One-on-one with Anthony Pappa

We recently got the chance to sit down with the Godfather of underground house and techno (a.k.a. The "Black Sabbath of Prog”), Anthony Pappa before he joins us Northside for our massive Sunday Session alongside Sydney’s Robbie Lowe, and Melbourne’s disco queen Sunshine.

From cleaning dishes at a wedding reception centre and cars on Sundays to save up for a set of Technics 1200’s… to global success DJing abroad and 16 electronic music albums - one of which is the first instalment of Global Underground’s "NuBreed" series, Pappa’s career is the stuff dreams are made of.

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There are few players in Melbourne's underground with a career as spectacular, and extensive as yours. Take us back to where it all started: what originally got you into electronic music?

My father was the keyboard player in a band so l grew up with music in the house from a very early age. I started playing the drums from the age of 4 and had music in my veins… I got into electronic dance music at the age of 11, and started buying records with my pocket money. I listened to and recorded dance shows on the radio and then realised that the DJs were mixing the tracks together, which l thought was very cool.

So, I got a part-time job on Saturday nights washing dishes at a wedding reception place where my dad's band was playing and had another part time job on Sundays washing cars to save up enough money so l could buy myself a set of Technics 1200’s. I got my decks when l was 13, and started playing more on the turntables and less on the drums... that’s when l fell in love with the art of DJing and mixing music together.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

The fact that l followed my heart and went for it, and to follow my dream by moving to the UK to make a go of it before succeeding to make it as a DJ on an international level.

What inspires your DJ sets?

At the beginning l was inspired by Sasha, John Digweed and Dave Seaman. I learnt a lot from watching and listening to these DJ's to learn my craft. Now the inspiration for my sets comes from the music that l’m into, and want to play and share with the crowd.

Do you have any advice for amateur DJ’s who want to play more gigs?

Produce music as well as just playing it. Once you establish yourself as a music producer and release loads of tracks it will spread your name out a lot quicker and you will have more gig opportunities by doing so.

What did you listen to when you were growing up?

At first rock n roll as a kid because of my dad's band, then it was funk and disco through the early 80’s… and late in the 80’s going into the 90’s it was house music.

What is your favourite movie?

Pulp Fiction.

You’ve played a lot of events abroad. What are some of the differences between how it’s done in Australia compared with overseas?

Larger and more knowledgeable crowds overseas due to larger populations of certain cities, and more followers of the electronic scene.

Tell us about the relationship with Global Undergound?

I’ve known the guys from Global Underground since about 1997. As my DJ career was growing in the UK and l was becoming more noticed as a DJ in 1999, they asked me to mix an album for their label. It was to be the first release of their new series of DJ mix albums which was titled “NuBreed", and in 2000 my album was released which was a huge success... things escalated from there.

Self-indulgent question incoming… that Nubreed album still ranks among some of the most acclaimed mixes of our time. Tell us a little about the process of compiling that one?

I have released 16 albums in total and the way l put them all together is always the same process. Start by researching tracks to find the sound and selection that you are looking for. Then, as l do with all of my music, l BPM and key each track.

Once l have all my music in key, the pieces of the puzzle start falling into place and l can start grouping tracks together that l know will musically compliment each other in style, feel and also harmonically from a musical point of view. Then, with all this coming together with my DJ knowledge of programming and years of experience of building sets and musical journeys, l put it all together and that’s how l get my mixes, albums or live sets done.

Listen to Global Underground Nubreed 001 - Anthony Pappa here.

What is the best thing about being an electronic music producer and DJ?

For me it's been being able to make a career out of something that l love and that l’m very passionate about, and being able to share what l love with so many people. My career has taken me all over the world which has taught me many things, not to mention giving me the chance to travel and see the world.