Back in 2006 one of the more popular Balance editions hit your local music store: Balance 009 mixed by Paolo Mojo. Spread over 2CDs, the release went on to receive critical acclaim and went on to become a fan favorite. In the time after his Balance release, Paolo Mojo has achieved many accolades, including 2 Essential mixes for BBC1, and travelling the world playing at pretty much every popular club the global scene has to offer. He is a former recipient of Pete Tong’s ‘Top Tunes of the Summer’ (twice), and he has been signed to a ‘who’s who’ of electronic music labels: Bedrock, Saved, NRK, Cr2, Toolroom, Renaissance, Great Stuff, Positiva, EQ Recordings, Factomania, Little Mountain, Curfew Nervous, Ego Records… the list REALLY goes on.
It has been a decade since the release date of his Balance, so the time seems right to re-visit Paolo Mojo and see where he is at, not only musically, but also physically: “For lots of reasons I decided to take the plunge and move to South America, a part of the world I love and know well. I’m currently located in Bogota although I continue to tour around – particularly the Americas at the moment, but I’ll be heading back to Europe in June to see family and do some gigs. I’m lucky enough to have a residency at one of the best clubs in the world as well, Baum in Bogota, which allows me to stretch my DJ legs 2 to 3 times a month in all sorts of styles.
This move was exactly what he needed to inspire him too, and it is looking like we are on the verge of receiving a whole batch of new Paolo Mojo music: “In the last two years I got a bit jaded. Things were the same, and I was doing more and more things in the studio that I wasn’t necessarily in love with. I needed to do something new and get back to what I’m all about. I finally have the space to write the new body of work I’ve been promising to do for the last 3 years, and that’s what I’m busy doing right now.
And that is exactly the appeal of Paolo Mojo – never stagnating, always transforming and taking it day by day: “I don’t know where the future will take me, but I’m happy to live in the moment again.”
We are very pleased to have Paolo back with a stunning podcast (which may or may not have been inspired by David Bowie), and should keep all the familiar fans happy whilst introducing him to a whole generation of Balance listeners. What a treat.
Balance Selections Q+A
London / Bogota
Labels affiliated with:
Through the years a lot I guess. EQ Recordings (!) my own label Oosh which I ran for a few years. Pryda, Noir, Toolroom, Bedrock, Mouseville, Skint, Stereo, Renaissance, Saved, NRK, the list goes on I guess.
My last 3 releases:
Skint, 303 Lovers, Toolroom. But that was a re release. It’s been a while since I put music out under my own name. Which is about to change (read on).
What music did you listen to as a child?
I was buying 7” singles since about the age of 8 and was taping things off the radio much before then. As far back as I can remember, I was collecting and listening to music, initially stuff I heard in the pop charts and then as you get older you start finding more obscure things that excite you.
When was the first time that you realized that you liked electronic music?
What really drew me into house music was the whole underground feeling of it at that time, in the early nineties as a teenager discovering all these new tunes through mix tapes…the way they were mixed together by the DJ…the whole counter culture that existed to go along with the music, it was a really heady, intoxicating and exiting mixture of things that felt like this other world. And for a teenager searching for your identity that’s a potent combination. There was a group of my friends that all just bought into like I did, wholesale.
As the years rolled on I guess I was the only one deranged enough to keep going with it all. Some of the elements of what attracted me to it have changed over the years – everything does, things become assimilated into popular culture and other things change. But I’ve never lost sight of that initial feeling I had and I understand perfectly that an 18-year-old kid in Bogota or wherever that comes to see me play today is probably feeling the same things right now. Debates about vinyl – laptops – memory sticks all seems a bit redundant to me. Technology has advanced so much that you can present a performance that is light years away from what we used to be able to do. I’m old enough to have played through all the variations – and still do from time to time – and I truly believe DJing is only about the tools you use insomuch as how you use them to present your music.
When was the first time you saw a DJ in a club?
To be really honest the first time I saw a ‘DJ’ in a club I was 13 years old. It was a family wedding and he was vari speed mixing 7-inch singles together. Rudimentary, but the beats were matched. I was stood there watching him open mouthed having been making tapes at home and suddenly realised you could mix and match sound sources together simultaneously. Definitely a life changing moment haha.
Which producers/artists/acts inspire you?
David Bowie, Prince, Kanye West, all innovators in their own way. People love to hate on Kayne but I don’t hear any mainstream artist of that kind of a profile, pushing as many boundaries. Electronically, and in the clubs I’m fascinated by guys like Radioslave. It’s almost as though he has purposely limited his palette over the years in order to create the most hypnotic stuff he can from as little as possible. I find it difficult to do; my ‘musical’ instincts always kick in. I love how he will almost present deliberately wonky grooves and kind of ‘force’ you to get into them through hypnotic repetition and subtle modulation. Big big fan.
Anyone who does things their way. Anyone who has a sound of their own. Most importantly anyone who treats others with respect and doesn’t give airs or graces. It’s unnecessary and counter productive. If you want examples, Dubfire is a great one. I learned a lot of crafty things from him about the touring machine and ideas about a career.
