May 2004
By Steven M. Housman

DJ Paulo Spins Us Over

In the mid 80’s, a handsome young man, who simply goes by the name of Paulo, arrived in the US from Europe with an MBA in International Marketing. He was a great student, but somehow his heart wasn’t in it. He decided to go after his passion, which was music. He loved the European clubs and got a taste of exactly what was out there after spinning his first gig in the Paris nightspot, Lé Club. I wondered if holding a Masters degree gave Paulo a sense of security, especially since we all know how fickle the “business” can be. He said, “The thing with my MBA is, it gave me an overall perspective on how the business world worked. I suppose I could always fall back on it, but I don’t really want to. I did the corporate stuff a bit, but getting dressed in a suit and going to an office and taking orders from someone else everyday just wasn’t my thing, so that’s why I pursued a more creative occupation.” He adds, “If I were to do anything else besides DJ’ing, I would probably open a business, such as a record label. It would definitely be something to do with music, as it’s always been my calling.”

And music absolutely agrees with Paulo. People have seen his fame skyrocket in the last few years, with headlining stints at Palm Springs' White Party, Philadelphia's Blue Ball, New York's Black Party and, most recently, New York's Alegria Party at Sound Factory. He's also begun to crossover to the straight scene, recently spinning Amnesia in Ibiza, Spain.

Paulo is based in L.A. and his big break came while he was spinning the Los Angeles Tom of Finland "Man-o'-Rama" parties in the early nineties. In the past decade, he’s been a regular on the LA scene with past residencies at Stereo, Spin and currently Ego, Reload, Here and The Factory. "My sound is mainly tribal with a dash of progressive and anthem."

Even to this day, most people think they’re discovering a new talent after hearing him spin. I asked him what he makes of that. "It's strange," says Paulo. "Most people consider me one of the newer DJs on the scene, as if I just started mixing a few months ago. I’ve said this before, mine is not one of those over-night success stories. I've actually been doing this for over fifteen years."

With such a great gift, I wondered who Paulo looks up to. He said, “I really like Danny Tenaglia and Steve Lawler. When I have a night off from work, I usually go to a straight club. He explains, “Since I know what’s already happening in the gay clubs, I really like to hear what’s happening overall.”

What about other aspects of the music business? Paulo informs me, “DJ’ing isn’t the only thing I do.” In addition to his success in the clubs, he has enjoyed great success from his work in the studio. His first commercial remix of Pepper MaShay's "Dive In The Pool," known to some from the series Queer As Folk, is now considered a nightly anthem. His remixes of Thunderpuss' "Papa Got A Brand New Pig Bag" and Pepper MaShay's "I've Got My Pride" both charted on the Billboard Dance Chart. His latest effort is remixing “Love Song” from the late Israeli artist Ofra Haza, who passed away in 2000 from AIDS. “It’s a very spiritual song. I took her voice and added some tribal rhythms to it. It’s a really beautiful song. It’s kind of an ode to her.” He sounded a bit less enthusiastic about the production end of the business. “It takes so long from production to actual release, but it will be out within the next couple of months.” It was clear that the only place he wants to be right now is spinning the records.

When asked what he’d like to do next, Paulo said, “I’d love to go work in Spain and Portugal. Actually, not a lot of people know this, but I’m from Portugal. So much of the music comes from Europe. I’d really like to go back to my roots and spin there for a little while. It’s kind of hard, because I have the name Paulo, which is Portuguese, and I’ve been told it won’t sound as special, because people won’t know I’m from out of town. They’ll think I’m just a local DJ.” He says with a laugh.

Paulo’s ambitions run further than gay circuit parties. “I’m trying not to necessarily be pigeonholed. I’d like to approach large arenas in the straight world as well. My sound is straight or gay. It crosses over very easily. I’d like to work a night where it’s not a straight night or a gay night, but just a 12-hour night. The first 6 hours could be a straight DJ and the second half could be me that could transfer over to the straight market a little bit, but still cater towards the gay market. People are there for the music. I just came from one of Steve Lawler’s gigs and there were gay people there. In gay clubs, a lot of the boys go there to see the other boys. People who are there for the music don’t really care about hooking up.”

Speaking of “hooking up,” I also wondered if Paulo ever checked out the other guys while he was spinning. The guys certainly check him out. “I’m always asked by people if I’m single,” he says modestly. “When I’m working, I’m so focused. It’s performing, and I’m concentrating on my performance. I’m too busy spinning and looking to see what record is next.” But don’t despair, Paulo adds, “When I’m off work and I go out, I’ll meet people.” I’d love to meet someone, but I'm still single," Paulo says with a grin. "It would be nice to find a partner in crime, but they would have to be incredibly understanding. My music career is important to me and extremely demanding of my time."

At this time, Paulo is gearing up to hit The Black Party in New York. By the time you’re reading this, he’ll be settling into Palm Springs, setting up for his stint at the Reload Party at Heaven, April 11. He concludes, “If people are looking for a bit of an edgier sound, then they should check out Heaven when I’m there.” I concur, Paulo’s not just a feast for your ears, I assure you, your eyes will be equally as pleased.

April 11 - Reload Party - Palm Springs
April 18 - Here - Los Angeles
April 24 - Vancouver
May 7 - Purple Party - Dallas
May 16 - Motorball Closing Party
May 22 - Mezzanine - San Francisco
May 28 - Las Vegas
May 29 - IML Main Event – Chicago

© 2004 Steven M. Housman. All Rights Reserved.