A journey to the centre of footwork.
Footwork came up in Chicago's South Side, and it has fierce sense of local pride, but in 2015 it's more international than ever. DJ Paypal is a Berlin-based North Carolinian artist who is among the most far-flung members of the scene-leading Teklife crew, both musically and geographically, and he's also among the most influential of the genre's new wave. His take on footwork is kaleidoscopic and vivid, expanding on the Spinn and Rashad template for a brand of footwork that looks backwards and forwards in equal measure.
His Mall Music label is home to some of footwork's most idiosyncratic voices, including DJ Mastercard and his lush sci-fi funk, and the whiplash mixtapes of DJ Orange Julius. Paypal's own discography, which comprises a 30-track collection of Drake edits and the retro disco vibes of the Buy Now EP on LuckyMe, among other delicacies, approaches footwork from all sorts of angles. Paypal susses out remarkable versatility in the genre's ra-ta-tat attack.
Growing increasingly obsessed with jazz, funk and soul music, Paypal's latest, Sold Out, has brought him to Brainfeeder, where he rubs shoulders with the likes of Thundercat and Kamasi Washington. That rich, soulful and historically minded approach comes through on his RA podcast. 84 sprawling minutes through chop-ups of everything from jazz to Jeremih to T.A.T.u. To call it a journey doesn't do it justice.
What have you been up to recently?
I been getting my life together, being an adult is tough.
How and where was the mix recorded?
Made it in my flat with headphones on because I get noise complaints otherwise.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I was using that new Serato update and trying out the key detection, so the mix is (for the most part) all harmonically sound—I wanted to make a mix where you don't feel a lot of dissonance, whether it's laid back or aggressive. A lot of the mix also come from blends I'd made live in the last year (before I had key detection), tracks that sing together way too smooth.
Your recent work hints at jazz and funk influences. Where does that stem from?
I'm very into funk, disco, band leader music. I would say it all mostly came from the 12-inch bargain bins at my local record store back home, rando blogspots and more.
You're a member of the Teklife crew but you live in Berlin. Do you feel isolated at all? What's it like being a footwork producer in Berlin?
A bit, but some of the crew has been comin' out to Berlin for a while (Earl, Taye, Spinn, Taso, Litebulb, etc). Feloneezy & Jackie Dagger are in Belgrade, so not too far away, and whenever I go to America I make sure to be around the team as much as I can. But I do wish I could spend more time making tracks with everyone! As for footwork in Berlin, it feels more open now than it did two years ago, but the amount of footwork or juke producers I interact with here has basically stayed the same since then. Nangdo & Ticklish come to mind first. But we definitely got a base of operations outchere.
What are you up to next?
I'm chillin (or not maybe), but I'm gonna be doing the same shit I'm always doing—making trax and smokin' loud.