Classical music has always inspired me. Anything abstract and without words can grab my attention. Stirring baroque string stuff, dissonant 20th century stuff, Schoenberg, Stravinsky etc. That also channels into a big appreciation for architecture. I have a curious fascination with urban exploration and functional nasty brutalist architecture. I will go out of my way to find stuff like that. It all feeds back into what I do.
What was the last album that you downloaded/bought?
Last album was one of the digitally remastered KPM library music series from the 70s – Synthesis 1000. I love obscure abstract library music; I’m a bit odd that way you might have gathered. Was also impressed with David Bowie’s Blackstar, like many others. A really visceral, disturbing piece of human art lent incredible poignancy by the circumstances.
What is your current production and DJ set up like?
I vacillate between an NI Traktor based setup on a MacBook Pro with control cds and two X1mk2 controllers – and sometimes I like to play with the simplicity of memory sticks. The latest generation CDJ players really are works of art. I am a big fan of the original Minimoog, simplicity and a sound that can cut through concrete. Used to love playing around on the Arp Odyssey too. Soft synths, I make a lot of use of Spectrasonics Omnisphere and I like the creaminess of u-he Diva too. Microtonic is a bit of a secret weapon for percussion too. Oops, it isn’t anymore.
What releases do you have on the horizon?
I’m actually writing what may well turn out to be an album. I have about 12 tracks currently in reasonably developed stages, some are finished some are close etc. I’ve been a little bit off the grid until recently and working more behind the scenes in studios on other peoples music and projects, and I just realised I wanted to get back to making music that represents me and what I’m about. Paolo Mojo. That’s my big thing right now and it’s progressing well. I’m also working on a few ad hoc remixes, which are good exercises to keep you sharp.
Where can we hear you perform?
At the time of writing this, my next gig is tomorrow night at Baum, in Bogota, which is also my main residency. I play there 2 to 3 times a month and it’s a privilege and a pleasure. After that Ill be heading to Brasil for a few dates tour, including radio shows and a workshop, which will be fun. Love my time in Brazil. I don’t currently have a regular podcast.
Tell us more about the podcast you made for Balance?
It was done in Ableton Live to allow me some creative trickery, and yes, there are lots of edits. As I made it in January there are some nods to a particular person and period of his career that has really influenced me. I’ll leave it for you to listen and discover. Plenty of my own material that may not have been heard previously is also included.
If I could recommend only one of my tracks for you to listen to it would be:
A new one called Kangiten. Which is annoying as you wont be able to listen to it yet as I only just wrote it. But it’s named after the Japanese god of beauty, mainly for the chords involved.
If I could recommend only one track for you to listen to it would be:
I know you want an answer but sorry it’s a redundant question, goes against everything I think about music. Shouldn’t be a reductive experience!
My favourite Balance compilation is:
That’s a tough call. Probably for sheer audacity the Joris Voorn one that used about 700 different tracks. I tried to do the same thing for a compilation I was working on just after, but they told me there was no way they could clear that many tunes in one go. More recently of the ones I’ve checked out I like Magda’s. Historically, I was a big fan of the James Holden one too.
The last movie I watched that I really liked:
Mmm. Really liked? As in made me think, moved me, all that good stuff.? Probably Interstellar.
My favourite TV show:
I don’t watch TV. Truth! I guess documentaries here and there. The BBC does good stuff in that department.
If I could choose anyone to compile a Balance comp it would be:
1. Paul Valentin – Inner Harm (Locked Groove Remix) [Dark Matters]
2. Reset Robot – Funk [Whistleblower Records]}
3. ANNA – Odd Concept [Diynamic] 4. Paolo Mojo – Wasted Youth [Deeperfect] 5. Paolo Mojo – Mamutes [Unreleased] 6. Absolute – Fairground [White Label] 7. Paolo Mojo – Alininha (Paolo Mojo and Lis Sarocca Remix) [Unreleased] 8. Shadow Child & Ben Pearce feat. Laurel – Nothing Ever Hurts (Ashworth Remix) [Different Recordings] 9. Pig & Dan – Growler [Diynamic] 10. Underworld – I Exhale (Paolo Mojo Beats Loop) [Caroline International] 11. David Bowie – I Can’t Give Everything Away (Paolo Mojo Dubtool) [ISO] 12. David Bowie – A New Career In A New Town (Excerpts) [RCA Records] 13. Konstantin Sibold – Madeline [Innervisions] 14. Macromism – Alphabet (ANNA Remix) [Octopus Recordings] 15. Noir – Obscurité.chno [Noir Records] 16. Tim Deluxe – JAS (Eli’s Bonus Beats) [Strictly Rhythm] 17. Finnebassen – Rotundo (Original Mix) [Noir Records] 18. Paolo Mojo vs Orbital – Lush 3.2 (Paradox Remix) [Unreleased] 19. Vangelis Kostoxenakis – Son Of A Gun (Enrico Sangiuliano Remix) [Suara] 20. Kevin Over – Past Hype [N2 Records] 21. Ron Costa – Gez Uri [Portobolo Records] 22. Joy Orbison – Donnell [White Label] 23. Daso – Distinction (David August Remix) [Flash Recordings] 24. DJ Koze feat. Apparat – Nices Wolkchen [Pampa Records]