your first break playing at Turnmills. How did the scene there influence your style?
It definitely influenced my style. I went to Trade, saw the atmosphere, the roar of the crowd and how different the music was, even to the point where I went out and made records to suit that environment, and they happened to be the ones that really did well for me like Rok Da House, Camisra's Let Me Show You, and all the remixes which have sort of become old Trade classics if you will.
Tell us about that particular gig when you really thought, yes, I've made it!
Hmmmmm. I had a pretty overwhelming moment at the Gatecrasher 2000 gig. There must have been over 30,000 people in one tent just before midnight. I was playing some records and everyone was singing back and it was really special. It wont be happening too often!
How has the industry changed since you started?
The record side of it has certainly changed. Before, an aspiring DJ could make some records, put them out on their own label which always helps with your profile, and at the same time makes you a bit of money.
Now, it's very difficult to sustain a good level of business when it comes to the records. You have to be very financially aware 'cos it can send you under quite quickly with the market the way it is at the moment. It's very commercial and a lot of these independent labels set themselves up in big office,s with lots of staff, and people just aren't buying the dance as much as they are used to.
They are getting it from somewhere, but it's getting to that source, you know, with the net and stuff. The nets been a huge change as far as the industry goes.
For better or worse?
I think in the short term worse, but in the long term for the better, but only as long as it can be governed, so that the artist who dedicates their Monday to Friday making music can afford to live.
Are there any up and coming DJ's you are keeping your eye on at the moment?
Well I played with this guy a couple of years ago, Eric Prydz. He' got a massive track out at the moment, Calling, and on the DJ front he's going to do really well.
Which UK Club is happening at the moment?
Well I've been pretty spoilt really. I only really play at Turnmills and then head up north for Cream.
What about outside the UK?
I'd say America in general really, that whole continent. I really enjoy going out there and I've spent a lot of time there. Its just juggling the time that I have here. For me I'd say it's West Coast with a sprinkling of East Coast.
Tell us more about your new album, Globetrotting: Lima - Peru.
The album consists of the tracks that really served me well for that whole trip. I was out there for three weeks and it was hard work as far as days off go, and this set was just going down globally. It didn't matter where, there was no real change, it was these records that were just doing it.
People were really enjoying the tunes and wanted to know what they were and where they could get them so we thought, let's get the right deal so it's not going to cost a fortune to buy in the shops, and lets make it a really good package.
All the tracks that we've got on there, the artist understood what we were trying to do, the contracts weren't much of a problem and it all went very smoothly.
Is there a particularly memorable moment from that trip?
Yeah, that night at Peru was fantastic. It was a nightmare flight, it was delayed and then it was cancelled and by the time I got there I had had enough of the whole thing, but a couple of minutes into the set and that was it.
Word had got round the club about the nightmare I had getting there, and you know, it was like; was I going to be there, wasn't I going to be there. It was one of those gigs, but when I turned up they made me feel so welcome, people jumping around, giving it their all. It was probably one of the best moments of this year.
What is the most prized record in your collection?
I would say one of the first songs I got pressed up. It was a little white label that I went out and made a record of, after I had learnt from all the mistakes I had made the first time, and it actually worked in the clubs. It was called Love Rush and it became a little Trade hit on white label and that's how I met the guys at Defected. It was the first record I've ever pressed up.
What's the best piece of advice anyone has every given you?
What goes around comes around.
You can find out where Tall Paul is playing at his website http://www.djtallpaul.com/
Rachael Hannan: Interview 2004
Published on urbanplanet.co.uk