Yes, it has been eight years since Pappa left the fickle-weathered city of Melbourne for the even colder and wetter dance music mecca that is London. While finding fame and fortune may have been part of his agenda, he obviously left ‘warm and sunny climate’ off the check-list for appropriate locations. Although I don’t know too many world renowned DJs to have made a name for themselves in Hawaii, and with the recognition gained from being among the world’s top dance music figures, Pappa can doubtlessly afford central heating and a couple of warm coats. Just this week Pappa once again was Australia’s lone representative in DJ Mag’s Top 100 Poll.
These days, however, Pappa finds himself an inter-continental traveler more often than living in his adopted home of the UK, his only chance of catching cold occurring between the airport, the hotel and the club. “I still am touring a lot and that’s probably the reason for a lower production release schedule than I’d like,” admits Pappa. “Friday I’m in Israel and Saturday Switzerland with North America the week after. So I’m always doing three or four gigs a week in different countries. When you come home for three or four days you just have time to get your bearings again and stock up on tunes before you head back overseas.”
While it’s obvious from his animated tone that despite a hectic schedule, he still finds touring far from monotonous, what makes his next foray more exciting than usual is that his sights are set on Melbourne and Sunny sixth birthday in particular. The prodigal son returns! “I’ll be there on Friday November the 14th and I can’t wait,” says a delighted Pappa. “Finally to be back in Melbourne, playing a gig to the home crowd at an awesome party and playing some new tunes. I can’t think of anything better. I’m in Italy the week before and Asia the week after so it is my only Australia gig. I’m just coming in to do the gig and it’s my birthday as well. In fact I’ll be turning thirty during the set.”
There is something very fitting about Pappa being the special guest at Sunny’s sixth birthday. Like Pappa, Sunny is known and respected throughout the world as one of progressive’s finest institutions. And similarly to Pappa, Sunny has never bowed to commerciality and always held true to its ideals, ensuring the highest quality music and a legion of devoted fans. Although if you’ve never been to a Sunny or read much about it before this it isn’t surprising as the monthly party, once known as SunnysideUp, will never be discovered through a street press advertisement or flyer. Word of mouth is the promotional tool of choice and has proven a most successful policy, ensuring that far from becoming elitist, the closest that Sunny has to a commandment is the founding principle of ‘No attitude’. Aside from the people in attendance, or ‘Sunnysiders’ as you’ll often find them referred to, it’s Sunny’s residents that turn it into a world class night of progressive pleasure. Phil K, Gab Oliver and Ozzie LA were there from the start in 1997 and continue to play a huge part. Since then, Gavin Keitel has been added to the residents list as Phil K finds more and more of his time spent overseas and in the production studio. Jono Fernandez and Ferris have been guests on a number of occasions and demonstrated the astonishing depth to Melbourne’s DJ talent. Furthermore, a breaks room has been added with Keltec, Mangan and Lynt slotting in so perfectly that many a Sunnysider has wondered how the event was ever so good previous to its addition.
Pappa has never officially played at a Sunny, his fleeting experience being a spontaneous versus set with Phil K a few years ago. However, he has many great memories of Sunny. “It’s different to a normal club and for good reason,” explains Pappa. “The thing about Sunny is that the punters know that they won’t hear the average big tunes, although Sunny has its own tunes the DJs there have made big. They’re playing good music not aimed at the lowest common denominator. And the people who go there really appreciate it. It’s a bit more purist, but it still rocks and goes off. From a DJs perspective, to be able to play at a night like that, where people are there for the music, always gives a better vibe and you know people are going to go with you a bit more. You still have to play to the dance floor and do your job, but you know that you can be a little more experimental and people give you the chance to do this. It means that as a punter it’s going to be a different experience for you to appreciate.”
Whether you’ve heard his mix compilations for Global Underground’s ‘Nubreed’ series, Renaissance or Choo Choo, Pappa’s name has always been synonymous with progressive house. Yet, as you’d expect from someone so passionate about music, far from being dedicated to one genre there is much in other styles he finds exciting. Pappa is optimistic about moves by other DJs linked to progressive such as Danny Howells, Lee Burridge, Sander Kleinenberg and James Holden to broaden the sound on their recent compilations and in their sets. “It really needed to happen because the sound was becoming stale and people were becoming bored,” Pappa admits. “Even the DJs playing the music want to take things to different levels and introduce new music. It’s opened it up so much that you can actually do a lot more. The way Howells GU 24/7 goes from the first disc to the other is amazing.”
While Pappa may be mixing a Global Underground CD next year as a well as a DVD, a more immediate aim is locally focused. “I’d really like to do a ‘Balance’ CD for Melbourne’s EQ label,” he reveals. “I love Phil K’s release and have heard fantastic things about James Holden’s. Okay, it’s not going to be a Global Underground release that you see in every shop around the world. But it’s a good quality local CD and it’s what I believe in and where I’m going to come back to one day. ‘Balance’ a great concept in my own backyard rather than doing stuff abroad all the time. And EQ are a quality label both with their compilations and their 12” releases. I’ve been hammering LoStep’s remix of "Free" by Scrambler’. That song was wicked before the remix anyway and I love the vocal. I’ve been finishing a lot of my sets off with that track.”
Whether Pappa will end his four hour Melbourne set with this break-beat opus remains to be seen. However, it would be a fitting if the world class Melbourne born DJ closes with such an outstanding Melbourne-made production at the sixth birthday of Melbourne’s internationally acclaimed progressive event. While break-beat has been a part of Pappa’s repertoire for many years, his Global Underground Nubreed CD proof of this, breaks is playing a bigger part in his sets now than it ever did previously. And as with everything he does, he plays it with passion. Sometimes so much so that he turns DJing into an Xtreme sport! “Gilbey has done a break-beat remix of Alcatraz’s "Give Me Love" for Yoshitoshi,” begins Pappa with a chuckle. “It’s fantastic and I was rocking to it, jumping up and down while playing at a gig in Greece. And the stage just went! It was made out of chipboard and I made a hole the size of a manhole and went straight through it onto the floor. It was only about a metre down so not too dangerous, but it would have been funny from the dance floor to see the DJ jumping up and down and then suddenly disappearing. I think I was going off to the track more than the people were. It was a CD so it didn’t skip. Thank god for that!